Ernesto zooms out from his usual style of narration to give the reader some retrospective insight on Chilean social and political conditions. He reiterates that public healthcare is patchy and usually expensive, that hospitals rarely have the equipment and facilities they need, and that hygiene is atrocious (in hospitals, patients throw used toilet paper on the floor). Furthermore, standards of living are very low. In the south unemployment is high, and in the north wages are dictated by mining companies who are generally unconcerned with their workers’ quality of life. Of the four candidates for President, Ernesto predicts that the nationalist Ibáñez will win the election and attempt to nationalize foreign-controlled industries.
Ernesto makes the connection between popular discontent with everyday things like healthcare and wages, and political change, showing again how his political convictions stem from individual experiences. Still, he’s not that excited about the predicted rise of Ibáñez, since he’s skeptical that change of leadership within the existing corrupt system could be enough to truly improve the lives of the proletariat.
Finally, Ernesto notes that Chile in its current political state holds economic prospects for anyone, “so long as they don’t belong to the proletariat.” In order to make economic development more egalitarian and reserve the benefits of Chile’s many natural resources for its native population, Chile should attempt to reduce the US economic presence in the country. Ernesto acknowledges that, given the extensive American investments in Chile and the United States’ tendency to fiercely defend its economic interests, this is easier said than done.
The fact that the existing political system seems to work actively to hinder its citizens is evidence that the system is broken beyond repair. Here, Ernesto’s observations at Chuquicamata have crystallized into concrete anti-foreign sentiment and political goals.