Quick, what’s the biggest thing going on in Chile right now, according to CNN?
If you guessed that a distressed US sailor has been found safe and sound, you’re only half right. That’s the English version. In Spanish, THIS is the REAL news:
From Aporrea, this is what’s going on:
A man who lost his house to a bank due to a mortgage debt ended up with burns after setting himself on fire in front of the Chilean presidential palace, La Moneda, according to police.
The man, identified as Jacinto Montecinos, 41, sprayed himself with a flammable substance and set himself afire, but then threw himself into a pool of water.
Montecinos, who said he was trying to get the attention of President Michelle Bachelet, received first aid from three police officers, one of whom suffered burns to his hand.
After being pulled from the water, Montecinos cried, “They took my house. I’m not a delinquent. I want to see the president and they took me prisoner.”
The police took him into custody and transferred him to a hospital, where he was confirmed as suffering from light burns.
The man is said to belong to a group of debtors who for some months have been engaging in protests, and they accuse President Bachelet of not helping them in their demands for a solution to their problems with the banks.
The government, which has assisted communities in a similar situation, but whose debts are with the state, refused to intervene in this case, because it is a private sector problem.
The undersecretary of the Interior, Felipe Harboe, called Montecinos’s action “a desperate measure” and promised that the government would maintain “a permanent dialogue” with the debtors, but reiterated that “pressure tactics like these will not bring about any kind of solution.”
Harboe called upon the public to raise matters with respect for their own well-being and that of others.
Now, why do you suppose they’re not reporting that? It’s got everything: tragedy, drama, a man on fire, a social crisis. It’s certainly a much more relevant and engrossing topic than a stranded sailor who’s out of danger. If it bleeds, it leads–right?
You see, the lucky sailor is a US citizen; this unlucky guy is just a Chilean. The sailor is, like anyone who can afford a sailboat and the time to man it, probably quite financially secure. This poor soul, on the other hand, just lost his house to the bank–probably after working his ass off for the better part of his young life just to put that now-gone roof over his head.
But most of all, this story didn’t make headlines in the US because it’s a direct blow to the still prevalent notion of the Chilean economic miracle–the myth that Chile, virtually alone in all of Latin America, is doing great, thanks to the combined efforts of Henry Kissinger, Augusto Pinochet, and the Chicago Boys. Presumably, Chileans now have an “Ownership Society”, where private enterprise flourishes, privatization is the answer to everything, the market is God, and anyone who’s not doing well, probably just isn’t trying hard enough. Victims of circumstance? People who fall through the cracks? They don’t exist under that model. They can’t exist–because if they did, they would smash the whole model to smithereens by virtue of their sheer numbers. And with that model would go Chile’s status as a poster child for the Chicago School of Economics. Chile would then become to the Chicago School what Argentina is to the IMF–a vaunted brilliant success that morphed into a miserable failure at the drop of a market.
And you know what comes next, right? Fingers would point in the direction of Chicago, and US citizens would finally join the growing chorus from all over the world:
“YOU FUCKED UP, UNCLE MILTIE, YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!”
And if Uncle Miltie weren’t already dead, they would surely kill him for selling them a dream and screwing them out of a reality.
No, can’t let that happen; can’t put a stake in the heart of that blood-sucking myth. So the Chicken Noodle Network comes to the rescue by bringing us more of the usual pablum: a nail-biter replete with Courage and Endurance, a telegenic, worried family, and a happy ending that was never truly in doubt.
For, after all, the successful must not only triumph, but be seen to triumph–otherwise, George Carlin would be proven right about the American Dream. You’d have to be asleep to believe in it. Which is why CNN is doing its damnedest to ensure that you never, EVER wake up.