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Oct 12, 2010 11:01 pm

Chile's Miracles

You may have been following the Chilean miners’ rescue.

Can you imagine any other Latin American country where this high-tech rescue could have occurred? Or, thinking back to February, can you imagine any other Latin American country that could absorb an earthquake of 8.8 magnitude as Chile did? According to Wikipedia, the death toll was 486. In contrast, the death toll in the 2010 Haitian earthquake was in the 200,000 range (admittedly, Haiti is not a Latin American country, but a Caribbean one).

The resilience of Chile was no surprise to me because our son, at age 20, traveled through South America three years ago. He wrote:

"I have heard several times that Argentina is the Europe of South America, while Chile is the United States. This argument was supported 5 minutes into the country. After 3 days driving through Bolivia without seeing anything resembling a road, let alone pavement, Chile offered us a perfectly manicured road with painted lines 5 minutes past the border. I couldn´t believe it. And in all of Chile that I have seen so far, the story is the same. Roads straight out of the USA, and buildings and stores that would be right at home in any American city. It really is the economic growth miracle of the continent."

Political scientist Aaron Wildavsky created or at least popularized the meme “wealthier is healthier.” Chile is healthier because it is wealthy and it is wealthy because its government has allowed markets to work.

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