Chile takes first steps back to normality

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Chile takes first steps back to normality

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Life has returned to normal – for some at least. The majority of schoolchildren in Chile have gone back to their classrooms. less than two weeks after the country was rocked by a massive earthquake.

Even though some have not got a building to go back to, the authorities have organised temporary places to learn.

Monica Jimenez, Chile’s Education Minister, said it was good news. “Today about 80 per cent of the children are going back into the school system,” she said.

Residents in two of the most badly-hit cities of Concepcion and Constitucion have been highly critical of the government’s handling of the disaster.

Although outgoing President Michelle Bachelet has been the most popular leader in Chile’s recent history, her government’s slow response on providing aid and halting the post quake looting has seriously damaged her political reputation.

President Bachelet made an emotional visit to Constitucion. “I love my people. It hurts when people lose everything, that some lose their family members, their lives and others lose everything that took them their entire lives to build. It hurts but that pain does not make me immobile,” she said.

In all, at least 30 cities and towns were badly damaged by the quake or the post-tremor tsunami. More than 450 people were officially killed.

Bachelet hands over to her successor tomorrow. It will be left to a new president to begin Chile’s reconstruction.