Hearing the People

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Chilean truckers staged protests in the mining region near the capital of Santiago recently. The drivers demanded that the government of leftist President Gabriel Boric take action to reduce violent crime in the country.

Murder rates decreased slightly last year, but in 2022, they spiked by 50 percent, reported Bloomberg. Boric has hiked spending on security to address the situation, but the drivers don’t think he’s done enough.

The previous administration in the South American country invoked harsh security laws in 2020 when truckers in the south blocked routes to highlight their concerns about crime, Reuters added.

Some believe that the administration kept in mind how a truckers’ strike in 1972 was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of President Salvador Allende and the rise of the dictatorial General Augusto Pinochet, who ran the country for almost 17 years from 1973 until 1990.

These troubles have raised questions about how Chile, an economic dynamo where good governance has been the norm in recent years, can retain its momentum. In addition to disgruntled truck drivers, Boric’s two proposed constitutional changes, which supporters argued would help the country move beyond the Pinochet era, as well as deadly forest fires have also added to the sense of gloom.

“Since 2019 the place once considered the poster child of Latin America has instead been the site of tumult,” wrote the Economist.

Boric, who was elected on a wave of hope for change, has lost public support as his agenda has stalled and he has failed to fix other challenges that naturally arise for national leaders, contended Global Americans. As a result, the president has trimmed his ambitions – he lacks a majority in the National Congress of Chile – and has sought to shore up the political capital he can possibly deploy in the two years he has left in office.

“The depth of the changes we imagined went against the grain of what the majority of people wanted,” he told El País. “We changed our priorities and our speed, but not our principles.”

Chile is still likely the best place in Latin America for Western businesses to operate, according to BNamericas. But criminal gangs like Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua have been moving into the country, too. Religious leaders have also called on Boric and other Chilean politicians to tackle the corruption that many feel is worsening in the country, noted the Vatican News.

Copper might offer Boric and his compatriots a bright spot of light. The price of the metal, a top Chilean export, is rising, reported Bloomberg, potentially giving the economy and the government the resources they need to solve problems.

Even so, some analysts say that Boric might want to formulate a plan B, just to be safe.

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