Chile finds success brings envy


The BBC reports that Chile has set off an international spat with Peru over its national air carrier's ads portraying the Peruvian capital, Lima, as a pigsty. Peruvians are beside themselves with rage, and Chile is scrambling to fire the executives involved.
Now, if Lima didn't remotely resemble a pigsty, I guess it wouldn't be quite so funny. But of course it is funny because there's some truth in it — not a total truth, because Lima is an awesomely beautiful city — but c'mon, it's kind of beat—up, too. The Chilean airline weakly tried to explain that it was only trying to promote 'adventure tourism.' Yeah, right.
What's even funnier to outsiders is the banana—republic outrage of Peru, not only vowing to sue Chile, but bringing up what's really bothering them, re—hashed old grievances over Chile's decades—old bullet sales to Ecuador while it played intermediary during the last war Peru had with Ecuador. I guess nobody looks good here.
The whole story draws bemused attention because it unexpectedly shows that Chile, the hemisphere's teacher's pet model nation, can't seem to stay out of trouble with its neighbors. It's been caught spying on Argentina twice, it's in a perpetual deathlock over natural gas and a sea route with Bolivia, and now, it's managed to annoy Peru.
Meanwhile, one can't help but feel that Chile gets into this kind of trouble for the same reason the U.S. is always heaped with criticism. Chile is a modern, prosperous first—world nation. No other country on the continent can claim that. Chile's air carrier, LAN, is currently one of the best—performing stocks anywhere in the world. Chile in fact is loaded with superb stocks this year, capitalized by Chile's world—class pension system, with its companies known for their excellent management and honest dealings. All of this is drawing in foreign capital into the country, too.
One can't help but feel that Chile's propensity to get into trouble is a consequence of being surrounded by bigger, dodgier, less successful neighbors, who feel a little touchy about Chile's obvious success. Chile's neighbors might consider imitating Chile instead of constantly flying off the handle over nonsense.
Meanwhile, for Chile, the U.S. can happily offer commiseration: Welcome to the club, Chile.
A.M. Mora y Leon 05 02 05