The massive 8.8 earthquake that struck central Chile today was even
stronger than the 7.0 earthquake devastating Haiti in January. Will the
damage and disorder be as bad?
- No: Worse Earthquake, Better
Infrastructure This quake was "1000 times more powerful, I'm hearing,"
reports progressive blogger Matt Yglesias,
"but fortunately looks like it will be much less devastating thanks toa
Chile’s vastly superior infrastructure, government capacity, and
general level of wealth."
- But Will It Weaken the Government? "As Philip Bobbit argues in his book Terror and Consent," observes Marcelo Ballve
at True/Slant, "a natural disaster is tantamount to a terrorist attack
in that it challenges the legitimacy of the state. Haiti's quake showed
up the weakness of the government." Of course, he notes, echoing Yglesias's point, Haiti "is the
hemisphere's worst-off country, with the weakest state." Chile, by
contrast, "has in the last 20 years earned a reputation for having
Latin America's best-organized and efficient government." He wonders
how it will "[meet] this test."
- What I'm Worried About At Firedoglake, Ruth Calvo
suspects the houses she helped build in Chile with Habitat for Humanity
are still standing. Yet she fears for the Santiago archaeological
museum, "a priceless collection of pre-Columbian art and mementos ... The building itself is of
stone," which she implies is more vulnerable in an earthquake. Aside
from the museum, Calvo recalls downtown Santiago being filled with
"many-storied buildings," with, "ominously ... supermarkets on the
bottom floor." Here's her description of two other towns:
Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, seaside towns that we visited, the hills
rise up from the shore, and older buildings built of stone are
interspersed with funiculars, to climb the steep hills. Houses are
built one above the other, rising up the hills, around the shore.
Shopping centers are formed by several stories of stores, with
stairways winding up through the stores through several layers. A
tsunami has hit Valparaiso, where the docks are full of ships and old
stone buildings, and a seaside cafe that has particular appeal – that I
hope wasn’t destroyed.
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