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Students Attending Latin American Program Learn About Chile’s Economic Miracle


This January, 46 students took part in the Institute for Leadership in the Americas (ILA) in Santiago, Chile. While attending classes at the University of the Andes, students engaged in discussions with top professors from the United States and Chile on the moral underpinnings of capitalism and the free society.

During the two-week program, students visited many historic sites in Chile, along with a visit to Congress in Valparaiso, where they were able to observe a floor debate on the changes in Chile’s health care system. While there, two members of Congress, Monica Zalaquett and Jose Manuel Edwards, briefed the students on current Chilean public policy and politics.

ILA Students attend a lecture at the Chilean National Congress in Valparaiso.
ILA Students attend a lecture at the Chilean National Congress in Valparaiso.

Students also heard from guest lecturers, including Jose Piñera, the creator of Chile’s personal pension system. Piñera gave the students an inside look at how Chile made the transition from being the first country to elect a Communist president in the 1970s to becoming the model of development today.

Students spent their first week of class learning about the moral foundations of capitalism and the rule of law from Professor Brad Thompson of Clemson University’s Center for the Study of Capitalism. The second week focused on Chile’s “economic miracle.” Professors Juan Ignacio Brito and Ricardo Leiva of the University of the Andes led the students in discussions of Chile’s political history and its journey to become the first Latin American country to reach the median income per capita to attain membership in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The hope of ILA is to leverage the network of alumni that can become the next generation of leaders in Latin America – leaders that understand and embrace the free enterprise system, individual liberty and the rule of law. The goal is for this network to serve as a platform for cooperation for alumni once they move into positions within the private and public sectors and begin to implement change within their own countries.


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