tapestry weavingIn Chile, from 1973 to 1990, systemic human rights violations swept the nation under General Augusto Pinochet, including acts of physical and sexual abuse as well as psychological damage. Consequently, many progressive young students and men “disappeared” at the hands of the regime because of their ideology. While a grim history, hope can be found in the subsequent actions of women. The Arpilleristas were able to overcome such hardships through tapestry weaving.

Chilean Women Unite

Mothers united and responded to the oppression and torture that was inflicted upon their loved ones with methods of protests that defied masculine logic, such as publicly banging pots and pans, singing and dancing to songs with political messages and weaving tapestries. These actions challenged the societal norms in Chile, which were embedded with machismo ideology and male superiority.

Tapestry Weaving as a Form of Resistance

The weaving of tapestries was an especially impactful form of resistance that was founded in 1975. Once unified, the Arpilleristas began to construct patchwork tapestries, or arpilleras, that depicted scenes of hardship and violence that people experienced under Pinochet.

The hand-made arpilleras portrayed shantytown community kitchens, which were often families’ only means of feeding themselves, women’s laundry and bread-baking subsistence-level cooperatives, arrests and soldiers beating protesters. It was through the crafting of the arpilleras that women were granted a voice to tell their individual and collective stories.

Economic Empowerment

However, the crafting of the arpilleras was more than just an act of protest and storytelling, it was also a way to generate income. The women weaving arpilleras was a form of advocacy and also a livelihood. The Arpilleristas transformed conventional visions of secluded motherhood and domesticity, all the while eliminating submissive and passive associations regarding women.

With the return of democracy in the 1990s, the oppression f the Pinochet dictatorship has since been eradicated. All individuals are able to enjoy democracy. The women, “do so now, however, with a different consciousness. Women have not forgotten the empowerment they gained when they learned they could change things by taking to the streets and protesting the dictatorship.

It is this confidence that continues to inspire women as they face problems in Chile, however, they do so in a different manner now.

A Return to Democracy

It was only through the opression of the dictatorship and conservative gender ideology promoted by the dictatorship, Chilean women mobilized as feminists to demand a return to democracy. Though they were not self-identified feminists, the collective act of women uniting in order to defeat oppression has altered and expanded women’s rights in Chile today and recharacterized the very definition of motherhood.

The Arpilleristas’ tapestry weaving has served as an inspiring example of fighting against injustice while empowering women through economic development. By employing an accepted tradition of weaving, the women were able to capitalize and in many cases negate extreme poverty and additional hardships.

– Marielle Marlys
Photo: Flickr

B Corporation

B Corporations are businesses that give back to the community by following a set of guidelines for transparency, accountability and that pledge a certain amount of profits for a greater purpose.

Five B Corporations You Should Know

  1. Salt Spring Coffee, Canada
    B Impact Score: 118.4/200
    Salt Spring Coffee is a fair-trade organic coffee company that works with the Nicaraguan farmers to sustainably farm, sell and serve the highest grade of coffee beans on the market. Salt Spring hopes to pave the way for the coffee industry in producing eco-friendly packaging and contributing meaningful donations. The company does this by donating to innovative, eco-conscious projects through their 1% for the Planet fund.  These donations have allowed the company to co-found a Canadian waste-reduction initiative, help install solar panels for isolated Nicaraguan farmers and assist a women-run Ugandan farming co-op.
  2. Hora Salud, Chilé
    B Impact Score: 117.8/200
    Hora Salud is a simple user-friendly app for the rural Chilean populace that allows individuals to schedule and cancel appointments and check-ups online without wasting time. The app uses SMS to schedule and cancel doctors appointments. This allows already-sick individuals to avoid the burden of traveling to a Health Center and waiting in line for hours to book an appointment. Hora Salud may also be used in tandem with other markets to spread relevant information including weather, national emergencies and public policies. Their mission is to “Improve the quality of people’s lives, optimize service delivery and decision making with reliable and quality data.” As one of many B Corporations, Hora Salud promotes healthy business practices and opportunities for rural Chilean people.
  3. BioCarbon Partners, Zambia
    B Impact Score: 177.3/200
    BioCarbon Partners (BCP) operates in and outside of Zambia to offset carbon emissions in the atmosphere by sponsoring payment for eco-friendly business operations. BCP is an African leader in the reforestation carbon offset program. With a mission to “Make conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to people,” BCP is cultivating an ecosystem that protects one of Africa’s largest migration sanctuaries. The company prioritizes community engagement and partnership to incentivize forest protection through long-term habitat protection agreements. BCP calculates the amount of carbon that is not released into the atmosphere due to its project and generates sales of these forest carbon offsets through independent external auditors. BCP then reinvests this revenue into conservation and development projects in local communities that rely on wildlife habitat for income. BCP has created 87 jobs for Zambians and continues to create opportunities for wildlife and humanity alike.
  4. Avante, Brazil
    B Impact Score: 136.1/200
    Avante is the largest benefactor of small businesses in Brazil with more than $200 million invested to serve “micro-companies” that are typically pushed out of the financial industry. Avante functions as a non-conventional financial technology service that uniquely combines credit, insurance and payments. It is currently the largest MFI in Brazil. Avante’s mission is to “humanize financial services,” through a combination of empowerment, ethical business practices and acknowledgment that small businesses are the foundation of a strong economy.
  5. Alma Natura, Spain
    B Impact Score: 153.8/200
    Alma Natura established B Corporation status in 2013 to give back to the Sierra de Huelva community of Spain. The first institution of the business began as a nonprofit. It eventually evolved into a limited partnership as Alma Natura continued to invest in rural businesses, guiding them towards a more sustainable and ethical future. With their increased profits, Alma Natura gave back by funding education, technological development and sanitation, ensuring financial equality and sustainable practices in towns with less government funding. Not only has Alma Natura functioned as a business consultant to guide rural communities towards a more equitable economic future, but their commitment to preserving the planet and providing care and education to disadvantaged agricultural centers places their ranking high among businesses that take responsibility for the betterment of humanity.

Natalie Williams
Photo: Pixabay

Water quality in Chile

Latin America is notorious for having poor water quality. Worried travelers and residents try to avoid drinking tap water or cooking with it. But most people do not know the facts about water quality in Chile. Here are a few from the north of the country all the way to its southern tip.

In northern Chile is the Atacama Desert, which is known as one of the driest places on Earth. This area, which contains many small towns and villages, receives about one millimeter or less of rainfall per year. Certain towns used to obtain water from a nearby well which was fed by a river flowing down from the Andes Mountains. However, out of the 20 wells, only one exists today. It is common for people here to buy bottled water; however, bottled water is nearly 10 times the cost of tap water.

Central Chile is where most of the bigger cities are located, and Santiago, the capital, is one of them. Very little water comes from the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are retreating and the mountains are gradually losing their snow-capped peaks. Water availability is predicted to fall by nearly 40 percent by 2070, and experts are claiming that water will become the most important physical commodity worldwide, toppling oil and precious metals. The situation in Santiago is so bad that residents have staged multiple protests over the privatization of the water industry, which occurred in 1981.

Maybe the most iconic area of the country is Patagonia, in the southern portion of the country. Residents, researchers and travelers flock to this sparsely populated region of Chile. Some American and Chilean scientists claim that the Chilean Patagonia has the purest water on the planet. Dr. Guido F. Verbeck, director of the UNT Laboratory of Imaging Mass Spectrometry, said of Patagonia’s water, “Our results confirm that these waters are clean, the cleanest waters existing on the planet. In fact, the instruments we use to study the samples can detect chemical compounds in the water up to two parts per million, and here, we did not detect anything.” There is very little pollution in this part of the world. Unpolluted freshwater accounts for .003 percent of the total water available globally and most of it is found here.

There are many issues with water quality in Chile. From pollution and overpopulation to excessive mining and the draining of natural resources, it could be the reason that selling water in some cities is one of the highest tariffs in Latin America. There is some good news regarding the water quality in Chile, however. More wells have been dug, residents have set up reverse osmosis water purification systems and the country is implementing a national irrigation strategy that includes a plan to construct 15 reservoirs. If Chile continues to be proactive about maintaining its water resources, it can ensure good water quality and access for all of its citizens.

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Chile's Level of PovertyThe number of people living below the national poverty line in Chile has varied throughout the years. This number currently stands at around three million citizens, whereas the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day has successfully reached its lowest point of 0.9 percent of the population.

Clearly, Chile’s level of poverty has fluctuated, especially seeing as how Chile was once considered to be one of the richest countries in Latin America. During this time, the country achieved the title of the first South American member of the OECD, a club mostly consisting of prosperous countries.

Poverty in Chile is often overlooked due to the lack of social equality, according to human rights expert Professor Philip Alton. While Chile’s anti-poverty programs are abundant, the middle class seems to be their primary focus, and those who are less fortunate are overlooked.

Alton calls attention to Chile’s tendency to participate in the exclusion of particular groups of people, contributing to its issue of poverty. According to Alton, “Efforts to eliminate extreme poverty in Chile cannot succeed without a concerted focus on the situation of indigenous peoples.” As with many other countries, the solution to ending poverty in Chile relies partly on spreading awareness of marginalization and privilege, as well as giving the lower class more attention and tools for success and not merely focusing on the middle class.

To put these solutions into action, the General Law of Ministries – now known as the Ministry of Finance, which formed in 1927 – has developed plans based on the roots of Chile’s level of poverty. The Ministry of Finance’s goal is to focus on long-term economic growth, rather than simply tending to the “right now.” Its mission is to create a stable economy that benefits all citizens of Chile, but especially those who are most likely to struggle with money.

The economic policy section of the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the awareness of problems within Chile’s economic system, as well as providing solutions to these issues. This helps them to prepare the national budget and contributes to bettering the community socially.

With the implementation of these kinds of plans as well as spreading awareness of poverty-causing issues, there is much hope for the poorest citizens of Chile. A better economy in Chile’s near future is looking to be promising, which will surely have positive effects on the poverty rate as well.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Chile
Home to 17 million people, the longest country in the world has made great strides to become a developed country. From 2000 to 2015, Chile’s poverty rate decreased from 26% to 7.9%. With a growing economy and unemployment rates at a stable level, life in Chile is signaling progress, but there are still common diseases in Chile that need to be addressed.

Diarrheal Diseases
Common among third world countries, diarrheal diseases continue to hold Chile back. Although Chile is widely regarded as a developed country, this antiquated disease is still a problem. Diarrhea is most common among tourists as contaminated water and uncooked food are the disease’s leading causes. Tourists are unaccustomed to the food and unaware of what may or may not be safe to eat, and thereby are perfect victims of this watery disease. Diarrheal diseases are a problem for the citizens of Chile as well.

Nineteen out of 100,000 people die every year in Chile due to diarrheal diseases. This number may seem relatively low, but for a country that claims to be developed, it is much higher than it should be. The treatment is relatively simple, as clean water and food are all that is necessary to contain the disease. These two necessities have proved difficult for Chile as contaminated food and water cause a number of other diseases as well.

Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases continue to be prevalent among developed countries and are some of the common diseases in Chile. Twenty-seven percent of deaths are attributed to these diseases. The probability of dying from cardiovascular disease in Chile is gradually increasing and continues to rank up above diabetes and cancer in terms of the number of fatalities caused.

Barely trailing behind cardiovascular diseases, cancer is the cause of 26% of all deaths in Chile. Similar to cardiovascular disease, cancer is found in developed countries around the world. Out of all forms of cancer, gastric cancer is the most common in Chile.

The average number of deaths related to gastric cancer is 3,000 every year. Typically, 15 per 100,000 women and 13 per 100,000 men are killed by gastric cancer. These numbers are higher than anywhere else but in East Asia.

There are many factors that determine how developed a state is. For Chile, diarrheal diseases show that there are still some ways to go but that many diseases associated with developing countries are being managed. Of the common diseases in Chile, diarrheal diseases are the only ones with significance in terms of how Chile is doing socially and economically. It will take time to eradicate the diseases, but Chile has a healthy future.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Google

Poverty in Chile
Chile is currently struggling with its finances and education system. A public charity called Hogar De Cristo conducted a survey concluding that 58 percent of Chileans found that a lack of opportunities and education were the leading causes of poverty in Chile.

This recognition has shown that poverty in Chile, as well as poverty in general, is multidimensional rather than solely related to a lack of money. In addition to those mentioned above, Chileans accredit their poverty to laziness, addictions, lack of state support, abandonment and disease.


Poverty in Chile: Facts and Figures


Poverty in Chile has a fairly low percentage of 14.4 percent, which is lower than the United States. However, Chile’s problem lies in the country’s high rates of income inequality: and this alone has driven around 10 percent of people into poverty.

The inequality also reverts back to the poor education systems. There are approximately 75,000 Chilean children who do not attend school. The number of uneducated closely correlates with those living in the deepest poverty.

At first glance, Chile’s economy appears stable. In fact, in 2011, Chile was even voted as the 44th country for highest human development rates by the United Nations. These rankings were achieved by collecting the national averages, meaning that this can hide the truth about the country’s inequality.

In truth, 75 percent of growth out of 8.4 percent went to the rich, and only 10 percent went to the poor. This information is not clear in reports about the nation. The world acknowledges Chile as a developed country, but only 20 percent have incomes matching those of a developed country. The rest, what is hidden, exposes the true extent of poverty in Chile.

The Chilean economy is reliant on copper prices. Chile’s GDP rises when prices go up, but this alone does not create jobs that lead to prosperity. The truth about poverty in Chile shows that the GDP growth does not always benefit the majority of people.

In order to reduce poverty in Chile, national and international education reform advocates suggest significantly increasing expenditures in education. The goal would be to produce quality institutions and in turn, reduce poverty. Some economists even suggest a change in tax rates, because the low tax rates are one main reason why inequality has not been reduced. By fixing the tax problems, Chile could solve issues like the poor education and poverty significantly.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in Chile
The cost of living in Chile is fairly steep compared to its neighboring countries, and poverty in the region has made it difficult for low-income families to live comfortably. However, recent hikes in the country’s minimum wage have begun to lessen the burden of the high cost of living for low-income families.

According to an article published in International Living, Chile has one of the highest costs of living relative to what people earn in South America. Despite the country’s relatively high living costs, Chile’s infrastructure and its middle class have continued to steadily develop. The economy is also considered to be fairly stable.

The article found that when living comfortably in downtown Santiago, the capital of Chile, monthly rent was a little over $400 per month and building fees were close to $100. Electricity costs around $50 each month and essential items came to about $80. Overall, the monthly cost of living in this city was just shy of $1,000, which is more than two times the average monthly workers’ wage.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Chile’s monthly minimum wage rose to 270,000 pesos ($400) effective July 1, 2017. The monthly minimum wage is expected to increase to 276,000 pesos ($409) starting January 1, 2018.

A report from the United Nations revealed that the cost of living in Chile is often overlooked when poverty is examined in the region. Philip Alston, a United Nations Special Rapporteur, said that because of Chile’s noteworthy anti-poverty programs, poverty in the region often goes “under the radar.”

“It remains to be seen whether the current middle class-driven political and social agenda will pay sufficient attention to the tragedy of those living in poverty,” he said in the report.

Alston added that poverty and economic inequalities are persistent in the area. “Persistent inequalities result in a highly segregated society, in which separate residential areas, separate schools, and separate employment markets operate to entrench privilege and stifle mobility,” he stated.

While the cost of living in Chile has become slightly less stressful to members of the lower class, the country still needs to make great strides ahead in order to support its low-income families.

Leah Potter

Photo: Pixabay

Top Diseases in Chile
The top diseases in Chile are primarily noncommunicable and reflect the development and increased urbanization of the country, currently at 89 percent.

One of the most concerning issues in Chile is the high level of income inequality. Chile is the only South American country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; however, nearly 15 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Poverty is closely linked with noncommunicable diseases, and high levels of NCDs increase household healthcare costs and hinder efforts to reduce poverty levels. Those in poverty are more likely to use tobacco and have unhealthy diets. The long and expensive treatments associated with NCDs deplete household resources and those in poverty die at a much higher rate due to NCDs compared to their wealthier counterparts. Below are three of the of the top diseases in Chile.

Top Three Diseases in Chile

  1. Ischemic Heart Disease: Ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary heart disease, is caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, often resulting in a heart attack. Some risk factors — such as being male and older — are hereditary. Others that are modifiable behaviors include tobacco use, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and physical inactivity.In 2008, 30 percent of deaths in Chile were due to ischemic heart disease. Through initiatives like the Go Red for Women Campaign, heart disease-related deaths have declined to only eight percent in 2012, though it remains a leading cause of death in the country.
  2. Diabetes: Combined with cardiac disease, diabetes is estimated to be responsible for half of all deaths in Chile. Diabetes causes the most death and disability combined of all diseases in the country and is therefore considered one of the top diseases in Chile to address.In 2003 only 4.2 percent of the population was diagnosed with diabetes; in 2015 that percentage rose to nearly 10 percent. Gestational diabetes has also increased from one percent in 2003 to five percent in 2015. Public health officials in Chile cite being overweight as a major contributor to the rise of diabetes. The cost per person for diabetes care is approximately $1,500. With high levels of income inequality and the disproportionate impact of NCDs on low-income populations, this high cost and rising prevalence are major concerns.
  3. Ischemic Stroke: Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot obstructs blood flow to the brain, a result of atherosclerosis — the hardening of the arteries due to fat deposits. The risk of stroke can be reduced through increased physical activity, improved diet, weight loss and stopping tobacco use. Deaths due to stroke in Chile are on the rise; as of 2012, they were the leading killer in Chile, accounting for nine percent of all deaths. While heart disease and diabetes are the focus of Chilean public health efforts currently, the rise of ischemic stroke cannot be ignored.

The most common risk factors for death and disability are dietary risks, high blood pressure, obesity and alcohol and drug use. All these risk factors are modifiable behaviors, and all are large contributors to the three top diseases in Chile. Additionally, almost 30 percent of the population is overweight. Of those individuals over 15 years of age, 76 percent are overweight or obese.

A positive note is that many of the leading causes of death and disability in Chile require similar lifestyle changes – reduction in tobacco usage, increased physical activity and healthier eating habits. Finding effective interventions that promote lifestyle modifications can contribute to the reduction of many of the top diseases in Chile. While Chile implements a tax on tobacco, the only country in the Americas to do so, 39 percent of the population still engages in tobacco use. A comprehensive tobacco law passed in 2013 bans all tobacco advertising, including at the point of sale, as well as requires tobacco prevention education at every level of schooling. The long-term impact of these laws in addition to the tax is to be determined.

To promote healthier eating habits, in 2016 Chile was the first country in the world to require that warning labels be placed on foods high in salt, fat, or sugar content. These labels are in the form of black stop signs, designed to make them more reader friendly. Additionally, items required to be labeled are not permitted to be sold to children under 14 years of age or sold with toy incentives. These items are also not allowed to be sold for purchase in or near schools.

To combat some of the top diseases in Chile, the country is focusing on broad public health measures, particularly those that target the younger population. The country is clearly thinking far ahead, focusing not just on treating diseases currently affecting the adult population, but also attempting to prevent the rise of NCDs as the younger population ages.

Nicole Toomey

Photo: Flickr

Developing countries are paramount to healthy capitalism and add value to existing markets, as well as open up new opportunities for business. Both Mexico and Chile have more potential as current trading partners. NAFTA and the Chile free trade agreement outline the exact details of the relationship between both respective countries and the U.S.

The bilateral relations between Mexico and the U.S. impact the livelihoods of millions of Americans. More than half of the states in the U.S. have Mexico as their first or second-largest export market. Mexico imported $236 billion worth of U.S. products in 2015.

Forty percent of individual parts in Mexican products come from the U.S., and both the U.S. and Mexico benefit from trade by supplying and receiving necessities. Mexico’s purchase of corn amounts to a quarter of total corn that the U.S. exports. Continuing this trade is necessary for both economies, and American farmers say that it is a “beneficial relationship.”

Exports, such as computer and electronic products and fabricated metals, have tripled since free trade was established through NAFTA. Mexico and the U.S. depend on each other’s economies.

Chile is a promising emerging market and has become a major mining country. Recently Barrick and Goldcorp, two major Canadian mining companies, have teamed up to develop one of the largest gold deposits in Chile.

Deals such as this have maintained the growing potential of minerals in the country. Chile has emerged as a viable option for U.S. exports operating in several different industries. Various market reforms give Chile appeal to American markets. Continuous trade will only benefit the U.S., as Chile has a large natural supply of various mining minerals.

Both Mexico and Chile are lucrative developing countries, that with continuous effort, can continue to grow. Aid to both countries will help combat elements of poverty and allow for future business deals with U.S. companies.

Support for both countries enriches U.S. potential internationally. Mexico is currently one of the strongest trading partners for the U.S. and Chile has the potential to become a major market for business, as all exports will enter the country duty-free.

Nick Katsos

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Chile
Water quality in Chile includes many facets and issues that must be resolved. One recent event that has drawn attention to this issue is a drought during the weekend of Feb. 25, affecting five million people. This water quality emergency is due to runoff and debris in the Maipo River, the main water supply for Chile’s capital Santiago. Runoff is created by drought and wildfires, making it difficult for the land to retain water. When land is unable to retain water, mudslides are created and debris flows.

Chile measures the levels of precipitation, surface water, groundwater and water needed to remove the pollution in order to access its water footprint. These standards were created by the Water Footprint Network and the Chile Foundation.

Not only does poor water quality affect citizens in Chile, it affects entire industries. Copper is a major export from Chile, and mines must use expensive desalination technology in order to have suitable water. In addition, poor water quality affects agriculture. There are projects in place to improve both the removal of contaminants and water quality.

Former military ruler General Pinochet made water a private commodity in Chile in 1980, a move meant to encourage investment in infrastructure used to distribute water. In reality, privatizing water has created high tariffs and removed the incentive to distribute water in low-income areas. Citizens have to pay for water and to have their water quality improved. The Chilean government has a plan to invest $5 billion into irrigation projects by 2022 and encourage private sector investment into these projects.

Water quality in Chile is a multifaceted problem to solve, but there is impressive research and progress being made to resolve it.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr