Chile in transition

Most people, when thinking of Chile, will just have a Latin American country in mind. To them, a country that, while still considered the most developed of all those countries, is just Latin America. Yes, of course. A great travel destination. The Torres del Paine National Park, which is considered the Eighth World Wonder, the Atacama Desert, the capital Santiago de Chile, which for many appears very European, and the colourful and lively port city of Valparaíso. For lovers of South American culture and untouched nature, who appreciate a certain level of security, Chile is an ideal tourist destination. But living here? In an emerging Latin American country?

Unexpectedly, protests broke out in October 2019. The straw that broke the camel’s back: a 30-peso increase in Santiago’s metro fare. The bottled-up actual reasons that had been boiling for years: were the extreme social inequality and the political leadership that had failed to confront it adequately for years and decades.

And many who had considered Chile as a destination to emigrate were deeply unnerved in the face of such news, maybe with good reason. Is it really a good idea to move to South America?

The government was increasingly getting under pressure, and politically, it started to rumble behind the scenes. The result of the presidential elections about two years later was a runoff between the left-oriented Gabriel Boric and the right-conservative José Antonio Kast, after which Boric had the clear majority.

The origin of this victory for Gabriel Boric lies in former protest movements, where he had been a student leader demanding fairer regulations on university fees and better social justice. At the time, he was labelled by the press as a communist radical left-wing tattooist, today, after his actual election, the press coverage tends to be more positive, both in Chile itself and abroad.

Boric is only 36 years old. He is therefore the youngest president in Chile’s recent history and has chosen to live in Santiago’s Barrio Yungay, a neighbourhood known more for cultural diversity than a luxurious lifestyle.

His program includes establishing a public health and pension system, and generally reinforcing and expanding social rights. Also of importance to him are the issues of environmental protection, improved dialogue with the indigenous Mapuche, and more rights for women. The latter is already evident due to the fact that women hold the majority of ministerial positions. Boric is the bearer of hope for a young, forward-looking generation and, according to current estimations, seems to be aiming for social democracy.

The new constitution, which is currently being drafted, will be accompanied by him in its process and put to a referendum in September 2022.
The pandemic situation, triggered by SARS-CoV-2, is comparatively well under control in the country. After a tough period dominated by many quarantine episodes, especially in the second year of the pandemic, the situation in Chile is currently very relaxed compared to other countries. Most of the population has completed the recommended vaccination scheme since the beginning of the vaccination campaign, masks are still worn in closed spaces, and disinfection and thermometers are available everywhere. Small restrictions hardly interfere with the normal daily routine. Normality is gradually returning to Chile. Vaccinations are not compulsory but are still required in certain facilities and means of transportation. For such purpose, the vaccination must be validated by foreigners as a so-called “pase de movilidad”. To check entry requirements in force, the easiest way at present is to contact the airline in question.

With regard to the global situation, Chile currently gives a stable impression, both politically and economically, as well as in terms of the pandemic situation. Maybe one or the other will come back to their idea to emigrate to Chile given this perspective.