3/1/10

Report from Santiago

A lot of us have become friends with Amos through this blog (and back at Talking Philosophy), so we immediately thought about him when we heard the news about the earthquake in Chile.  He is fine, still has internet service, and sent me this report:
Feb. 28  Chile has an image and a self-image of being an ultra-competitive, ultra-modern society, a society where each economic agent (the word "citizen" is out of date) with his or her cell-phone, hopefully an I-phone (I have neither a cellphone nor an I-phone), can text their way through traffic jams, through heart-attacks, can text an organ transplant, can text their way out of angst and ageing. It all collapsed. In two minutes. Two minutes in which my bed shook. Two minutes in which everything in my apartment fell from shelves, unto the floor. I'm okay. We have 700 dead, according to the last count and there will be more. There is a blog about the earthquake in Spanish-- things will never be the same. I don't think that they are just talking about physical things.

In general, this was a very serious earthquake, 8.8 in the south of Chile and 8.0 in Santiago. The Haitian earthquake was 7.0, and the scale increases geometrically, that is, the Chilean earthquake was several hundred times stronger than that of Haiti. Lots of people still without water and electricity. Cell-phone service is only half working. Airport is still closed. Supermarkets closed. Looting. Some looters may need food, but in some places, they're looting with trucks, taking TV sets, etc. I never thought that I'd hear the Radio Bio Bio, an excellent progressive radio station, with 24 hour coverage since the quake, call for the army to take control (after 17 years of military dictatorship, under Pinochet), but they are right. In the south of Chile there will be curfew tonight, with the army in charge. I'm okay. We have food for several weeks, although we may have to eat a vegan diet, rice and beans out of necessity, since that is what we have stocked.
Thank you, Amos.  Stay safe.

10 comments:

rtk said...

Glad you're okay, Amos. BUT a vegan diet? Oh, no, you've given fuel to those guys who will be advocating 8.8 earthquakes to further their totalitarian cause.

Wayne said...

Glad you're okay Amos. The last major earthquake I went through was a 7.1. I can't even begin to imagine what a 8.8 would be like.

On a side note, I usually don't think looting is morally acceptable, but in the case of natural disasters, I think looting might be okay, so long as you really need the supplies. But since you have some internet access, I would assume you were not in the worst of it. But in the case that you are, don't feel bad grabbing a pork chop.

Faust said...

I was in a 7.2, and at the time I was in a 1902 building, and let me tell you: that thing moved around. Good thing it had been earthquake retrofitted, I hate to think of what would have happened otherwise.

In any case it's good that the 8.8 didn't wind up being another Haiti and that Amos is OK.

amos said...

Thanks everyone. Things are going to take a long time to get back to normal and when they get back to normal, normal will not be the same as it was before the earthquake. Given my already dark view of human nature, I hate to say that the presence of armed soldiers in the streets seems to be the prescription for ending looting (they loot not only giant supermarkets, but also the corner grocery store) and I also hate to say that if the government emergency office had heeded a warning from the Navy about a possible tsunami, they would have saved a lot of lives. There is a possibility of 3 people who are alive under the debris of the building in ConcepciĆ³n which appeared on the front page of yesterday's New York Times. Still problems with cellphones, with electricity in some zones, even with water. I'm okay.
Someone on the radio says that the reason that there is no more looting in ConcepciĆ³n is that there is nothing more to loot, except homes and people are armed to protect their homes. I live on the 7th floor of an apartment building in Santiago (where there has been little looting) and the elevator isn't working: looters are lazy and I doubt that they will climb 7 flights of stairs.

Paul Hutton said...

Glad to hear you are safe and ok Amos. And that you live on the 7th floor.

Jean Kazez said...

Amos, Did you stay inside all day? Are they saying that's what you ought to do?

amos said...

I walk around. Some stores are open, some are not.
The bakeries bake bread, which Chileans buy daily. Today I'm going to the open air fruit and vegetable market. Where I live, everything is calm. There are some people sleeping in the street near where I live, because their houses are not fit to live in. They don't go far from their houses because they fear looting.

Jean Kazez said...

Good news. I wish we had bakeries and an open air fruit and vegetable market.

Faust said...

No bakeries in Dallas? I could have sworn I saw a bakery when I went through there last :P

amos said...

The fruit and vegetable market was functioning fine, without green vegetables because they have to be harvested fresh, but lots of carrots, potatoes, onions, pumpkin-type squash, tomatoes, juice oranges, bananas (the only imported fruit in Chile), peaches, etc. It's incredible the energy that the fruit and vegetable guys have and inspite of their lack of education, they multiple in their heads (no one uses a calculator: it's not cool)faster than I can, although one guy taught me his method, totally original, no relation to the way they teach you to multiply in school. The unfortunate thing is that a fear psychosis or hysteria is spreading through the country, fear of looting, fear of the unwashed hordes: people calling for more troops, more troops, mano dura (hard treatment against looters). Exaggerated rumors about hordes, looting, spread through tweater or text-messages, distrust of the other.