by Simon Black: Having
the Courage to Look Overseas
I was walking around the beautiful tree lined streets of Providencia,
one of Santiago’s central upscale districts.
I might as
well have been walking around Berlin or Strasbourg Providencia is
a clean, highly civilized area with plenty of parks, cafes, and
boutique shops that adjoin the neighborhoods of manicured homes
and quiet mid-rise condominium buildings.
On the streets
its common to see a host of walkers, runners and bikers Santiago
is a very ‘outdoors’ city, much like Austin or Vancouver,
and with such beautiful mountain vistas and great weather, it’s
easy to understand why.
interesting is the number of languages that you can hear being spoken
while walking around town the varied nationalities that have made
Santiago their home is staggering for a country of this size (17
to see the token French, German, British, and American expats…
but in addition you come across people from all over the world Africans,
Taiwanese, Thai, Russians, and even Iraqis.
Chile has become
one of the countries in a growing list that welcomes foreigners
with open arms people who are willing to work hard, add value, or
bring in capital are respected and treated well.
This is the
same approach that has worked in places like Hong Kong and Singapore;
these are two countries where just about every nationality on the
planet can enter without a visa.
door wide open for foreigners provides significant economic benefits;
people are more likely to visit (and spend their money) in a place
where they are treated well, and they’re more likely to do
business in a place where they feel comfortable.
The exact opposite
end of the spectrum is the United States… and to a growing
degree, the UK. Foreigners who arrive to the US are subjected to
discourteous, disrespectful measures and made to feel like lowlife
For many, it’s
an absolutely horrific experience. Maria C., the Chilean lady who
owns the apartment I’m renting in Providencia told me yesterday
about her most recent and last trip to the United States.
of Homeland Security decided that, instead of being a well-respected
Chilean national attending her Harvard reunion, she was a suspected
Colombian drug trafficker. DHS detained her for over 12 hours, confiscating
her purse, her passport… even her shoes.
She was continually
interrogated by DHS officials who played good cop/bad cop mind games,
and when she was given ‘permission’ to use the bathroom,
it was under close-up video surveillance. They finally released
her without so much as an explanation, let alone an apology.
story is unfortunately common; Homeland Security’s Customs
and Border Patrol division takes itself way too seriously, and its
uniformed chimpanzees are convinced of their own righteousness…
that their actions are actually defending the homeland.