Every culture tends to have its idols. Americans, for instance, idolize youth, consumerism (including keeping-up-with-the-Jones'” syndrome), celebrities and imperialism. Chileans have different idols and they seem just as obnoxious to newcomers as the idols of the First world seem to Chileans. Chilean idols can be summed up by three Spanish words: imagen, vergüeñza and pesada, when considered in their public context. I would like to briefly consider each of these in turn (image source).

First, Chileans have an exaggerated preoccupation for their public image or imagen. They will do whatever they can to appear to be more important or wealthier than they are in order to serve this idol. They will falsify their resumes or aggrandize their accomplishments. They strive to live in upper class neighborhoods in order to have a “good” address and to be able to boast about it. They wear their best clothes in public on their way to work, even if their jobs are menial or blue collar (e.g., the maid), and they change clothes once they arrive. They do nothing that might make them “stick out like a sore thumb.” They are proud of their last names if they are of Spanish or other European origin, especially with names that contain a double “rr” consonant in them, and do anything they can to hide any indigenous lineage. They do anything to attain more prestige at work or in society, even if it means undermining the position of someone else.
Second, Chileans hate to be put to public shame. It is uncanny that when arrested, criminals always try to hide their faces and in the criminal act itself, they are often hooded and/or masked. Many Chileans love to get away with lying, dishonesty, adultery or stealing, but never to be caught in the act. To say something shameful or to do something embarrassing or loud is humility that must be avoided at all cost. That is one reason why Chileans are so loathe to admit fault or to say that they are sorry. To get away with something is glorious but to be caught is high shame because of what others will think. Avoiding shame and humility, vergüenza, is an idol.
Third, Chileans glorify the idol of public nicety. It matters not how ignorant or mistaken a person is. So long as he is nice, friendly, uncritical and dignified, he can do anything or go anywhere–even be President. To be a person that is pesada (i.e., literally heavy, in terms of his character or conversation) is unacceptable and will be shunned by nearly everyone with whom he comes in contact. Critical or independent thinkers are not lauded, but rather those that follow the pack, since to be critical requires one to be pesada. Saying something considered mean or calling out someone’s sinful actions are, of course, off limits.
Surely, someone will now comment and complain that I am generalizing. All Chileans are not this way, at least not on every count. Of course, that is true. However, who can deny that these idols apply to the great majority of Chileans? Indeed, Chilean culture is in large part defined by these premises.

Chile has a new sustainable community starting called Freedom Orchard. Check it out. Invest in it, and diversify out of the decaying assets in “First World” nations.
Also, be sure to tune in to Dr. Cobin’s radio program: “Red Hot Chile” at noon (ET) on Fridays on the Overseas Radio Network (ORN). You can also join the thousands of other people who download the shows each month via the archive link on our Red Hot Chile page (recorded show updated every Monday morning).
Be sure, too, to visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country and what’s going on with Freedom Orchard.
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.