Entries in Chile (26)


Eleven-Year-Old Girl’s Ordeal Spurs Abortion Debate in Chile

Comstock(SANTIAGO, Chile) -- "Belén," an 11-year-old girl from a rural town in southern Chile, says that she was sexually abused by her 31-year-old stepfather since she was seven. She is now 14 weeks pregnant.

Belén, whose face was concealed to protect her identity, told a local television station about her ordeal, and about her decision to keep the baby.

"It will be like having a doll in my arms," she said, "but well, I am going to love it very much regardless of what it is, and regardless of whether it comes from that man who hurt me."

Belén's case was first brought to the attention of local authorities by her grandmother. The girl initially blamed a fellow student for her pregnancy, but when the student's parents confronted her grandmother, Belén admitted that the man responsible was her stepfather. (Her mother defends her husband, and claims that the relationship was consensual.) Belén was then interviewed twice on local television, and her testimony soon garnered national attention from NGOs, medical groups and even the president of Chile.

It's also divided the religious and conservative country on the issue of abortion. Unlike the U.S. and most Latin American countries, abortions in Chile are banned in all cases, regardless of whether the mother was raped, or whether her life or the baby's is at risk. (The only other countries in the Americas with similar legislation in place are Nicaragua, Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.) The procedure used to be legal for cases involving medical dangers from 1931 until 1973, when General Augusto Pinochet banned them altogether.

But for Chilean liberals and NGOs, Belén's case has become a rallying cry for passing a new law. Many politicians have already posted videos on YouTube supporting a new measure, and María Antonieta Saa, a congresswoman, has already introduced new legislation decriminalizing abortion in cases that involve rape and fatal risks for the mother or the child. Michelle Bachelet, the opposition's presidential candidate for this year's upcoming elections, has said that she supports this sort of policy.

Nevertheless, there is staunch opposition from religious organizations and conservative politicians, many of which have tried to justify Belén's situation.

"What I understand, medically, is that at the moment that a woman goes through her first period, it's because her organism is already prepared to be a mother, to give birth," Issa Kort, a conservative representative, said in a radio debate. He added, referring to Belén, "Those are not the ideal conditions. If we think about the Middle Age or the beginning of the Renaissance, women were mothers at 14, 15, 16, and life expectancy was much lower."

Since 1990, Chilean liberals have unsuccessfully tried to enact legislation decriminalizing abortion for some specific cases. Last year, the Chilean congress considered a bill that would allow procedures to terminate pregnancies when the mother was raped or when her or the child's life was at risk. The bill managed to make its way out of the health committee -- something that had not happened in over two decades -- but it ultimately failed.

Maria Antonieta Saa's legislation might have a better chance, according to activists like Natalia Flores, Executive Secretary of the Observatorio de Género y Equidad, a Chilean NGO that promotes equality and women's rights. Moreover, given that most polls point towards Bachelet's imminent triumph in the coming election, activists are once again hopeful of a new beginning when it comes to this issue.

"On the one hand, I hope that we don't have any more cases like that of Karen Espíndola or little Belén for Congress to take up the debate once again," Natalia Flores wrote in an op-ed. "And, on the other hand, I hope we don't force Belén to carry on with a pregnancy that came as a result of a rape."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


6.1-Magnitude Earthquake Hits North-Central Region of Chile

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(SANTIAGO) -- The North Central area of Chile was struck by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake Wednesday, according to local authorities.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake was located 55 miles north of Coquimbo, and 298 miles north of Santiago, the nation's capital.

The Interior Ministry Office says that so far, there have been no reports of death, injury, or damages to buildings; however, several phone lines in the area were reported to have been down, preventing further communication regarding status updates.

Chile is no stranger to large earthquakes. The most recent one happened in 2005, in the area of Tarapaca, and was a magnitude of 7.8.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Protesters Clash with Police Over Pro-Pinochet Documentary

AFP/Getty Images(SANTIAGO, Chile) -- Demonstrators protesting against a government-sponsored documentary that praises former General Augusto Pinochet have clashed with police in Chile, BBC News reports.

Police forces used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters outside of the Caupolican theatre, and made several arrests. The former general ruled the nation for 17 years, after a coup against democratically-elected Marxist president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. Thousands of citizens were tortured, arrested, killed or forced into exile throughout his 17-year reign. He died in 2006.

Relatives of victims have asked President Sebastian to ban the documentary, "Pinochet," calling it insensitive and saying it glorifies the dictator's vicious regime. Organizers say it intends to show the general as he really was, and not as the media portrayed him, according to the BBC.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Steals Glacier for Designer Ice Cubes

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(AISEN, Chile) -- Police in Chile nabbed a glacier thief who wanted to turn a national monument into cold, hard cash.

Five tons of ice that had been chipped off the Jorge Montt glacier, which is 1,100 miles south of Santiago, were found inside of a refrigerated truck last Friday.

The glacial ice was bound for restaurants and bars in Santiago where it would be sold at a premium and placed in cocktails, police told a Chilean newspaper.

The unidentified man will face charges of theft. Officials are especially concerned because the Jorge Montt glacier has been shrinking at a rate of half a mile per year.

“People seem to be willing to buy ice or water from glaciers or icebergs.  And, if something is valuable, are you totally surprised to hear that someone somewhere has considered stealing some of it?” Richard Alley, a glacier expert at Penn State University, wrote in an email to ABC News.

Alley said when glacial ice melts around bubbles, the bubble wall makes a popping noise, “releasing a little air that had been trapped in the bubble, perhaps for hundreds or even thousands of years.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio



Rescued Chilean Miners One Year Later: Where Are They Now?

Luis Urzua, the the Foreman and the last miner rescued in Chile on October 13, 2010. ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who survived after being trapped for nearly 69 days nearly a half-mile underground.

So, where are they now?

The New York Times reports that many of the miners are unemployed and are poorer than before. Only a handful of the miners have steady jobs and only four returned to mining. Others have been making a living by selling fruits and vegetables.

“They made us feel like heroes,” one miner in a psychiatric clinic told The New York Times. “In the end, we are selling peanuts. It’s ironic, isn’t it?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chilean Plane Crashes off Juan Fernandez Islands, All 21 Feared Dead

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(JUAN FERNANDEZ) -- A Chilean air force plane carrying 21 people crashed near the Juan Fernandez islands off of Chile’s Pacific coast Friday night.

BBC News reports that the Casa-212 plane from Santiago attempted to land at the islands' airport twice before it was reported missing, according to Chilean Defense Minister Andres Allamand.

The islands' mayor reported rough and windy conditions when the plane was due to land.

Plane wreckage and luggage was found in the water, confirming the plane had crashed.

Among the passengers onboard was Felipe Camiroaga, the host of Chile's popular national TV program Good Morning Everyone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Student Protesters Continue to Riot in Chile

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SANTIAGO, Chile) -- Hundreds have been arrested as thousands of student protesters continue to battle against riot police in Santiago, Chile, demanding reforms within the country's educational system.  

The protests -- which have been going on for weeks -- began peacefully but escalated when some protesters broke off from the crowd and began fighting police, looting and starting fires in the Chilean capital, according to BBC News.

Demonstrators say Chile's educational system lacks funding and is unfair, prompting President Sebastian Pinera, whose approval rating has recently fallen below 30 percent, to promise additional funds.

Just last week, Chilean policymakers presented a plan consisting of 21 reforms that would increase funding, improve instructor training, provide for more scholarships and address unpaid student loan debt.

Criticizing the government for not also tackling needed improvements in private education, students refused the plan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Riot Police Fire Tear Gas, Water Cannons at Protesters in Santiago

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SANTIAGO) -- Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at crowds during Thursday's unauthorized student protests over educational costs in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Students set up barricades of burning tires around the city Thursday morning and threw rocks at approaching army tanks trying to put out the fires.

Hundreds of protesters were detained by riot police as they tried to march on the Plaza de Armas in the city center.

In Chile, public schools are owned by municipalities instead of the state and, therefore, the quality of education varies based on location.

Students want public universities to be government-owned and free of charge.

During a second protest in the evening, students holding banners began marching on Plaza Italia.

Within 10 minutes, riot police arrived in tanks and began firing tear gas on the crowd. Students covered their mouths and ran as tears ran down from their bloodshot eyes.

For weeks, more than 100,000 students, most of whom are at the undergraduate or high school level, have been protesting on the streets of Santiago.

Chile spends 4.4 percent of the country's budget on public education, less than the seven percent recommended by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chilean Volcano Heaps Ash, Anxiety on Argentine Industries

CLARA PRIMA/AFP/Getty Images(NEUQUÉN, Argentina) -- Thick, gray dust is covering entire towns in Argentina as Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano continues to erupt, spewing ash that has disrupted more than airline flights.

Argentina's Agriculture Ministry has declared a state of emergency in three provinces after authorities discovered that the embers have disrupted tourism and endangered livestock.

An entire foot of ash has accumulated in one town called Villa La Angostura, located 24 miles from the volcano, which has reportedly caused major problems for Argentine farmers whose herds are now roaming in pastures covered with soot. Officials estimate that more than half of Patagonia's 2 million sheep have been affected by the ash.

The toxic ash has also made it difficult to drive on local roads, and Lake Nahuel Huapi, the country's largest lake, has become a sea of embers. Adding to the economic concern, the eruption started just as many mountain towns were preparing for ski season.

"Today, we can't anticipate the season's final results, but we can say that this has ruined the start of the winter season in the coming days," Mayor Roberto Alonso of Villa La Angostura said.

The residents in the town have been continuously working to clean up the ash but found it impossible to keep up with the volcano.

"The problem is the volcano keeps sending up ashes," business owner Alejandro Curiluck said. "In 15 days, we should be operating."

Authorities say the ash cloud from the erupting volcano has once again reached Chilean soil after completely circling the globe.

Many regional airports have been shut down for more than a week because of concerns about the ash, but Buenos Aires' main airports reopened Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Flights Disrupted After Volcanoes Erupt in Chile and Eritrea

File photo. Digital Vision/Thinkstock(SANTIAGO) -- Flights are being disrupted in over two continents after the eruption of volcanoes in Chile and Eritrea.

The Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle range of volcanoes erupted on June 4, emitting a plume of ash that is spreading through parts of South America. Over the weekend the ash cloud spread towards Australia and New Zealand after winds changed direction. Flights are experiencing delays or cancellations in Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand among other nations in the region.

In East Africa, after a series of earthquakes in Eritrea, the Nabro volcano erupted, causing an ash cloud over the region. The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Toulouse, France issued an advisory stating that the emissions had reduced. However, the ash cloud has spread to Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and to the Middle East. Flights in the region are experiencing delays.

The ash cloud prompted Secretary Hillary Clinton to cut short her trip to Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio