Sunday, 11 October 2009

Techcrunch and going to Chile (and how Americans forget history)

I fell off my chair laughing at a piece in TechCrunch titled Chile Wants Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses, Your Tech Entrepreneurs.

The premise of the argument is that Chile is a great place to invest. I agree with the author. But the Author totally forgets to mention America's history with Chile (Kissinger advising Pinochet on Shock Therapy). Chile has a brutal chapter in history that has been scripted by the Chicago School and American Corporate Interests. I see no reason why the piece should have been structured to make it appear that their recent history resembles a picture postcard.

Lets look at some really funny quotes from the article -

"But Chile does have 40% of the world’s copper, a magnificent inflation hedge."
The last two people who shouted this from this from the top of the Military towers were Milton Friedman and General Pinochet. Chile was in Hyperinflation and the military junta brought in by the Chicago boys was killing people on the streets like they were swatting privatize the mines and wipe out local industry in the name of "structural adjustment".  When Americans start thumping their chest with those same lines, it sends a shiver down my spine.

"To top this off, Chile is a thriving democracy with one of the most open economies in South America. In fact, if I was starting a new tech company and didn’t need to be in any particular area, I’d start it in Chile in a heartbeat"

Chile has struggled and shed blood to put democracy back on track. The bloodshed had a lot to do with American presence. This fact is completely glossed over. Where tech companies locate these days has very little to do with democracy. It has more to do with the degree of conflict that the country is engaged in (directly and indirectly). Two examples - i) The USofA and the business of outsourced wars and ii) Israel and the high tech security industry that is bubbling over thanks to wars that their patrons are fighting in Asia. To link American enterprise with democracy is to forget history or to deny it.

"Everyone told stories about how Chile was built by immigrants and welcomed the world’s most skilled and most oppressed"

I wonder who this guy was speaking to? Definitely not the activists for democracy in the 70s and 80s in Chile. Except the Americans, most people have a different view of what happened after Allende was killed by the Pinochet junta. For Americans it was a perfect investment opportunity. For the people of Chile it was a disaster. They were the ones who were oppressed. To gloss over these facts like they never happened is naive.

I do not blame the author. He had to build a case for Chile in 500 words or less for TechCrunch. He chose to focus on the potential of Chile. Fair thing to do. However, it would have been more appropriate if the author had not created an image of the past that is far from the truth.

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