Startup Chile 101: Everything You Wanted to Know About Living, Working and Doing Business in Chile 1st Edition
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About the Author
- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (January 16, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 248 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1481144413
- ISBN-13 : 978-1481144414
- Item Weight : 10.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.56 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,869,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This review was edited following discussion with the author. The following points detail the book's shortcomings with specifics.
Does this book have "everything" you wanted to know and living and working here in Chile? Hardly. More like a "few things" and let's avoid the hard parts and concentrate on drinking a lot. It's clear that the large type, and the excessive margins and line-spacing, were all done to swell the apparent size and content of this little book. At times it appears to have been written by an enthusiastic but marginally educated adolescent, whose capacity to express magnitude is limited to "ton" - as in "There are [sic] a ton of sushi restaurants..."
There are many errors of fact, including the writer's description of the reciprocity fees. Then there are the perfectly silly statements like the false observation that all Chilean websites are done using Flash, or that "Chile is a safe country." For the benefit of the ill-informed, Chile has a rather high incidence of many crimes, and the highest rate of residential robbery in all of South America, as well as very high illegal drug use and trafficking. Maybe those elements don't count as aspects of "safety" in some minds. And did the author point out that nearly all homes and business are protected by steel bars on windows, high walls (some topped with steel spikes or embedded glass shards), fortress gates, or other serious security measures? These features are not merely decorative. Businesses feel compelled to use razor wire and armored doors and window covers. There are guards with shotguns at many banks. This is Latin America, remember?
The author is frankly lying when he insists that in Chile "there are no kidnappings, gun battles in the streets, drug gangs, or major organized crime issues." In fact those are frequent entries in the news, along with a number of other matters, including a high rate of auto theft and frequent rioting and looting in Santiago during protests, as well as growing rates of arson and shootings in the Mapuche conflict in the southern regions. Since the author is unfamiliar with the local language let's help him out a bit with a few articles on the gunfights and other shootings noted in the press so far in 2013: "Joven recibe al menos nueve balazos afuera de local en Bellavista," "Peruano muere en balacera afuera de local nocturno en La Cisterna," "Balacera en Mantagua: Indagan participación de un cuarto sujeto y buscan armas," "Persecución y balacera dejó tres heridos en Autopista Central," " Tres muertos deja balacera en condominio cerca de Quintero," "Balacera frente al penal Santiago I deja dos personas heridas," "2 heridos tras balacera en la comuna de La Reina," and on and on. Just read the local press.
The rising number of incidents of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by presumed anarchists here has resulted in the government creating special explosive-disposal teams. Many of those bombings have been against banks but a recent one was across the street from the US embassy. So let's get over this silliness of Chile being a safe country. I give the author an "F" for continuing to mislead readers and potential visitors on the myth of no violent crime in Chile.
One of the resources that the author might have used is the Paz Ciudadana-Adimark surveys of Chilean citizens' attitudes and experiences related to crime. At present, over 80 percent of the those surveyed show either high or moderate fear of being a victim of a serious crime in Chile. Over 46 percent rated police response to reported crimes as "not satisfactory." Over 66 percent consider the prosecution (work of the "fiscal" office) against reported crimes and criminals to be unsatisfactory. These are the sort of objective data that should be included in "everything" a foreign visitor needs to know about living and working here in Chile.
As for the writer's insistence that there are no drug and hit gangs in Chile, one need only open the papers here. The national police have identified over 50 gangs in Santiago alone, and have provided a list of the "ten most dangerous gangs" in the country, which include: ".... los "Grapa Boys" y "Machaca Marca", de Arica; "Los Malandros", de Iquique; "Los Carriones", "Los Guarenes" y "Phillips", de Santiago; "Los Niké", de Valparaíso; "Los Juanito Pistola", de Talca; "Los Motorratones", de Puerto Montt, y "Los Brujos", de Magallanes...." The author should study some of the Chilean government findings on the various gang activities in the country, such as "Situación Actual de las Pandillas Juveliles en Chile," and should seek assistance in the subject area of "bandas de narcotraficantes" that operate here in Chile.
The writer studiously avoids mention of other important factors that affect life and work in Chile, such as the high frequency of earthquakes (some producing massive damage, as in 2010) and the prevalence of volcanic eruptions that can and do halt air and ground traffic. Let's quickly review that 2010 earthquake and tsunami that the writer studiously avoided: over 500 people killed, 93 percent of the population affected by power outages, losses to the Chilean economy of about 20 billion dollars, and the Socialist (Bachelet) government initially refused to send in the Army to halt the looting. This earthquake was so powerful that it moved Chile's second-largest city a full ten feet further out to the west. It is considered the fourth most costly earthquake in history in terms of damage to a nation. Those damage costs came to about 18 percent of the country's gross domestic product. In 2010 when the author claims to have come to Chile, it was the most pressing and most talked-about issue in the country, yet he mentions not a word about it.
There there are the volcanoes: The 2011 Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic eruption closed southern Chile's principal pass over the Andes for several months, and resulted in cancellation of hundreds of airline flights.
The author is convinced that only Santiago suffers from abysmally contaminated and unhealthy air quality and insists that other Chilean cities are perfectly fine. This is of course inconsistent with what the international health organizations, the Chilean government, and their health services have declared: that Santiago, while badly polluted, is not the worst in the country, that many other Chilean cities suffer from dangerously severe air pollution. The Chilean government publishes data on the thousands of people that die here each year as a direct consequence of the unhealthy air quality in Chilean cities. Do your own research on the serious air pollution in Talca, Temuco, and Coyhaique, among other locations. That is not to say that Santiago has decent air quality. On many days the pollution is so bad that you are not even allowed to drive in that air basin. No mention of such things in this book.
If this book is about the advertised "everything you wanted to know about living, working, and doing business in Chile" then the failure to understand and relate the facts of dangerous air pollution to readers is a serious omission, perhaps calculated, at the expense of honesty, to make Chile appear to be more attractive. I had to laugh at the writer's recommendation to use the Andes mountains as a way of keeping your bearings (on many days the smog is so thick that you cannot even see the mountains, and an honest writer would have told us that).
There are also many cases of wild speculation. For example, the writer claims that 85-90 percent of the population uses prepaid cell phones. The Chilean government (via the SUBTEL office) publishes these data, and a respectable writer would take advantage of the available statistics. Not here. SUBTEL shows that the prepaid cell phone use is closer to 60 percent -- a significant variance and another suggestion that much of this book is pure imagination, with no basis in hard data, and a passionate aversion to the use of Chilean agency statistics. And this writer, unable to perform such basic marketing research, wants us to believe in his business acumen?
A book about a foreign country might have a map or two? A graph? Nope. Don't bother looking.
A good editing for proper use of English grammar, some proof-reading, and a bit of professional fact-checking might have contributed to this book. The numerous errors reveal the author's confusion on Chilean geography, language, business, taxation, politics, history, health, government, and other aspects. (Note to author, who professes to be "fluent" in Spanish: the term is "Carretera Austral" and not "carrera austral" (which would mean something quite different from what you intended). And despite the author's declaration, the Carretera Austral has nothing to do with Chiloé. The description of a "pila" (battery or pile) of eggs is another gringo mistake. (He probably meant "paila"). It is clear that the writer misunderstood a great deal of what he thought he heard. He then pronounces these errors as guidance for new visitors.
There is very little of any real profound utility here. At times this book includes the usual gringo errors that describe the country as if it were uniformly like the rather dirty and noisy capital, Santiago. Worse, the writer includes way too much material on places that are not even in Chile, reminding us that his time in South America was probably more of an extended holiday than serious work (a common criticism of Startup Chile). The writer's observations and discussion of other countries' drug- and sex-trade problems are just more padding, and tend to worsen the annoying incoherence. Some of what might be potentially useful observations are on a par with those basic items that should have been learned in U.S. social studies classes in the 7th grade.
This book is actually a good example of something: It perfectly illustrates many of the common deficiencies of too many sloppy, incoherent "self-published" books assembled without professional assistance and a reasonable standard of care.
It's painfully clear that the writer of this book did not make effective use of fundamental research practices, nor the simple, standard publishing guidelines, such as spell-checking. Both Spanish and English words suffer from misspelling.
This book is more about the personal impressions ("interpretations," he says in his defence) of a poorly prepared foreigner unfamiliar with the language and culture, and unable (unwilling?) to digest the events amply described in the Chilean media - but apparently beneath the radar of the casual foreign visitor. The book lacks meaningful research and references to reliable data sources or even objective verification of the often erroneous claims of the author.
This book is a disappointment, is shamefully inaccurate, misleading, and is not recommended.