Photo from Temuco, Carolina Angelina (Flickr)

En Español

From our reader Beatriz Manz, a professor at UC Berkeley, who is from Chile and who wrote on Saturday about her own experience in the 9.5 earthquake of 1960.

I finally was able to reach my sister (Edith Manz) this afternoon.  She is in Temuco.  Her building–made of wood–did not collapse but she is without water or electricity.  She said the regional hospital is damaged and all the patients had to be evacuated and are now in Temuco’s central plaza.

(Temuco, the capital of the Araucania region, has about 260,000 residents and is 167 miles south of  Concepción, the largest city closest to the epicenter of the 8.8 earthquake and 433 miles south of Santiago, the capital of Chile.)

She said luckily the weather is great, the moon is full, so those very ill and with IV equipment are doing OK in the plaza. She, and all of Chile she said, are giving President Michelle Bachelet an A+++.  She (the president) is constantly on the radio and television.  Even though it was hard for her to get to a TV station (the quake hit at 3:30 AM) by 4:30 she was already on national TV informing Chileans what she knew.

As my sister and I were talking on the phone, my sister said la presidenta está hablando.  She was saying: Chile tenemos que estar firmes–Chile, lets be strong.  My sister’s voice choked and so did I.  She is conveying the message: we will get through, lets be strong. Everyone is out there helping others.

I am so proud of Chile and Bachelet.  I have seen her on TV here in the Bay Area and there is a wonderful combination of empathy and warmth and yet you can also feel a serious determination in her face and a strength like steel!
I mentioned to my sister what happened with U.S. leaders during Katrina.  She was silent for awhile, I suppose because she thought I was clearly exaggerating.

My sister said the President had ordered supermarkets to give out essential items, especially water, milk, perishable food, diapers and other food.  Not sure how she can order that but I guess its part of her “declaration of catastrophe”  maybe something like eminent domain.  It makes sense.  In this kind of a natural disaster no supermarket should think they “own” the food in it.

I remember surviving at the epicenter of the strongest earthquake in history, (9.5) I went into collapsed buildings and took blankets, food, water, anything that would help us survive and be more comfortable at night.  Not for ONE minute did I view myself as a “looter” or a “thief.”  I had a lot of trouble hearing about the lawlessness in Haiti and showing people going into collapsed supermarkets and taking things….I kept on saying: how can that be looting?  The supermarket is collapsed anyhow and even it it was not, you can’t put a market price of water at that point….come on!!!

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Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor at Berkeley’s J-school until 2019. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. The Tribune...

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1 Comment

  1. I really agree with your comments on “looting” and “looters”especially the pictures I saw from Haiti. Since when is surviving a crime? Thanks Beatrice. Hope things go well with your family and with Chile.

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