Noticed how shopping Malls pretty much all look the same? This one could be any drive by and in Mall in north America, but in fact it’s in #Chile, south America, in the city of La Serena in the central coastal area. And yes it’s just another shopping mall, same old same old. Full of chain shops, cafes & restaraunts, banks and the like, many with the same names as in north America, or of companies that are mere subsiduaries of northern corporations. This one had a BUPA (private healthcare) health centre next to it!
This one is called ‘Mall Plaza La Serena’, it’s pretty new, it overlooks the main road, the Pan American Highway, that runs north/south along Chile’s coast. Once upon a time a local told us, there used to be a wood of trees here that local kids & youth played in, now it’s just manicured palm trees & green grass, and lots of parking space. It could so easily be north America, although perhaps the ever-present Tsunami Warning signs are a slight giveaway here!
We’ve noticed the growth of Malls elsewhere in Peru & Bolivia. Cusco now has one, Lima has plenty, La Paz has one in Zona Sur, and so on. La Serena has two in fact, an older one 15 minutes walk away on the other side of the Pan American, called ‘Centro Commercial Puerta del Mar’, although the coast is 2km away. The slow growth of Americanised consumerism in south America is slowly impacting on community & social life – Malls gather together shops & services like banks & healthcare and social venues like cinemas & cafes – and these draw people away from their neighbourhoods. Those neighbourhoods then suffer from lack of custom, older community shops & social spaces begin to struggle and close down, and before you know it the community is struggling to survive. It’s a part of what we know as gentrification, and the social costs can be huge as wealth inequality is amplified and corporate profits go up! Beware south America you don’t end up like the north…..