Saturday, 19 June 2010

When it rains it pours

Santiago was battered by 40 mm of rain yesterday. Doesn't sound like much, but even though every winter there are days like this, every year the authorities claim that the city is not prepared for something so unusual. It is like the leaves on British railway tracks: a yearly surprise.

In any event, while the rain was good news for ski resorts and the agricultural industry, it was bad news for a Piñera government. Just as it was celebrating what it described as a very successful first 100 days, several government officials went to South Africa to watch some soccer. Among them was the mining minister, who is in the midst of negotiating what place a royalty on mining will have in financing reconstruction efforts, and the governor of the region of Santiago, who would be in charge of overseeing the emergency response to the rain (yes kids, 40 mm of rain is an emergency in these here parts).

Ena von Baer is not wrong. After 100 days, the government has not done a bad job. It is certainly energetic, and is putting in place some audacious initiatives. But its weak spot continues to be PR. Whether nominating unsuitable candidates for positions, having its officials say outrageous things, having them do outrageous things, the government seems to take one step forward and two steps back. If it can get this under control, its next 1360 days should be much better.

If not, it will be like watching a car wreck over and over.

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