Chile, South America's bad boy, has had its share of ups and downs, from Milton Friedman's Chicago School to Pinochet to the seemingly ubiquitous culinary references to its sea bass. But the latest round of earth-shattering quakes surrounding the recent free elections has got to be the best example of a country's own geology conspiring against democracy. Or is it?
Not that the media isn't a co-conspirator. Calling the latest city-destroying earthen bowel movements "Aftershocks," each registering more than 5.1 on the Richter Scale, is like calling the Holocaust a minor blip on an otherwise flawless Nazi human rights record. With the Atacama Line at "fault" here, pushing the entire continent 4cm to the north seems like no big deal. But here's the true impact of that shift:
More tsunamis will be attributed to Chilean influence this year than the current record holder, Indonesia, leading some to speculate that this might even be a bid on Chile's part to take over all tsunami operations in the Southern Hemisphere. With more than 2 million people displaced by the quakes and over a thousand dead, Haitian authorities have accused Chile of attempting to draw support and aid away from the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Brazil, previously the shining star in South America and the up and comer in several large commerce markets, grumbled that the aftershocks prompted Brazilian citizens to call in reports of tremors that may have been responsible for small fire outbreaks.
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Chile's actions haven't gone unnoticed, and it may be time to do something drastic. Perhaps the first step will be to relocate the city of Concepcion, which has moved over ten feet to the west since the first quake struck, back to its original location. Authorities have already decried Chile's "blatant geologic imperialism" and vow to respond.
The fact is, Chile is finally waking up to its own sense of self. These quakes are nothing less than a bottom-up restructuring of its internal structure. This is a wake up call for the rest of South America, which will need to do the same if it wants to compete with the newly caffeinated Chile.