The Economist has two good pieces on Chile’s current political mood, noting that President Sebastian Pinera’s approval ratings have fallen to 36 percent and his disapproval rating of 54 percent is the highest any president has received since the country returned to democracy. Last October Pinera was enjoying approval ratings of 64 percent, buoyed by the successful rescue of 33 mine workers in the Atacama desert. There is widespread opposition to the government’s HidroAysen hydroelectric project, which involves building five dams on two rivers and flooding over 14,000 acres in Patagonia. On June 20 an appeals court in the southern city of Puerto Montt accepted two legal injunctions filed by opponents of the plan, ordering work on the $3.5 billion project to stop.
And four days before the court ruling, an estimated 80,000 students, educators and supporters held a protest to demand more money for state education. Chile’s high school graduation rate is 69 percent, but it ranks near the bottom of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development rankings for member countries’ expenditures per student.