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Father Claude

As I was saying.....

I embrace the world from my backyard at the University of Portland, January 1, 2018. I again invite you to "clod-hop" with me on my journeys to Latin America via this blog. More...

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Farewell to Chile (Category: Chile and Argentina)

#OlympicVictory----Juan-Pablo and Walter

 Leaving Santiago – 

For the last couple of days, I must have established a hugs-and-kisses record for Chile, maybe even for the Americas. The family that I will especially miss (among many) is the Sanchez family. The picture enclosed is of a proud son, Juan-Pablo, who just finished beating and exhausting his dad (Walter) They posed, at my urging, for an Olympic victory picture. 

Fiestas Patrias       

That famous game of table tennis, mentioned above, took place at the Institute of International Studies (University of  Chile). Walter, in defeat, remains the Dean of  the School of International Relations. The game was played during a  typical Chilean fiesta held .during the celebration of this country’s “Chilenidad”, or Chilean identity /Independence celebration. Today, September 18, the city is dancing the “Cueca”, the national dance, and eating typical foods, with a glass of wine or two.  

Chile, the Switzerland of Latin America?

Listening to some of my friends who belong to R-wing parties(The RN – Renovacion Nacional Party and the UDI - Union of Democratic Independence) one gets the impression that the country is broken, bankrupt and moving to give Argentina a run for its corrupt money. Well, not quite. Chile has experienced a dip in the rate of economic growth, and a rise in unemployment. President Michelle Bachelet has probably promised  greater educational reforms than she can deliver. Students are asking for free, comprehensive education for all (as in Argentina, by the way). The education issue is THE hot topic of discussion. Still, Bachelet danced the Cueca on TV, last night. My fellow religious confreres pooh-poohed her dancing abilities, but said that she knows how to run a government – and attract foreign investment to Chile. That has gained Chile the title of a Latin American Switzerland. 

Bombing and earthquakes and Guantanamo

A recent bombing in a metro station (known as Escuela Militar) has caused some nervousness. President Bachelet has asked for help with national security from the US government. The US government has asked Chile to accept some Guantanamo prisoners. The US has said yes to helping Chile. Chile has no yet responded to the Guantanamo request. Tit for tat will probably win out. Some of my Chilean friends  who say that Chile should accept these Guantanamo residents point out that Chile was adamant in opposition to the military invasion of Iraq. However, they say, if Chile can be of help in closing that prison of shame, it should do it.

Scandals galore 

Among Latin American countries, Chile was particularly hit with clerical, sexual scandals. Prominent hierarchy and clergy were involved. As a result, the Chilean Episcopal Conference which used to be an ethical/political leader for Latin America , is now eclipsed with scandals. The former Cardinal-Archbishop of Santiago who was chosen to be one of the special advisors to Pope Francis is an embarrassment for Chilean Catholics. Make no mistake about it. Francis knows what he’s got, and it’s not a log, since he studied in Chile, and admired Chile’s past role of defense of human rights during the Pinochet dictatorship, So, he probably felt obliged to pick someone from Chile.  There’s a Chilean saying: Algo es algo, dijo el Diablo recibiendo el Obispo (Better than nothing, said the Devil, welcoming the bishop)

Hey, sorry to end on such a negative note… 

Next posting: food culture in Buenos Aires and Santiago. Yum.


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