New Humanist

Future of democracy in Chile. Interview with Tomas Hirsch

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Tomás René Hirsch Goldschmidt (born July 19, 1956) is a leftist Chilean politician and businessman. He was the Together We Can Do More pact candidate for the 2005 Chilean presidential election.

– The former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has been lauded by the right both in Chile and in the United States for introducing sweeping free-market reforms to the country’s economy. What is the current state of Chile’s economy?

Well, we still have a free-market economy, one of the most open economies in the world. It started in Pinochet’s time and deepened under the government of the Concertacion (The Concert of Parties for Democracy), which continued with the same economic model. For the past twenty years, we have had a very good macroeconomic situation. Our official numbers are all very good, year after year we have had a growing GDP, low inflation, a good trade balance, a stable level of the US dollar against the Chilean peso. The official numbers are very good, but at the same time Chile came to have one of the worst income distribution patterns in the world. In that respect, we are 11th from the bottom in the world. Only some countries in Africa are worse than us. That is one of the most serious problems of the economic model introduced under Pinochet. Health is business, education is business, housing is business. Everything is business. If you have money, if you are part of the 10% of the population that has money, you can have an absolutely great life in Chile. People’s lives are not usually determined by macroeconomic numbers. People’s lives are determined by income, and income is low for the majority of the country’s population.

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