28 November 2014 ~ 1 Comentario

Bachelet turns her back on today’s Chile

by Carlos Alberto Montaner


Chile is ceasing to be the hope of Latin America. That’s serious for all of us, not just for the Chileans. 

For decades, especially since the arrival of democracy to that country in 1989 (although the transformation had begun during the Pinochet dictatorship), it was obvious that freedom, the operation of the institutions of law, the opening to the world, competition, the market and the supremacy of civilian society in the economic field had proved that that was the road to prosperity for all of Latin America.  

In Chile, we could confirm that liberal democracy was the route. Within that scheme, the country had moved to the lead in Latin America, more than half of society belonged to the social middle class, and poverty had dropped from 46 percent to 12 percent of the population. A real feat.

The nation with “the mad geography” — a long strip of earthquake-prone land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes — was a few steps away from the threshold of the First World, defined as the nations that reach $25,000 of annual production per capita. It was enough to walk the streets of Santiago and talk to the people to perceive a sensation of optimism and progress greater than in any other major Latin American city.

That spirit is dimming. The data from the Chilean pollster Plaza Pública (CADEM) leave no room for doubt. Seventy-one percent of the citizens think that the economy has stagnated. Only 27 percent believe the opposite. After two generations of a notable annual prosperity with few setbacks, the first year of President Michelle Bachelet’s administration will show a growth rate of barely 1.6 percent, even though Sebastián Piñera turned over to her a country that operated at full steam.

Naturally, that has a cost. When Bachelet came to power, only eight months ago, 78 percent of Chileans had a good image of her. Today, only 48 percent appreciate her, while her government is even less popular; barely 37 percent of the citizens support it.

Why has Chile stalled? Basically, because of a clear rupture over the model of development. Local and foreign investors have doubts and abstain. They see Mrs. Bachelet closer to the old statist-populist Chile than to the modern nation resting on the ideas of economic freedom, so they can’t avoid an unpleasant sensation of déjà-vu of the turbulent years of Allendism.

They perceive her as a person bogged down by the ideological superstitions of “egalitarian distributionism,” obsessed with the Gini Index, not with the creation of wealth, which is what really matters. After all, Venezuela’s Gini coefficient is “better” than Chile’s, and I don’t think that anyone in his right mind would think that the grave situation in the Chavist madhouse is preferable to the situation in Chile.

If President Bachelet doesn’t alter course, she will very likely provoke the departure of the Christian Democratic Party from the ruling coalition. It’s unbelievable that this lady doesn’t realize that the good experience of the ideas of freedom in her country has shifted Chile’s entire political spectrum toward the center.  

The leftist Christian socialism of the 1950s and ’60s is no longer what it was. The Christian democracy of former President Frei Ruiz-Tagle is different from that of Frei Montalva, his father, because between the two worlds lies half a century of undeniable liberal successes and the foundering of statist recipes. 

The socialism of Ricardo Lago has very little to do with Salvador Allende’s, although it respectfully cultivates his memory, because along the road to freedom, Lago transformed into a genuine social democrat and buried the Marxist ballast.

On the other hand, those who have not moved from their fanatical stance are the communists, those who Bachelet stubbornly carried to the Concertation and continue to defend an impoverishing model of society. But in their ideological sin they carry the penitence: the pretty Camila Vallejo, who was very popular when she acted as the rambunctious student leader in the opposition, was elected to Congress and now has the support of only 3 percent of Chileans.

I hope Chile will return to the path of common sense and good government. It was a lighthouse to guide Latin Americans. The loss of that leadership, I insist, will hurt us all. 

One Response to “Bachelet turns her back on today’s Chile”

  1. Manuel 29 November 2014 at 2:07 pm Permalink

    what nobody is talking about: http://politicuba.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/more-cubans-than-ever-en-the-past-34-years/

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