Andrés Oppenheimer, the first analyst of Latin American reality in the United States, says that Chilean street riots are the expression of the revolt of a successful society that demands standards of living such as those in the United States or Europe. It is not a poor country that protests due to hunger but, on the contrary, it is a successful nation that wishes to accelerate its development.
“Let’s dissect this,” Jack the Ripper would say.
Chile, indeed, is a very successful society. It leads almost all the economic and social indexes of Latin America, including that of honesty (Transparency International). It has reduced poverty levels very noticeably. It has increased the individuals’ lifespans to be among the world’s highest, which demonstrates the quality of its public health services. (The Cuban doctors based in Chile tell me that their Chilean counterparts have much better knowledge, training and equipment than they had on the island.)
To this picture we must add the low unemployment (6.5%), the minimum inflation (2.2%), the high per capita achieved ($24,600) and the undeniable fact that this First World profile is due to the free and open markets, driven, first, by Pinochet. And then to the democracy achieved by the transition, which includes two Christian Democrats (Aylwin and Frei), two socialists (Lagos and Bachelet) and a conservative (Piñera). When the reforms began there were 200 exporting companies. Today there are almost 2,500 and the country has signed dozens of “Free Trade Agreements” with every nation.
I don’t believe that the motivation behind the street disorders is a product of the frustrations of the middle classes. I don’t know any reasonable person capable of burning a train station to achieve the quality of life of Americans and Europeans. Chileans do not live worse than Hungarians, Poles or Portuguese. They live better than the Romanians, Bulgarians and Montenegrins, all of them European peoples, and the prospects were that they would continue to improve.
However, throughout my life I have seen many fanatics capable of destroying the foundations of a society, as happened in Cuba or Venezuela, even in Argentina, based on ideological superstitions. They just need to have the wrong ideas and perceptions. They just need to despise the adversary for his imagined failures of character and humanity. They just need to characterize them as “bourgeois at the service of Yankee imperialism” to go out and kill them. Throughout the twentieth century, Nazis, fascists and communists combined killed much more than one hundred million “enemies of the people.”
In my opinion, it is quite clear that the communists wanted to destroy Chile. Why? Because Chile is a harmful example for them. It was a successful society in which they insisted on seeing only the alleged failures. If the most comprehensive of Latin America’s educational successes had been achieved, it was at the cost of exploiting the students, as denounced by the young communist Camila Vallejo, accompanied by her Cuban partner.
If the average social levels had increased significantly, they exhibited the wrong book by Frenchman Thomas Piketty about capitalism, or the Gini index of Chile (50) to try to prove that the lack of equity was terrible, hiding that the lower Latin American coefficient is that of El Salvador (35), which implies that this data is almost useless. They even concealed that Chile, as it developed, reduced that elusive data. In the year 2000 the Chilean Gini was 55. In 2018 it had already been reduced to 50.
Who were the hooded individuals who committed these excesses against Chilean society? First, I think there is a lot of sinister fun in the incendiary torch. The mixture of youth hormones with political causes is tremendous, as was seen in Paris in 1968. But we must also take Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello seriously when they indicate that they were the instigators, but the executors were the local communists. It was not a spontaneous explosion, but a thoughtful plan.
As analyst Juan Lehuedé said, in a video that has become viral , it is not possible to burn dozens of train stations simultaneously without prior coordination. That is why the United States and Europe will increase sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela. To those nations, the relationship between sin and sinners is very clear.
Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.