CHILI: Lessons from the students

CHILI: Lessons from the students  – How to stop a middle-class revolt from derailing a successful development model

Apr 14th 2012 | the Economist

CHILE has long seemed set to become the first developed country in Latin America. Its income per head has tripled since democracy was restored in 1990, to around $16,000. Its success has been based on a simple formula: a free-market economy backed up by the rule of law and a fiscally responsible state. Far more than other Latin Americans, Chileans have trusted in the market to provide not only growth but also public services such as education, health, pensions and infrastructure.

Now Chile’s approach is under greater strain than at any time since 1990. For the past year, students have staged huge protests demanding that universities be free (for them, they mean). They want the state to assume a dominant role in education, while barring for-profit providers. Their cause has wide public support. While the conservative government of Sebastián Piñera has fumbled, young far-left leaders like Camila Vallejo, a nose-ringed geography student and Communist Youth leader, have seized the initiative.     [more]

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