Chile protests: start of Latin America's left turn

The root cause of the ongoing civil protests throughout Chile is the most extreme form of legalized social inequality, RISS expert Igor Pshenichnikov says.

Having accumulated in Chile for many decades, people's discontent with socio-economic policy developed into open mass anti-government protests. The Chilean government has chosen to pursue privatization as a core of its policy for many years and distanced itself from all spheres of social and economic life. There is no other country in Latin America that conducts such privatization policy.

I.Pshenichnikov recalled that under the Pinochet dictatorship, Chile had begun moving towards privatizing the state in the 1980s. "Now everything is absolutely deregulated: education, medicine, pension coverage. Good social security system is a privilege for the wealthy. Only wealthy parents can pay to send children to good schools. The current situation tends to perpetuate social inequalities," he explained.

According to RISS expert, the Pinochet regime had given the new impetus to drive entrepreneurship in the country. Chile has the richest economy in Latin America in terms of GDP per capita. On the other hand, 33% of the total GDP accounts for only 1% of the population. This clearly demonstrates the huge social divide. A large percentage of the population is living in poverty. There are only a handful of rich people in the country. "This is the root cause of the ongoing mass protests in Chile," he pointed out.

Latin America is now on the threshold of a new left-wing political cycle. "Mass protests in Chile are the beginning of Latin America's left turn. Recently Argentina shifted to the left when Alberto Fernandez had won the presidency. This trend will likely to spread across the entire continent. Even if the unrest in Chile stops, its true cause will not disappear. Chile will face new protests and the right-wing government of the current president S.Pinera will be forced to give way to the left-wing," I.Pshenichnikov said.

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