The Chileans Reaction After The Earthquake

I decided to write this page about the Chileans reaction to the earthquake after I read some comments and one especially affected me written by one of my fellow Canadians. For those of you that don’t know, I was born in Canada and moved down here in 1997, so I consider myself half Canadian and half Chilean. The comment said something like this…. ¨I was happy to donate $100 dollars toward helping out Haiti after their big earthquake, they behaved in a civilized manner and didn’t go looting the stores. In Chile’s case the Chileans reaction was to go looting the stores and take everything so I figure that if they plan to act like uncivilized animals then I’m not going to donate one cent out of my pocket.¨

This bothered me because I’m part Chilean, I live in the country and I interact with Chilean people every day. This motivates me to tell the world not to get the wrong idea about the Chileans reaction to this earthquake, and make them realize that this isn’t a common reaction of this culture. I recognize that there is no excuse for looting but as I watched the news that day I asked myself;



Is it really wrong to take something to eat when you’ve just had an earthquake and then a tsunami and you lost everything? What would I do if I had no house, water, food and the supermarkets where closed for 2 days strait? What if I had children and they were hungry? Is it really so horrible to take food if you really need it in this way? The whole south of the country was without water and electricity for two days. The most destroyed places where without food and water for 4 days.

This part of the country went into a collective hysteria thinking that we were going to run out of food, water and would not have electricity for a long time. People got this idea because the only highway that communicated the north part of the country with the south had been wrecked in various places and we would be stranded for a long time. So everyone went crazy trying to get anything they could get a hold of. Even in places where the water and electricity came back soon people would go out to by all the food and gas they could. In the most affected places the supermarkets didn’t open because there was no electricity and nobody could get money because the ATM´s didn’t have electricity. Even if people had money it wasn’t worth anything because the stores were closed (that’s one thing you would hear people complaining about).

Now what I find it unacceptable is that you would see people looting TV’s, refrigerators and stoves. But we shouldn’t generalize that the whole Chilean population is like this just because a few of Chileans reaction was to try to take advantage of the earthquake. Theses kind of acts you will find anywhere that a disaster has occurred. It happens because people get into this collective hysteria and some try to take advantage of the chaos.

Another thing that occurred to me when I put more thought into why people act like this was the social difference. You see this being a capitalist country makes people want to have things, and in Chile there is a very marked social difference. People that are poor here don’t own TV’s, refrigerator or stoves. I think about Canadians and when I lived their and I don’t ever remember a poor person in Canada that didn’t have a TV, refrigerator or stove. People here just want to have what everyone else has, and without thinking about it they took advantage of the chaos. I’m not making excuses for what happened I’m just trying to explain a bit about Chilean society so that the rest of the world understands them.

In any case, most of the Chilean population was embarrassed of what happened and they feel that it was not appropriate behaviour. What this part (which is the majority) did after this chaos was over is start to help one another. People would volunteer to help gather food from the less affected areas and some people on their own to take stuff to the most affected areas that the government hadn’t gotten in touch with. While the telethon was on gathering money you would see people who lost EVERYTHING donating money. Another thing that amazed me these passed days is watching the countries current president, Michelle Bachelet, speak on TV. Even though she never cried to see her country suffering in this way, you could see in her eyes that she was very, very affected and that she hadn’t slept in the passed days! She really is Chile’s mother and you can tell that she acts in the best interest of the country.

This is what Chileans are like, this is what most of the Chilean population is like. They are a very united and sincere country, and whenever someone is in need you will find some else willing to help. I am sure that anyone who has come to Chile knows what I am talking about and anyone who has a different opinion should come to Chile first and then give your opinion after you’ve been here. Because I’m sure anyone who has been to Chile will think the same way I do and that is that Chileans are a very friendly, loving and helping culture.

Just one last comment…. After all the chaos was over some people returned the stuff they looted and even apologised for their behaviour!

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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anonynous american Not rated yet
agree they were frantic so they wouldnt die so they could eat so the would beable to live another day

Not Typical Not rated yet
Although there was one scene shown world-wide hundreds of time of a man carrying a crated washing machine which he had presumably stolen in total daylight …

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