SANTIAGO

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
-33.45
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
-70.6666666667

HAVANA — Cuban city Santiago is still struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy two weeks after the storm, even as streetlamps in hard-hit lower Manhattan shine brightly and its subways begin rumbling through tunnels again.

The electrical grid has been restored to 28 percent as workers labor to replace power lines downed by thousands of fallen trees, the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported Monday.

“Sources in (state-run power company) Empresa Electrica emphasized that the task is titanic since it means building practically all of the secondary networks from the ground up,” the agency said.

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A strong magnitude-6.7 earthquake shook central Chile late Monday, prompting authorities to order the evacuation of a stretch of coastline and causing hundreds of people in the capital to flee buildings in panic.

There were no reports of major damage, but authorities in the port city of Valparaiso said a 72-year-old man died of a heart attack during the quake. The earthquake was felt for almost a minute in Valparaiso and the capital, Santiago.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially put the quake’s magnitude at 6.5 but later raised it to 6.7. Its epicenter was 26 miles (42 kilometers) northeast of Valparaiso, and it had a depth of 23 miles (37 kilometers). It struck just minutes before midnight local time Monday (3:50 Tuesday GMT).

The Chilean navy’s hydrographic and oceanographic service discounted the possibility of a tsunami, but authorities maintained an order for people to move to higher ground along a roughly 500-mile (roughly 780 kms) stretch of coastline running from the city of Constitucion to Tongoy, north of the capital. Thousands of people were later allowed to return home, said Deputy Interior Secretary Rodrigo Ubilla.

Publsihed on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 as: Earthquake shakes central Chile, hundreds evacuated

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s government has issued a red alert and ordered the evacuation of residents living within 25 miles of a rumbling volcano.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter says 97 people living near the Hudson volcano will be evacuated and he is not ruling out the possibility of an eruption.

The Southern Andean Volcano Observatory says seismic activity related to the volcano increased starting early Tuesday night.

The Hudson volcano lies 995 miles south of Chile’s capital, Santiago. It last erupted in August 1991, causing millions in damages to local farms and killing an estimated 1.5 million sheep.

Chile has about 3,000 volcanos, 500 of which are considered geologically active. Precautionary evacuations are not uncommon.

Printed on Thursday, October 27, 2011 as: Rumbling volcano prompts evacuation, red alert in Chile

Police uses a water cannon against a demonstrator during what has been a 37-week-long student demonstration in Santiago, Chile, on Thursday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a student march for free public education on Thursday, hours after protesters’ talks with the government collapsed.

A huge deployment of riot police surrounded students in the Plaza Italia, Santiago’s traditional gathering place, where student leader Camila Vallejo tried to lead the march while holding a sign saying “United and Stronger,” only to be pummeled by water cannons and forced to retreat by tear gas.

Protesters hurled rocks at police and set blockades ablaze in the streets as officers on horseback chased students onto nearby campuses. Vallejo said officers shot tear gas into their student government offices in “a direct attack against our organization.”

Students occupied the Alameda, one of Santiago’s main avenues, by dancing in large numbers, but were blasted with water from police. Small groups managed to elude officers and approach the presidential palace before being beaten back by police.

The regional governor, Cecilia Perez, said 132 people were arrested and 25 officers and five civilians were injured. At least a half-dozen journalists were arrested. She called this “lamentable” and said their arrests would be investigated.

Thursday’s march was the 37th weekly protest since the movement against Chile’s largely privatized education system in began in April, demanding higher taxes on the wealthy so that quality public education can be free for all.

With both sides accusing the other of intransigence, Chile’s government has focused on criminalizing the protests, proposing tough new penalities including up to three years in prison for occupying schools and other public places.

Reporters Without Borders, among other journalism groups, condemned the proposal as an attack on freedom of expression.

Polls show 89 percent of Chileans support the students’ call for reform, and only 22 percent support President Sebastian Pinera’s performance. The president finally agreed to let the students sit down with his education minister, Felipe Bulnes, to discuss their core complaint: that private institutions benefit from public funding while public institutions are starved for resources.

But Pinera, who has said that “nothing in life is free,” ceded no ground, and the talks quickly broke down Wednesday night.  

A protester shouts slogans as thousands march on Alameda Avenue toward Moneda Presidential Palace on the second day of national strike in Santiago, Chile. The sign on the left reads in Spanish “University without profit!”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

SANTIAGO, Chile — Tens of thousands of Chileans marched peacefully Thursday demanding profound changes in the country’s heavily centralized and privatized form of government, while smaller groups broke away to fight with police. More than 450 people were arrested and dozens injured.

Union members, students, government workers and center-left opposition parties took part in the final day of a nationwide two-day strike, which included four separate protest marches in the capital and demonstrations across Chile. In many areas, families grabbed spoons and spilled into the streets to join in noisy pot-banging shows of support.

President Sebastian Pinera’s ministers sought to minimize the impact. Police estimated Santiago’s crowds at just 50,000 and said only 14 percent of government workers stayed off the job.
Union leaders claimed 600,000 people joined demonstrations nationwide. Raul de la Puente, president of the government employees union, said 80 percent of his members joined the strike, at the cost of two days’ pay.

Pinera called the strike unjustified because Chile’s economy is growing strong and providing more opportunities. He also said he remains open to those seeking dialogue, although his administration has refused to discuss some student and union demands, arguing the real work of reform must be done in Congress.

What began three months ago as a series of isolated classroom boycotts by high school and university students demanding education improvements has grown into a mass movement calling for all manner of changes in Chile’s topdown form of government.

Protesters now want increases in education and health care spending, pension and labor code reform, even a new constitution that would give voters the chance to participate in referendums — a form of direct democracy previously unthinkable in a country only two decades removed from a 1973-90 military dictatorship.

Polls taken before the strike say the majority of Chileans side with the protesters, although it’s unclear how the violence will affect popular sentiment.

Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: Leftist Chilean protests clash with police.