Saturday, March 20, 2010

Concepción, 19 days after the earthquake Mar 20 2010

We are writing as an anarcho-feminist collective from the former "La Fabrica" social centre in Concepción, Chile, which we participated in together with various organisations but have now had to close because of the damage, in order to communicate the following:

19 days after the earthquake which affected Concepción and Maule some of the people in the poorest poblaciones have received no aid from the municipality and the government, and in the poor areas where aid has arrived it has been close to a joke: a box of food which doesn't even contain the basics such as cooking oil and sugar. Many of these areas are still without basic services such as water and electricity. A situation which has been different in the centre of Concepción where the houses and apartments of the well-off are located (we are talking about homes with values over 100 million pesos), where the aid already arrived several days ago, despite being close to looted supermarkets, and consisted of boxes of approximately 25 kilos. The people who received them were hardly able to hold them, as witnessed by a compañera from the social centre who saw this handover and another compañera who was a volunteer in the delivery of aid packages.

We do not believe that this is a coincidence as the ex-mayor (now governor) said publicly on TV and in the press that she would delay aid to the poor areas, holding them responsible for the looting, and so would favour the middle class.

In the light of this two questions come to us:

■ Did the mayor do a socio-economic survey of every person who took part in the looting or didn't she see all the cars and station wagons of people who were there and didn't fit the prejudiced profile of poor people?

■ Is it legal to judge people, hindering or denying them access to their rights, without even taking judicial proceedings against them?

As if this wasn't enough the municipality is declaring many dwellings, such as that of the social centre, uninhabitable without even providing a housing solution, leaving us lodging in the yards of many of them. We ourselves have been victims of this situation as yesterday a municipal official came to see the house and told us that providing a water supply is a procedure that will take months, and that we will have to pull down the damaged house ourselves.

Which is to say that we the people who survived the catastrophe have to now risk our lives demolishing our houses without having the resources or the knowledge necessary to do so, because the municipality doesn't want to spend money on something which it is responsible for.

So now we the people who are being criminalised for being poor and who have been left without work are having to worry about finding shelter, obtaining food and trying to rebuild our homes, by ourselves. It can't be said that the authorities are playing their part as they are not carrying out the minimum work that justifies their existence, which is to protect the people. Not to mention that it is necessary to worry about doing everything before the curfew because the military are patrolling the city and are violating people's human rights once more:

■ On the day of the earthquake, 20 minutes after the earth had stopped shaking, two of us from the social centre were taking refuge on the hill while we listened to how, on the radio, they were calling for people to return to their houses because there wasn't a tsunami alert. Minutes later Dichato, Llico, Constitución, Talcahuano, etc… were laid waste by the water and hundreds of people died. The sister of a compañero from the social centre who lived in Talcahuano (in Salinas) saved her life because of a neighbour who went by shouting that the sea was going out, while the Chilean navy was going through the streets returning people to their houses.

Not content with having ended hundreds of lives, through negligence and the spreading of erroneous information, the navy is now harming us by means of repression:

■ Some days ago, in the municipality of Hualpén, five marines killed a man for walking in the street during the curfew. His name was David Riquelme and he was a cartonero [collector of waste cardboard?] which is why he was doing his work at that hour. Fortunately they didn't manage to kill the man accompanying him with the beating they gave them. He was able to testify to what happened and the marines are now being prosecuted.

We are making a call to spread this information which consists of what we are currently living, not something which has been told to us. It is something that affects us directly as an organisation and as people.

We have seen on TV all the resources that have arrived in Chile from abroad, all the collections, all the NGOs and actors who come out doing multi-million campaigns, but the only thing we can say is this, that we have seen it on television because none of it has arrived here, and if many people from the collective are able to eat it is thanks to the solidarity of our networks as a social centre, which consist of people and organisations to which we have volunteered our support and space in the past or who sympathise with the work we carry out and now hold out a hand. In this way we are also counting on the feminist organisations which, without having participated directly in our space, have for some time supported our work as feminists.

To all these organisations and people, who we give our deepest thanks, we now request one more effort, which is to spread this information, because, although our worries today are many, we cannot avoid denouncing the abuses which are being committed and we hope that the knowledge of these facts by people in other places will serve as pressure to make it difficult for the politicians and charity companies and others to carry on making money from the misfortune that this catastrophe has brought us, the people who are always most affected, the people who are poor.

Colectivo Anarco-feminista "La Fabrica"

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