In the early hours of yesterday morning, Chileans marked the one-year anniversary of the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that killed over 500 people, left thousands homeless and caused upwards of $30 billion in damage. President Sebastián Piñera attended the official vigil in the coastal town of Cobquecura, which was the epicenter of last year’s disaster.
Former president Michelle Bachelet, who was Chilean head of state during the 2010 tragedy and is currently the Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, replied to criticism of a perceived slow response on the part of her administration. In an interview yesterday with Radio Cooperativa, President Bachelet said that her government did everything “humanly possible,” adding that “we made the maximum effort to be with the people, the victims, and to come to the community.” Bachelet said that the only time the government paused during the recovery was to hand over power to Piñera, who assumed the presidency 13 days after the earthquake hit.
Looking forward, President Piñera remains optimistic about Chile’s future. In all, 220,000 homes, thousands of schools and hundreds of hospitals were destroyed by the earthquake. He noted that over half of the necessary reconstruction efforts to damaged infrastructure have already been achieved in one year’s time. Piñera proclaimed that “this is a gigantic accomplishment for all Chileans.”
Coincidentally, around 10:30pm local time yesterday evening, a smaller earthquake—registering a 5.9 magnitude on the Richter scale—hit southern Chile, specifically the Maule, Biobío, Los Ríos and Araucanía regions. No casualties have yet been reported, according to Chile’s Oficina Nacional de Emergencias (ONEMI). Another smaller earthquake followed this morning, around 7:30am local time, in Biobío.
The first months of 2010 have shown, in multiple and unexpected ways, the courage, resilience, and solidarity of the citizens of the
In my blog on March 13, I wrote about Secretary Clinton’s six country trip to the region. It was a great honor to accompany the Secretary. With each leader and citizen we met, our deep and personal engagement with our neighbors in the region was apparent. Given how much is at stake in the western hemisphere right now, I was pleased to have the opportunity to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on March 10—and share with Members of Congress my perspectives on our relationships with countries of the region and what we want to accomplish together.
I talked about efforts by the
This piece was co-authored with Mitchell Seligson of Vanderbilt University.
According to the UN Commission on Trade and Development over 60 percent of the population south of the Rio Grande is under 35 years old. Latin America’s young people will have an impact on political stability and the economy not just in their home countries but also in the U.S., where Latin America accounts for 20 percent of U.S. exports and is the major source of narcotics consumed in the U.S. There’s also the issue of immigration, where a backlash against Hispanic immigration has fueled a growing desire to close borders and sometimes spilling over into an ugly racist anger against immigrants already within our borders. With the huge demographic bubble south of U.S. border, the lack of economic opportunity faced by many of the young means that in the years ahead larger numbers of them will be knocking on U.S. doors for entry.
Below are the results from surveys conducted by the AmericasBarometer at Vanderbilt University in 2008 that examine youth attitudes and activities compared to their older counterparts.
The good news is that, despite lack of economic opportunity and the drug-fueled violence in Mexico and Central America and the Andes, two decades after the democratic transitions swept out military governments in every country throughout the region (except Cuba) Latin America’s “democratic generation” remains satisfied with democracy. But it’s not all good news. There is a support for violent protest—along the lines of factory seizures and sealing of highways we have seen in countries like Chile and Argentina—and a limited interest in local politics. But as we show below, the former does not mean support for such extra-legal activities enjoy broad support. In fact it remains marginal, though it is larger in the under 35 generation in Chile.
One thing is clearly revealed in the graphs below: whether you’re a marketer or a politician, if your target is the younger generation: use the Internet.
Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Ecuador are showing a display of solidarity with Chile in the aftermath of the February 27 earthquake. On Tuesday, Bolivian President Evo Morales said he would donate half of his salary to aid Chile, and called for a five-day campaign in Bolivia to raise funds for earthquake relief in Haiti as well as in Chile. Peruvian President Alan García arrived in Chile with Peruvian Health Minister Óscar Ugarte Ubilluz and 21 doctors, who will establish a field hospital in Concepción. In addition, the government of Argentina announced plans to increase the amount of gas it exports to Chile by a multiple of six, and Ecuador, which is not known for being a political ally to Chile, has already sent nine tons of supplies.
The region is not always so harmonious. There are historical conflicts, including Bolivia’s demand for access to the Pacific coast, and more recent disputes, like the one between Peru and Chile over their sea border and Chile’s clash with Argentina over gas exports.
While many issues remain unresolved, the support provided is a clear sign of putting aside political differences in times of crisis.