In Chile, Prosperity Is Still A Long Way Off

It's about time BUSINESS WEEK published an article about Chile that doesn't focus just on the Chilean macroeconomic miracle. A look only at large cities such as Santiago and Valdivia--the background for "As Chile starts to think green..." (Spotlight on Chile, May 13)-- confirms the popularly held view of this nation as a free-market wonder with few problems.

While no one can deny the formidable strides made in the past 15 years, economic problems obvious to residents have been almost completely overlooked by the international press. Copper mining, fishing (salmon and fishmeal), and logging, which together make up some 70% of the economy, present serious long-term environmental concerns. Dependence on such non-value-adding natural resources and a suspect education system explain why fully one-third of Chileans live in poverty, earning a mere $100 a month. The open economy rightfully wins respect for putting the country on the right path, but the day when all Chileans are within prosperity's reach is still far off.

Akbar S. Sharfi

U.S. Peace Corps

Lota, Chile

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