With a devastating earthquake, a heroic rescue of 33 miners and a visit from President Barack Obama in the last two years, Chile has had reason for the world to take notice.
His Excellency Arturo Fermandois, Chilean ambassador to the U.S., reviewed political and economic status in Chile and explained some of the country’s goals to students Friday in an address titled “Chile’s Way to Development.”
“I feel that we have had two years of a really impressive moment with Chile and its relationship with the U.S.,” Fermandois said.
Fermandois was appointed Chilean ambassador to the U.S. in 2010 and said he has learned a rule to live by since his appointment.
“Since I became ambassador, I have a rule,” Fermandois said. “Think twice, before saying nothing.”
Because of the extensive media coverage Chile received in 2010 when 33 miners were trapped a half mile underground, Fermandois said he became a well-known ambassador.
“In 48 hours I went on all TV stations, all programs, talk shows,” Fermandois said. “I became the most known ambassador, not the best ambassador at all, but the most known ambassador in D.C. ”
Fermandois said media coverage of the resuce of the miners gave Chile the chance to show the world what Chile is.
“The miners, it’s a golden story for us,” Fermandois said. “It allowed Chile to show what Chile is. It showed the courage of our miners, and the transparency on the side of the government.”
Obama visited Chile in 2011, marking the third time in history the president of the U.S. has visited Chile while in office. Fermandois said the visit was successful and sent Chileans two messages.
“First, we share the same pillars, same values of democracy and human rights of an open society,” Fermandois said. Another message was, “How Chile and the U.S. can work better for promoting those values abroad in the region and in the world.”
Fermandois outlined five pillars for Chile to become a developed country in the next few decades.
1. Strong democracy
2. System of civil and economic liberties
3. Consolidated rule of law
4. Promotion of human rights
5. Integration to the world
“We are proud that Chile initiated an outstanding process of integrating to the world from the ’80s on,” Fermandois said. “We instituted a philosophy of being integrated to the world economically and politically as the only way to bring posterity to Chile.”
Fermandois said Chile relies on foreign trade and is confident their products are good. In the U.S., 80 percent of apples come from Chile, as well as 50 percent of the grapes. They also are proud to not be in debt.
“We don’t have debt,” Fermandois said. “For many countries, that is a real surprise.”