Peter Hakim, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, talked with TRT World about the ongoing protests in Chile and what the unrest demonstrates about underlying trends in Chile and in the region.
Comments by Peter Hakim:
“The protests in Chile were surprising. I think virtually every Chilean was surprised. Chile was the most stable politically, the most progressive, and the most prosperous economically of any country in Latin America. A three percent rise in subway prices suddenly sparked this enormous upheaval, really in ways that were surprising, not only in their intensity but also in the violence that accompanied them and the length of time it has gone on.”
“The question of what is bubbling underneath the surface is the question that people are talking about. There’s a certain stratification in Chile. There is a small group of people, the elite, that have very good private services in health, education, and transportation. Then there is a larger group of Chileans who were promised that Chile was progressing, yet their lives are very difficult. For them, things don’t seem to be progressing fast enough. They don’t have access to the kinds of public services that you would expect of a country that has progressed as far as Chile. I think there were unfulfilled promises.”
“There are upheavals across the region right now, and I think there may be some relation among them. The economies of most countries in the region are not doing very well. There’s a sense of greater inequality and poverty than there was 5 years ago. At the same time, I think you have to look very carefully at each country because there are very different reasons, but there is a sense of anger, frustration, and disappointment throughout the region. I think that Chile is one more country seeing that, and it’s surprising because Chile has been the most successful.”