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Chile Equality - The Gradual Return to Equality From...

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The Gradual Return to Equality: From Pinochet to Bachelet Latin America, as a region, has historically been a place where inequality is common and has been present since the 1500s when the Europeans first began conquering the region’s indigenous people. Chile is by no means exempt from the commonality of inequality and the fight against it. In this paper I will argue that although the current state of equality in Chile leaves much to be desired, particularly in the areas of social status, income, education, and women, there has been significant improvement since Chile’s return to democracy in 1990. In 1818, Chile declared its independence from Spain and by 1833 the new nation had developed its first constitution. The 190 years since independence have seen many political transformations within the country, often which was influenced by the military. In the early 1920s, the military restored Arturo Alessandri to the presidency and then installed a military dictatorship under Carlos Ibáñez del Campo when Alessandri resigned in 1927 that lasted until 1938. This waffling between the military and the democratically elected government would come to play a bigger role in the 1973 coup against Marxist president Salvador Allende (“Chile”, 2007). Allende was elected President in 1970 on a socialist platform. While his time in office was short-lived, he managed to enact a number of reform policies that promoted equality such as a land reform that put formerly privately owned land into the hands of the landless peasants, increased civil and political rights for women, and increased labor rights. Allende’s redistribution of wealth might have earned him praise from the previously impoverished, but it only earned him scorn from the elites. It was because of the growing tension with elites, coupled with the ongoing economic crisis, that led to General Augusto Pinochet’s takeover; the repressive regime stifled any and all political dissent which effectively eliminated all progress - 1 -
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toward greater equality. The Pinochet regime lasted until 1990, when the first free elections in 16 years began a period of redemocritization that is still taking place today (“Chile: Torture,” 2004; Skidmore & Smith, 2005; “Chile,” 2007). Since 1990 great strides have been made by the Chileans towards promoting equality throughout the nation. Gated communities are one such way of advancing equality. One might assume that the segregation of housing communities would contribute to the strengthening of prejudice and the growing gap between the affluent and the impecunious, but Salcedo and Torres (2004) conducted a study that seems to support the opposite. In Chile, gated communities are being built away from areas that are highly concentrated by the middle and upper classes to areas that are poor and that suffer from great deficiencies in infrastructure. By situating in these shantytowns, many positives are created. A few of these benefits are job creation for the indigent, a mingling of the classes that otherwise would have been quite unlikely, and a change
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