Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Citizen Arrests Increasing in Chile

The place : the central business district in Santiago, the Chilean capital (known by the locals as "El Centro").
The time : 11:30 a.m on March 28, 2007.
A young woman takes her wallet out to buy in a shop. This is noticed by one of the many hit and run robbers (known as Lanzas) that have made "El Centro" their favorite operational area. The "lanza" tries to snatch the woman's wallet from her hands but fails due to her resistance causing the lanza to run away as fast as possible.

But the robber is blocked by a group of passerbys that begin to subdue him violently, punching and kicking the lanza in the middle of the street. The young woman approaches the lanza and also begins to beat him.

Thankfully the lanza does not try to resist and this calms down the crowd that begins to shout "Call the police!". However the crowd begins to get anxious since incredibly no police officers have arrived after 10 minutes, quite surprising since this is the area with most security in the city. Some people in the crowd begin to shout "Let´s kill him then!" and the robber is beaten yet again by some men.

Luckily for the robber three police officers arrive on the scene and arrest the offender.

Episodes such as this have become quite common in recent years, even after the introduction of Chile´s "Penal Process Reform" five years ago. The aim of this process was to modernize the Chilean justice system, that had become obsolete and which involved lengthy and bureaucratic trials that caused many victims to avoid pressing charges against criminals. The new system introduced a "guarantee" procedure, whereby the victims and accused may receive swifter justice and higher sentences, due to faster oral trials. Now both parts have state paid lawyers but this has meant that offenders get better counseling and often go free on bail. Gonzalo Fuenzalida was a first hand witness of this situation. On May 19, 2006, Gonzalo was at home with his family when a gang of four armed robbers invaded it. Gonzalo and his wife were tied up and one of the robbers pointed a gun at their eight-month-old daughter, demanding money and other valuable objects. Also their housemaid was sexually abused by the youths that searched the house for some hours before escaping. Police arrested some months later two of the gang after they had committed another robbery in the same area where Gonzalo lived.
Ironically Gonzalo is a lawyer, so he was confident that the robbers would get their due punishment in court. However, Gonzalo just could not believe what had happened as the judge allowed the two men to go free on bail! Gonzalo appealed to the decision, but the trial was held several months later, enough time for the gang to send associates to threaten Gonzalo and his family in their own home. Finally the original sentence was revoked by the Appeals Court, but two of the robbers remain at large and have not been found by the police.

Since then Gonzalo Fuenzalida has formed an organization called "Victims of Crime" that at present has 5000 members and whose website gets approximately 50,000 hits a month.
"Our justice system is full of judges that give far too many alternative sentences that are causing an unbalance in the system since they grant an excessive number of bails," said Fuenzalida in the website.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Brazil Routs Chile in FIFA Match Day

World Football Pentachampions Win by 4-0

There was a gloomy atmosphere among Chilean football fans on March 24, after the disappointing performance by the Chilean national team during a match played in Gothenburg, Sweden against Brazil. However, the Chilean fans won outside the pitch since a majority of the 30,000 fans at the Ullevi Stadium were from the large expatriate community in that country. Also the Chilean team offered good prospects since at present many of its players are part of European clubs, such as Luis Gimenez (Lazio, Italy), Mark Gonzalez (Liverpool, England) and Matias Fernandez (Villarreal, Spain). Also two players that are in Brazilian first division teams (Claudio Maldonado, Santos) and Jorge Valdivia, Palmeiras) were supposed to have added a plus to the squad since they have good knowledge of the opponents style. It seems that coach Nelson Acosta just cannot draw up an effective strategy against Brazil since in the past the Chilean coach has suffered several humiliating defeats. In the 1998 World Cup in France, Chile lost 4-1 against Brazil, and in the qualifiers for Germany 2006, Chile lost 5-0.
Even so the historical statistics favor Brazil enormously since before this match the Chilean team had only been able to win 7 times out of 60, with 12 draws.
The match could not have begun in a worse way for Chile, since in the 15 minutes , a defender caused a childish foul on Gilberto Silva in the area, and Ronaldinho scored the penalty with a precise low shot past Claudio Bravo, the goalkeeper. Brazil from then on became the absolute controller of the match, with a string of precise passes and also skilful runs by Robinho, that could not be controlled by the Chilean defenders.
In the 30th minute Daniel Alves broke away alone in the right wing and near the goal line sent a pass to Kaka that placed a first time shot into the Chilean net. At the end of the first half the TV broadcast showed that ball possession had favored Brazil by 58% to Chile´s 42%.
At the start of the second half, Robinho tried a cheeky over head kick that would have been a goal had Bravo not touched it to the corner.
In the 49th minute, Robinho caused a free kick outside the Chilean area that was masterly place into the net by Ronaldinho. Chile could only answer back with some harsh fouls on the Brazilian players and the decisive 4-0 came in the 60th minute as Ronaldinho gave a back heel pass to defender Juan that only had to touch the ball into the net past Bravo.

Chile´s first goalscoring chance came in the 62nd minute as Claudio Maldonado struck a long range shot against the crossbar, but to no avail, the team was without any luck or any ideas. Now the team must improve tremendously, since its next most important international match must be in the Copa America to begin this June in Venezuela, and one of its opponents will be......Brazil.
Starting Lineups :

Brazil (4): Julio Cesar (Inter,Italy) Juan (B.Leverkusen, Germany), Fred, Elano, Lucio(B.Munich,Germany), Kaka (A.C Milan, Italy), Gilberto Silva(Arsenal, England), Robinho (Real Madrid, Spain), Ronaldinho(Barcelona,Spain), Daniel Alves (Sevilla,Sapin) Mineiro.
Coach : Dunga.

Chile (0) : Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad, Spain), Ismael Fuentes, Alex Von Schwedtler (Maritimo,Portugal), Claudio Maldonado (Santos), Figueroa, Arturo Sanhueza (Colo Colo, Chile), Humberto Suazo (Colo Colo, Chile) Matias Fernandez (Villarreal, Spain), Luis Gimenez, Mark Gonzalez.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

All of Bachelet´s Friends and Relatives

In a TV interview on Sunday, the first anniversary of Michelle Bachelet's center-left government, the Chilean president was put in an uncomfortable position by a journalist who asked her opinion on the recent scandal denounced by Patricio Navia, a local political scientist.

"My son had the necessary qualifications so I don't see why he shouldn't have been hired," said Bachelet, South America's first female head of state.

Navia carried out an investigation that revealed how the children of high-ranking government officials (most of whom earn at least US$10,000 per month) obtained state funded scholarships to study in prestigious universities in the United States and Europe.

According to Navia, Bachelet's son, Sebastian Davalos, was hired to work in the Department of International Economic Relations (Direcon) in 2005 due to the influence exerted by his mother, who was then the minister of defense. Navia discovered that Davalos was the only student that was paid a monthly salary of US$500 during his internship, which lasted from March 7 to Aug. 7. At the end of the trial period, Davalos was the only student hired by Direcon from among a group of seven students with similar or better academic credentials than Davalos.

On Monday, Nicholas Monckeberg, a member of the right wing opposition has demanded that Bachelet explain whether her son was working at Direcon as an intern student or had been hired after the proper selection process that all other candidates have to go through.

"Do all intern students get to travel to international summits with all expenses paid, such as Bachelet's son?" Monckeberg said.

Ironically, the acts of nepotism described by Patricio Navia began during the 17-year dictatorship headed by the recently deceased Gen. Augusto Pinochet. After proclaiming himself president of Chile in 1980, Pinochet created the "Presidential Scholarship Fund" that apparently was aimed at allowing the best university graduates to continue their studies in foreign universities, with the only condition that after completing their course they would return to work in Chile. However, the majority of those who obtained the study grants had blood ties to the military government or were the relatives of army officers; for example, the brother of Cristian Labbe, then the head of Pinochet's bodyguards.

With the end of Pinochet's reign, a center-left coalition called the "Concertacion" won the elections, and has been in power ever since. It seems the Concertacion officials were of the opinion that Pinochet's "Scholarship Fund" was a good idea, since many of their children began obtaining grants to study in the most select universities. For example, the daughter of the current secretary general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, was given a study grant to study in Holland. The son of President Ricardo Lagos, who governed Chile from 2000 to 2006, was sent to pursue a master's degree at Oxford University -- at present Ricardo Lagos Jr. is the spokesman for the Bachelet government. And the list goes on.

During the last days of February, the minister of planning, Clarissa Hardy, was forced to publish on its Web site (in Spanish) the full list of students that had been awarded a presidential scholarship since 1981.

During a press conference, Hardy was hard pressed to explain how her son Marco Schejtman Hardy obtained a grant in 1995 to study at the University of Cambridge, in the U.K., while his mother was a high-ranking official of the "Concertacion."

Is academic brilliance automatically inherited? Or is the fact that the same names keep appearing just a coincidence?

As a matter of interest, as I was writing this article and checking the list of names on the Ministry of Planning Web site, my computer began experiencing sudden operational defects. Also just another coincidence?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Chilean Player Becomes a Star in Brazilian Football

Jorge Valdivia Earns a Place in Palmeiras Squad

“Valdivia is the new star at Palmeiras,” said his teammate Edmundo after the team defeated Juventus by 4-1 on March 11 during the Sao Paulo State Championship , also known as “Paulistao”. Quite a statement considering it was made by Edmundo, one of Brazil´s most famous players, and nicknamed “The Animal” due to his fierce play and goalscoring capacity. In such a demanding environment such as that of Brazilian professional football, it is a major feat for a foreign player to win the hearts and minds of the local fans. Jorge Valdivia, an attacking midfielder, arrived in 2005 at Palmeiras , one of the country´s most popular clubs after having played several seasons at Chile´s top club, Colo Colo.
During the 13th round of the Paulistao played this weekend, Valdivia was fundamental to helping his team to victory and getting near to the top of the points table at sixth place.The first half ended 1-1, but according to the Brazilian press, it was Valdivia that destroyed Juventus with his skilful runs along the right wing. In the 66th minute of play, Valdivia dribbled several defenders and was brought down in the Juventus area. Edmundo scored the penalty to leave Palmeiras ahead by 2-1, but this was not enough for Valdivia, since in a nearly identical move was granted yet another penalty only five minutes later, that was also scored by Edmundo. To end off a remarkable afternoon, Valdivia scored a great goal 13 minutes from the end with a low level shot from outside the area.
Caio Junior, the Palmeiras coach, is delighted with Valdivia and believes the Chilean player may become one of the most popular players in Brazil.
“Valdivia is so skilful, when he begins to finish off all his scoring chances he will be one of the best players,” said Caio Junior during an interview to Globo, a local newspaper.
Valdivia is now being nicknamed “El Mago (the Magician)” by the Palmeiras fans but has not lost his head with all the fame that surrounds him in Brazil.
“I was brought down both time, I didn’t act in those penalties. I only helped the team, but the victory is a merit of all the players. I don’t do anything alone,” said Valdivia after the match to Globo. Valdivia also explained that his celebration after scoring was dedicated to his wife that is expecting a baby and to his mother that was also among the crowd at the Palmeiras Stadium.
Anyway, fellow football fans , you may see for yourself the highlights of the Palmeiras –Juventus match at :>,,GIM650320-7824-EDMUNDO+E+VALDIVIA+SAO+OS+MOLEQUES+TRAVESSOS,00.html

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Last Minute Victory for Man.Utd over Liverpool

Last Minute Victory for Man.Utd over Liverpool
Hard Fought Match Leaves United Nearer to Title

Even if Manchester United was 16 points ahead of Liverpool, it was still an important match that was played on March 03 at Anfield Road . These two teams are traditional rivals and also are two of the most successful in the English Premier League. On Oct 22,2006, playing in its home ground of Old Trafford, Manchester United had defeated Liverpool 2-0. Today at Anfield, the local fans were expecting their side to take revenge.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese international must surely be the most hated player in the Premier league since very time he touched the ball was insulted by the crowd, a legacy of England's elimination by Portugal in the last World Cup. The first scoring chance was for Liverpool as Daniel Agger took a good long range shot over the goal guarded by Erwin van der Sar. Chilean international player, Mark Gonzalez also appeared in the 15th minute as he sent a header towards goal that was caught by Van Der Sar. During the first half it was Liverpool that had the most scoring chances with shots by John Riise and Mark Gonzalez in the 26th and 36th minute. Manchester United made its first appearance in the 41st minute as C.Ronaldo made one of his usual long runs on the right wing but was well blocked near the Liverpool goal by Jamie Carragher. Apart from this chance, Man Utd´s attack appeared only with Wayne Rooney, a former Everton player that was constantly having arguments with the rival players or the referee, Martin Atkinson.
At the beginning of the second half in the 49th minute Craig Bellamy had a goal disallowed due to an apparent offside. Liverpool continued attacking but as usual the shots by its players went over or near the Manchester United goal. By now tempers were rising with several hard fouls being made by both teams, such as the one by Jamie Carragher on Wayne Rooney that ended with the striker having to be replaced since his right leg was bleeding too much. Also in the 86th minute Paul Scholes lost his temper, kicked Xabi Alonso and was sent off immediately by the referee.
Liverpool tried to take advantage of this situation and went on a total attack, but in the 90th minute, John O´Shea (that had replaced Rooney), scored after a low level free kick by Cristiano Ronaldo had rebounded off a Liverpool defender. In the end, Liverpool missed far too many scoring chances against a team like Manchester United that after this victory gets nearer to being the 2007 Premier League champions.

Starting Lineups :
Liverpool (0) : Jose Reina, Daniel Agger, Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso, Mohammed Sissoko, John Arne Riise, Steven Gerrard, Craig Bellamy, Dirk Kuyt, Mark Gonzalez.
Coach : Rafa Benitez.
Manchester United (1) : Erwin v. Der Sar, Michael Carrick, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Henrik Larsson.
Coach : Sir Alex Ferguson.