Chile, despite being burdened with more debt per citizen than any other Latin American nation, has managed steady economic growth with reasonably low inflation for the last several years.

The country is also one of the few that has managed to increase its spending on social services such as health and nutrition during the five years since the debt crisis started.

According to a leading international bank executive, "If its political system were better {the country is run by a military junta} we could advertise Chile as a success for the Baker Plan."

The Baker Plan is the program proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III in 1985 that was designed to pump new lending to debtor nations that agree to make growth-oriented reforms in their economies.

After a serious recession in 1982 and 1983, the country resumed a steady rate of growth, expanding 6.3 percent in 1984, 2.4 percent in 1985 and 5.5 percent last year. It is expected to grow about 5 percent this year as well.

The exchange rate policy has encouraged exports, and the country has expanded its exports beyond its traditional copper and mineral base. It has also sold off many state-owned companies, a move that Chileans say has led to more efficient investments.

The country has also pioneered methods of reducing its debt burden, such as exchanging debt for equity shares of Chilean companies.

Chile has been aided by a sharp increase in the world price of copper, still its most important export. But like all debtor nations it remains vulnerable to a steep rise in interest rates or a global economic decline.