Cliff hanger…

 

A small town in Chile on the out­skirts of Santiago

Tra­di­tional Chilean meal yum!

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.”…

Are the people spoken for..

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.

 

Exceedingly above and beyond all I could ask….

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!