This is my last day in Santiago and perhaps the hardest. When I came to Chile I had lots of questions and my personal beliefs of reform were consistently challenged. I came with questions and I have interestingly left with more questions! I wanted to learn more about economic reform and how to work with developing countries and I’ve realized how important it is to see things from all avenues. In an attempt to understand reform I’ve discovered the cohesiveness is a prime catalyst. So many are divided by opinion and methodology of how a country is to develop. In this program there was an unexplainable bond that caused us to see problems in a new lens. There were many disagreements in the classroom about poverty, inequality and economic development. However, the people in the program made it worthwhile. There was an unexplainable bond between all of us that allowed us to be more open about our opinion. It facilitated growth and understanding in the midst of division.
Within my first week there I privileged to meet Jose Pinera the president’s brother and one of the most important things he said was “Be the best in your area of profession so you can really pave a way and be a pioneer of true progression.” I firmly believe this. This is a lesson I will take with me all throughout my life.
As I leave Chile I leave with memories and my life forever changed. I have amazing friends and more research I would like to do. Not just about Chile but all throughout Latin America as a whole. Every country in Latin America is so diverse and each has a need to be catered to and I look forward to going back and doing work for my profession in Latin America.
When I think about Eritrea – my native country I see so many parallels. I know Eritrea will pave a way and do something it has never done before. As it borders the Red Sea there is so much opportunity and potential. I come home to the United States with a desire to bring change to Eritrea in this way. I still have so many questions but I know they will be answered as I do precisely what Mr. Pinera said….”pave a way and be a pioneer of true progression.”…
Famous Resturant in Bella Vista a neighborhood in Santiago Chile.
I am halfway through my program and the internal questions I came with are gradually being answered. I wanted raw exposure to a country that worked its way out of poverty into success. In my economic and political courses as well as some of the field trips I have seen what Chile has done to stand out in Latin America. The military coup in 1973 left Chile in need of political reform. One in which would help the country and the people. Sadly, over 45,000 people disappeared, left the country or died in the process of reform. I had to ask myself this question, do the ends justify the means? Was the reconstruction process in its entirety completely necessary? Chile’s economic success has brought it to be a 1st world leader in Latin America but at the expense of people’s lives. Human rights at the time of reform weren’t even considered due to being under a dictatorship. However, the dictatorship brought such strong economic growth. The country was falling apart after 1973 and the extreme measures taken …had to be taken. . When I ask myself are the people spoken for in some ways I do see this happening in others way I don’t. This is no justification for taking one life. However we see historically for the sake of a establishing a country lives had to sacrificed. Ultimately, they weren’t in vain and it led to the strong establishment of Chile. It was good for the country and but process wasn’t pleasant. The consistent growth rate of Chile has only been increasing and will continue to do so. I would love to see Chile embrace the poor and empower the individuals of the lower class. All people indigenous and native Indians need to be a part of the continuing reform never ostracized. I noticed in some places of Chile segregation between the upper class and the more tribal parts of Chile have been an issue for a long to come.
A perfect example of this happened on our field trip to Congress. During our trip we had a lecture by two congressman and they spoke of their district and the people they represent. Interestingly one of the congressman spoke about a tribal group called the “Mapoche”. They are a group who has remained faithful to their tribal roots and have rights like the rest of Chile. They aren’t developing as fast as the rest of the country and this is done by choice to protect and preserve their culture. Recently, a lot of terrorist attacks have occurred in the area where the Mapoche live. The Congressman expressed the need to represent the Mapoche in an uncondescending way. He also indicated his tireless efforts to do so. It was so refreshing to see the process of having ALL the people spoken for. Though only a fragment it was precisely what I wanted to know…are the people being spoken for.
My view as to how people are represented in the political realm has been challenged. I’m still bothered by the loss of lives during the 1970’s, yet I can’t change that. This is precisely why it frustrates me. A life once it’s gone is unattainable. Though I can’t change this, I can look for preventable principals politically in my career to prevent such atrocities’. Easier said than done! Nonetheless all the people are being spoken for.
- Jose Pinera — Father of the Chilean Pension system & Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, also the Presidents Brother
I have been in Santiago, for about 5 full days now and I feel like have been here for weeks! I don’t know how to describe how I feel about Chile. There is so much history and the heritage of this country wonderful. As the plane landed and I took a bus to the hotel the drive was incredible. Coincidently I saw a lot of correlation to my native home town of Asmara, Eritrea. I am staying in Providencia is a commune of Chile located in Santiago Province, Santiago Metropolitan Region. I was extremely surprised as to how modernized Santiago is. The have just as many fast food chains as we do in the United States. On my second night here, a huge group of us in the class went to a popular restaurant in western Santiago called La Casa en El Aire– translated as “The House in the Air or Sky. They have live music, dancing and we had lots of fun. The lively mood began to dwindle down and as I was taking a lot of pictures, I noticed a photo of a particular social leader in the restaurant. I was drawn to it because for some Chileans it stood for change and for others deep oppression. I was so torn by what he stood for in Chile but none the less I took pictures. Immediately I was rudely interjected by a young man asking me why I was taking pictures of this leader. So I told him how these pictures were for memorabilia purposes. Western Santiago politically has been known to be leftist or socialist. He began to express his hatred for the left side and how I shouldn’t take pictures of this leader. I was taken back by his harshness but I wanted to turn this into a unique opportunity to learn about his beliefs. There is always two sides to a story so I wanted to hear his. In no way did I want be biased and I wanted to hear his heart. Personally to hear the peoples story first hand is such an honor. As this young man began to talk to me he told me his phone had a tracking device where if he were to disappear the military can track him down by his calls. I considered this to be a random fact …until it suddenly dawned on me this wasn’t some random person I was talking to. He turned out to be the son of a Governor from the Southern Chile region. In all honesty, the likelihood of sparking a long and healthy conversation is always wonderful… but with a governors’ son? I also discovered he was a part of the program I was in. We became good friends after this interesting experience. What could have been a bitter misunderstanding became the precipice of a long term friendship. It was him along with other native Chileans that I learned much about the history and roots of the Chilean people politically and economically. I have already made such amazing lifelong friends here. Unlike the United States it is very easy to grow close with people here because the culture is very open warm and incredibly receptive.
The next day was all together life changing. I am taking courses at La Universidad de Andes (The University of the Andes) in political and economic theory. I have learned so much about the Chilean economy and its fast turnaround post the military coup of 1973. Chile is now considered to be the first 1st world country in Latin America. This is a huge accomplishment. Other developing countries can learn so much from this pioneering country! This particular day in class we had a guest speaker Jose Pinera. He is the father of the Chilean pension system, Senior fellow at the Cato Institute and also the President’s brother. Before the lecture started a lot of students went to talk with him and I didn’t want to be a bother so i decided to continue walking to my desk. As I was heading back to my desk he noticed my camera and said “Wait, you have been waiting…? What’s your name? Let’s take a picture!” I was privileged to meet him and take a picture with him. He made sure I wasn’t forgotten even when I had decided to squash any hope of ever meeting him! He was very friendly! When he did the lecture it was one of the most amazing lectures I had ever been to. He spoke from personal experience and it was very impactful and commendable. He talked about Africa and his heart to create a stronger economy that was beneficial for all the people. I was surprised by his future goal to help Africa. He spoke directly to my desires. It fanned a flame in my heart that I have been guarding.… After the lecture we visited the Chilean White House. This was such an incredible experience. It was so refreshing to see an actual church inside the White House. These people have such a reverential fear of God that really was encouraging to me. We also saw the room where one of the presidents committed suicide with an AK47 during the coup. The gun was given to him by Fidel Castro. Talk about incredible story my goodness!
These past few days have been monumental and far beyond all that I could have asked for. To meet such influential people and have some be lifelong friends really excites me! It makes me want to dream bigger than I have been about my career and aspirations. In less than a week Latin America has won my heart. I haven’t even left and I already want to go back..ha!