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Notary and Recorder Monopolies in Chile

Notaries (notarías) and notarial services are vastly different in Chile than they are in places like the United States.

A notary designation is not easy to get in Chile, and a notary does far more than just verify the veracity of the signer. In many cases, notaries offer legal advice, too, the liability associated with doing so being a topic of academic discussion. The relative pay scales are a bit different in Chile compared to places like the United States as well.

According to El Mercurio, a Chilean notary business can rake in well over 10 million pesos (USD $155,500) per month, although a great number must languish with only USD $100,000 per month. Even in small towns like Puerto Varas, the local notary can knock down USD $15,000 per month.

That income level is due to the fact that notary positions are lifetime monopoly grants from the government (the Ministry of Justice, related to the Appellate Court, in particular). There appears to be political favoritism and even nepotism involved in the designation of notaries, which are almost impossible to remove once installed. Indeed, prior to 1995, they could not be removed at all.

One can find siblings heading different notaries, and their children. For instance, notary Tavolari has his shop in Viña del Mar while his sister runs another notary in Valparaíso, both going under the same last name: Notaría Tavolari. One would think they are related branch office, but they are not. In some cases, the designations have been effectively hereditary, passing down to children. Furthermore, the “industry” basically is unregulated. Thus, it is an ideal business to be in!

Not surprisingly, notary designation recipients _notarios_ make a big business out of their privilege. For instance, the Fischer Notary in Viña del Mar has sixty employees and rents the entire third floor (complete with private client parking area outside) of one of the most modern office buildings in the city. It is one of the largest notaries in the country. A number of Santiago notaries are even larger.

The number of notaries in any given area is limited by decree, and this fact can cause significant problems. In Concón and Lo Barnechea, for instance, both growing, largely affluent urban areas, there is only one notary, respectively. Both are congested with slow service, just as one would expect under monopolization.

Since people can use any notary in Chile, the folks from those areas often use other notaries instead (perhaps in Viña del Mar or Las Condes) in order to get better service. People might have to do that anyway since not all notaries are competent on legal matters or able to handle all document requests. Notaries willing to sign documents in English are even scarcer.

Chilean notaries are, in large measure, a product of living in a society of great distrust and mistrust. Contracts are basically unenforceable if they are not notarized. The same is true with all incorporations, transfers of vehicles or real estate, wills, affidavits, powers of attorney, insurance payouts, as well as documents needed to work with subcontractors. With the exception of some employment contracts, a non-notarized document is essentially worthless. Photocopies of legal documents, certificates, diplomas, records, etc. are likewise unacceptable, generally, unless they are photocopied by the notary himself and stamped as being a legitimate copy.

Lately, some politicians and public figures have called the notarial system “anachronistic, bureaucratic and hardly transparent.” Rates should be standardized throughout Chile for certain services. Yet prices can vary greatly: three or four times as much in one (usually affluent) place compared to another.

A parallel monopoly institution that is beleaguered by similar problems is the county recorder equivalent in Chile (called the conservador de bienes raíces that handles the recording of real estate transactions, as well as other legal rights and company formation documents. This institution, too, is very lucrative and is spawned by political privilege or favoritism. In fact, they make much more than notaries do. Getting this position is to hit a true goldmine.

Like notaries, they have an obligation to the “public trust” to ensure the safekeeping of public records for display when necessary. Consequently, they are both custodians of public documents, making them quasi-state institutions. They both subscribe to at least one powerful lobby to protect their benefits, too.

As an expatriate in Chile, it will be impossible to avoid having to use notary services, and unlikely to miss utilizing a recorder for legal transactions. Therefore, be prepared for inefficiencies, high costs and stressful hassles when you do. Nevertheless, being mentally prepared will help you cope better.

The system actually works, despite its monopolization and inefficiency. One must simply pay the price to get the desired result.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Overview of Nightlife and Activities for Younger People

There are many reasons to live in Santiago: jobs, business and networking, modernity, large First World areas, great medical care, extensive and modern shopping, amusement parks, bowling, golf, international access/airport hub and access to language schools or many people that speak English. Other than work and business, Viña del Mar can tick most of those boxes, albeit on a much smaller scale, and what lacks is just ninety minutes away in Santiago. What Viña has over Santiago is less traffic (except during the Summertime, when it can be a bit oppressive on the coast), cooler weather in Summer, ocean views and no air pollution. The rest of Chile pales by comparison to these two spots, and thus it is no wonder that well over ninety percent of the expats we have serviced settle in either Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar.

Nevertheless, one thing that often goes unnoticed is the needs of younger, usually single people, mainly in their 20s and 30s. Most expats that we see are 45 to 65 years old. A few come with children, but most do not. For that reason, these immigrants rarely ask me about what social life is like for younger people. Other than church groups, I really do not know–being a man in his 50s that likes the quiet pleasantries of Viña del Mar. So I asked my 27-year-old son what cities he prefers to meet people, go out and have fun: restaurants, dancing, pubs, shows, casinos, soccer matches, beaches, concerts, horse racing, movie theaters, whatever.

While one observation (my son’s views) is hardly scientific, I think it could be of interest to readers since he was partly raised here and has since lived in Chile for many years, attended graduate school here and is perfectly bilingual. He also gets out a fair amount.

I asked my wife to fill in bits of information she knows about Southcentral Chile. I have a few bits of information to add to the mix, too, based on locales I have seen and activities I have witnessed during my extensive travels in Chile.

In my son’s view, Northeastern Santiago is clearly the best choice. It is a “10”. However, other places are also good or fair, while most places are mediocre or outright terrible. Here are the rankings:

10 Valparaíso/Viña del Mar on New Year’s Eve and during Festival de Viña (around February 19-28)

8 Viña del Mar during the summertime (including Reñaca and south Concón)

7 Viña del Mar during the rest of the year

6,5 Concepción

6 Pucón or Villarrica (especially) and Puerto Varas during the summertime

5 La Serena and Iquique

4 Temuco and Valdivia

3.5 Puerto Montt and Rancagua

3 All other popular lakes and beaches during the summertime, Antofagasta

2 Arica, Talca, Curicó, Linares, Chillán, Los Ángeles, Punta Arenas, Coyhaique, Osorno, Calama, Copiapó, Los Andes, Quillota, Pucón and Villarrica and Puerto Varas during the rest of the year

1 Rural areas and small towns throughout Chile, other lakes and beaches during the rest of the year.

Take the ranking for what it is worth, but at least you now have an idea of what to expect in each area of the country. My son would not live anywhere but Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar, unless (of course) he was called to work in another city. Remember, too, that even if Viña del Mar is more suitable for his parent’s generation or retirees, there is still a fair amount for younger people to do and he can easily get to spots in Santiago by bus/metro in a couple hours for Friday and Saturday night–a virtue that no other provincial urban center provides (like Concepción–too far away).

In many ways, Viña del Mar is the superior choice if a young person does not have to work in Santiago every day. He gets the benefits of nightlife in both of those cities without having to put up with the disagreeable aspects of daily life in Santiago (smog, traffic, summertime heat). Overall, it seems pretty clear that young people will tend to be most comfortable and content with social life in either Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

A Couple of New Scams by “Friendly” Chileans

Chile is well-known for its scams.

It is society built on lying, cheating, stealing, dishonesty and deception. I do not know how I can put it more plainly. Yet, those of us raised in other cultures, even after living here many years, can still be blindsided by criminals and scammers. Thus, one can imagine how bad the situation can be for newcomers. That weakness is something profound that you should not take lightly, starting from the moment that you step off the aircraft at the Santiago airport. If you do not, beware the biblical adage: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12), because you likely will fall!

Recently, a new client of mine arrived in Chile. It was the first international trip he had taken in his life, fueled by fears of being “Trumped.” He got scammed by a taxi service, ignoring careful instructions from me, or at least not taking them seriously.

Normally, we pick up all clients personally from the airport with VIP service. However, this one had made a last-minute plane reservation and had an arrival time that conflicted with other commitments we had, thus making it necessary to find an alternative means to pick him up. The client was so worried about President Trump and the coming expected world war that he did not want to waste any time in leaving “the land of the free.” Unfortunately, he paid the price for not acting sooner and giving us a chance to better-prepare for his arrival.

Many Chilean hotel transfer drivers have long since given up writing names of arriving guests on placards. Crooks would simply look for the names that drivers had written and write them on their own placards, figuring out ways to get to the customer first. Then they would drive him off and either rob him or at the very least charge him an exorbitant amount to get to the hotel–sort of a “ransom service.” Under current practice, many hotels just hold up a placard with the logo of the hotel and the customer is instructed to look for that logo instead of their name.

Nowadays, there are pirates at the arrival gate, masquerading as airport employees. The merry thugs and thieves hire a front-man that can speak good English, providing a welcome voice to weary international travelers in a sea of foreign language confusion. Yet, sometimes bilingual Chileans are the least trustworthy, even if they wear a convincing uniform!

The tactic is simple: identify a target as he leaves the sliding glass doors at customs. Gringos are usually easy to pick out, especially when they look lost or a little tired and bewildered. Then politely ask him if he needs some assistance, noting that (the pirate) is an airport employee assigned the task of helping international travelers: a sort of “welcome to Chile” service.

In the case of my unwary client, the pirate was informed that he needed no help since he was awaiting a transfer van from the Renaissance Hotel. Then the pirate replied, “unfortunately, that van had already left.” (Literally, “he missed the bus” and was about to get bent over without knowing it was coming.) No worries, however, replied the “airport employee,” since he had other trusted taxis that would whisk him away to his destination. This sort of mishap “happens all the time,” but the airport is prepared to serve visitors caught up in such difficulties.

In fact, the hotel driver was waiting just a few meters away with his placard held up, but was never able to connect with the client. Instead, the client was quickly taken to the nearby ATM by the pirate, who explained that it was necessary to pay for service in cash, in advance. Then, the pirate took him to one of the ring’s cabbies and loaded his luggage, He was then charged four to five times the normal rate for taxi service to the hotel, and of course paid in unfamiliar cash, further confusing the tired, bewildered traveler, not quickly apt to convert between currencies or to know that the normal rate should not exceed US$25 to US$30. Also, the employee (curiously) requested a 10,000-peso “tip” (which is about one-third to one-half a day’s wages for a common worker here).

Obviously, paid employees do not normally request tips, as if they were customary and obligatory. The fact that he did, should have immediately tipped off the client. The scoundrel was probably drooling as he watched the blue bills being spit out of the ATM. Thankfully, the client arrived safely at the hotel, even though he was ripped off and the hotel was annoyed that the airport driver had to wait in vain for over an hour at the airport.

We were worried, too, and had been on the phone with the hotel driver since the time the client exited customs. Indeed, prior to that we had been on the phone with the client since the moment he got his passport stamped, trying to ease his way out. During the 2 minutes that we lost contact with the client and he left customs, the pirate got him.

The point man probably split the cab fare with the cabbie thieves. Notice that it pays to be bilingual in more ways than one! In Chile, crime pays. And P.T. Barnum’s “sucker” gets off the plane “every minute,” from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and beyond!

In another new, Samaritan-esque scam, local criminals are going around and letting the air out of people’s tires while parked. When an unsuspecting driver returns, and starts to drive off, the villain appears and points out that the driver has a pinchazo or a punctured tire. Not to worry, however, since the feigned Samaritan knows where to go to have the flat repaired. Once he leads his victim somewhere out of sight, especially if the victim has let him inside his car, he will pull a knife or gun and assault or rob his victim. Yet another reason to beware of helpful and courteous Chileans!

Furthermore, Chileans might be exporting this craft more frequently and easily in coming years. Did you know that of the 35 OECD countries, only South Korean and Chilean passport holders have visa-free travel to all G-8 countries (including Russia)? Another nice feature of Chilean citizenship, but perhaps not such a boon for the rest of the world that has just made it easier for criminals to arrive and practice their craft in new “territories.”

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s older (2014), not updated, abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Why Should You Live in a Very Flawed Country?

Chile is dominated by about twenty families. Some have connections to the Rothschilds in Europe and others to the Rockefellers. Most have no apparent affiliation.

Still, there is no mystery about Chile’s “feudalism” or corporatism. There is no false belief that there is a land of equal opportunity or that there is no classism or that there is less corruption among politicians and bureaucrats than in other places.

Viña del Mar 2The difference between Chile and other Latin American countries is that there are more powerful elites at the top in other countries (for instance, I have heard that Mexico has only seven ruling families–but seven times the population). Plus, the Chilean elite has permitted a very large and growing middle class in Chile. In that sense there is less classism, and from what I can tell there is less corruption than most countries of the world. Indeed, Chile falls in the top twenty-five least-corrupt countries of the world, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Moreover, the lower classes are “cared for” by their rulers such that all live fairly well, with adequate food, shelter, shoes, 90%+ literacy; plus, upward mobility is allowed and sometimes encouraged. Food supply is of much higher quality, as is the energy supply. And pristine natural beauty is abundant and encouraged.

Chile’s situation is similar to other vassal states like Switzerland and so many European enclaves like Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco—not to mention Hong Kong and Singapore. Generally speaking, the elite like to do business in places they dominate and crush others “below them” but choose to live in countries where there are large nicer sections and a large middle class. They all appear as wealthy countries, which are marvelous to visit and see their opulence, fine shopping, wonderful landscapes and so forth.

Most people considering emigration err by jumping to the conclusion that that since there are so few families ruling Chile then it is no better than the USA. Nevertheless, on the contrary, they fail to see the special role that the USA plays on the world scene for the Soros, Gates, Rockefeller, Rothschild, et al, networks. The war machine is a crucial piece of the overall strategy. The Fed and the (still) dominant fiat currency is another. The testing ground for any “ism”, any new theory that affects the population and needs guinea pigs, GMOs, imprisonment testing, psychological manipulation, family manipulation, police, DEA or ATF brutality, and much more, are yet other items on the agenda that make the corporatism, “feudalism” and “manorialism” in the USA far more egregious than in places like Chile.

The level of involvement that Chile and many other countries (including the smaller ones mentioned earlier) is a degree of magnitude less, if it exists at all, than what is going on in the USA. You must certainly know this fact.There are Terrorists

So why do folks keep on making lame excuses or quips to justify stupid, self-destructive behavior? Do you really believe that you are “freer” than other people, especially those that live in places like Chile? Just think about taxes, regulation, political correctness and danger you face compared to other places!

I live in Viña del Mar, overlooking the sea, pine groves and upper class structures. I do not awake each day worried that I might be mugged, murdered, or that the state will take 45% of what I earn by income, sales, property, capital gains, inflation or traffic taxes – or that the state will poison me, draft me (or my kids), shoot me by “accident” or destroy my family (family court, DSS).

In the USA I did have such worries and if you do not, then you are simply living in denial. I have not heard of any improvements since I left there in 2008. Am I mistaken?

“Oh,” you say, “but I live in Europe, Canada or Australia.” So what? Are you seriously going to say that those places are better than the USA with respect to the evil inflicted on its residents by the state?

I will also add that as bad as the current Chilean President Bachelet is, her approval rating is down to 15% and her left-wing coalition is on the ropes. We look forward to a swing to the Right in a year. On the other hand, you look forward to statist Trump most likely, otherwise sinister Hillary–elitist, power-brokering scoundrels that are hardly worse than the assorted character lineup in Europe or Australia. Do not kid yourself that you are pleased with politics in your country or do not think it matters much. It does.

In the final analysis, the question of migration never depends on whether the place you are considering going to is flawless, but rather: “Is it better, or less-flawed, than the place where you currently reside?” Those that reason otherwise are simply looking for excuses not to have to make hard personal choices, perhaps based on emotional and illogical decisions. They prefer to live in denial or an unwarranted optimism about the future of the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and even South Africa.

Can you honestly say that I am mistaken? If not, they why are you still living where you do? Or at least why do you still not have “Plan B” residence somewhere else, like Chile? Wake up and smell the coffee! While you are at it, get a copy of my new book Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers and read it. At least by informing yourself about the Chile option will be a step in the right direction.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Gang Violence in Chile

Some things just never stay the same. For years I had been pleased to report that Chile was mercifully free of violent gangs, commonplace in the United States and elsewhere. There were (and still are) groups that “hang out” together, called tribus urbanas, and that sometimes have tussles with the police. However, USA-styled gang “warfare” simply has not been widespread in Chile.

Now we hear news reports about a pistol-toting gang in Northwestern Santiago known as Los Chubis. News cameras have recorded their members, which are also involved in drug trafficking, shooting up the neighborhood, leaving bullet holes everywhere. The gang is located in the Parinacota neighborhood of the Quilicura comuna. The area is quite poor, but by no means the poorest part of Santiago. Now residents are quite scared.

Gang members are largely made up of convicted felons that speak coa or flaite dialects. One can hardly understand them when interviewed. What one can readily perceive in the news reports is building walls, inside and out, riddled with bullet holes. Moreover, members of both gangs sport many surgery scars and bullet holes in the bodies that they readily show to news reporters.

Worse yet, Los Chubis apparently now have a rival gang to contend with: El Barza, led by a guy known as “El Polaco.” One result was the October 31, 2015 (Halloween) murder of a neighborhood youth on his birthday (apparently by a Chubi), Arnaldo Céspedes, age 14, cousin of one of the El Barza gang. This act incurred retaliation by intentionally burning down the house of the “mother” (gang leader) of Los Chubis, María Vilches. So far, four homes have been burned down due to gang violence, which continues to escalate. For instance, the body of a boy, Isaac Pardo, known as El Palta, was burned beyond recognition and dumped up the road in the comuna of Lampa.

For a country not known for its violence, this gang activity has been shocking. Although it is not widespread in Chile, and certainly has not attained anything close to the level of gangsterism in the United States, obviously the idea of violent gangs has become a reality in some places and, unfortunately, may tend to spread.

This change marks a difference from when I first introduced largely peaceful tribus urbanas in an April 2010 blog entry. Of course, all of this sad crime does not affect the upper-class areas of Northeastern Santiago, or nicer regional communities like Viña del Mar, Concón, Zapallar, La Serena, etc. But newcomers to Chile would be well-advised to steer clear of the Parinacota barrio of Quilicura. Doing so should be easy to do, since they would normally have no reasons to go there.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Political Subdivisions in Chile versus the United States

Sometimes Americans can be confused by Spanish words that are similar to English ones but do not mean the same thing (false cognates). For instance, the Spanish word compromiso means “commitment” in English. Condado (the extension of the land holdings of a count or conde under feudalism) does not mean “county” in English–in fact the term is not used in Chile, although the concept is understood. Ciudad does not exactly mean “city” in the way we use it.

In strict English and in Spanish, a city (ciudad) is “a center of population, commerce, and culture; a town of significant size and importance.” But we use the word “city” more loosely at times, even to describe smaller towns (pueblos), at times modifying the word with an adjective like “huge,” “big,” “small,” or “medium-sized.” In Spanish that is not the case. In Chile, only larger population centers qualify as cities and the rest are pueblos or villorrios (i.e., a cluster of houses along the roadside or a few shops), They do not have villages (aldeas), even colloquially as, for instance, Greenwich Village.

However, they do add provincias, which are similar to counties in the United States, and comunas, which are basically cities or towns in the United States. The city hall structure of each comuna is called the municipalidad, where the municipio administers the comuna. They also use área metropolitano (metropolitan area) in the same way that Americans do, in order to describe large clusters of population that include many cities (comunas) and can encompass one or more counties (provincias) and even cross state (región) lines, as in the case of the New York metropolitan area. In Chile, there are four significant metropolitan areas: Región Metropolitana de SantiagoGran ValparaísoGran Concepción and Gran La Serena.

Political subdivisions in the United States and their equivalents in Chile are as follows.

Political Subdivision Spanish Equivalent
the state el Estado
nation nación
country país
state (50) región (15)
territory territorio
county provincia
medium-sized or larger city, or group of contiguous cities ciudad
city comuna
town pueblo
village aldea
urban cluster villorrio
metropolitan area área metropolitano

Note that ciudades, áreas metropolitanos naciones, territorios and villorrios do not have their own governing bodies, except for things like inter-city (inter-comunal) administration of mass transit. There is national governance of the Estado or país, and local governance of the regiones, provincias and comunas and some pueblos.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Chilean Cities with Highest Income

One might think that the most attractive places in Chile for newcomers would correspond to comunas with the highest incomes. While this thought is actually a pretty good guide, it has some holes. According to a study by the University of Chile cited by national daily La Tercera, the ten highest income comunas in Chile are:

1. Vitacura
2. Las Condes
3. La Reina
4, Lo Barnechea (which contains La Dehesa)
5. Ñuñoa
6. Providencia
7. Calama (2nd Región)
8. Diego de Almagro (3rd Región)
9. Antofagasta (2nd Región)
10. Magallanes (Punta Arenas, 12th Region)

It is not surprising to see the first six spots going to northeastern Santiago, although it is odd that La Reina is #3, ahead of #4 Lo Barnechea and #6 Providencia, and that Providencia is #6, even behind #5 Ñuñoa. I would not have expected that result. The rest of the list includes mining and natural gas cities, all of which are known for being highly-paid occupations in Chile.

The list goes to show that “money is not everything,” at least when choosing a place to live. For instance, Calama (#7) is the ugliest and most horrid city in Chile, and Antofagasta (#9) is not far behind, even though it has a nice sector amidst so many awful slums. Diego del Almagro (#8) is hardly a town, much less a city, and if the mine were not within its comunal boundaries there would be no attraction. It is certainly no place for an immigrant to come unless he is a miner.

Punta Arenas (#10) is in the extreme south, windy and cold, with very long nights in wintertime and very short ones in summertime. Still, it makes other top ten lists in some studies for being a very livable city, as reported in national daily El Mercurio. I am not convinced it is a good spot for newcomers, despite the history, great restaurants and tax-free zone. On the other hand, there are extensive wealthy suburbs in the Viña del Mar, Concepcion and La Serena metropolitan areas that also have high personal income but are not included in the top ten because of nearby poverty.

In that study reported in El Mercurio, the top thirty comunas with highest quality of living are:

1. Vitacura
2. Providencia
3. Las Condes
4. La Reina
5. Punta Arenas
6. Ñuñoa
7. Santiago
8. Lo Barnechea
9. Colina
10. Curicó
11. Rancagua
12. Valdivia
13. Macul
14. Osorno
15. Viña del Mar
16. Quillota
17. Huechuraba
18. La Florida
19. Chiguayante
20. Peñalolén
21. La Serena
22. San Felipe
23. Puerto Montt
24. Temuco
25. Los Ángeles
26. Quilicura
27. San Pedro de la Paz
28. Calama
29. Puente Alto
30. Coquimbo

I have been to all of these places. There is no way I am going to recommend to newcomers chilling #5 Punta Arenas, ugly #14 Osorno, upper-lower-class #29 Puente Alto, or industrial, smoggy and congested #26 Quilicura. Forget, too, mining town, ugly, high-elevation #28 Calama, and likely not largely Marxist mining enclave #30 Coquimbo. Largely lower middle class agricultural worker towns like #16 Quillota, #22 San Felipe, #9 Colina (especially if Chicureo is included) and #10 Curico all have a certain attraction, and are cheap places do live, but I really doubt they would suit the vast majority of immigrants from North America or Europe.

I have no idea why Viña del Mar is so far down the list (#15) or why neighboring Concon is excluded, unless it was subsumed in Viña del Mar. The same goes for lovely #19 Chiguayante and #27 San Pedro de la Paz, which are some of the nicer parts of Concepción and decent choices for a newcomer that does not mind cool and rain.

All of those places should be in the top ten, in my mind, ahead of #4 Ñuñoa and probably #6 La Reina, and certainly #7 Santiago, which really should not figure in the top twenty. I can see how the other places, especially #24 Temuco and #12 Valdivia, could be on a newcomer’s radar screen that likes smaller cities in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and does not mind rain.

The Institute for Urban and Territorial Studies at the Catholic University in Santiago produced its “Index of Urban Quality of Life” for 2015, which ranked the 93 most prominent comunas in Chile, spanning ten metropolitan areas and 85% of the country’s population. The index and rankings were based on six variables of labor conditions, business environment, socio-cultural conditions, connectivity and mobility, health and environment, and housing and environment. The following list is the ranking for comuna in relation to the mean, most superior to the mean first.

1. Las Condes
2. Providencia
3. La Reina
4. Puerto Varas
5. Punta Arenas
6. Antofagasta
7. Colina
8. Copiapo
9. Villarrica
10. La Serna
11. Tome
12. Valdivia
13. Quilpué
14. Talcahuano
15. Huechuraba
16. Rengo
17. Temuco
18. San Fernando
19. Osorno
20. Villa Alemana
21. Rancagua
22. Coronel
23. Angol
24. Lampa
25. Calera
26. San Antonio
27. Quilicura
28. Curico
29. Linares
30. Estacion Central

This part of the study may make sense to some Chileans, but from a newcomer or foreign-onlooker point of view, it is pretty weird. Not only are Lo Barnechea (La Dehesa), Ñuñoa and Vitacura missing, having been beaten out by nearby horrid #24 Lampa, mediocre #30 Estacion Central (main bus and train terminal for Santiago), mixed socio-economic bag #15 Huechuraba, and #7 Colina where my former maid lives unless, again, fabulous Chicureo is included. Likewise puzzling is the superiority of scuzzy port town #26 San Antonio over elegant 5th Region neighbors Viña de Mar and Concón, which do not appear at all, while including middle class inland communities of the Viña del Mar metropolitan area like #13 Quilpué, #20 Villa Alemana and #25 Calera. It makes little sense.

The ranking also highlights boring #8 Copiapo, lovely #23 Angol and coal mining slum #22 Coronel, each Marxist hotbeds. Punta Arenas (#5), Rancagua (#21) and ugly Osorno (#19) made the list again, although I am not sure why, and more worker’s farm towns were added like #29 Linares, #25 Calera, #16 Rengo, and #18 San Fernando, but most of the ones on the previous list are not included.

A horrid, smelly naval port #14 Talcahuano is the only representative from the Concepción metropolitan area, displacing Chiguayante and San Pedro de la Paz? Give me a break! I guess there is some bias or stupidity in Chilean university studies. Maybe it was done by leftists?

The only cities listed that make sense, from my perspective, are #1 Las Condes, #2 Providencia, #3 La Reina, #4 Puerto Varas (they definitely got that one right!), and I would agree with #9 Villarrica (but where is Pucon?), #10 La Serena, #17 Temuco and #12 Valdivia being somewhere in the top thirty. However, the study’s rankings themselves are a bit different, even though still bizarre or surprising:

1. Las Condes
2. Vitacura
3. Providencia
4. Lo Barnechea
5. La Reina
6. Ñuñoa
7. Puerto Varas
8. Castro
9. Punta Arenas
10. Concepcion
11. Antofagasta
12. Maipú
13. Colina
14. Machalí
15. Copiapó
16. Talca
17. Villarrica
18. Quillota
19. La Serena
20. Viña del Mar
21. Tomé
22. Vallenar
23. Valdivia
24. Coihaique
25. Quilpué
26. Santiago
27. Talcahuano
28. Concón
29. Huechuraba
30. Puerto Montt
This list makes more sense, except for the curious inclusion of Concepcion over its much nicer suburbs, and the low rankings for #20 Viña del Mar, #28 Concón and #19 La Serena, which would certainly be more desired by nearly all Northern Hemisphere immigrants than mixed middle class #6 Ñuñoa (home of the national soccer stadium and lots of vandals), quaint but puny and remote #8 Castro, barren #9 Punta Arenas, #10 Concepcion, and the rest of the list starting with #11 Antofagasta (with the possible exceptions of #14 Machali, #17 Villarrica and #23 Valdivia for certain people). I know a couple of expatriates that like their farms near #16 Talca, but not necessarily the boring city itself.

According to a study by Centro de Estudios Públicos in 2010, the next highest income comunas of the Metrolpolitan Region are Santiago (centro) and San Miguel. I do know a few expatriates living in San Miguel, and it is a decent place, much less expensive than northeastern Santiago. So, obviously, it is a possible destination for newcomers. However, the third poorest and lowest income place in the region is Alhué, a small farming community that is clearly a lovely, quaint place, that could be of interest to newcomers that want to live in the country but yet not too far from the big city.

Iquique is very high on the personal income scale for Chile, but it is the bottom of the barrel on lists of most livable places in Chile. Yet I know several expatriates that live in Iquique and love it. It just goes to underscore that one cannot judge a comuna solely on the basis of personal income statistics, and probably have to take with a grain of salt the livability rankings as well.

Other examples are regional comunas like Viña del Mar (and Reñaca), Concón, San Pedro de la Paz, Chiguayante (and other parts of metropolitan Concepcion), Zapallar and nearby beach towns, Pucon and Puerto Varas. All of these comunas contain significant First World areas and amenities that make them clear possible destinations for newcomers. Yet the poorer neighborhoods that they contain, for example Forestal in Viña del Mar, are significant enough to drag down the median income figures. The same is true for Santiago comunas like Huechuraba and Peñalolen, which have significant First World areas within a sea of poverty. All of these places, especially the provincial ones, are much cheaper to live than the top comunas in northeastern Santiago and should be on the list of relocation spots under consideration by newcomers,

If we can trust Wikipedia GDP statistics for Chilean regions, they might add something to the discussion about where newcomers might be most comfortable.

1. Santiago metropolitan area (GDP US$101.7 billion)

2. 2nd Region, Antofagasta and includes Calama (GDP US$21.8 billion)

3. 5th Region, Valparaiso, includes the Viña del Mar metropolitan area (GDP US$16.7 billion)

4. 8th Region, Biobío, includes the Concepcion metropolitan area (GDP US$16.5 billion)

5. 6th Region, Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins (GDP US$9.4 billion)

6. 7th Region, Maule, includes Talca (GDP US$7.7 billion)

7. 4th Region, Coquimbo includes the La Serena metropolitan area  (GDP US$6.6 billion)

8. 3rd Region, Atacama including Copiapó and Salvador, mining (GDP US$5.7 billion)

9. 10th Region, Los Lagos, including Puerto Montt, Castro and Osorno (GDP US$5.14 billion)

10. 1st Region, Tarapacá, inlcuding Iquique (GDP US$5.12 billion)

11. 9th Region, La Araucanía, including Temuco (GDP US$4.7 billion)

12. 14th Region, Los Ríos, including Valdivia (GDP US$2.5 billion)

13. 12th Region, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctic, includes Punta Arenas (GDP US$1.8 billion)

14. 15th Region, Arica and Parinacota (GDP US$1.3 billion)

15. 11th Region Aysén of General Carlos Ibáñez, including Coyhaique (GDP US$0,99 billion)

It is pretty clear that Santiago dominates the country economically. Antofagasta and Calama are high on the list on account of mining earnings which does not translate into a generally high quality of life in my opinion. Next up are the Viña del Mar and Concepcion metropolitan areas, for good reason, since they are the main centers for industrial production and tourism outside of the capital city. They are followed by farming regions and some more significant mining in the 3rd, 4th and 6th regions. Lumber, dairy and fisheries are on the low end of overall economic production in the southern regions. Living where there is a lot of economic activity generally translates into a higher quality of life. That fact should provide a good starting point for newcomers making choices about where to live.

Another good indicator to consider is the median household income statistic for 2009, by comuna. The data are a little bit old and in a dynamic country like Chile, things like this statistic change a lot in a few years. But at least it will provide a good idea. The data were obtained from the webite of the Library of the National Chilean Congress.

Remember that only Vitacura is nearly completely free of a significant poorer section. Lo Barnechea and Las Condes both have them, and Providencia’s has been growing. However, Viña de Mar, Concón, much of Concepción and Las Serena have very large poor neighborhoods, dragging down considerably the community average. Considering Viña del Mar in particular, it is likely that the coastal section, especially Reñaca, has a median household income similar to south Concon, which is certainly much higher than the Concon statistic in the following list (which includes poorer sections in north Concon). Indeed, if Reñaca and south Concón were to become a separate comuna, as some Chileans have been pushing for, then it would probably be 6th in ensuing list.

Comuna (selected) Median Houshold Income (pesos)
2009
Lo Barnechea (La Dehesa) $ 3.256.310
Las Condes $ 3.246.457
Vitacura $ 3.066.970
La Reina $ 2.281.099
Providencia $ 2.271.430
Ñuñoa $ 1.255.232
Santiago (centro) $ 1.230.676
Concon $ 1.076.438
Antofagasta $ 862.784
Rancagua $ 865.167
San Pedro de la Paz $ 853.545
Punta Arenas $ 773.823
Huechuraba $ 763.445
CHILE $ 754.795
Iquique $ 752.842
Valparaíso $ 720.623
Temuco $ 705.271
Concepcion $ 702.613
Alhue $ 699.130
Colina (Chicureo) $ 695.812
Puerto Varas $ 681.652
Osorno $ 654.351
Viña del Mar $ 642.786
Chiguayante $ 624.401
Quilpue $ 620.451
La Serena $ 585.880
Talca $ 584.756
Valdivia $ 567.329
Zapallar $ 555.243
Olmue $ 549.263
Puerto Octay $ 546.021
Rengo $ 520.720
Castro $ 484.848
Pucón $ 461.966
Coronel $ 454.950
Alto de Carmen $ 432.987
Puqueldon $ 409.010
Vichuquen $ 399.796
Camiña $ 345.269
AVERAGE $ 952.667

Hopefully this information will help the prospective newcomer have a better idea of where he chooses to live in Chile.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.

Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.

Dr. Cobin’s next sequel, Living in Chile: Key Details of History, Culture, Politics and Places for the Serious Immigrant, goes into detail that mainly those people living in Chile already or serious immigrants will be interested in. It is also of special importance to libertarians that want to know something about the political and ideological undercurrents, past highlights (like having a free port much like Hong Kong or free banking), and people that want practical information and where they can retire on their budget. The travel section compliments the other books in the series so that those that read all three books can be sure to have covered the key places of the country from top to bottom.

This book is chock full of savory details that only a true immigrant and former American with many years of experience would know. Some things are only learned over long periods of time and observation. Take advantage of tapping into Dr. Cobin’s deep knowledge of the country and insights of importance to serious immigrants.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Chilean Justice System

The Chilean criminal justice system favors criminals more than victims, period, except in cases of egregious violent crime or massive scams. Even those crimes go unpunished if perpetrated by disgruntled Mapuche Indians in the south or a Leftist activist with bombs or gun violence against the Right. Remember that Chile is by far the world leader in theft crimes and the great majority of them go unnoticed and are not prosecuted. There are simply not enough district attorneys (fiscales) and insufficient prison space.

If the amount of your loss from a scam or theft is lower than USD10,000 or perhaps more, and there was no violence involved, you can forget about getting any justice. I have not only heard this from lawyers, two fiscales have told me straight up in their offices. Apparently a fiscal is a very good lawyer but his hands are tied by very few resources and a leftist set of justices and laws that let criminals get of Scot free. He has so many cases that he can hardly handle them.

criminal

For one thing, there is not enough jail space for the amount of delinquents in Chile. Criminals, especially first time offenders, are usually not going to get a five-year or longer prison sentence which is required to be sent to jail. Instead they will get 41 or 61 days with an ankle bracelet and confined to home at night. They get to go out for work during the day. That is obviously not much of a disincentive to commit crimes. They steal and get caught every now and then. Those ‘getting caught times’ just provide needed family time in the evenings for a couple months before the criminal goes back to practicing his trade.

I spoke to the criminal that washes my car. He does not worry about being a delinquent. He burglarized a house and was arrested in 2015. The cops do a fair job but their work is often left in vain. This man, somewhat retarded and the bastard son of an influential judge in Valparaíso, disappeared for several weeks. I asked his associates where he had gone and they told me that he would be locked up for years for participating in a big-time burglary. Then the guy suddenly appeared. His father got him off by threatening to claim abuse by authorities in dealing with a person with a mental deficiency. A letter that would make a scene. My car washer told me lots of details proudly and boldly, and he said that he is un-convictable in Chile. He might be right.

Speaking of cars, my crew boss had his car stolen in downtown Viña del Mar in early 2016. The cops did little more than take a report and then, a couple weeks later, found the shell of the car stripped of all it wheels, motor and parts–all obviously resold and untraceable. It was dumped in a remote area of the hills above Viña del Mar. My foreman has no hope of getting justice for his loss and just takes it in stride, concluding that the law favors criminal more than victims. In Chile, it pays to buy car insurance because there is no other way to have a shot of getting your money back again for your car, if stolen.

The same is true you hire someone. It they complain or sue you for something you will likely have to pay them, sometimes thousands of dollars, since courts will likely side with “poor” workers against “rich” employers. The leftist bias is disgusting. Maids will sue you. Be careful. Maestros and other day laborers will, too. They have a special government agency (CIT) that hires a lawyer for them and takes their case up against you. You have to hire a lawyer. The wicked employee knows that if the amount is low enough it will make more sense for you to pay instead of paying more for a lawyer and also risking losing in court, too. It is terrible.

You might not even get to tell your full story beyond the summary you give to the police. The fiscal assigned to your case might hear the criminal’s response and just close the case, even if the criminal uses falsified documents or lies to clear their name. You will come to the hearing only to find that the case is being closed and the criminal can never again be charged for the crime. You will be screwed. The judge will tell you that you can go hire an attorney for a couple thousand dollars to file a querrella (civil and criminal complaint) and keep things going, but if you did not lose over a couple thousand it hardly seems worth it. You will come away with the feeling that the libertarian anarchists are right: justice by the state hardly exists and thus why should we have it? Better to rely on market forces. Although imperfect they will probably do better than the state does and lots of taxes will be saved. Whoever said that prisons a good thing anyway? Some penitent Quakers? Why not just enslave these criminals and make them work off their debts?

Thus, in Chile you have no legal backstop. You have to rely on more scrupulous judgment in deal-making and in protecting your assets. You will not likely be raped or murdered in Chile, although both things happen, but you will very likely be a victim of robbery, burglary, labor complaint or a scam. So be careful, and be prepared. Businesses build-in legal losses to their budgets. They have to do so. It may be sickening but it is true, so get over it and learn to cope.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.

Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.

Dr. Cobin’s next sequel, Living in Chile: Key Details of History, Culture, Politics and Places for the Serious Immigrant, goes into detail that mainly those people living in Chile already or serious immigrants will be interested in. It is also of special importance to libertarians that want to know something about the political and ideological undercurrents, past highlights (like having a free port much like Hong Kong or free banking), and people that want practical information and where they can retire on their budget. The travel section compliments the other books in the series so that those that read all three books can be sure to have covered the key places of the country from top to bottom.

This book is chock full of savory details that only a true immigrant and former American with many years of experience would know. Some things are only learned over long periods of time and observation. Take advantage of tapping into Dr. Cobin’s deep knowledge of the country and insights of importance to serious immigrants.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Dishonesty in Chile: Once Again a Nightmare

Lying, cheating and dishonesty are par for the course in Chile. This fact has hardly been hidden from my readers. The problem is so pernicious and pervasive in Chile that it is worth mentioning again, and I have recetly been reminded of it as I myself fell victim to a clever scammer.

I was speaking to a Baptist pastor recently and he shed some light on the matter of why Chileans are generally so dishonest. One reason has to do with the leftover influence of Roman Catholic religion, he says. For Catholics, sins are divided into two categories: mortal and veneal, the later being “not so bad.” Apparently, much lying falls under that category and thus the sin gets practiced in Chile. I think the Baptist pastor might be on to something.

Consider that  Chilean liars and cheats are polished; oftentimes so nice and seemingly well-intentioned, even if they are disorderly. Eight dignified, well-spoken and nice men and women have ripped me (and others) off in Chile. To be fair, one was from Costa Rica, and my wife assures me that all Latin American countries are replete with liars and cheaters (She trusts no one, period.). They are at times just out and out con-men. Other times they are just bumblers trying to get their hands on some capital to try some doomed-to-fail-due-to-incompetence project, that end up lying and being dishonest to try to rectify the consequences of poor decisions.

In my experience, dishonest Chileans have come in several varieties: the farmer, the realtor, the university department head, the new car sales manager, the private loan officer, the property development expert, the venture capital liaison and the building subcontractor. Some just milk you for what they can and then vanish without a word. Others make up excuses for why they lost your money or why they were actually “owed” what you gave them for “work” that produced nothing. Others will assure you that a non notarized contract is all that is necessary since they are a man of their word, at least until they screw you (paying you little or nothing) and they are the first to note that the contract you signed with them is not binding. Still others will take off with your foreign credit card and spend US$4,000 over the weekend on food, clothing, gymn memberships, gold and jewelry. This is possible since in Chile no PIN numbers are required on foreign cards, just a signature, and clerks never check card names or match signatures. Some folks will run away with the crops or goods, without a trace, and make it look like they are innocent. They are all dishonesty experts. They know how to game American, Canadians, Australians and Européans. They will seek you out and they will at some point beat you. Be ready for them if you can!

Why can they do it so easily, even to those of us that have been here for 20+ years? Because we are raised to be honest and trusting people. We learn to look out for criminals, but when the Chilean scum come across so smooth and friendly, establishing a relationship for many months, we let our guard down and open up to them, trusting them. At that point they let us have it! The payoff justifies the cost of holding up the charade and waiting for months for the prey to be unaware of falling victim. Sometimes the dishonesty leads to outright theft. At other times, we lose when the Chilean fails to perform or follow through, or make good on his promise. The end result is still the same: we lose and the “scum” (as my wife calls them, scoria) wins.

I do know many fine, honest Chileans, and my son reminded me that he, too, knows many good Chileans. They are businessmen, doctors, lawyers, professors and even a few construction workers. But the truth of the matter is that more than 90% of Chileans are liars and cheaters, and most of the remaining 10% could probably be persuaded to be such if the circumstances were right. After all, dishonesty is probably just a “veneal” sin, unlike murder and adultery. (Speaking of cheating on one’s spouse, Chileans are pretty good at that craft, too, even though it is a mortal sin. I guess even the religious imeptus has limited explanatory power.)

In terms of calling the police or relying on the justice system, it is almost not worth bothering. Criminals are hardly punished for contract breach or crimes related to dishonesty. Dishonest people in Chile also seem to care less that you will never do business again with them once they burn you. They prefer to go with the bird in the hand than risk getting uncertain future gains from you. Reputation has no bearing either, since being a liar or cheat in Chile is hardly an impediment to future work. It may even make one more contacts and better pay, as one boasts about his successes in taking advantage of others.

At any rate, it is probably best to consider that being taken advantage of by a Chilean is not a matter of “if” but rather of “when” for any newcomer to the country. The land is full of dishonest people, from the President and Congressmen to businessmen to day laborers. You will not be safe from them and they will hunt for you. It is a bleak reality. The best you can do is try to minimize the impact of loss from deals and arrangements that you make as an employee, employer or consumer. Do not rush to get too close to Chileans and do not trust them with money matters for several years.

Be prepared to start thinking differently even before you get to Chile. The country is great overall, but there are some things like dishonesty, that will drive you crazy for years to come.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they

would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.

Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.

Dr. Cobin’s next sequel, Living in Chile: Key Details of History, Culture, Politics and Places for the Serious Immigrant, goes into detail that mainly those people living in Chile already or serious immigrants will be interested in. It is also of special importance to libertarians that want to know something about the political and ideological undercurrents, past highlights (like having a free port much like Hong Kong or free banking), and people that want practical information and where they can retire on their budget. The travel section compliments the other books in the series so that those that read all three books can be sure to have covered the key places of the country from top to bottom.

This book is chock full of savory details that only a true immigrant and former American with many years of experience would know. Some things are only learned over long periods of time and observation. Take advantage of tapping into Dr. Cobin’s deep knowledge of the country and insights of importance to serious immigrants.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Immigrants that Are not Welcome in Chile

Immigrants from 51% of the countries of the world are not readily welcome in Chile. It is very difficult for most people in the world even to obtain a tourist visa. The restriction applies mainly, although not exclusively, to Third World, Muslim, violence-ridden and communist countries. Some notable non-Muslim standouts included in the lists are Armenia, Georgia, East Timor, Belarus, Ukraine, Guyana, Granada, Dominican Republic and Taiwan. Notable poor countries not on the lists include Haiti, Bolivia and Central American nations.

In our residency program, we frequently receive queries from people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Iran, Vietnam and other Asian or African countries (other than South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Fiji, Mauritius or South Africa), as well as some countries from the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. There is little that we can do for them.

According to a document from the Chilean Consulate in New York, the Chilean government requires extra-normal steps for citizens of the following countries to receive a tourist visa to come to Chile. These nationals must apply for a tourist visa prior to coming to Chile, unlike the rest of the world’s countries whose citizens receive visas in the Santiago international airport or one of Chile’s ports of entry. I have highlighted entries that might be surprising to our readers, especially ones that tend to have people that make residency program inquiries or ones where former Americans choose to become citizens of after renouncing their American citizenship (e.g., the Dominican Republic).

Applications and background checks submitted at least FOUR weeks in advance of travel to Chile:

Afghanistan, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan
Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Brunei, Burundi
Cape Verde, Chad, China (People’s Republic of), North Korea, Cuba
Djibouti
Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Eritrea, Ethiopia
Georgia
India, Iran, Iraq
Jordan
Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait
Lesotho, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya
Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Mozambique
Namibia, Niger, Nigeria
Oman
Pakistan, Palau, Palestine
Qatar
Senegal, Sierra Leone, Syria, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan
Tanzania, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan
Yemen

Applications and background checks submitted at least TWO weeks in advance of travel to Chile:

Belarus, Botswana, Burkina Faso
Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste), Equatorial Guinea
Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Granada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana
Ivory Coast
Kiribati
Laos
Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar
Nauru, Nepal
Papua New Guinea
Rwanda
Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Swaziland, Solomon Islands
Taiwan, Tuvalu
Uganda, Ukraine
Vanuatu, Vietnam
Zambia, Zimbabwe

To apply for a tourist visa, these nationals must submit the following documents: (1) a visa application form; (2) their passport valid at least from the beginning to the end of the visa; (3) a letter of invitation from someone who lives in Chile stating his/her name, address and telephone number or letter of the company or institution that invited the applicant stating the reason for his/her trip to Chile; (4) proof of economic solvency such as bank statements, and/or a letter from the company that supports the visa applicant stating his position and compensation, and/or letter from parents to ensure their financial support for the duration of the visa; (4) marriage certificate (only if the applicant is married to a Chilean citizen); (5) a health certificate issued by a physician stating that the applicant is in good health and has no diseases, issued within 30 days prior to the date of application; (6) a certificate of HIV blood test issued by a health department, laboratory, or physician, in the same period of time; (7) a criminal record certificate issued by the police; and (8) a recent photograph color passport size (2″ x 2″). All documents have to be translated into Spanish, but I imagine that documents printed in English will also be accepted. Consular fees vary according to applicant’s nationality.

Once a visa is approved by the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the applicant must appear before a Chilean consulate for an appointment to have his/her visa stamped. For further inquiries, folks may write to cgchileny.visas@minrel.gov.cl. Stateless persons, refugees whose status has been recognized by international organizations and political refugees also must apply for a tourist visa.

The long and the short of it is that for the great majority of human beings, coming to Chile will be difficult if not impossible. While I personally feel sad for any libertarians trapped in the aforementioned countries, I have to admit that Chile’s immigration public policy probably does reduce the risk of threats to Chile and thus makes Chile more attractive to others. This policy explains in part why there are so few Muslims in Chile. I should also note that there are significant Palestinian and Chinese (mainly Cantonese) populations in Chile, indicating that people from some countries on the lists above are more readily welcome than others.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they

would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.

Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.

Dr. Cobin’s next sequel, Living in Chile: Key Details of History, Culture, Politics and Places for the Serious Immigrant, goes into detail that mainly those people living in Chile already or serious immigrants will be interested in. It is also of special importance to libertarians that want to know something about the political and ideological undercurrents, past highlights (like having a free port much like Hong Kong or free banking), and people that want practical information and where they can retire on their budget. The travel section compliments the other books in the series so that those that read all three books can be sure to have covered the key places of the country from top to bottom.

This book is chock full of savory details that only a true immigrant and former American with many years of experience would know. Some things are only learned over long periods of time and observation. Take advantage of tapping into Dr. Cobin’s deep knowledge of the country and insights of importance to serious immigrants.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

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