Tuesday, March 02, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Chile: private property and the rule of law take priority over human life in the post-earthquake chaos

Libcom.org Mar 2 2010

One man has been shot dead by the military and over 160 arrested for
expropriating necessities in parts of northern Chile, which are suffering
a near total lack of basic commodities following a massive earthquake on
Saturday morning.

Various voices are starting to emerge from the devastated region,
denouncing the urgency of the Chilean government - under the control of
left-of-centre Michele Bachelet until she hands over to right wing
Sebastián Piñera on 11 March - in deploying thousands of soldiers and
police blockading supermarket entrances against 'looters' instead of
initiating a comprehensive aid effort.

Many groups, in calling for civil disobedience against the machine-gun
wielding military on their rubble-strewn street corners, have drawn
comparisons with the military dictatorship of 1973-90. Some parts of the
country, such as the rural area around Concepción (Chile's second city),
are completely devoid of even the most rudimentary services, implying that
Bachelet et al are prepared to let their citizens starve in order to
assert the "rule of order".

The chaos in the quake zone has been further compounded by contradictory
statements from on high: while one missive ordered supermarkets to
distribute basic foodstuffs for free, a regional military commander
promised a "severe response" to looting. And as the desperate and the
hungry start to target smaller, less well-protected businesses,
authorities in Concepción - as well as the regions of Maule and Bio Bio,
amongst others - have imposed an indefinite, military-enforced curfew from
9pm-6am. The efficiency of the military in protecting shopfronts is in
marked contrast with the clumsiness of the relief effort, which has
already seen disaster in the crash landing of a plane on its way to
Concepción, killing six aid workers.

Meanwhile, in Santiago, the nation's capital, two occupied social centre
reported material damage to their buildings, with others yet to make
public pronouncements. Inmates in one Santiago area prison took advantage
of the chaos following the 8.8 Richter scale quake - which currently has a
death count of well over 700 nationally - to initiate a large-scale
escape, with over 200 prisoners breaking free. Around 130 individuals are
still at large. The physical well-being - and location - of a number of
'anarchist' prisoners in the Santiago region are still yet to be

News is also nervously awaited from a number of groups and initiatives in
the north of the country. Updates will be posted to Libcom as and when
they emerge.

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