Stefano Roveda

Paths of development 2

Blog Post created by Stefano Roveda Partner on 23-Feb-2018

In Paths of development we talked about a push towards a specific development direction, imposed at a political level. (Rapa Nui case)

This time I'd like to talk about an indirect influence, by not going very far from Easter Island: the case of Chile.

Geographical Context

Chile is 5000 km long and around 150 km wide: someone call it the bi-dimensional country. The borders are very well geographically defined: Atacama desert north, Andes mountains on the east and the ocean on the west. Because of the large distancies population tends to be centralized in Santiago (hosting almost half of the Chilean grand total) and other few cities. Because of the geographic limits it developed a strong identity that is well reflected by the language, which is the most different form of Spanish of all the South America languages.

Historical Context

During 1973 the Golpe changed Chilean society: at the moment of the coup d'état Pinochet had not a clear idea on which approach should be taken for economical growth of the country. Enter the Chicago boys, a group of young members of high-society families who studied economics in Chicago. They presented a strong capitalistic plan following the footprints of what the USA example was (and is). In little time Chile passed from a country where the state was delivering the majority of services to one where almost everything was privatized.

Tram services disappeared, train service haven't developed at all since then, the majority of people travels by car, those who can't afford a car travel by private bus companies.

Education is highly privatized as it is health care.

Social Context

This generated a heavily classist society, where who belongs to low income families faces huge obstacles to change his condition, not having access to sufficient education for being accepted in universities and thus having a qualified job.

Since Chile does not have the economic strength of USA, the social pyramid is perceived like much steeper.


The pro-USA asset can be seen at many leves: with a Chilean passport you don't need a visa to go to USA, you can find "tiendas de ropa americana, qualidad garantida" (little shops of certified american quality clothes) almost in every corner, Chile is in the top 3 countries in the world for Coke consumativo (it was the first time I saw a Coke bottle of 3 liters).


On top of that natives minorities, especially Mapuche, are relegated to the lowest class and their fight for rights and land is politically exploited. 


Please don't take this analysis, which comes from my personal experience, as a critique to USA or capitalism. These considerations need political concepts that go way beyond my notions. What I wanted to show is an example of passive influence in the choice of development.

Communities that perceive themselves as under-developed, tends to look up to other nations, since "they made it", and straight blind-copy their model. But a solution that worked for a country may not work for another one.

Extra example

This concept can be seen not just in political decisions but also in lower scale social behavior. Like Coke consumption and fast foods in Chile, in some African country you can see people having a smartphone even if they don't have constant electricity at home, or they don't have two pair of shoes. They chose to have a smartphone is a priority not just because the human innate need of communication, but also because it is an identity signal: every European has an smartphone, so it is a must.