Some readings on inequality and social unrest

Patricio Navia is a Chilean political scientist at New York University and a prolific columnist and author.   He has a piece on the openDemocracy web site analyzing the background on the student protests and recent general strike in Chile, which he says is far from being a South American version of the Arab spring:

“The student movement is less about opposition to the market-friendly economic model than about inclusion within it, and expanding the range and structure of opportunities it affords. The protesters seek to improve the model with a host of measures: more protection for consumers, more rights for citizens and a more level playing-field so that the middle class can realistically aspire to upward social mobility.”

On the issue of consumer protection in Chile, read the interview with the director of Chile’s National Consumer Service, Juan Antonio Peribonio, in the most recent issue of Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce Magazine. According to Peribonio, Chile stands out in Latin American for its defense of consumers, but his agency is underfunded and hopes that a bill before congress will provide the tools needed to oversee the country’s financial sector:

And for a look at inequitable hiring practices in the Chilean job market, the Santiago Times has an excellent article on the ways potential employers grill job applicants on their families, religious observances and political views.  Although the country’s labor law prohibits such discriminatory practices, they appear to be widespread.  The article quotes one job seeker, a woman with a degree in business engineering who recently interviewed at several major Chilean companies:

“In Chile it is common to avoid hiring women with children,” she said. “In all the interviews I’ve gone to, I’ve been asked if I want more children, if my son goes to kindergarten and if he gets sick easily. I was also told I was not suitable for a position that required occasional travel because it was ‘not compatible with my role as a mother.’”