Following the bloody events of last Wednesday, while countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua expressed their full support for the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro, others were more cautious such as Washington and the Europe Union calling for restraint and dialogue, but Chilean president-elect Michelle Bachelet openly twitted her rejection to repression, to President Maduro and called for a plebiscite.
Ms. Bachelet wants to expand the welfare state. To pay for it she wants to raise corporate tax rates and to tax shareholders on retained earnings along with the dividend taxes they already pay. She would restore a role for the state in the now privatized pension system and has called for an “exhaustive review” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would deepen Chile’s commitment to free trade. Labor unions would get more power, and education spending would be sharply higher. Most troubling, the self-described admirer of Fidel Castro proposes changes to the constitution that would extend the reach of government and has not ruled out calling a constitutional assembly.
This, of course, would be disastrous not only for Chile, but also for the region.
The question then, is, how will Chile’s institutions hold up in the onslaught?
Financial markets, which have been riding a roller coaster during the long campaign, are sure to take a win by Mr. Humala badly, analysts said. Investors viewed Ms. Fujimori as the candidate who would maintain the policies of openness toward foreign investment and trade, which helped Peru grow by 9% last year. Mr. Humala, who has made sharply contradictory statements on economic policy, would face pressure to immediately send signals to the market by revealing who would serve in key positions, such as Prime Minister and Economy Minister.
SUMMARY: Congressman James McGovern traveled in Ecuador from November 13 to 18, to visit sites at issue in the Chevron-Texaco oil pollution case, and Ecuadorian border communities affected by refugees and other aspects of the violence in Colombia. Congressman McGovern met with Government of Ecuador (GOE) Ministers and President Correa, and while taking no position on the unresolved Chevron-Texaco suit, expressed concern about the humanitarian, health and environmental impacts of oil contamination on local affected communities and the humanitarian situation on the border, and pledged to draw greater attention to the plight of refugees. Foreign Minister Salvador and Vice Defense Minister Miguel Carvajal asked McGovern for the U.S. Congress to investigate the March 1 Colombian attack against a FARC camp in Angostura, along the northern border of Ecuador, which McGovern did not agree to.
Retailers have put expansion plans on hold in the Mexican capital after the megacity’s government enacted a virtual three-year moratorium on openings of grocers, convenience stores and hypermarkets in an effort to shield traditional markets and small family-run bodegas from corporate competition.
Wealth: Chile is expected to win entry to OECD’s club of developed countries by Dec. 15 — a great affirmation for a once-poor nation that pulled itself up by trusting markets. One thing that stands out here is free trade.
At a summit of Latin American countries last week in Portugal, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet suddenly became the center of attention — and rightly so. She announced that her country was expected to win membership in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, an exclusive club of the richest and most economically credible nations.
Chile is the first country in South America to win the honor, and in a symbolic way its OECD membership card seals its exit from the ranks of the Third World to the First.
For the rest of us, it’s a stunning example of how embracing free markets and free trade brings prosperity.
Embracing markets has made it one of the most open economies in the world, ranking third on Cato’s index, just behind Hong Kong and Singapore. Per capita GDP has soared to $15,000.
Besides its embrace of free trade, other reforms — including pension privatization, tax cuts, respect for property rights and cutting of red tape helped the country grow not only richer but more democratic, says Cato Institute trade expert Daniel Griswold.
But the main thing, Griswold says, is that the country didn’t shift course. “Chile’s economy is set apart from its neighbors, because they have pursued market policies consistently over a long period,” he said. “Free trade has been a central part of Chile’s success.”
Chile has signed no fewer than 20 trade pacts with 56 countries, giving its 19 million citizens access to more than 3 billion customers worldwide. When no pact was in force, Griswold notes, Chile unilaterally dropped tariffs. This paid off handsomely.
You’ve heard of flat taxes? Chile has a flat tariff — only 5% on any item not exempted by a free-trade treaty, Griswold points out. But almost nobody has signed off on free-trade treaties like Chile.
Gordon Brown was embarrassed for the second time in as many days on his tour of South America today as his Chilean host explained how the country was able to protect is economy because it had saved cash in case of a downturn.
In words that could have been scripted by David Cameron, Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, said the country was in a position to fund further tax cuts if necessary.
“I would say that because of the decisions we took during the good times, we were able to save some money for the bad times. And I would say that today that policy is producing results,” he said.
President Bachelet was speaking at a joint press conference with Mr Brown on the last leg of his six-day world tour ahead of next week’s G20 summit in London which started with a call for the “biggest fiscal stimulus the world has ever seen.”
But the Prime Minister had to signal a retreat from a further Budget giveaway in the UK after the Bank of England voiced concern over Britain’s record debt.