January 5, 2007
Contrary to public perceptions, news reports over the past year or two suggest that Chile is plagued by as much corruption as are other Latin America countries. The Miami Herald has compiled a list of some of the most egregious cases of bribery and embezzlement. Late dictator Augusto Pinochet kept secret accounts worth at least $28 million in foreign banks, and several officials belonging to the Socialist Party (of which President Michelle Bachelet is a member) have been convicted of bribery or are under investigation for various kinds of financial wrongdoing. The article rightly points out that much of the problem stems from the fact that the same center-left coalition has controlled the government for the last 16 years. (Hat tip to Randy Paul.) The question is whether the revelations of government crookedness will undermine Chile's reputation as a safe place to invest money. Gaining its reputation as a haven for foreign capital did not come easy, and it would be a shame for a country that has achieved so much to squander it all away.
UPDATE: The U.S. Border Patrol reported that a team of National Guardsmen manning a border post in Arizona was forced to retreat after being fired upon and assaulted by a group from Mexico, according to azcentral.com (via Instapundit). If this is accurate, it would dispel the widespread belief that the border is sufficiently secure without a fence, or without heavy reinforcements. Further west, Mexican army troops ordered the local police in Tijuana to disarm, as they try to retake control of the city from drug traffickers. Police forces have been accused of helping the smuggling operations. See BBC.