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Chile in Flames and Being Looted: Special Webinar on Leaving or Staying and Fighting 11 a.m. Today

I have never once before now (in nearly 24 years of Chilean residence) suggested that it might be time to leave Chile or that the USA is actually a better place to be right now than Chile. I could not have said so even a week ago. However, what has happened over the last few days (and so quickly) changes things. Exit options need to be considered. Plan B passports need to be dusted off. Other countries need to be looked at.

Nevertheless, there are still some historical and other reasons to be optimistic and stay in Chile. Any country can be attacked and needs to defend itself. There is evidence that such has happened in Chile with undercover Venezuelans and communists from the Sao Paulo Forum. That scenario, if true, does not mean you should stick around while the problem gets fixed but it does mean that you might consider leaving for a long vacation and then coming back after the evildoers are gone. Lots of options to look at.

There is no guarantee of lasting freedom anywhere and thus no reason to regret having come to Chile. Things change. I have stated for years that it could change in Chile, too. Perhaps things will blow over in a week and we can all get back to normal. Perhaps not. Either way it is good to talk option about self-defense in country, expectations, and exit alternatives.

I have always been a straight shooter about Chile and today’s meeting will provide honest analysis of our current situation in Chile and what you and others, especially expats, should consider doing. Join us! The call is limited to 100 callers, so make sure to get there on time. The call will remain open for as long as people come and join, even a few hours if necessary. So even if you get this message late, try to join in. It will be recorded on YouTube as well under Partido Independencia. Here is the link and other info for those outside of the country.

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Join Zoom Meeting 11 a.m. Chilean Daylight Time NY +1

Meeting ID: 499 683 2322

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John Cobin

Killing in Self-Defense in Chile

In Chile, it is legal to own handguns, shotguns, rifles and .22 caliber “assault” weapons. The guns have to be registered, and the owner must pass a gun and regulatory knowledge test plus a psychological examination. Many people in the upper classes own guns legally. Newcomers can do the same, even with a temporary residency visa.

Nevertheless, there is widespread fear among the upper classes that use of a gun in self-defense could result in a charge of homicide. In our upper-class neighborhood in Reñaca, there were two break-ins in March 2016. In one of them the occupants were at home and were tied up. One had a knife held to his throat by a criminal. It was scary.

The neighborhood WhatsApp group is quite active and whined about the event and tried to concoct solutions. When I suggested that we use guns to kill the intruders the people were terrified, not of the gun use but of the state putting them in prison. Even if that were the case what would be worse, being assaulted in your home and perhaps dying or killing the assailant and taking your chances in court?

I suggested to the group that we need to put a huge sign at the bottom of the hill much like those “accident-free day” signs we see in industrial plants. It would read: “Criminals Killed in this Neighborhood” and below would be two numbers, one on the left and the other on the right, with the inscriptions “by pistol” and “by shotgun” below each respective figure.

The cops (carabineros) cannot arrive in time. My sign would be a deterrent to criminals, especially if we actually start killing criminals and can put up some real numbers on the board. I checked with the carabineros in Reñaca and officer Marcos Villagra (on March 22, 2016) explained to me that we have the right to shoot in self-defense if a criminal is (1) inside our home, (2) in our yard, clearly not by accident, or (3) in any of our adjacent neighbors’ property (not including neighbors that must be reached by crossing a public street). He encouraged me to use my gun against criminal intruders and told me that he knew of many ex-military officers living in the neighborhood with registered weapons. In short, we can be a force to be reckoned with. The law is a bit ambiguous about certain places like one’s car, but clearly in one’s home or place of business a gun may be used in self-defense.

I have written about the terrible Chilean justice system, but there is some encouraging news that using handguns and shotguns in self-defense remain our advantage against criminals. On May 8, 2016, a story came out in national daily El Mercurio (page C12) about Benjamin Franklin Lillo Ramirez, age 61, a retired major (comandante) of the Chilean Air Force and presently a Petrobras service station owner. The business is located on Avenida Santa Rosa at the intersection of Calle Varas Mena (in the comuna of San Joaquin), a poorer, Marxist-infested, and crime-ridden part of south central Santiago. In over twenty-five years in the military, he never shot anyone. Now (May 2016) he is famous for shooting and killing a third and fourth criminal: Marco Muñoz and Eber Osses, and wounding another, that tried to rob him at his station. One died from his wounds on site and the other died at a public hospital, after fleeing the scene with an accomplice.

Lillo shot and killed two other criminals in May 2009 and June 2014. In both cases the local District Attorney (fiscal), Patricio Rojas, refused to charge Lillo with a crime. Rojas said that Lillo acted in legitimate self-defense.

Wow! The Chilean justice system does work sometimes. Lillo uses his registered gun, and he holds a valid personal gun license, plus a coveted concealed carry permit that few Chileans have. The district attorney requested a protection order for Lillo, although none has arrived in terms of officers to protect him. But it is probable that Lillo will be able to fend for himself pretty well.

In the 2009 event, while preparing his cash deposit for the day, Lillo distracted an assailant (Andres Catalan) long enough to get his pistol and shoot him four times, killing him. Lillo was not charged. In the 2014 event, Lillo was loading 22 million pesos in his car’s trunk when three criminals appeared and threatened him. He was shot in the hand and groin with a .22 by a criminal (two of five shots on target) before he responded by shooting back seven times and striking one assailant twice (Patricio Fernandez, a twice convicted and imprisoned criminal), in the throat and chest, killing him. He had the presence of mind to shut the trunk and throw the keys into the cage with his guard dogs. While the assailants went after the keys, Lillo used the time to present his pistol and shoot the assailants. Lillo was not charged.

In this most recent event in 2016, he shot one criminal in the forehead and two others in their torso when they tried to rob his cash box. Again, Lillo has not been charged with a crime. All of the events were captured on video surveillance tape and Lillo has been exonerated, even though the relatives of one deceased criminal have sought a homicide indictment and the state has provided a free attorney to represent them. Moreover, colleagues of the deceased have driven by and yelled death threats against Lillo since the May 2016 event. There could be more bloodshed, but I doubt that much more will come of it since criminals are cowards in the face of lethal force and are only brave against the weak and unarmed. Plus, they know that Lillo will not hesitate to kill them, creating a significant deterrent.

Hence, my neighbors’ fears of being indicted for acting in self-defense are unsubstantiated. This fact is a big plus for Chile, which still stands out against most every other advanced country in a largely gun-hating world (especially among Left-dominated OECD countries). Thus, we need not be so let down by the abysmal quality of Chilean justice. At least we can still defend ourselves, even if our tax money goes to waste on an inept justice system that otherwise favors criminals!

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.

Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.

Dr. Cobin’s next sequel, Living in Chile: Key Details of History, Culture, Politics and Places for the Serious Immigrant, goes into detail that mainly those people living in Chile already or serious immigrants will be interested in. It is also of special importance to libertarians that want to know something about the political and ideological undercurrents, past highlights (like having a free port much like Hong Kong or free banking), and people that want practical information and where they can retire on their budget. The travel section compliments the other books in the series so that those that read all three books can be sure to have covered the key places of the country from top to bottom.

This book is chock full of savory details that only a true immigrant and former American with many years of experience would know. Some things are only learned over long periods of time and observation. Take advantage of tapping into Dr. Cobin’s deep knowledge of the country and insights of importance to serious immigrants.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)