Chile is changing and I think I have an idea of how it is changing. Younger generations of normal teenagers (16-19 year old) are not hamstrung by formal political allegiances or simple desires to revert to the way things were as a reactionary fallout from Augusto Pinochet’s 18 year military regime (1973-1989). In 2005 they organized massive protests against mediocre public education forcing the political hand of their Congressman and getting newly elected Socialist President Bachelet to put the Pinochet era law (LOCE, which decentralized operation of schools) which they blame for the mediocrity on the legislative table.
Kids are stimulated by high rates of internet access (expensive, average quality and with service providers that border on monopoly), 70% rates of cell phone penetration (also expensive, average and controlled by a few) and a rising sense of national (not fascist) pride, something which was missing for years. Diversity in a previously homogenous society awaits.
2007 statistics from the Central Bank show that per-capita income has jumped 100% since 2003, from $4000 USD to around $8000 USD. Yet the yoke of a desirous consumerist society married to one with great inequality and multiple inferiority complexes generates conflicting currents, but hopefully an opportunity to reevaluate the current state of things.
Above all, I think people want to be different, identities explored and lives lived. These are all part of the reason of why I lived in Chile for three and a half years and not in the US.
For a while I was hard at work seeking and becoming my Chilean identity. My mother is from Valparaiso, Chile and my father from the rural town of Emmetsburg, Iowa. He came to Chile first as an academic, but stayed as a journalist. Their experiences have given me a privileged vantage from which to revisit the country I was born and never had the opportunity to make my own.
A phrase bordering on cliche, but true to me, is the following, I am a American (US)-Chilean who wants to be a Chilean-American (US).
I’ve lived almost all my 31 years on the East Coast of the US, except for the last three and a half (December 2003-June 2007) in Chile. I worked a year and a half covering culture, economics and foreign policy for the chilean magazine Siete Más 7 and have published articles and photos in Americas Magazine, the Miami Herald and the Columbia Journalism Review, the National Journal and Time.com.
I have also worked in television production, working as the coordinating producer for an episode of the emmy-award winning reality show on CBS, The Amazing Race, and documentary production, working as a fixer, cultural facilitator, etc. for the upcoming feature-length documentary on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Following the Ninth, in addition to working for PBS and other feature film interests in a similar role.
I earned a degree from the 2008 class of the Columbia School of Journalism, where I was a student at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. My masters project, an original investigation, wanted to be focused on financial fraud or shipping, inspired by the exposure to the dirty Chilean underworld reporting on this article. The project ended up as an investigation into the over-use of antibiotics in farmed salmon in Chile.