Chile’s quest to improve its image abroad


During the past 20 years, Chile has implemented several strategies to enhance its visibility and reputation in the world. These efforts have been primarily targeted at the United States, Europe and Asia, aiming to position the country as a stable and blossoming nation that escapes some unfavourable stereotypes associated with Latin America. A different perspective arises when looking at neighbouring nations. People from Bolivia, Peru and, to a lesser extent, Argentina, have a less positive image of Chile, an issue that has impacted the relation with these countries particularly in areas such as trade, energy and even security, with Chile sometimes being labelled an ‘isolated’ nation. This article suggests that an extension of these initiatives to the neighbouring countries may contribute to ease tensions and serve as a future reserve of soft power. The case of Chile may be relevant to illustrate how small and medium-sized states attempt to capture the attention of foreign publics, as well as advancing the debate concerning the different audiences that should be considered when crafting national images.

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    The Chilean authorities produced an official live television broadcast of the rescue. In different interviews, government officials denied any type of political exploitation of the event and held that the broadcast simply intended to prevent the alleged chaos that would be produced by a large number of journalists trying to cover the story at the same time (for example, Cooperativa, 2010). However, according to American journalist Jonathan Franklin, the Chilean authorities kept a strict supervision over all the videos released when the workers were still trapped underground, editing out images of the men ill or crying. He claimed that during the rescue several restrictions were placed on the accredited media, adopting measures such as blocking the view of cameras and photographers with a giant Chilean flag, in order to prevent alternative shots of the operation. Moreover, an avalanche would have occurred inside the mine while they were still rescuing the workers, a fact that remained unnoticed by the journalists covering the story (Franklin, 2011).


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This article was born as a project for the course ‘Regional studies in Public Diplomacy: Latin America’, at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Southern California. I am extremely grateful to Dr Pamela Starr for her invaluable guidance and feedback. My gratitude also extends to professor Maria Elena Gronemeyer, of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, who invited me to present an earlier version at the UC-ICA conference ‘Trends in International and Latin American Communication Research’, at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago, Chile, on 18–20 October 2012. I also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments that improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to César Jiménez-Martínez.

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Jiménez-Martínez, C. Chile’s quest to improve its image abroad. Place Brand Public Dipl 9, 279–290 (2013).

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  • public diplomacy
  • nation branding
  • Latin America
  • small and medium-sized states
  • Chile