Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism


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Chile’s woes

The Chilean government has so far confirmed that 795 people are confirmed dead following Saturday’s earthquake, and two million have been made homeless. More have been killed and made homeless by the following tsunami. However, our media coverage always gets round to talking about looting, just as it did in Haïti and New Orleans. Focusing on looting is demeaning to the people who are caught up in the crisis, many of whom have lost homes and livelihoods. If disaster should strike this leafy borough of West London, I would not expect orderly queues outside of Waitrose either.

Looting is theft whatever the situation, but entirely forgiveable given this situation. However, in the city of Concepción, population 500,000, the Chilean army has deployed 7000 soldiers to prevent looting and protect property. It strikes me as a peculiar prioritisation to use military resources for property protection rather than humanitarian assistance. To underline the perverse decision to prioritise stuff over people, the army shot and killed a citizen two nights ago. Socialists often describe the military as primarily mobilised in defence of property rather than human life, and this is an example of such an abuse of state force under the guise of ‘rule of law’. Read David Osler’s article for more on this.

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