The tallest building in Chile and South America, the Costanera Center stands proudly over Santiago. Its height is immense and the top seems to kiss the clouds. Futuristic in form, it resembles something from Star Wars. As the most advanced building in South America, Costanera stands for the future and current success of Chile.
Most Latin Americans would agree that Chile is the most stable of the group, both financially and domestically. Sure political corruption happens here too, but Bienvenidos a América Latina. Overall, Chile has taken on the role as the country that has its stuff most together.
I ponder this as I enter the Costanera and shoppers bustle past me with bags from Banana Republic. As I take in my surroundings, I keep coming back to one word: gringo. Costanera may be the tallest building on the continent, but it’s also a screaming example of my country’s impact on Chile.
While an Argentinian will bitterly admit Chile is more economically stable, that same person will also say Chile is the most gringo. The sticky role played by the US government in Pinochet’s dictatorship also launched a new economy for Chile, one highly influenced by the United States.
When I look at Costanera I see something much more complicated than simply a race to be the best Latin American country. This building is a literal and figurative success symbol for the skinny country, but one can’t shake the feeling that Chile is trying too hard to maintain this image.