With the 33 miners’ rescue progressing slowly but surely, Chileans took a well-deserved 4-day holiday around September 18th to celebrate their bi-centennial, an energizing event that helped to lift national spirits after a long, rainy, cold winter. But as spring blossomed out throughout the fertile fruit-growing and wine producing central valley, attention turned back to the pace of reconstruction of the earthquake-affected areas. There were growing concerns that the more difficult stages of reconstruction were going too slowly, so new and ongoing initiatives were strengthened, to speed up rebuilding permanent homes, new hospitals, and more schools.
At year end, the President of Chile made a un-precedented public speech to present his accounting of what his administration has accomplished since taking over only 9 months earlier, in March. Reminding us all too much of the debilitating partisan polarization in the US, the leaders of the Chilean opposition coalition, still licking their wounds from the electoral loss to Pinera, chose to snub their President by not attending his presentation.
So what is in store for Chile in 2011, if the President’s agenda prevails? According to him, the priorities for public policy are reform of the education and health sectors, elimination once and for all of extreme poverty, decrease in crime rates, modernization of the bureaucracies of State institutions, and a doubling of education scholarships. We shall see.
We began this blog as a way to share our experiences with the February earthquake. Since then, we have meandered through the “Peace Corps”, “Chile’s development”, “La Roca, Dago’s and Maria’s restaurant in Loanco”, and beyond. These themes seem on the face of it quite disparate, but to me they are all connected by what makes Chile so special, the extraordinary spirit of the Chileans themselves. That, coupled with the natural abundance and beauty of the country, continues to suggest that there may be, as President Pinera likes to boast, “The Chilean Way”.
Written in Leesburg, Virginia, on December 31, 2010.