Despite the fact that many Chilean citizens are suffering under the strict quarantine measures, many losing their jobs and others even living in the streets, some Chilean billionaires continue to financially profit in this time. This is even more unsettling since several of these people have a hand in Chilean politics, in charge of making decisions for those who are suffering under the new Covid-19 preventative measures.
According to Forbes data analysis there are several families and business moguls whose fortunes have increased since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Forbes compared financial data from March to June 2020. One familiar name that appears on this list is none other than President Sebastián Piñera whose family’s net worth went from $US2.6 Billion in March to $US2.7 Billion in June. The president is not alone, however, as the following are also Chileans whose finances of continued to grow in the past few months:
- Iris Fontbona y familia: position 115 – US$13.9 billion
- Julio Ponce Lerou: position 1.098 – US$2.3 billion
- Jean Salata: position 1.114 – US$2.3 billion
- Horst Paulmann y familia: position 1.168 – US$2.2 billion
- Álvaro Saieh Bendeck: position 1.649 – US$1.5 billion
- Roberto Angelini Rossi: position 1.815 – US$1.4 billion
- Patricia Angelini Rossi: position 2.099 – US$1.1 billion
The growing fortune of these Chileans, and especially of the president himself, might be an uncomfortable truth to some as the country sees more and more instability and financial uncertainty as the weeks in quarantine pass.
The Rest of The Country
This financial disparity between billionaires and the average citizen is particularly glaring when considering the current economic situation for the majority of Chilean citizens. Likewise, there has been a great deal of criticism towards the Piñera administration because these critics feel that the government is not prioritizing the suffering of the Chilean citizens. One event that critics point to is in June when towns were protesting hunger, Piñera and the La Moneda Palace were in the middle of a bid for gourmet food, to provide for the dinners of the officials there. Their budget being roughly $US 126,000. Food, which included salmon caviar.
There has been a response to protests as the government is now distributing food boxes to vulnerable families in the country, but this also hasn’t been without its criticisms. For starters, some packages ended up in non-vulnerable sectors including the house of mayor Natalie Castillo who questioned how many other boxes weren’t reaching vulnerable families.
An additional controversy was the instructions for the delivery personnel. The instructions encouraged the personnel to take photos for social media and within the post mention The President and mayors of the sector. Critics point out that the government shouldn’t treat these packages as “gifts” and that the receivers should have their privacy respected.
In another move to help, the government implemented a $US12 Billion emergency aid plan in June. For the 80% of the most vulnerable families who will be receiving the package, this will amount to about half of their average income.
Meanwhile, more financial aid could be on the horizon as debates continue on whether or not vulnerable families should have access to withdrawing money from their pension funds in order to offset financial losses during this time. The majority party disagrees with this tactic saying that such moves could have dire consequences for the already-suffering Chilean economy.
In the end, time will tell if the strategies impacting the vulnerable will prove effective and even if they are, what consequences these strategies will have for the future of the country. Nevertheless, billionaires such as Piñera are unlikely to see much losses in the wealth during these times, showing the growing inequality within the country and around the world.
Bethany works as a professional English teacher from the United States. She obtained her Bachelors of Arts in English Education and Masters of Liberal Arts in English from Henderson State University. As well as a life-long Literature and Language lover, Bethany also dabbles in stand-up comedy on the weekends. She currently lives in Santiago, Chile where, in addition to teaching, she organizes bilingual events with The Chistolas, a comedy and event-management group.