On 11 September 1973, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinoche came to power and during the 1970s, he privatized Chile’s education system. The central government gave money to some private schools, while the public schools remained grossly underfunded. This commercialization of education began a legacy of educational attainment disparity along socioeconomic class lines—the poor received poor quality education, received jobs that paid meager wages, and remained poor, while the wealthy received high quality education, went on to university, and obtained well-paying jobs that increased their wealth.
For Chileans living in the southern Patagonia region, natural
gas is crucial for heating their homes, most importantly during the frigid
winter months. The Chilean Government has been subsidizing natural gas up to
85% for all people in this region because it is the most remote and holds the
highest cost of living in the country. Without this government support, many of
its users would struggle or be unable to pay for it.
In April of 2006 Chilean high school students had many complaints against the government and the way it ran the public school system. Chief among their concerns included bus fares and university exam fees. Over the previous few years, there had been isolated protests throughout the city, but none had gathered very much momentum. In 2006, however, in the first major social movement since “Chileans overthrow Pinochet regime,” the students took the general public by surprise.
After Augosto Pinochet took power in 1973, Chile depended increasingly on its copper industry to fuel the country’s export-oriented economy. In the 1990s, the Chilean government allowed for the construction of privately owned mines. One such mine was Escondida, which became the world’s largest copper mine in terms of production. The mine was co-owned by four multinational companies, with BHP Billiton controlling the majority of its shares.
On February 27, 2010 a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile and was soon followed by a tsunami. In total, there were as many as 800 deaths and $30 billion in damage because of the earthquake. Following the earthquake, much of Chile was ravaged and thousands of people were left unemployed. In response the Chilean government began instituting employment programs in the Bio Bio, Maule, and O’Higgins regions, where unemployment rates were particularly high. The programs paid residents to help rebuild their communities and to clear rubble from the towns.