Chilean President elect Sebastián Piñera announced that once he takes office, the military forces displayed in the areas worst hit by the February 27 earthquake will be retained. He also anticipated that the “state of catastrophe” in a very selective manner will be enforced in all those areas which are in need.
“We’re going to display the military in first place to ensure public order, but their job won’t be limited to that since they are an institution that is well prepared and equipped for catastrophe situations”, said Piñera.
“They have a logistics, trained personnel, disciplined, knowledgeable officers that enables them to help recover a situation of normality much quicker. Besides they are part of the Chilean society, they are Chileans like the rest of us and therefore they can be very useful in emergency situations and there is no reason why we should not take advantage and have them operational in those areas” he emphasized.
As to the “state of catastrophe” Piñera said that besides the enforcement of law and order, it gives the government the instruments to reach with aid in the fastest and best way.
Piñera said he was disappointed that the administration of President Michelle Bachelet did not appeal to the emergency measure and the military from the very beginning, when the 8.8 Richter magnitude quake shook Chile and was followed by tsunamis in several coastal areas. This opened the way to looting and other vandalism in certain cities, believes Piñera.
“What really mattered was if it was necessary to display the Army to ask our Armed Forces to help and I think it was needed and we lost 48 hours”, said Piñera.
The cabinet of Socialist president Michelle Bachelet was divided on whether to give participation or not to the Army in helping re-establish law and order. When if finally did there were hundreds of arrests, some injured with bullets but a precarious calm was imposed in the worst hit areas.
Piñera said he was certain that outgoing President Bachelet would have liked to have “another kind” of inauguration ceremony and “I personally would have liked to begin my mandate differently, but we must assume facts and reality”.
”Tragedies and blows crack the weak people but make giants out of strong people and Chile is strong, very strong, this quake won’t break us or rob us of our soul and determination; on the contrary it will unite us as never before and that is why I make it a point to thank the (outgoing) ruling coalition for their attitude and helpfulness”.
President elect Piñera’s words were in direct reference to all the support towards the incoming government that both President Bachelet as former president Ricardo Lagos have shown at all times.
Piñera also sent a message to the Chilean women on the International Woman Day (March 8) recalling that one out of three Chilean homes are led by a woman, “an example of dedication, determination and love”.