By Ivan Alvarado
Today it seems the dictatorship ended only recently….
A newspaper front page shows a dog participating in the demonstrations in Chile. It seems that anything can happen these troubled days around the world, so between slogans and statements it makes sense to write a blog about street dogs and demonstrations.
“Free quality education.” – Student movement
“Nothing is free in life.” – President Sebastian Pinera
“Education should not be for profit.” – Student movement
“Gang of useless subversives.” – Carlos Larrain, president of the ruling party
“We don’t need mediators, and especially not from the Catholic Church.” – Camila Vallejo, student leader.
“It’s going to fall, it’s going to fall….the education of Pinochet.” – Demonstrators.
“Education is a commodity.” – President Pinera.
“The government exaggerates the students’ claims to demonize them.” – Mario Waissbluth, expert on education.
“The only thing they [the demonstrators] want to do is destroy the country and us.” – Chile’s National Police.
“I’m a gardener and I want my son to be an engineer.” – Street graffiti.
“I made the wrong decision,” was the first thing Emilio Gutierrez told me the first time we met. That was the day I took a photograph of him carrying his dog, just two days after the tsunami. I didn’t get to know him well enough then to even learn his name.
Minutes after the earthquake in his hometown of Constitucion on February 27, 2010, Emilio made the decision to escape the looming waves with his family by boat upriver, away from the river’s mouth. In the dark of night and the panic of the moment his father and son, Emilito Jose, were the first to climb into the boat. But before the rest of the family could follow them the mooring ropes snapped and they were dragged away by the current.
The first 17 days in August after the miners disappeared underground are spent in silent vigilance, almost in secrecy. We think this will be just another of so many mine disasters that happen around the world, with some anxious waiting followed by a great deal of mourning. The respect for the pain of the 33 families is felt all across that stretch of desert – dubbed Camp Hope. The pain of that vigilance gives way to an outburst of rage against the mine’s owners, who never appear nor give any credible explanation for the disaster. Rumors of a rescue plan without details cause more confusion as it all seems improvised. When the collapsed mine tunnel is determined to be impossible to reopen, the rescuers pull back as it seems there is no one alive to rescue. The families sink into uncertainty.
“All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.” My family lunch ends abruptly as we see the slip of torn paper on live television. The miners are alive 17 days after their tunnel collapsed 700 meters underground. Six hours later I’m in Camp Hope far from our lunch table photographing the families celebrating. The families learn to laugh again.
COPIAPO, Chile (Reuters) – The first of three rescue drills on Friday reached 33 Chilean miners trapped for six weeks half a mile (0.80 kilometer) underground, but it will still take weeks to widen the shaft enough to extract the men.
The miners will be helping their own cause by clearing away the debris that falls into the mine as the drill bores through the mine’s ceiling.
COPIAPO, Chile (Reuters) – Chile said on Wednesday it would send anti-depressants down a tiny shaft to 33 miners trapped half a mile underground for 20 days, as it prepares to tell them it will take three more months to dig them out.
Rescuers are now sending fresh clothes, medicine and games down a 2,300 feet bore hole the diameter of a grapefruit to help keep the men physically and mentally fit for the grueling wait ahead.
COPIAPO, Chile (Reuters) – Two small tremors shook northern Chile early on Wednesday but did not disrupt efforts to rescue 33 miners trapped deep underground 20 days after a cave-in, as the men sent heartwarming messages to relatives on the surface.
Engineers are working to install a big drill to dig out the miners, found alive on Sunday. They face an up-to-four-month wait for rescue in a hot, humid tunnel half a mile deep, a wait they have yet to be told about.
Caption for an unchosen picture:
Constitución, March 1 – An earthquake survivor carries the dog that he rescued from the ruins of his home, along a street devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.
“Take my picture with the dog,” the survivor tells me. I take it as if ordered to, and see that his face shows tremendous pain. “I lost my home, the sea took my son and my wife, and this is all that was left. I can’t leave the dog here. He was my son’s.” He pauses. “I found my wife (alive), but my boy is still missing.” Before he finishes speaking I lower my camera and cry. I walk together with him thinking what to say to lessen his suffering, but there is only silence.
The incessant drone of the motorcycle under me becomes distant as my mind creates images from the words of an elderly woman in the camp I just visited. “The Devil is on the loose in Haiti. He turns into a dog, a pig or a hen, to move unnoticed in the camps and devour life. Last night he appeared as a dog and took the life of a child.” In the camp everyone knows and speaks of the death, and the strange disappearance of the boy’s mother.
Every form that I have ever imagined devilish beings to take are banished from my mind when this Devil appears. He has become a 7-day diarrhea that “devoured” the life of the child. Is it easier to explain death in the hands of a demon instead of looking around and thinking that it might have been the lack of water, hygiene and food that snatched the life?