7 Jan 2010

Cheers for Chile

The good news for countries that enthusiatically embrace capitalism,free markets and globalization is that Chile today became the first South American country ever to move out of the developing world as the OECD has noted in granting it membership.

Not Cuba, or Venezuela nor the powerhouses of Brazil and Argentina but Chile, a country that was saved by the reviled General Pinochet in the 1980's from becoming a communist banana republic under the Marxist Salvador Allende. One shudders to think what Chile would look like economically today if he had been allowed to carry out the "revolution" he planned before it was stopped by force, which was the only argument Allende understood. Pinochet was a reluctant democrat and a flawed leader, but he did allow liberal capitalism to take root and once Allende and his communist thugs were swept aside, Chile rapidly began decades of expansion that has culminated in the historic move into the OECD.

Chile had a long democratic tradition which Allende tried to overthrow. Once this was restored after years of Pinochet's iron control, social democrats, rightists and leftists alike have rekindled this tradition and kept to the liberal market policies that Pinochet approved of.

These facts have not stopped Allende from being turned into a leftist hero-martyr and Pinochet into a fascist villain.The more successful Chile became, the more rabied the attacks on Pinochetl ending in his farcical arrest in Europe long after he retired. Tthe longer view of history may well reverse these positions.

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