While Mr. Moore’s commentary on the rise and fall of the economic stability of Chile [“The Fall of Chile Is a Warning to America, published March 31, 2021] has some salient points, he neglects to mention a few of the facts that have had a profound and long-lasting impact on Chileans. In 1969, Salvador Allende was elected as Chile’s president. Although he openly espoused a leftist agenda, he was not able to move the economy forward as he hoped. Four years later, Augusto Pinochet and the military ousted Allende in a bloody coup that led to 17 years of a right-wing dictatorship, over 3,000 people who were assassinated or “were missing,” and 40,000+ plus victims of human rights abuses. It was during this period (1973–1989) that Mr. Moore states that Chile “embarked on one of the boldest sets of free-market economic reforms in history.”
He goes on to state that the situation today is bad and growing worse. Interestingly, the current president is a right-wing conservative with strong ties to the U.S. and other influential democratic governments.
When I visited friends in Chile in 2019, I was stunned by the amount of distrust that remains almost 50 years after the overthrow of Allende among people who were once friends and compatriots. The atrocities of both the left- and right-wing dictators still impact society in ways that make citizens (particularly those over the age of 50) distrustful of their government, unwilling to share their thoughts about politics and policy, and unsure who can be trusted.
The younger generation sees inequities and inconsistencies in a constitution that was written quickly at the end of the Pinochet dictatorship and is eager to try to do a better job. While there are certainly those who would advocate for a leftist agenda, there are also many who understand the importance of an economy that supports international investments (think copper, wine, agriculture) and free-market capitalism. It will be interesting to watch as talks begin and the multiple parties try to promote their concept of what government should become. Perhaps the bigger concern is the Chinese efforts to “invest” their way into Chile’s future.