Take only staples, leave only electronics

It’s hard not to view the coverage of Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Chile as a parallel study in aftermaths with Haiti’s January quake. I’ve only had two or three news cycles to observe, but already the the media obsession with looting (is it happening? is it not happening?) seems apparent. The article I read in this morning’s paper even left the impression that President Michelle Bachelet’s request for outside aid had to do with the looters rather than the massive, widespread destruction. So I was astonished and heartened by the anecdote below, which captures a bit of culture-making in crisis, as the powerful and the powerless come to conflict and, amazingly given the way these things sometimes turn out, negotiate a more helpful solution.

The police fired water cannons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of people who forced their way into shuttered shops in the southern city of Concepción, which was devastated. But law enforcement authorities, heeding the cries of residents that they lacked food and water, eventually settled on a system that allowed staples to be taken but not televisions and other electronic goods.

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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