Hola amigos! Today was a little crazier than usual. After power walking to the station this morning, I had taken all but 2 steps into the building when Anita told me “We’re going now.” When I asked where we were going, I got an answer of “The beach.” Well, when we first got to the town of Tome, it looked peaceful except for a small traffic jam.
Then I realized that the traffic jam was being caused by something. And then I saw the reason for the traffic jam. There was a crowd of fishermen around other reporters. The fishermen were protesting in the middle of the street because they still hadn’t received the funds they had been promised by the government months ago. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), we had missed the exciting part of the day. Before we arrived, the protestors had been fighting against the local policemen, and now the fishermen were hoping to talk to the mayor of the city. After awhile, they decided to make a roadblock in the middle of the main road through town, and we were there for all that. They dragged tires, old pieces of wood, barrels, heavy pieces of plastic, and even broke a portion of a fence off to put in a huge pile. As one local reporter told me “Welcome to Chile!” These types of protests are very common. After the roadblock was made someone set it on fire, and there was a huge fire with a tower of disgusting smelling black smoke towering above it.
Traffic was backed up for probably a good mile or two because of this. Anita told me that if she started to run when things got out of hand (for example, if the police [los carabineros] showed up, there was a chance tear gas would be thrown into the crowd), that I also needed to run as fast as possible to get to safety. Like I wrote earlier, people are not afraid to fight the police here.
Needless to say, another eye-opening experience. Protests like these aren’t exactly common in the U.S, but are common in the rest of the world. Who knows what tomorrow will bring! Yesterday, politics. Today, sea-side and crazy wind-swept hair from the insane wind off the ocean and sand in the eyes.
For those of you that are wondering about the Primary Elections that happened on Sunday, that was also interesting to be a part of. Again, I followed Anita in the afternoon, and we went to two local cities to talk to people who were working at the polls. Interestingly (and this surprised her and Christian, our cameraman), we needed permission to get inside the polls. Apparently in previous years, the press could just walk in with cameras. Not so much this year.
Anyway, we were also at a local hotel where one party was watching the results on tv, and the party we were at won by a landslide. This was the party of Michelle Bachelet, the former President of Chile. Another interesting fact: many people who I know here dislike her, because 3 years ago there was a huge earthquake that then caused a tsunami. Bachelet had apparently said that it was safe for people to return to their homes because there would be no tsunami, and so they did. There then was a tsunami that killed many Chileans and completely destroyed one town in our province. Afterwards, there was an investigation of Bachelet and if she did know about the tsunami, which she claims she did not know about. And now, the town that was completely destroyed and where many citizens were killed voted about 70% in favor of her. People at work hold a strong dislike of her, and want to know how people have forgotten what happened 3 years ago, since there is still reconstruction going on here in Concepcion, where the epicenter was.
Hopefully that question will be answered while I’m still here, because I really want to know why too!
Feel free to comment, ask questions, etc. I’ll try to answer any questions people have, or find the answers to them if I don’t know myself and will answer in my posts later on!
Ciao for now 🙂