Chile From Within

Police State Pt. 2

Posted in Uncategorized by tomasdinges on July 11, 2006

In continuation… the non-special unit police force gets a monthly salary of around 150,000 pesos, and they look sharp in their olive green pressed uniforms. I can only imagine that the special units get maybe 250,000 pesos in salary, or roughly 500 dollars a month.

Delincuency, if you ask the press in Santiago, Chile, is rampant. A recent (two weeks ago) analysis of television coverage of crime found that two channels (Mega and Chilevision) dedicated 44.8% and 50% of their coverage to crime. High-profiled cases of armed robbery of jewelry stores and burglary involving reincident criminals (including one case in which roughly 300,000 in cash was stolen, as well as two minor robberies, one in the country home of the head of the Supreme Court and the other in the home of a former presidential candidate while she was present. While Mayors in wealthy communities cite the increasing violence or severity of crimes being committed, the actual number of crimes is lower than in past years and compared to the average homicide levels in Latin America, Chile has one of the lowest levels.

If you ask poor people in Santiago, Chile, they will tell you stories that they live encaged in their communities, intimidated by neighborhood criminals. They will say that drying clothes get stolen off the line, and that their monthly earnings, a minimum wage of 130,000 pesos (or around 250 dollars) gets burgled when they are out. If the cops are questioned about why they didn’t come before, they reply that they don’t have enough gas to visit every single crime scene.

A week ago an anti-delincuency march in the center of Santiago was disturbed by a bus being robbed by two subjects. The crowd tried to lynch them, and cops intervened. Just recently an anti-delincuency march, a bit late, but still an honest effort, was held in Viña, with placards repeating a call for the “Mano Dura” of Pinochet. Kind of pathetic, in my eyes, but how much can you really blame people for ignorance?

In rich communites far from the center of Santiago, tucked up against the Andes Mountains, garbage men get checked for their photo id’s and electric fences and private security companies are booming businesses. In poor communities far from the center of Santiago, stretched out in blocks of cheaply built homes along the flatlands of the Central Valley, to the south and east. Now, if a whistle blows in the community all to the street with sticks in hand, to reap their own justice. While the government works slowly or at least nothing effective, everyone, rich, poor and the police, begin to take everything into their own hands.The honeymoon is over for President Bachelet and being a good listener, sensitive to people’s needs is turning into post-modern permissiveness and the mother who can’t discipline her children.

Luckily, the winter rains calmed both protester and neighborhood complaints, as well as the inspiration of would be robbers. Floods, swelling rivers and drowned policemen topped the news, so Bachelet was saved for a bit. Then she dumped a couple cabinet members in an attempt to save her own floundering government not sure whether they are supposed to be a citizen’s government, or… something else.

Reforms were proposed, but regardless, judges are restraining from granting criminals the jail time, even if they were caught red-handed burgling an industrial complex on the outskirts of Stgo. and wounded in the subsequent gunfight. So, these types of criminals are let loose in Stgo.. dammit, they’re animals, but by court order restrained from leaving the metropolitan area.

Now please tell me what it is about these folks which makes them safe to the population and not a risk of flight after engaging in a gunfight after getting caught burgling a complex?? How about in the cases of rape, the girl was known to sleep around, is that why the suspected rapist, whose semen was found on the scene, makes him innocent, or cases of incest, where the father is a reputable member of society, for why they should be set free?

Something is wrong with the system. Let it rain, says Bachelet.

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