There is a very interesting Brit-blooded pal of mine who operates out of Chile, keen observer of the human condition. Here is what he sees from Chile:
“Good to know you are OK, I am too.
Here is my report.
Chile and particularly Santiago was in a very unstable political situation since October 2019 when the extreme left, in a masterful strike, virtually took control of the the streets overwhelming the police. We had violent protests since that day for almost for 3 months. These type of events were not seen since Pinochet times. The public, mainly center-left , was in favor of the general theme of the protests (equality, better health system, better retirement pensions, a general assembly…) but a violent and organized core kept attacking the police, very in the line of what happened in Hong Kong but with a South American touch like sacking and burning down supermarkets, subway stations, etc… awful. I always complain about the South American stereotypes Hollywood picture in the movies, sadly this time they were short. It was horrible.
So we entered summer vacations in that state. Ridiculously enough protests were substantially less during summer, a thing that I predicted because I think all this was orchestrated. But enough of that, I only wanted to give you some context of the citizens’ state of mind down here when the virus struck. People were psychologically and logistically prepared for a rough come back of the protests during March.
During January and February we were virtually virus free. The first detected cases were people coming back from vacations in the South Pacific and Europe, also tourists coming out of docked ocean liners contaminated a few small coastal villages down south. The government which was in a readiness state due to the menace of the upcoming March protests redirected all the energy and attention to the health problem. It has been incredible to see how the public changed the attention and focus from the political mess to the virus emergency, social media catalyzes and amplifies everything.
As the virus spreads slowly people has been asked to stay at home voluntarily. Businesses in which employees can operate remotely were asked to send them home, most companies have agreed. Since yesterday we are on curfew during the night, 10 PM to 5 AM. Light military presence is guarding supermarkets to avoid looting. Schools which supposedly start March 1 were closed the first week, state run schools mandatory, private schools followed. Government and the part of the public are following what is going on in Spain and Italy and trying to “flatten the curve” so the heath services are not overwhelmed in the coming weeks, or at least that is what we have been told. Things are still under control with relatively few cases and 2 deaths.
On the personal side of things I am beginning to think that I have been living in partial social isolation all my life, haha. Seriously, this situation is surreal. As most chileans, I am prepared for earthquakes, two or three weeks and we are ready to go but this, frankly, is depressing. We are living in a small apartment near our usual residence which is under heavy renovation since October, just before the protests, with no clear project ending date due to all this shit. Uncertainty. Everyone I have talked to these days is worried, I can tell hearing their voices that they may even be depressed.
The good thing is that we are still alive and that the world keeps turning!”