Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

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Reads of the Week: Chile’s Miners, Brazil’s Industrial Policy, and Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel

by Shannon K. O'Neil
August 5, 2011

Miner Gomez celebrates as he arrives on the surface as the ninth to be rescued in Chile (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters).

Today is the one year anniversary of the collapse that buried 33 Chilean miners deep underground for more than two months. Their rescue inspired a jolt of nationalistic pride in Chile, and not a little media fanfare, but now many of the survivors find themselves worse off than before the ordeal. Despite, and in some cases because of their fame (sure to increase with the production of a movie based on their tale), almost half of the 33 are unemployed, and some are back working underground to make ends meet.

Sebastián Piñera’s high hasn’t lasted either – recent polls show his ratings slipped to 31 percent last month, a far cry from his 63 percent approval rate in October 2010. Even the Economist is down on Piñera at this point, criticizing the billionaire for creating ties between government and the private sector that are often too close for comfort.

Dilma Rousseff recently unveiled the “Bigger Brazil Plan”, or “Plano Brasil Maior”, a program designed to make Brazil more competitive and stimulate investment in the face of an increasingly overvalued real and the influx of inexpensive goods from abroad. Some question whether the bill will have any positive effect in the long-run, arguing that the $16 billion in tax cuts for manufacturers will be offset by higher sales taxes, needed to finance recent government spending sprees.

For those that haven’t seen it, this Los Angeles Times four-part series on the Sinaloa cartel is an illuminating profile of the more average citizens involved, the way the business works, and one particular DEA attempt to take down a cartel.

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