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Chile: First world or Third world?

I have been in Chile for three weeks, based in Santiago but with overnight trips to a variety of different environments. Chile is an interesting country because it’s hard to determine if it is part of the first world or the third world. There is definitely a gulf between the ultra-modern capital and the countryside, but that is true of every nation. Below is a short list of observations from Chile and which category of development that tends to indicate:

3rd: lots of stray dogs
1st: the strays are well fed and appear healthy
3rd: pay for public bathrooms
1st: they sometimes have high-tech electronic scans to allow access
3rd: there are strong social movements and long term occupations/ blockades
1st: the government is able to resist pressure from the general population and stay in power
3rd: state repression of protests tends to be with tear gas and police force, rather than arrests and disinformation
1st: there are four seasons
3rd: vendors selling ice cream and other foods walk the streets shouting their ware
1st: a lot of food is imported
3rd: there is a palatable sense of community
1st: restaurants have menus, lots of choices
3rd: the population is growing
1st: lunch is expensive
3rd: parents hold their sons and daughters while they pee on public sidewalks onto trees or into sewer drains
1st: customers are expected to tip for a variety of services
3rd: Chile has territory disputes with it’s neighbors
1st: there is a highly developed infastucture that is vigorously maintained
1st: no blackouts
1st: WiFi is ubiquitous

On the balance, Chile seems more first world than third and it is surely heading even further in that direction.


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11 comments on “Chile: First world or Third world?

  • Hi! I’ confused. Why having a palatable sense of community is sign of a third world country for you? It’s a cultural thing, not something you should judge. Regarding the rest you described, no objection.

  • it’s not a judgement just an observation. Generally speaking, when I have lived in the “third world,” I have known my neighbors and they have known each other. In my experiences in urban environments in the “first world,” I have not known many neighbors which is also the norm in that environment. I don’t mean to judge one as better or worse, just different associations I have from personal experience.

  • I live in Chile, I was born here, but I also lived in California for 2 years. And I can tell you, this is the third world, you not knowing real rough life is just another whole different story. About the sense of community, I would say that’s something capitalism made you selfish ppl loose, about the healthy dogs, we still are alive, we still care about other kinds of lives around us, you ppl, also lost that, about the repression and my hardest critic to your saying is: POVERTY IS THE CAUSE OF PROTESTS AND STRIKES, I AM A STUDENT, I STUDIED IN THE US TOO, AND THERE IS NO INSTITUTION CLOSE TO BE COMPARED WITH A SIMPLE SCHOOL FROM GOLETA IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY. IF REPRESSION THROUGH PUBLIC VIOLENCE “INSTEAD” OF ARRESTS AND TORTURES AND CENSURE IS THIRD WORLD FOR YOU, DAMM YOU’RE FUCKED IN THE HEAD, ALL OF THAT I JUST NAMED IS UNHUMANE AND NOT JUST THIRDWORLD KIND, IT’S UNACCEPTABLE FOR ANY THINKING AND FEELING LIFE. PEOPLE LIKE YOU, UNDERCOVER AND FOR-TO-RECOGNIZE-YOURSELF FASCIST MADE US COME TO THIS POINT, WITH OUR GOVERNMENT SUPPORTING PINOCHET, THE DICTATORSHIP THAT’S CAUSED MORE POVERTY THAN COMMUNISM EVER DID. YOU DONT SEE IT, BUT ITS THERE.

  • So again, this is just my perceptive. I grew up in the US and lived in Latin America (Ecuador and Nicaragua) for five years before visiting Chile. From my personal experience Chile seemed to exist in a space between those two worlds. Richer than most of Latin America but poorer than North America. Chile seemed to have characteristics that I had, via personal experience, grown to associate with either the “first world” or the “third.” I’m not saying one is better or worse, just different and that Chile seems to have traits of each.

  • Wow, you are getting some violent reactions to your observations!
    I disagree with 2 observations but I won’t use any swear words.
    The dog problem really bothers me and everyone says Chileans love their dogs but most of the dogs I see are not cared for and are sick or maimed. I don’t live in Santiago. I live in a small town in Los Lagos region. maybe the rich people of Santiago take better care of their strays.
    And I find very little imported foods. Chileans grow or make most of their own foods and the few imports I see are high priced because of import taxes.
    Third world/first world terminology isn’t understood or applied properly anymore. It’s a post WWII term used to categorize countries as allied with NATO or the Communist bloc.
    Today most people think of third world countries as poor and backwards. Chile is not. It is modern and progressive. the quality of life here is high. Most poor people have floors, running water and septic and direct TV even in the campo.

  • People issuing comments like Madgalena up there makes one think some people in Chile are indeed stuck in third world mentality…

    • dude its not third world mentality, you dont live here and dont know how things are
      late this year our smart ass government pretends to pass a bill in witch an old mans life work wont be passed on to his family anymore(savings of course) instead it goes directly to our big government, just think that through for a sec,
      do you think its reasonable for the rich to steal from the people and get even richer while the poor suffer and cant even pay their bills, medication and food.
      Here old people usually dont earn over 30 bucks a month for their retiring wage, after working their ass of their entire life thats what they get?
      ohh and get this if they dont have any savings cause say they couldnt find any stable jobs when they where young or they didnt have a chance to study cause they where forced to work to help maintain their family the wage system gives them $15000 chilean pesos witch is fucking nothing you cant do anything with that its like equivalent to 8 bucks.
      Our whole government is corrupt our news channels are like an exact copy of Fox News they dont cover shit, they make people live in fear by only showing crime on the news, they’ve removed cultural programs and are removing important terms in schools witch make people think rationally, hell dude last year their top story on TVN i think whas a fucking pig at the beach.

      No, protesting for your rights is not a third world mentality, Our health system is extremely inferior to single payer or obama care, trump care whatever they are calling it now, our education system is a bunch of dog shit just like our economy
      and infrastructure. so what do you expect us to do? just sit there and watch as they make our lives even harder? while they live in their fantasy land and pretend like we don’t exist. Its similar to what is happening in the US of A we want and NEED a living wage, we dont want to live surrounded by crime but sadly there are people who just dont have other options they have to jump other people so they can have something to eat and feed their kids, we want free quality education for ALL not just the privileged few on top of the economy, like what the progressive movement is doing in the US and what Bernie did in New York, we don’t want our sick or injured to die waiting in lines at the hospital. We dont want a Corporatist Exploitation pro system
      we need a Government of the people, by the people and for the people, so we can fix real issues and help honest hard working people not a bunch of bought politicians working for companies and removing regulations they dont do jack shit for us nether does our president.

      We dont protest cause we like breaking shit and causing riots, we do it our of frustration and anger, how long is it going to be till we can live decent lives and know that we will have a FUTURE we do it cause we know our government and journalist are full of shit (no i dont want communism just to be clear) we all know how things are they dont fool us, it hurts to see my dad come home late every day doing all the extra work he can find so he can maintain our family, hell i dont even know if ill be able to study in in a university i just wish we could go back to Canada again and live not perfect but decent lives, i miss seeing my dad happy, now hes stressed and always tired. You might see immigrants as something bad but you don know their whole story they are not bad people or bring crime, rape and whatever like that dumb child man with a wig said, there are bad people in your country to, in the end nationalities dont mean shit, we are all the same.

      i didnt cover even a quarter of whats wrong with Chile,
      90% of the population lived on the minimum wage in 2015-1016 witch is equivalent to 70-80 USD just that alone is sad. it amazes me how those pigs have it all and keep wanting more, how lifeless are you when your only purpose is making money?
      Just think it through and put your self in our shoes (if you even can) before applying your prejudice.

      if what magdalena said is wrong to you than your rationality and values are just inhuman man thats sick, she was wrong on the communism part though.

  • Thank you for the article and for all the commentators, I came here to gain insights about a promising technological city and I’m pretty satisfied!

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