Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Prime Minister Cameron. Do Chileans Care?

As this column notes, I was in London when Tony Blair, leading something called New Labour, won the 1997 British elections. No matter what one's political stripes, it was an extraordinary time, coinciding with a surge in British pride, nationalism, and not a little bit of marketing, that had not been seen since the 60s. Looking back, much of it was pretty tacky (think Spice Girls and Tellytubbies). But there is no question that Blair's election brought about a major change in how British politics is done.

So I thought I would jot down a few thoughts in El Mostrador -- written before the coalition talks were settled and Cameron took over as PM. What I find amazing, however, is something unrelated: of all the columns I have written in El Mostrador, this is the first one that is not about Chilean politics. And it is also the first one that has attracted no comments from readers.

Now, unlike on this blog, where readers are informed and interested and usually kind, comments in El Mostrador can be about anything, and more often than not descend into a shouting match between commentators and end up losing any relevance to the issue at hand. Nevertheless, I suspect that the absence of reader feedback on this article reflects the almost total lack of interest that Chileans have in the rest of the world -- unless they are asking what the rest of the world thinks of Chile.

On the one hand, this should not be surprising. Spending 400 years living on a virtual island will make anyone turn inward. But for over a generation, Chile has been one of the most open countries, trading with anyone, signing dozens of free trade agreements, and Chileans increasingly travel to the US, Europe and within Latin America. And yet, they just don't seem to care.

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