Coming to Britain, Chile's new star of global politics
Friday 15 October 2010
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.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 3 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...
£25000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join...