We are entering the second week of protests here on the Island of Chiloe in southern Chile. Fishermen in the Los Lagos Region were banned from fishing locally due to the salmon industry polluting the waters of the Pacific Ocean in the area. They have united with the Chilote people to get the attention of the government in order to receive payment for the fishing families affected by the ban.
Our town of Castro, as well as what seems to be all the towns on the island, has isolated itself. All roads leading into the city have been blocked with burning tires and protesters.
There are no ferries to the mainland, there are no buses to neighboring towns. This also means there are no trucks delivering supplies into our towns. The supermarket is out of vegetables, meats, flour, eggs, bread.The gas stations are running out fuel. People can’t get to work, school has been cancelled for kids.
The locals don’t seem to be bothered by this. They don’t seem worried at all. I keep wondering what would happen if this was going on in the United States. A friend said the police here aren’t getting involved or unblocking the roads because they are in support of the fisherman.
And to top it all off, our visas expire in 12 days. Lovely. The airport is still functioning apparently, but it is not guaranteed. There aren’t actually tickets available for the month of May, but I was told if I just buy a ticket for a date in June, I can simply show up at the airport and they might get me on the plane to Puerto Montt. I’m a little worried.
Yesterday we decided to go talk with the Extranjeria, the immigration department, to see if there was any way we could just pay for a new stamp since we can’t leave the island. We were told the situation would be resolved the next day and that meetings of the powers that be were going on and progress would be made. Turns out only 24 of 120 representatives were present and the meeting was cancelled.
It appears the government has until tomorrow to send someone to talk to the fishermen or things here could get worse. Please say a prayer for Chiloe!