Argentine writer and journalist Andrés Oppenheimer referred to the social outburst that has rocked the country over the past week, which triggered a hike in the Metro passage. From there, everything has escalated and yesterday, on the seventh day of mobilization, in the midst of riots and curfews, a massive march was held in Santiago.
But it is not the way that concerns the intellectual, who claims that «the protests in Chile are of the First World». He titled his most recent opinion column published in the Trans-Andean newspaper La Nación. There, Oppenheimer departs from the Venezuelan vision of the national conflict.
«Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and the old guard of the world left are holding Chile’s violent street protests as evidence of an alleged failure of the free market system. In fact, it is quite the opposite: it is a revolt of the First World, the product of a growing middle class that demands more benefit from the economic success of its country,» he says.
Oppenheimer says that he came to this conclusion after talking to former President Ricardo Lagos about President Sebastián Piñera’s announcement, in which he reversed recent hikes in public transport and announced a package of social assistance measures after street riots that left dead, subway stations burned and supermarkets ranouts, forcing Piñera to declare a state of emergency.
How could this have happened in Latin America’s most successful economy?» the journalist asked Ricardo Lagos.
According to Oppenheimer’s account, Lagos pointed out that although Chile is the most successful country in Latin America in almost every field, it has not been as successful in reducing inequality.
«The public feels that, although poverty has declined substantially, there is a very high concentration of income, and an inequality that has not been adequately attacked,» the former reporter told the journalist.
As Lagos says, says Oppenheimer, Chile needs to raise taxes, especially the rich, because more public services are needed.
The transcendent intellectual who now resides in the United States, says there are probably many factors that led to the Chile protests, «including Venezuela’s support for the radical leftist groups of the Sao Paulo Forum that, as it has publicly confessed Maduro himself, are helping to provoke street protests in several countries.»
«But Chile’s social protests are different from those of Ecuador, Haiti and other countries that have been forced to raise utility prices because they are broken. Chile’s protests are more similar to those of the «outraged» in Spain or those of the «yellow vests» in France. They reflect a crisis of unfulfilled expectations in developed countries,» he said.
Oppenheimer closes his opinion by pointing out that Chile’s capitalist system may need a correction, like all systems. «But it is far more successful than the disastrous Maduro regime, or the recent populist governments of the Kirchner family in Argentina, which left their countries bankrupt.»
«Chile cannot be ruled out soon, and that it will become an even more successful model for the rest of Latin America,» he concluded.
Read the full column here.