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Chile Never Has Hurricanes

Chile is famous for a lot of things. For instance, many Chileans are artful liars, cheaters and thieves. Recent reports show that a full 26% of them evade paying the fare on city buses in Santiago. No one in Chile is surprised by that fact, unless they think that the figure is too low.

Chileans are also artistic, entertaining and playfuleven clownish. At intersections in Santiago and Viña del Mar drivers will frequently see juggling, ventriloquist and gymnastic performances from young people trying to earn some coins as tips.

Chileans like to joke around, too, and they are inherently conservative socially—other than their propensity to engage in fornication and adultery. Accordingly, they were sanctioned recently by world soccer authority FIFA for the anti-homosexual chants of fans in Santiago stadium during soccer matches, and Chile was hence declared to be the most “homophobic” country in the world.

Those are a few tidbits of information that speak volumes about Chilean life and reality.

Nevertheless, hurricanes are not part of Chilean reality (or almost anywhere else in South America). While they are an annual preoccupation and presently occupy the attention of many millions of people in America (e.g., Hurricane Matthew’s assault), just as typhoons occupy the minds of people in the Far East and around the Indian Ocean, those living in Chile never give hurricanes a second thought. They are as foreign to Chile as squirrels, rattlesnakes, water moccasins, crocodiles, water mocasins, coral snakes, bald eagles, alligators, bears, tigers, skunks, elk, buffalo, moose, larger deer and armadillos, and just about as hard to conceive of as a “white Christmas.” Chileans only know about these animals and hurricanes because they have read or heard that such critters live or happen in other parts of the world, far away from Chile.

historical-hurricanes-1851-2016

world-hurricane-tracks-1851-2007

Note that in the world maps above tracking the history of hurricanes, they do not occur in Chile or the rest of South America—at least south of the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Venezuela. Chile is thus akin to the west coast of Africa, the western United States and Canada, most of Europe, Africa and Asia. Therefore, while Chile has its share of pitfalls and problems, one need never worry about being impacted by a hurricane while living here.

Given the current worries in the United States, it seemed fitting to broach the subject for people that did not know. Moreover, Americans would do well to remember that as bad as hurricane impacts are or will be, they pale by comparison to the damage inflicted by the United States government, as the present political circus has exemplified.

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

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 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 $149.

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 Amazon.com:

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)

Gang Violence in Chile

Some things just never stay the same. For years I had been pleased to report that Chile was mercifully free of violent gangs, commonplace in the United States and elsewhere. There were (and still are) groups that “hang out” together, called tribus urbanas, and that sometimes have tussles with the police. However, USA-styled gang “warfare” simply has not been widespread in Chile.

Now we hear news reports about a pistol-toting gang in Northwestern Santiago known as Los Chubis. News cameras have recorded their members, which are also involved in drug trafficking, shooting up the neighborhood, leaving bullet holes everywhere. The gang is located in the Parinacota neighborhood of the Quilicura comuna. The area is quite poor, but by no means the poorest part of Santiago. Now residents are quite scared.

Gang members are largely made up of convicted felons that speak coa or flaite dialects. One can hardly understand them when interviewed. What one can readily perceive in the news reports is building walls, inside and out, riddled with bullet holes. Moreover, members of both gangs sport many surgery scars and bullet holes in the bodies that they readily show to news reporters.

Worse yet, Los Chubis apparently now have a rival gang to contend with: El Barza, led by a guy known as “El Polaco.” One result was the October 31, 2015 (Halloween) murder of a neighborhood youth on his birthday (apparently by a Chubi), Arnaldo Céspedes, age 14, cousin of one of the El Barza gang. This act incurred retaliation by intentionally burning down the house of the “mother” (gang leader) of Los Chubis, María Vilches. So far, four homes have been burned down due to gang violence, which continues to escalate. For instance, the body of a boy, Isaac Pardo, known as El Palta, was burned beyond recognition and dumped up the road in the comuna of Lampa.

For a country not known for its violence, this gang activity has been shocking. Although it is not widespread in Chile, and certainly has not attained anything close to the level of gangsterism in the United States, obviously the idea of violent gangs has become a reality in some places and, unfortunately, may tend to spread.

This change marks a difference from when I first introduced largely peaceful tribus urbanas in an April 2010 blog entry. Of course, all of this sad crime does not affect the upper-class areas of Northeastern Santiago, or nicer regional communities like Viña del Mar, Concón, Zapallar, La Serena, etc. But newcomers to Chile would be well-advised to steer clear of the Parinacota barrio of Quilicura. Doing so should be easy to do, since they would normally have no reasons to go there.

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

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 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 $149.

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 Amazon.com:

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)

8.4 Earthquake in Central Chile (September 16, 2015)

Anyone who was not a true believer in Chilean construction quality before, sure must be now.

On September 16, 2015, just before 8 p.m. (the sun had recently set), central Chile was struck by a powerful 8.4 Richter Scale earthquake, followed shortly thereafter by major aftershocks on that scale of 7.6, 7.2 and 6.7. The epicenter was about 95 miles north of where I live in Viña del Mar and close to the same distance south of La Serena. It was strongly felt in Santiago, too.

The shaking lasted between two and three minutes–quite a long time. Tsunamis of one to four meters hit the Chilean central coast within two hours, causing considerable damage in some places, including Concón just north of Viña del Mar, Tongoy and other parts of the Coquimbo Region.

Several people died from heart attacks, and a few people died in older towns when adobe structures caved-in on them. Still, the total death toll stands at a surprisingly low 11 people. Earthquakes of much smaller magnitudes in other countries have killed hundreds and thousands of people.

A couple hundred older structures in smaller cities like Illapel were damaged or destroyed, and structures in villages along the coast were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami waves. Some villages had power outages. In the country’s main urban centers of Santiago, Viña del Mar and Valparaíso and in La Serena there was no significant damage and no loss of power. The Internet never stopped working. Cell phones stayed online as well, and the government sent out tsunami evacuation warnings via cell phone service.

Now, 72 hours after the earthquake, there have been a total of 340 aftershocks. It shakes about once every ten minutes on average. Most of these aftershocks have been between 3 and 5,5 on the Richter Scale. However, some have been larger. Ten have been between 5.5 and 5.9 on that scale, ten more between 6.0 and 6.9, and two have been over 7.

To say that Central Chile has been rocking and rolling is an understatement. But the country is well prepared for seismic activity and life has continued on normally since the shaking started.

What other country in the world has a completely normal business day following an 8.4 quake and two aftershocks over 7? That’s a rhetorical question obviously. The number is zero.

The interesting thing is that the international press says that since the big quake in 2010, Chilean quake standards or building quality has gone up a lot. They have risen but were already high enough. Things are obviously solid in Chile. Indeed, there has been no significant damage to places that I know of whatsoever. One friend of mine in Santiago commented: “It is amazing isn’t it? I honestly felt no fear last night. Just slept through the aftershocks. Chileans do some things VERY well.” I could not agree more. My business day after the earthquake was 100% normal, as if there were no catastrophic earthquake the previous night.

My friend continued: “I watched from my terrace window as things shook. Transformers were blowing up all over the city of Santiago. Huge balls of fire and a cascade of sparks. Yet there were no blackouts. So, obviously, there is a lot of redundancy built into the grid.  It can take a lot of punishment and not go down. Amazing…” He continued, “I think it is really hard for people outside of Chile to understand how violent these quakes are. Yet, it is equally difficult for the same people to understand that a country can be prepared and fend off the worst of it. I think one has to experience it firsthand to really get it.”

Funny how many Americans just assume that their building quality standards are as high or higher than Chile’s. But they are not. Earthquake danger is much higher in North America, New Zealand or Europe than in it is in Chile. When it comes to earthquakes, Chileans do not mess around, and they are trained from an early age to be prepared.

In recent years, much smaller earthquakes in New Zealand, Haiti, Italy and California have had a devastating impact on lives lost and property damaged. In fact, these earthquakes were smaller than several of the aftershocks we have experienced in the last few days.

I watched with dismay as the Fox News reporter started talking about the assumed horrible impact of this quake in Chile, just judging by the scale score and not considering that Chile is prepared to withstand such quakes. He must have been really let down to find out that not much transpired as a result of the earthquake. Chile is simply not a sensational story when it comes to seismic activity.

The tallest building in South America, Costanera Center, swayed back and forth, creating a horrifying experience for people up high (see the You Tube videos of the experience). But in the end the building withstood the earthquake. It all makes for interesting conversation the next day but not much more.

By the way, right now would be a good time to buy apartments or condos on higher floors, since they always sell for less immediately after a big earthquake. At any rate, newcomers have little need to worry about surviving earthquakes in Chile. The country is prepared for them. Several newcomers in Viña del Mar were of course startled by the massive earthquake, but I am sure have by now been quite impressed with how their new country has handled the situation.

Postscript: I am updating this post 56 hours later for those that are interested in the statistics. Since the time of the original post we have had another 223 aftershocks, one every 15 minutes. Seven of them (3%) have been 5.5 Richter Scale or over: 5.5, 6.2, 6.0, 6.7, 5.8. 6.0, 6.2. Some of them have been quite jolting, enough to make one start or wake a person up. The total number of aftershocks through 5 a.m. Chile time on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 (128 hours after the earthquake), has been 563, of which 29 (5%) have been between 5.5 and 7.6 on the Richter Scale. On average, we have been having a large aftershock once every 4.4 hours and aftershocks of at least 3 Richter Scale have come every 13.6 minutes on average. For the last week, one has really experienced the earth moving under his feet!

In terms of damage to older buildings, mainly in poorer, coastal villages in the 4th and 5th Regions, 814 were completely destroyed and 1,005 we severely damaged according to this report, with 13,427 people claiming to have been damaged by the earthquakes and tsunami. Just 13 hours shy of one week from the time of the earthquake (6.5 days), another 71 smaller aftershocks above 2.5 Richter Scale had been registered, bringing the total to 634. One week from the time of the earthquake, another 146 smaller aftershocks above 2.5 Richter Scale (almost all above 3.5) had been registered, bringing the total to 699, one every 14.4 minutes on average, although most cannot be felt.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com 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 Amazon.com:

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)

A Tale of Two (or Four) Earthquakes

On August 23, 2014, central Chile was hit by a 6.4 earthquake, affecting the Viña del Mar, Valparaíso and Santiago metropolitan areas. The epicenter was in the coastal, industrial town of Ventanas, about thirty kilometers north of Viña del Mar. Probably over 10 million people felt a strong quake. According to newspaper reports, the shaking lasted up to forty seconds, causing damage and a tall building fire. While the tsunami warning was discarded, suffice it to say coastal residents of Chile immediately think about tsunamis after any sizable earthquake. Read the news reports from Valparaíso, San Antonio, Santiago (El Mercurio and Las Últimas Noticias), Valdivia and Iquique.

My wife considered it far stronger than the usual tremor and was surprised that the Richter magnitude was so low. The length of time of the shaking also bears an important role in both perception and actual damage, and this earthquake lasted a relatively long time. The photos in the newspapers the next day show goods thrown off store shelves and other minor damage. There was a fire in a tall apartment building and at least one home moved down the hillside nearly two meters. In addition, there were isolated gas leaks and some temporary power and phone service outages.

Two days later, on August 25, 2014, Napa and the San Francisco area of California (an equally populous area) were hit by a 6.0 quake that shook for 18 seconds. The damage in California was far greater than in Chile, not only stuff falling off store shelves but also gas lines breaking and facades of buildings collapsing. People in Chile considered the quake to be a large tremor. In California, the news services called it a “massive quake”—even though four times less powerful than the one in Chile and only shaking for half the time. Things in California would be out of commission for “days” according to reporters. The government in California declared a “state of emergency” in the aftermath for the “largest quake to hit California since 1989.”

According to CNN (with live video footage during the quake), CBS and Fox News, there were 172 people injured and extensive damage to buildings, cracked roadways, “fires sparked by burst gas lines,” broken pane glass, and crumbled walls with bricks landing on parked cars.

Ruptured water mains were reported to be, “hampering firefighters’ efforts to extinguish the blazes.” In Napa itself, wineries and historic buildings were damaged, “sending dozens of people to hospitals.” CBS News added, “Dozens of homes and buildings across the Napa Valley were left unsafe to occupy, including an old county courthouse, where a 10-foot wide hole opened a view of the offices inside.”

In Chile, the next day all was back to normal. (Did the Chilean quake even make the U.S. or European news?) Note that the level of destruction in California did not happen in Chile. There were no serious injuries or massive devastation like in California. The only effects in common were a building fire and the emptying of store shelves.

 

Other First World countries have not fared well in similar magnitude quakes in recent years. In late May 2012, two “major earthquakes” (5.9 and 5.8 Richter scale) and two strong aftershocks (5.2 Richter scale) hit the Modena area of northern Italy, toppling buildings and killing 26 people. On February 22, 2011, Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by a 6.3 Richter scale earthquake that did extensive damage and killed 185 people, half of which died when a six-story TV news building collapsed. The city’s buildings had been weakened by the Canterbury (7.1 Richter scale) earthquake in 2010. The image above (source) shows a cracked roadway in New Zealand after the 2011 earthquake. These earthquakes were horrible tragedies.

However, central Chile’s buildings are frequently “weakened” by tremors and even big quakes as well (including very big ones in 1985 and 2010), but they do not fall as those did in New Zealand. So which country is better earthquake prepared: the United States, Italy, New Zealand or Chile? I think the evidence is clear. In Chile, I feel safe. In other “First World” countries, I worry.

 
Chile has a new sustainable community starting called Freedom Orchard. Check it out. Invest in it, and diversify out of the decaying assets in “First World” nations.
Also, be sure to tune in to Dr. Cobin’s radio program: “Red Hot Chile” at noon (ET) on Fridays on the Overseas Radio Network (ORN). You can also join the thousands of other people who download the shows each month via the archive link on our Red Hot Chile page (recorded show updated every Monday morning).
Be sure, too, to visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country and what’s going on with Freedom Orchard.
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.
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.

 

History of Major Earthquakes in Chile

Here is a table of the worst earthquakes in Chile’s recorded history. You can do further research by clicking on this link to the source – History of Big Earthquakes in Chile

Earthquake history Chile