Coming to Britain, Chile's new star of global politics

The dramatic rescue in the Atacama Desert has made stars of the 33 miners who spent more than two months trapped underground with the eyes of the world upon them. But the remarkable outcome has also turned Chile's President into a Latin American hero with a truly global profile.

This weekend, Sebastian Pinera will fly to Britain to start a European tour at a time when his star could hardly be more ascendant. Officially the trip is a mixture of high politics and a charm offensive directed at the financialsector to encourage investment in Chile.

But given the events of the past three days, Mr Pinera's visit will inevitably be something of a lap of honour for the leader of a country basking in the glow of a flawlessly executed rescue.

In Britain on Monday, he will talk with business leaders in the City before heading to Downing Street to meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Minister Nick Clegg. He will then deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics, before heading to France and Germany on the following day.

Few European leaders can boast anything like the approval ratings that the 60-year-old Harvard trained economist now enjoys thanks to Chile's efficient response to both the earthquake earlier this year and the San Jose mining disaster.

Mr Pinera, who made his billions introducing credit cards to Chile in the Eighties, is more than aware of the publicity and credibility boost the successful rescue has given his country. "Chile is not the same country that it was 69 days ago," he said when the last miner had been pulled from the ground. "We are more respected."

Pinera's new-found global popularity is partly down to luck. Had "Los 33" perished after the initial collapse, the story might have received brief international coverage before becoming another statistic in an area of the world where mining remains a deeply dangerous occupation – although safety standards in Chilean mines are much higher than in neighbouring countries. But analysts believe the phenomenal success of the rescue operation – in terms of speed, efficiency and technological competence – will help reinforce Chile's reputation as a regional leader in Latin America.

"The successful rescue of the miners is no 'Chilean Miracle'," wrote Daniel Kaufman, a Chilean-born senior fellow at the US-based Brookings Institute.

"It is not the result of a supernatural act from above, but instead stems from the heroic strength of those entombed below ground and the indefatigable efforts of many others at ground level."

Walter Molano, head of research at BCP Securities, Connecticut, told Reuters the rescue operation "showed an incredible amount of seriousness in terms of patience, planning and resources, which underscores Chile as a member of the developed world." But it is not clear that it will have an immediate impact on investment, he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk