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.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...