Political, Social and Economic Aspects of Chile and Jamaica

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Political, Social and Economic Aspects of Chile and Jamaica


Political aspects

The political system of Chile has changed with time since the first attempt to adopt a constitution in 1811. Despite a few attempts to introduce a federal system, the Constitution was ratified after its approval by the Congress on August 6, 1828. This constitution was drafted by Deputy Melchor de Santiago together with Jose Joaquin. In general, the Constitution gives a clear distinction between the three branches of government and also determines that Chile will be ruled by a President elected by indirect voting. The legislative power is divided into two houses, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The functions of the government (the executive power) are to draw up budget, create job opportunities, and to appoint Supreme Court ministers. After several governances, the 1925 Constitution was drafted and enacted in July 1925 through a national referendum. This constitution gave the executive branch more administrative powers, increased the presidential term from five to six years, guaranteed personal rights, public freedoms, freedom of worship, and established separation of churches from the state. This constitution brought significant changes, such as giving the executive the role of controlling the government budget. In addition, the illiterate were also given a chance to vote, and finally, the minimal age to vote was reduced to eighteen years.

In September 1973, there was a coup de tat, which resulted in the introduction of the military junta led by Augusto Pinochet (Bossy). Later, a commission was formed to prepare a new Constitution. In 1978, the first Constitution draft was submitted to the Council of State for its first revision. The commission submitted the report on the first draft in 1980 (Barros). Later, the second revision of the Constitution led by Augusto Pinochet was conducted, and this led to the approval of the Constitution of 1980. On September 11, the drafted Constitution went through a referendum, and the new Constitution was passed on October 21. According to this Constitution, which is used up to date, Chile is a democratic republic, a unitary state divided into thirteen regions, which consist of 51 province and 342 municipalities. Thus, the government of the country is territorially decentralized. The regional government is comprised of the Intendant, who represents the President in a region, and the Regional Council. The Governor, who is subordinate to the Intendant, is the head of the government at the provincial level. The Governor is also the head of the Provincial Economic and Social Council (Barros). Municipal administration is represented by the Municipality, which is headed by the Mayor and the Council. The major roles of the Council are making decisions and supervision. The Mayor and the council are elected every four years. Municipal Secretariat plays an important role in helping the Municipality to carry out its function.

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Legislative branch

The legislative branch of Chile consists of the National Congress, which includes the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The major roles of the National Congress are to discuss with the President questions relative to the implementation of laws and to supervise the actions of the government. The senators and the deputies represent the people who elected them by forwarding their grievances to the national government.

Judicial branch

The main role of the judicial branch is to apply the law. It has the powers to hear criminal cases, adjudicate them, and make the final decision. It is also involved in overseeing application of the legislation and has disciplinary control over judges and other courts.

Currently Chile suffers a political crisis, which started in October 2014 when the right-wing Independent Democratic Union was accused of receiving illegal money from Penta, a bank owned by Augusto Pinochet’s supporters. Four workers of the bank were later put in jail and await trial for tax evasion. Due to this scandal, the Independent Democratic Union was declared a corrupt agent of the political right. This scandal attracted attention of the media since the federal prosecutors gave confidential information to journalists so as to promote the case. Later, corruption cases intensified when in February, it became evident that Soquimich, a multinational chemical company, financed many political candidates since 2010, and it was during the first term of Bachelet.

Economic aspect

Chile has a very strong economic status all over the world. The government of Chile has come up with a market-oriented system, which focuses mainly on financial institutes and international trade, and thus stabilized the economy of the country. Chile’s economy is highly boosted by copper trade. This natural resource acts as the main source of government revenue.

In the past, the economy of Chile came in the hands of military dictatorship under the leadership of Pinochet. When Pinochet government was overthrown, the economy of Chile flourished. The democratically elected government of Patricio Aylwin came up with reforms that encouraged economic growth and GDP improved with a bigger margin (Dominguez). In 1999, the economy started to go down due to low export income and imprudent financial policies that were set to control increasing shortfalls. At the end of 1999, the economy bounced back to its initial position. Since then the economy has been improving every year.

Currently, although Chile’s economy has undergone ups and downs, it is one of the sturdiest economies in Latin America with the highest GDP per capita. Chile is considered to have simple and firm regulations of business and is ranked among top fifty countries with the ease of doing business. Although Chile has a strong economy, it also faces some challenges, such as external debt, limited natural resources, and lack of natural oil.

Social aspects

In the Chilean society, there can be found mothers’ clubs, games clubs, parents centers connected to schools, organizations related to churches, youth groups, and social clubs. Almost all of the state’s firefighters are helpers. These organizations play a very significant role in the nation’s political culture. The election in some of these organizations has been seen to strengthen many political parties. Different associations also make their grievances known to the state, after which they are discussed at the national level. The social life of Chile nationals has subcultures that are based on the distance from the social class and Roman Catholic Church. Schools selected for the children of the nationals clearly represent these subcultures divisions (Castillo-Feliu and Guillermo).

Moreover, Chileans tend to hold their games and leisure events in organizations within their subculture. Also, there exist some clubs and centers associated with certain societies. In most of Chilean societies, occupational association is an important element of class and social status, which connects people of the same profession irrespective of their religion and preferences. Though such associations helped to reduce identity conflicts by religion, differences from the leadership and between the members within country’s associations can still be traced back to those subcultural differences.

Social organizations did not do well under the leadership of the military government. People who were seen to be connected to the parties were subjected to severe oppressive measures. This happened to labor unions when their activities were burned for more than six months, and they were only supposed to reorganize under the new legislature starting in 1979. Also, a lot of organizations were hardly consulted on issues relating to policy matters, and their opinions and petitions were ignored. Finally, the best known organizations united to present their grievances to the military government, and their efforts greatly contributed to the defeat of Augusto Pinochet. The only organizations that flourished in the military government were the women’s aid and mothers’ club since they received governmental support. After restoration of democracy, social organizations resumed their influence on the government.


Political aspects

Jamaica is an English-speaking country with a stable political system since it got independence from British colonial rule. The Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) are the two largest parties dominating in the political system of the country since 1962. Between 1970 and 1980, these two political parties had ideological differences since the Jamaica Labor Party under the leadership of Edward Seaga supported economic liberalization and privatization, whereas the People’s National Party led by Michael Manley wanted to adopt democratic socialism and increase national possession of the country. When Michael Manly came back to power in 1989, he did not overthrow JLP’s pro-business rules but used the same method. Since then the ideological differences between the two parties have reduced. Michael Manly resigned in 1992 due to health problems, and Percival J. Patterson became the new Prime Minister of Jamaica. The latter held the position for thirteen years and left the post in early 2006. Currently, the Prime Minister of Jamaica is Andrew Holness, the leader of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), who succeeded the PNP leader Portia Simpson-Miller.

Economic aspects

Sugar cane has been the main cash crop in the country since 1520. In the eighteenth century, Jamaica produced approximately twenty-two percent of the world’s sugar supply, and plantation owners generated high profits. In 1846, the sugar duties law imposing a tax on Jamaica’s sugar was introduced, which considerably reduced the demand for sugar, thus weakening the economy and increasing the level of unemployment. The economy started to rise in the early 1990s due to the introduction of banana farming; nevertheless, the level of poverty was still high. In the 1940s, the economy started to rise again since Jamaica was supplying Britain with food, and bauxite was discovered in Jamaica. When Michael came into power in 1972, Jamaica was facing a dilemma whether to focus on agriculture or industrialization, which faltered its economy. As time went by, the economy of Jamaica continued to weaken until in 1980, Edward Seaga started processes aimed at improving the economy. However, he faced a lot of challenges such as low demand for aluminum, which led to the downfall of the bauxite industry.

Tourism, mining, manufacturing, and agriculture have considerably boosted the economy of Jamaica in the following ways.


The tourism sector has created a lot of job opportunities in Jamaica, and due to this reason, it contributed to almost 4.2 percent increase in the economy of Jamaica in 2000 compared to the previous year. Although the sector faces many challenges, such as insecurity, which lower the number of tourists visiting the country, tourism is still one of the main sources of the government revenue in Jamaica.

Mining and manufacturing

Mining employs more than six thousand people and contributes to the growth of GDP by 9 percent. The main natural resources in Jamaica are limestone, bauxite, and gypsum. Revenue earned due to the export of bauxite, limestone, and gypsum contributes to economic growth of the country. Manufacturing is also the major source of revenue for the country due to the export of manufactured goods. It provides employment to a large number of people, thus lowering the rate of unemployment. The government has also promoted the industries by coming up with favorable policies, such as the free import tax (“Mining – Jamaica”).

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For a very long time, agriculture has been the core of the Jamaican economy. Agriculture is the main source of employment, and export of surplus produce has contributed to 7 percent of GDP. The main cash crops are sugar cane and pimento. Other crops, such as blue mountain coffee, arrowroot, ginger and tobacco, are also popular in Jamaica and have boosted the economy of the country (“Jamaica Agriculture”).

Social aspects

The Jamaican culture is made up of different societies, the basis of which is the indigenous population of Jamaica, Taino people. Taino people were used as laborers by the Spanish, but they were later sent away from Jamaica by the British. The British fetched slaves from Africa and took them to Jamaica, where they were mistreated and suffered poor working conditions. After the end of slavery, the Chinese and Indians came to Jamaica as contractors and introduced their ideas and beliefs. These different cultures in Jamaica affected the music, language and religion of the Jamaican people.


Music is a significant cultural aspect of Jamaican social life. The most popular music style in Jamaica is reggae. Jamaica is also widely known for the spirit of Rastafarianism. The Rastafarians concentrate on maintaining their inner spirit and mostly use marijuana for spiritual reasons and its natural origin. Many people think that all Jamaicans are Rastafarians, forgetting about the existence of other religions, such as Muslims, Hindu, Judaism, Bahai, and Christians, in Jamaica. The official language in Jamaica is English, which was assimilated from British colonizers. However, the majority of Jamaicans speak the local language known as patois. The patois language is a combination of diverse cultures existing in Jamaica. It was developed by the slaves with the purpose to ease communication since they initially spoke different languages.