Hope for Concepcion

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Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Eliana Loveluck, who grew up in Concepcion one of the cities hardest hit by Saturday's earthquake in Chile.

MARCO WERMAN: Eliana Loveluck lives and works in Washington, D.C. but she grew up in Concepcion. Loveluck says the city is more than a hub of economic activity.

ELIANA LOVELUCK: Concepcion is known the city with a very active political movement in terms of the university students, university professors, teachers, port workers obviously and also in the surrounding areas, for example we have Lota, which is an area of coal mines that has had tremendous labor union activity where some of the more important strikes have occurred. And in Concepcion we have several members of an organization that is called the MEAD, the [Spanish]. That was the most extreme left wing party in Chile and the leaders of that group are from Concepcion and they gave birth to that movement in Concepcion. They are people, all of whom by the way are now dead.

WERMAN: Were they eliminated by Pinochet's regime?

LOVELUCK: Yes they were.

WERMAN: Eliana we should point out, too, that in just a few days there will be a new president in power in Chile who does not have the same set of priorities as current President Michele Bachelet. Given the history of Concepcion would this have been a particularly precarious time even without an earthquake?

LOVELUCK: Well yes, absolutely. One of the things that has been the legacy of the government that is now leaving power is that they have placed tremendous priority on social policy and eradication of poverty. And the earthquake obviously has destroyed much of that. The new government that is coming into power which is the first right wing government we've had since Pinochet left power is not, their priorities are not social policy and eradication of poverty. They are more free market oriented. One of the things that may be a problem is that the members of the government have very little experience working with the public sector. And in Chile the public sector is very strong and it will be public sector that plays the most important role in reconstructing Chile. So it's sort of a wait and see period. Concepcion, though, is also a city that has had a lot of earthquakes. We have had a number of opportunities where we have had to really reconstruct. However, all of the information that I ever see from my family and from friends is that hey have never ever seen the level of destruction that they have seen this time. There is no doubt that Concepcion and Maole were the two areas that were the most affected. My uncle emails me today saying that the waves, the tidal waves that came in after the earthquake were equally devastating. Smaller cities like Constitucion, Pichilemo, Penko, Dichato, those places were literally leveled by the tidal waves. There are ships in the middle of downtown Santiago. So we know a lot about the earthquake, but I think we haven't heard as much about the fact that the tidal wave that followed that earthquake was also very, very devastating. There are fishing villages that completely disappeared.

WERMAN: You were remarkably in Concepcion for its last major earthquake that was in 1960, so decades later I'm wondering what your memories are of that event and how you worked through what must have been a pretty traumatic moment for a child.

LOVELUCK: It was traumatic and I do have very distinct memories and I also know from my mother that we did do a number of things to work out that trauma. My sister and I apparently invented a game that was called Teremoto, the earthquake where we would reenact the scenes of an earthquake. But yes, I have memories of that. You wake up and literally the earth is moving and you just don't know what is happening. It is just an indescribable experience if you haven't actually been in an earthquake.

WERMAN: Eliana Lovelock, Directs the Center for Consumers at the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. Thank you very much for speaking with us Eliana.

LOVELUCK: Thank you.

WERMAN: You can find out how to help Chilean quake victims at our website. We have a list of aid organizations that are accepting donations. That's at the world dot org.