Advanced series 2
5: Chile – temas corrientes en Chile
Hi. Hi, and welcome to episode number 5 of Latin Voices. Again, this will be my third conversation with Sebastian, and we'll be talking about the news, and culture in Chile. What is spoken about today, what are the current hot topics in Chile, and the latest trends.
Hello Sebastián, good morning.
The truth is that little by little we are entering the autumn, now, so it feels a bit more cold, in winter to be honest, we are entering winter so one feels the cold more, it is raining more, today in the morning there was a mist where you couldn’t see anything, but anyway, in general it is not bad, I can’t complain.
Of course, we have to– Where I live I have– It's not that big, but for four people who live here, the parents of my girlfriend and I, there are two separate houses, we have a lot of work to do, but it is really nice, we grow olives to make our own olive oil and it is very good, it is a very satisfactory work.
It’s just picking them?
Yes, just to harvest the olives, nothing more, they grow on their own to be honest, with the rain and everything, they don’t even need to be watered, no. They grow alone.
How often do you pick them?
Once a year, always on this date, more or less, in November, December, maximum, almost always in November.
Do you have olives in Chile?
Yes, Chile also has a good production of olives, olive oil, the thing is that the climate and the terrain is very similar, from the center of Italy, center and North of Italy, it is very similar to the central zone of Chile. The wines, for example, the olive oil, there are many things that are very similar here in Italy.
Today we wanted to ask you a little about the political issues that are like, not fashionable, but if you know a little about what is going on politically in Chile, What is the situation? If you can tell us I imagine that for– Because when I try to talk about Colombia it is a bit difficult to get to a topic without having a bit of– You have to know a little bit who the governments are, as like a starter, to the political issue in Chile.
I really always stay informed with the Internet, obviously, I like to know what is happening there and I feel very close, my family is all there, my friends are all there, just like I don’t feel like I left Chile and I am no longer Chilean, no, not at all. I stay very well informed. Chile has always been a country with a fairly low profile, in almost every sense, in an economic or political, social, cultural sense, as a famous country, it has always been very low profile until, say, less than 10 years ago. About 10 or maximum 15 years ago, it began to grow much more economically, to be better, to stand out a little more with different things, tourism began, little by little people began to get used to foreigners, to have immigration, to tourists, and some four, five years ago, we had always had a bit of immigration from Peru and Bolivia, but there was not much cultural shock, because the cultures are very similar, but about four years ago, three years ago, a lot of immigration started from Central America, the Caribbean and Haiti. In proportion, because we are few, Chileans are 16 million in total, a large country, we are few people, but large in territory. I think that some of them began to be noticed as problems, some cultural clashes with other cultures that had traditions, customs, much different to us. That started to cause problems and today there is high tension, as in almost all other countries, but there is something that had never happened to us, with the issue of immigration, there are many people with divided thoughts, some think that we should help more or be more supportive, others are very far right and want to kick out the immigrant and close the country. Yes, things are a little tense in Chile.
Interesting, because Colombia, I believe that up to now, with the issue of Venezuela Colombia has begun to regulate the issue of migration, it has never been a factor, migration has never been an important point in the agenda of the country, until just, but for the issue of Venezuela. I understand the immigration issue in Chile, the immigration control is stronger, that is, many people want to enter the country and, are there more restrictions or is there a lot of control? Let's say, if I want to travel or live a few years in Chile, do they have a process– It's a bit difficult, perhaps, if I want to go for a couple of years?
Lately they are restricting visas much more, there are only three months as tourists, but even tourists are asking to certify tickets, money, reservations, so that they can prove that they are tourists and that they are going to return to their country. Yes, lately the issue of immigration is much stricter and yes, the truth is that before it was not like that, before it was much freer. Even what many people did, they went to Chile, they arrived, they had a visa for three months as a tourist, they went to Argentina one day, you had to cross the Andes, you could cross by bus, they stayed one day in Argentina, they came back the next day had three more months, they did that every three months and could stay a long time. Now it is much more restricted, now, it is more complicated.
Is the government very protective? In the sense of protecting its nationals.
Of course, we have a right-wing government that is a president that had already governed, or the period before, the penultimate period, because the last period was governed by Michelle Bachelet, who was, so to speak, center-left, more or less, now it's Sebastián Piñera, from the right, but it's a rare mixture, because the president now–
Who is the president, sorry?
His name is Sebastián Piñera, and Sebastián Piñera was, for example, a Chicago Boy, I don’t know if you know them, they are young guys who studied economics at the University of Chicago many years ago and studied the new models of capitalism, neoliberalism, like to do–
Equal– This year the president of Colombia was also elected, in July and the description is the same, he’s about 40 years old, he studied in I don’t know what university from the United States, worked at the World Bank.
That's right, economist.
Now he's president.
All economists, Donald Trump is also an economist, they are all economists, and yes, our president is 100% economist. The truth is that the economy, social policies don’thing, or very recently, and now with everything to do with immigration, they have begun to have many problems and the government continues not to do much, as 99% of its effort is for the economy. Yes, economically, Chile is doing quite well, but socially and politically there are plenty of problems lately.
There are plenty of political parties, but almost always they split into two groups, basically those who support the government and the opposition. There are several parties, but they are grouped in the end to make two teams, let’s say, two sides, but yes, there are parties, I don’t know, the Socialist, the Christian Democracy, Party for Democracy, there are plenty, but they are divided into those, those who support the government who are–
The one that is called Christian Democracy must be religious groups and so on.
Yes, the truth is that the church has lost enough power in general, now it is divided between those who support the government and those who don’t, and those who support the government are more centre-right and right, because the government is right-wing, but of course, I think something that is still important in Chile, is something very strange if you compare it with other countries that went through something similar with the issue of military government and Augusto Pinochet.
Look, for example, I don’t know, if you here in Italy you do the Nazi salute, you can go to prison, you go to prison, in Germany too, because you can’t be a supporter, I don’t know, of Nazism, of fascism, Mussolini, Hitler, but in Chile people say it openly, there are people who still openly say that, “Pinochet was a hero, which was the best thing that could have happened in Chile”. Because the difference [was] that in Chile Pinochet's dictatorship ended peacefully, however, the period did not, it began very badly, a military coup, they killed many people, there are still thousands of detainees, disappeared where they never found the bodies, a lot of abuse of human rights, but as many of the people who supported the military government were quite alright at that time, those on the right and then the dictatorship was ended by vote, by a plebiscite, peacefully. The people did not stay with that taste that was left, for example, with the Nazis, with the Nazis, that the war ended or the liberation or something, in Chile it was like, “Okay”.
In Chile it was something more like low profile, the people don’t– You can still say openly that Pinochet was the best thing that happened in Chile and it's okay, it's not illegal, It's not a problem, nothing.
Of course, to those who agreed during that time, absolutely, for example, there are many people who are now in the right-wing government, which was part of the dictatorship of Pinochet at that time, many people.
Are they in government?
Exactly, still somehow or other they are related to the government, in fact, Pinochet was arrested in London, Pinochet was not– The beginning of the process started in London .
It ended up here, there is a strong community of Chileans, emigrants from there and they were very well organized, in fact, they are still there, I had the opportunity to meet two of them and it is a community of political asylees from Chile, who organized themselves here very well, after Pinochet's time and during that, I believe that England or London gave much support to the political asylees in Chile.
Yes, in fact, it was in London where Pinochet was arrested, they took him to Chile to prosecute him, but if it had not been for the intervention of London, Pinochet lived as a millionaire, an incredible life, I would never have been prosecuted, yes, it was thanks to that, that a process started in Chile, but in the end he died almost during the process, he had not even been truly condemned or anything, the truth is he lived a full life.
Yes, exactly, many, still on television, in politics, absolutely.
What are the things, let's say, that if you get to go back to Chile, it would be more difficult for you in terms of… like the administration of the country, for example, we know that corruption is worldwide, but in countries like ours it is a bit more difficult, or I speak for Colombia, the corruption issue is very complicated, but I have also always had in mind that Chile is one of the countries in South America that has developed more economically and has grown. That leads me to understand that its administration is also positive, it is good, when I think of returning to Colombia, that brings me back to the subject of politics, corruption, “para”-politicians, so many negative things that the administration has, for you would that also be a bit difficult? What things of politics in Chile do you see that will not change or that are difficult?
I, at least, think politics … Chile is a small United States in the political system, a mini-United States, economic policy is the same, very capitalist , deep down there are many opportunities, if you want to open companies, if you want to do business, there are many opportunities. I never saw it as a bad country in terms of how many opportunities you could have or possibilities to grow, in that sense yes, but the truth is, I left Chile three years ago, I returned last June this year, I took my wife to see it, I wanted to show her everything, and the truth the first impression that was taken from Santiago, especially that half of Chile is Santiago, she was left with a very bad impression because, for example, there were things that had not been there three years ago, like mass immigration causes problems, for example, 6:00 PM, it is still clear and you could see prostitutes in the street, in the corners, in some central areas or many people asking for in the street, which was not so
– you dind’t see that so much before and that's where it started to go down– Low quality of life in general, I think the last two or three years its diminished, maybe in numbers it is still going well, but in real terms, the quality of life of the people, especially the issue of immigration itself, the quality of life has decreased a lot.
Yeah, but it's the emigrants who are in that situation, we can say, of poverty or like trying to find their feet in the streets and this also happens a lot in cities, especially in Colombia, but Chileans as such, are stable, have their jobs, have a good salary, live well, but that for Chileans, but for the migrant?
You have many opportunities to live well, but it's super expensive, it's expensive, I compare it in fact, there are things, they're more expensive than they are from here, in the city where I live in Italy, my wife-
– for example, if you go to a pub, a beer will not cost you less than €4, more or less, in a pub, a drink, for example, a cocktail you can get for at least €5, €6, here in my city I have an appetizer for €4 and the appetizer has things to eat, things to pick at, to eat, instead in Chile they are €4, €5, just a drink nothing else.
Education a few years ago began little by little to become public and free, before there was free public education only until middle school, which would be like high school, and the university system was always paid.
That's very good.
Now, it's just becoming free, little by little, but, for example, I studied and my university paid for it, approximately €500 a month or so, and luckily I had a part that was a scholarship and the other part I paid in cash every month, it's expensive.
Now it's moving to the– I guess, there are private universities and public universities.
The thing is, before, all the universities, whether private or public, they had to pay, and a lot, and a public university had only the public name because in the end, you had to pay it, a lot, a good university, the public ones are good generally, for example, I don’t know, my brother studied, he studied, now he changed, he studied engineering in a public university, but a good one, a very good one, and he paid around like € 8,000 a year more or less from university and it was public.
Yes, instead, now little by little they are doing more, for certain people, those who are most in need, let's say, are getting free, the idea would be that, that at least all public education is free in universities, in a couple of years maybe.
Sure, the top ones. The Cambridges are the same, they are good at the Latin American level, in Latin America they are quite good, which would be the University of Chile, the Catholic University and the Federico Santa María. Chile and the Catholic are traditional, they are, I don’t know, Medicine, Law, they would all be like the best. And Federico Santa María would be like Engineering, they have the best Engineering in the country. [Chile] also has an aviation school and other things like that, but Federico Santa María is more technical. Those are the best three.
Sebastián, thank you very much for all the information and for giving us a look at the political issues of Chile.
Until next time.