Not long ago, Chile suddenly announced that it would cancel the informal meeting of APEC leaders scheduled for November this year.
Chilean President Pinella said in a televised speech that he had to make this difficult decision as domestic protests continued. What prompted him to make this difficult decision was initially only because the capital subway had raised three cents.
On October 6, based on the opinions of the expert group, the Pinella government decided to increase the subway fare in the capital Santiago from 800 pesos to 830 pesos in the morning and evening rush hours. Converted into RMB, it has increased by about 3 cents. The reason for the price increase decision is that the international oil price has continued to recover since this year, and the Chilean peso has also depreciated, making it difficult for low fares to maintain subway operations.
Even though the Chilean government was bitter and bitter, the public did not buy it, thinking that the government had overpriced it, and demonstrations broke out. San Diego’s subway system is a ladder system. It costs 800 pesos (about 7.5 yuan) during peak hours, 720 pesos (about 6.7 yuan) during normal hours, and 640 pesos (about 6 yuan) during free time. ). The subway almost covers the city’s main attractions and crowded areas, which makes the subway the most important travel tool for locals. Therefore, the fluctuation of its price affects almost everyone’s nerves. In the past 12 years, San Diego’s subway fares have nearly doubled, which has also made San Diego’s subways one of the most expensive in Latin America.
However, Chile is far more expensive than subway tickets. When I was living in San Diego, I felt a real pain for the high prices here. In addition to the subway, there are also buses. The fares are also unfriendly, and the single fare is more than 6 yuan. The starting price of a taxi is as high as 30 yuan. Of course, the price of oil here is also quite expensive, which is equivalent to European standards.
Besides transportation, eating is another important expense. In San Diego, a simple meal, similar to a domestic rice bowl, costs about RMB 40. If you want to eat more upscale, the normal restaurant consumption is about 200 yuan per capita, and you have to pay a 10% tip. For another example, domestic mineral water in the Chilean supermarket costs about 6 yuan. Even the most inconspicuous toilets have to be “careful” here. There are no free public toilets on the streets of Chile. If you want to use the toilet, you need to pay for it, which is usually 3 to 4 yuan.
I roughly estimated that according to this level of consumption, it is basically 1.5 to 2 times the level of consumption in domestic first-tier cities. The American guy Jerry I met at the hotel was very emotional. I didn’t expect that Chile’s prices would not be much cheaper than those in the United States.
In stark contrast to high prices is the low income here. According to the 2018 income survey published by the Chilean National Bureau of Statistics, half of the workers’ income is equal to or lower than 400,000 pesos, which is equivalent to less than 4,000 yuan. I often go to a restaurant. The young man who works in the restaurant, Nilda, tells me that he only has more than 300,000 pesos a month. Because it is a low-end restaurant, guests here usually don’t tip.
The income is not high, but the unemployment rate is surprisingly high. The latest data released by the Chilean National Bureau of Statistics shows that Chile ’s unemployment rate rose to 6.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Among them, the unemployment rate of young people is even higher, once approaching a quarter.
It is incredible that high prices and low incomes have not restrained the local people’s enthusiasm for consumption. On the pedestrian street of Weapon Square in the city center, people are always crowded during the day or at night.
Mr. Li, a third-generation Chinese immigrant, told me that the locals do have a “good habit” of spending money. As soon as the salary is in hand or a little change, they will find a way to spend it. Tipping will not blink. In addition, the convenience of credit cards and installments makes it even more modest. He believes that this has something to do with the naturally optimistic character of Latin Americans, and most of them live in the days when they are drunk. No wonder I always see young people here mostly holding the latest mobile phones. Mr Li estimates that half of the people in Chile do not save money. The lack of surplus food in their hands, coupled with economic instability, has made Chileans more and more sensitive to price fluctuations.
Chile, once considered a magic weapon for rapid economic development, is now the culprit for economic instability. Chile has very rich mineral resources, forest resources and fishery resources. It is the country with the richest copper ore resources in the world, and the country with the largest copper production and export copper in the world.
It is precisely because of its unique natural resources that Chile depends too much on the export of raw materials for economic development. At the same time, Chile’s industrial modernization has not been perfected with the economic development and lacks the necessary industrial structure adjustments and upgrades. The ups and downs will directly cause economic fluctuations and easily ignite social problems.
The main reason why the price adjustment of the subway caused an uproar is that various hidden dangers that had been buried before directly broke out. Since Chile does not produce oil, and its fuel is entirely imported, international oil prices are a bit turbulent, which will cause considerable pressure on the domestic economy. If we say that ordinary people may have room to move when they endure low income and high prices, they have little choice when facing the necessities of the subway. And even if the government knows that price adjustments will bring opposition, in order to reduce the fiscal deficit, it can only constantly test the bottom line of the people’s tolerance. However, in such a game, no one can predict when the last straw will arrive. .