Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why Chile Really Matters

Newsweek International has a must read on Chile, and how it is a model to be followed by other Latin American countries - ie. Venezuela and Cuba come to mind.

Jorge Castañeda does a superb job in placing Chile on the map as evidence that free markets, together with social programs, can advance economies while still making sure that poverty and inequalities are reduced. They are not mutually exclusive as some insist and would like others to believe.

He openly attacks the fact that Chile is being ignored as a model to follow, while Latin America glorifies Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution. A glimpse (my emphasis):
So why does no one else really care? Why is such a success story not moving the hearts and minds of millions of Latin Americans? In Mexico City's National University, the oldest and largest in Latin America, Bolivarian Committees are springing up in support of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez; at last November's Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, former soccer idol Diego Maradona rallied thousands of cheering Chavistas to denounce American imperialism, neoliberalism, free trade and what not. Yet there are no Chile Study groups at the universities; there are no Ricardo Lagos T shirts; there are no Chile groupies. Any comparison between Chile and Venezuela over the past seven years (since Chávez took office), or between Chile and Cuba since 1989, is a no-brainer: from any conceivable point of view, Chile comes out miles ahead. But somehow the Chilean model has limited appeal, though the size and weight of the three nations are quite similar.
I guess being anti-American and swallowing communist propaganda hook, line and sinker is more exciting and important than actually finding a roadmap that works. Chile is there, just waiting to be discovered.

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