Riots in Chile continue. Photo: St Columbans Mission Society
Just back from taking Beti, my dog, for a long walk before our third night of curfew begins. Meeting a large number of our neighbours outside our parish house, where we three priests live, we decided as neighbours, to form a neighbourhood WhatsApp group. Why? Mobs of criminal are taking advantage of the breakdown of law and order in Chile, breaking into homes at a record number.
Parishioners in two other sections of the parish, told me that last night they were up to 3:00am with all their neighbours, ready to defend their homes. A young 24 year old man, father of two, walking over four hours from the city Friday night, as the Metro was closed, was stabbed to death by criminals, near one of our parish chapels. If a criminal gang attacks one the homes, they alert the WhatsApp group, and all of us neighbours have to run outside with chunks of wood, shouting and threatening the gang.
Helicopters flying overhead all day. Last night, criminal gangs tried to attack and burn down three large public hospitals, including our local public hospital, where a lot of damage was done.
Across Chile, looting continues. Over 100 pharmacies looted and burnt down. One hundred and twenty pairs of traffic lights damaged or destroyed. All school and universities closed. All public meetings banned. No sporting or music events. All our daily parish masses and parish meetings suspended.
Around lunch time today I went out to try to fill up the petrol tank of the car, but every petrol station I found open, had long queues over 3 blocks long, so I gave up.
There are all kinds of false rumours about communications being cut off and a military coup coming on Wednesday. At the same time there are legitimate peaceful protesters in many areas, including in our parish, who beat their pots and pans in protests. They are calling for a just cause - a more equal and just society, better opportunities, healthcare and education in poor areas etc.
Unfortunately criminal gangs having taken the opportunity to loot and rob and anarchists to destroy as much public and private property and infrastructure as possible. It is truly hard to fathom so much vandalism and destruction in our poor neighbourhoods, destroying people's workplaces and businesses and public transport. With the Metro it takes 45 minutes to the city and to work. Without the Metro, now largely damaged, it can take up to two hours each way to get to work.
Please pray for the Columbans and the people of Chile.