Eruption – Destruction – Disturbance. (Map this!)
“You haven’t heard about the eruption in Chaitén? The Carretera Austral is closed.” , said the man in Temuco. That was the first time we heard about Chaitén; with relief we found that the ferry was still running and we could still do the Carretera Austral.
In May, 2008, when the volcano of the same name erupted, Chaitén was hastily evacuated by the Chilean government. Since then some of the hardy residents have been coming back, but now they face a different threat – how will the government react to the uncertainty of the still erupting volcano? The aid so far includes a generous monthly stipend and a lump sum large enough to reconstruct a dwelling of modest size. But the officials have kept the people in the dark about the factors that they took into account while making their decisions, especially the one to relocate the town.
For a higher resolution video click here
The residents of Chaitén are frustrated. They decided to vent their feelings towards the all-powerful government on the day we arrived, creating a second eruption to parallel the first.
“The government is authoritarian, in the sense that they do not ask the people of Chaiten what they want”, Bernardo, the leader, said.
“The government shouldn’t come here to force us off our land. We will never move”, another resident said.
We felt a lot of sympathy for the protesters; even though the government is trying to help them they deserve to know the criteria being used to make the decisions that will have a lasting effect on their lives.
For pictures of Chaitén, click here.