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Chile

Geopolitics

Why Chile's Radicals Are Already Sinking Their Own Leftist President

After becoming Chile's youngest president in December's elections, former student activist and socialist Gabriel Boric has disappointed his most radical voters. Will they prolong the social unrest and creative chaos that have smashed the country's fame as a conservative backwater?

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — I've been following Chile closely. While the country has South America's best social and economic indicators, and was supposedly a model to follow, it has suffered a political event not unlike the earthquakes so common to that land. And all in just three years.

Let's start with something Chile considered as solved since the restoration of democracy in 1990: violence or irrational destruction. Admittedly there were still active guerrilla groups like the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, close to the Communist Party, and the MIR (also Marxists), but Chileans generally reacted with measure to crises.

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Work → In Progress: Why 'Financial Wellness' Is Not Just About A Raise

The workplace wellness trend now includes the very practical questions about how, when and how much we get paid, and is shaping up to be the next step in blurring the lines between personal and professional that were once so neatly divided.

We’re approaching the end of Q1 of 2022 and the “wellness” trend that’s usually reserved for millennials’ yoga mats has officially made its way into the professional world. After two years of realizing that job setups don’t always favor employees’ health, the call for sweeping workplace changes — ranging from more medical access to an HR focus on mental well-being — is in full swing.

But wouldn't you know: the latest professional self-care trend carries a notably practical air: financial wellness.

Bank of America’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Report mentioned “financial wellness” 43 times, which it defined as “the type of support employers are offering to address financial needs.” But is making money not the point of work? It seems this new rebranding of how work relates to cash is indicative of how differently we now view employment.

The financial wellness movement doesn’t want companies to just fairly compensate employees but instead to teach them how to manage their salaries, be it saving for retirement, navigating debt or budgeting.

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For Latin American Cities, Flying Cars Are Suddenly Within Reach

It may sound like science-fiction, but firms are already developing prototypes for this cheaper alternative to the helicopter. And for Latin America in particular, the sky's the limit for what Flying cars can bring.

SANTIAGO — Imagine taking a taxi — a flying taxi — to work. It sounds like the stuff of science-fiction like The Jetsons, the 1962 cartoon series set in 2062, but it may become reality sooner than we or filmmakers imagined.

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New Russian Targets, ISIS Leader Death Confirmed, Two Years Of Pandemic

👋 Салам!*

Welcome to Friday, where Russian airstrikes target additional Ukrainian cities, while Moscow’s 40-mile long military convoy is on the move again near Kyiv; also, a new report finds the COVID-19 death toll may be three times higher than official data suggests. Clemens Wergin in German daily Die Welt examines the West’s different possible options to help Ukraine on a military level, and the risks they entail.

[*Salam - Kyrgyz]

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Geopolitics
Loris Zanatta*

Why Chile's Leftist Victory Is No Model For Other Progressives

The recent electoral victory of a youthful leftist in Chile has inspired the left in Latin America and around the world. But the country's unique political and economic history means it is not necessarily a model for the rest of the world.

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES —The "Chilean model" is back in vogue, following the left's recent electoral triumph in that country. The election in December of the youthful Gabriel Boric has inspired the left worldwide and positively fired up Latin America's socialists. It's all smiles and hugs right now.

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Economy
Gwendolyn Ledger

Are Rich Latin Americans Creating A Miami Real Estate Bubble?

Wealthy Latin Americans have been among the most active home buyers in Miami, which now may be creating a "tough" sellers' market perceived by some as simply a haven for assets threatened by instability in home countries.

-Analysis-

MIAMI — If New York is the city that never sleeps, Miami may well be the city that never stops growing. Florida's bilingual paradise with dreamy beaches is expanding both upwards and sideways, and has received almost 1,000 new residents a day since 2020, according to figures from local realtors ISG Realty and ISG World.

The attraction has spread to surrounding districts and counties, both for Florida's climate and beaches and for the security and stability the United States assures. Geraldo, a financier from Peru, has been living in Weston, in Broward County north-east of Miami, for almost a year. He decided to buy a house with a garden there for the area's reputable schools, infrastructure and "impressive security." These and other factors like Florida's lower personal taxes have all fueled demand for homes in several districts of southern Florida and also in Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa.

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Geopolitics
América Economía

Chile's Elections Bring Youthful Promises — And Uncertainty

Will Chile's president-elect Gabriel Boric and his team lead the country toward a European-style social-democracy in partnership with business, or will the country turn sharply left if traditional economic powers resist their reforms?

SANTIAGO DE CHILE – What just ended, and what is beginning in Chile, with the overwhelming victory of the leftist presidential candidate, Gabriel Boric?

The 35-year-old of the Broad Front (Frente amplio) won the Dec. 19 general elections with 55.9% of all votes cast, against 44.1% for the very conservative José Antonio Kast. This removes all doubts on the desire for fundamental changes among the majority of Chileans, especially when the results come in the wake of violent protests in October 2019 against growing inequality, privatization, and increasing corruption. The outcome is also voters' clear endorsement of the October 2020 plebiscite on the adoption of a new constitution, which was in response to the 2019 demonstrations.

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Work In Progress
Rozena Crossman

Work → In Progress: The Working World In 2022

Will the Great Resignation of the past year lead to a Great Reskilling the next...?

Like the year before, 2021 was filled with Zoom meetings, travel bans, shaky economics and supply chain disruptions. At the same time, it was a singular year, defined by strikes, international labor shortages and vaccine mandates in many workplaces. As Q4 comes to an end, things are ramping up, and the work challenges of 2022 are becoming very clear.

All over the world, unemployment is high — and so is the lack of available labor. What will see a bigger increase, inflation or salary bumps? Will the Great Resignation lead to a Great Reskilling? What we do know is that white-collar workers are shifting from overtime to flexible schedules, from cogs in the wheel to drivers in the front seat, from struggling independent contractors to employees with full benefits.

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food / travel
René Armas Maes

Premium-Economy Pivot? Airlines Adjust Seat Size, Hope For Travel Rebound

Airlines are eyeing premium economy seating options to woo money-conscious business class travelers, and possibly weary economy passengers, back to air travel.

-Analysis-

SANTIAGO — Back in May, I wrote that full-service airlines should start analyzing the costs, benefits, and impact of the demand of business travel, and see whether they would profit from reducing seats in executive class cabins, and from developing products like the premium economy class, which lies between business and economy in terms of comfort and price. They should start doing this in the last quarter of 2021 — I wrote back in May — especially considering that the demand for business class seats and its revenues were unlikely to recover in the following 12 months. And that is what is happening now.

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Migrant Lives
Arturo Galarce

A Migrant Odyssey: Haiti To Chile To Mexico's Border, And Beyond

Shella Jean was part of a new migration path from Haiti to the relatively prosperous nation of Chile. But she has since left behind her "Chilean Dream" on a perilous journey northward toward the U.S.-Mexico Border. This is her story.

I met Shella Jean in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in July 2017. The first time I saw her, she was standing next to a gas station in the blazing sun. I remember her face: the almond-shaped eyes, the thick lips, and eyebrows as thin as two strands of thread. Shella took me to her home.

We climbed a steep stone street until we reached a concrete room. It was used as a dining room during the day and a bedroom where she slept with her mother, a cousin and a nephew whom she had to take to Chile to reunite with his parents.

Indeed, accompanying her nephew was not only the mission entrusted to her by her relatives but also her chance to start a new life, away from the misery of her homeland.

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Geopolitics
Natalia Vera and Héctor Cancino

EVs Start Moving Latin American Cities To Sustainability

Electric vehicles are a novelty with promise in Latin America and are already expanding in several of its city bus fleets.

SANTIAGO — It's a distance of 1,150 kilometers, a 12-hour car journey, between Temuco in southern Chile and La Serena in the north. Now, you can drive this distance with an electric car, thanks to a network of charging points placed throughout the 1,400-kilometer length of Chile by Copec Voltex, a firm providing electromobility solutions.

The head of the firm's B2C (business-to-consumer) Commercial Projects Director, Alan Morgan Rojas, says Copec realized electromobility was "coming to stay," hence its decision to enter into recharging infrastructures, "which has a fundamental role. The question this scenario prompts is which comes first, electric cars or charging infrastructure? Without charging points at service stations connecting the country, automobile brands would find it difficult to risk bringing them out if they couldn't even leave Santiago, for example."

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AMERICA ECONOMIA
Daniela Arce

From Europe To Latin America, Business Schools Are Going Green

Institutions tasked with training the next generation of business leaders are realizing that sustainability matters, and making significant adjustments to their curriculae.

SANTIAGO — The ESCP Business School, based in Paris but with campuses across Europe, recently opened a sustainability department. The goal is to shift away from traditional courses on corporate responsibility and instead train students and staff to understand and innovate along sustainability lines, a concept that is of growing interest to the business world.

Roxana Olaru, head of admissions and sustainability at ESCP Madrid, says the school has been working with sustainability for at least four years, "through consultancy projects and the creation of various, specialized masters courses." All MBA programs, she said, now have a sustainability module.

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Sources
Carlos Escaffi*

In Chile, Between Healthy Change And Outright Chaos

The social explosion of 2019, a referendum the following year, and last month's 'mega election' have pushed the country in a whole new direction. But is there any method to the madness?

-OpEd-

Chile recently held what was described here as a "mega election." On May 15 and 16, voters not only chose new governors, mayors and district councilors, but also the assembly members who will have the historic task of drafting the country's new constitution.

The election follows last year's referendum, in October, on whether to forge a new constitution and thus scrap the existing one (which dates back to 1980, when Chile was still in a dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet). The vote was overwhelming: 78% of people backed the creation of a new constitution, and 79% decided it should be written by a fully elected Constituent Assembly.

That's part of context, as is the social explosion that took place in late 2019, a year before the plebiscite. And the lesson drawn from all this is that people are blatantly rejecting the current system, the political establishment and all our familiar people and practices, including the very model of politics to which we've ascribed for decades.

People have sought to explain the mega-election results with sophisms and excuses. They say that nobody could see this coming. Others — people here and there who managed to retain a mayorship or a few city council seats — respond with an absurd complacency. Either way, we are not considering the problem at its roots. There is no real or specific expression of contrition.

A voting center in Santiago, on the first day of elections in Chile, May 15, 2021 — Photo: Matias Basualdo

From my modest point of view, there are signs that we are in a political transition not just here in Chile, but at the regional level, and that the recent vote was a crude expression of social protest. Never mind if it is deep or considered: The point is that change is imminent. In aggregate terms, the current voter cares little about what's really going on in the background.

Social and online trends have imposed themselves. I repeat, there is no background, just a poverty of ideas and real debate. The point was to change things, that and nothing more. Another great conclusion is that the consequences of all this will only emerge in time. Let's just hope we don't slide down the slope of populist payouts and a ballooning public sector with more governors, officials and hangers-on.

Looking at the bulk of the 155 constituent assembly members, I fear that the text they will design will come from the heart, not the mind. The problem is that a passionate, possibly overbearing text — one that will then have to be ratified, again through a referendum — is no good. Its scope and shelf-life will be limited.

Finally, it is clear to me that this is the hour, in Chile, of the millennials. We should not be surprised that a 30-year-old economist, Irací Hassler, should have become Santiago's first communist mayor. Nor that Macarena Ripamonti, a 29-year-old lawyer with the Democratic Revolution party, would be elected mayor of Viña del Mar, on the coast.

It may be harsh to say, but our conventional politicians must take responsibility for recent events, and even retire. Especially those who had no vision or responsibility with education!

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Geopolitics
Martin González Solar and Víctor Contreras Kong

Why Latin Americans Fear The Chinese Vaccine

People around the world and around Latin America are wary of the vaccination campaigns to fight COVID-19. But there is a particular hesitancy toward the vaccine solution arriving from China that by now should be discarded, along with stereotypes.

-OpEd-

Polls reveal a range of public fears in Latin America about the various COVID-19 vaccines. Yet the one prompting the most concerns are the Chinese vaccine Coronavac, created by the firm Biotech Sinovac.

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ULTIMAS NOTICIAS
Benjamin Witte

Powering Through Appendicitis For Perfect Score On Chile's National Exam

The 18-year-old was doubled over in pain, but her parents thought it was just a case of exam-time nerves. She survived... and then some!

The two-day, standardized exam that Chilean high school students must take to gain entry into university is grueling enough to make anyone a bit sick to their stomach.

Antonia Schmohol, 18, was no exception, although in her case, the abdominal aches that began bothering her on the eve of the dreaded PTU, as the test is called, turned out to be more than just a case of nerves, the Chilean daily Las Ultimas Notícias reports.

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Economy
Fernando Fernández*

Piling Up Public Debt, Risks Of A COVID Economic Consensus

The pandemic has prompted financial authorities to take a more relaxed approach to debts. For Latin America, overspending in response to the crisis may take them back to the poverty pits of the past.

-Analysis-

The world is engaged in a dangerous experiment. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, central banks abandoned their manuals on traditional monetary policy to become the chief protagonists of an economic stabilization approach. They guaranteed infinite liquidity at historically minimal prices, and embarked on monetary expansion so sustained and spectacular as to be far more than just "unconventional."

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