A long weekend to celebrate

An estimated 300,000 vehicles are leaving Santiago this weekend as Chileans make the fiestas patrias of September 18 and 19 into a long holiday break.  There may not be much happening news-wise for the next several days, but here are links to two good reads in the meantime:

The New York Times travel section has an article on the joys of Pichilemu, described as “a small but sprawling beach town fronting a seeming never-ending series of sandy coves and rocky headlands, all backed by miles of pine forest. http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/travel/drawn-to-the-magnet-of-chiles-surf-coast.html?ref=travel

On a less bucolic note, the Financial Times blog Beyond Brics has a piece on Chilean finance minister Felipe Larrain, the country’s social protests and the “middle-income trap,” in which “people feel richer and want things like free [higher] education and health care.” Larrain points out that “on measures such as institutions, the rule of law, political stability, fighting corruption and efficiency of public spending, Chile is already near, at better than the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] average.” http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2012/09/13/chiles-middle-income-protests/#axzz26SnaDO7F

Respected abroad and unloved at home

A new book by Chilean sociologist Eugenio Tironi explores the reasons for Sebastian Pinera's poor approval ratings.

Chile’s student protests show no sign of dying out, as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Santiago and other cities this week. President Sebastian Pinera was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, while his finance minister Felipe Larrain travelled to Washington, where he told reporters that Chile had contingency plans for any slowdown in the world economy.  The Wall St. Journal published this account http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904563904576587023305001858.html and the Financial Times has the following story: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9e43683a-e531-11e0-bdb8-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1YlV2Wz5v .  The FT blog also has a piece on Pinera’s dismal approval ratings of 26 percent http://blogs.ft.com/the-world/2011/09/the-limits-of-a-superman/, citing the work of sociologist Eugenio Tironi, who observes that Pinera governs as if Chile were a corporation and rather than a country. Tironi, who worked for former president Eduardo Frei (1994-2000) is the author of a new book whose title in English is Why Don’t They Love Me?