Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by admin » Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:16 am

Ripsigg wrote:Thanks to El Puelche and Patagoiniax for keeping up with the updates regularly and a sense of what's happening on the ground, rather than what the newspapers and media have to tell us.

I am probably dead wrong on what I am going to say and it might even be offtopic, but it seems to me that is one salvo in a much bigger issue, one that even transcends border. I'm in a place where government workers are not getting their pay, prices of fuel and electricity are going through the roof, etc. Periodically, the local power company makes announcements that they are turning off the power grid because there is no money to buy fuel for the power plants. There frankly is no money for the local government anymore.

What does this have to do with Chile? It seems to me like Pinera is cutting the subsidies because there isn't enough money to pay for it anymore. It's why Evo tried to take away fuel subsidies recently in Bolivia. There is simply not enough "money" anymore because the world economy is crushed.

I think we will see more of this kind of thing as more and more subsidies get taken away and the cost of living becomes even more unbearable.

Again, I am probably dead wrong about how I am relating this to Chile, but it just seems like it fits to me.

Anyways, let's hope cooler heads prevail.
Na, Chile is not hurting for money like almost everywhere else in the world these days; however, the former government created this mess. These subsidies were political favors to capture regional votes.

On the one hand I am for more aid to the Patagonia in general (read remote points in Chile), including targeted subsidies where needed, as in those remote areas people still need assistance to live and work in them. They are on some level still being colonized. It is simply more expensive to live there. I am however not for say giving subsidies to one part of it, and not the other part of it. We are not hearing anything from say Futa, or Aysen, or wherever. Futa for instance does not even have a gas station. The nearest gas is either in Argentina or two hours away on bad dirt roads.

One thing people need to understand about tourism in the Patagonia is much of the money never goes in to the community. The big money in tourism are operators and hotels either owned by foreigners or by people from the Central region. A large percentage of the money from any given foreign tourist never really makes it in to the regional communities at all. It is in Santiago at best, if not in a foreign bank account. Locals across the Patagonia, often get cut out of the loop themselves because tour operators do not wish risk their tour on questionable quality of local services (often with very good reason, that the locals will admit to when pressed). This is especially true in cases of fly fishing lodges and rafting companies, but I am sure a lot of general tour operators also. Obviously, the tourist handling their own trip get to make more direct contact with the small biz, but the strike organizers are not completely off base as a strategy by blocking the tourist. There is economic grounds for it. The guys being hit the most by the subsidy, are not making millions of dollars off of tourism in the region. In fact, most likely gain little to nothing from tourism accept on a seasonal basis.

The U.S. ambassador supposedly went down there to negotiate for the release of some 150 Americans in the area. Have not heard that from anywhere else.
http://en.mercopress.com/2011/01/15/str ... anes-chile

I would also caution everyone again about the nature of the way protest develop in Chile. The end of an otherwise peaceful protest, is often where they turn violent out of frustration or need for some action after waiting so long. So just because things seem to be easing up, keep your eye open for sudden swings in the mood of the crowd, especially the demographic makeup. If women and older people start to disappear from the crowd (i.e. changes to mostly males under 30 years old), chances are bad things are going to happen at any moment.
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shackman
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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by shackman » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:34 pm

My wife and I are part of a large group of tourist scheduled to leave from the US for a tour arriving in Punta Arenas this coming Friday. Repeated emails to the tour operator in the US indicate 'All is a go as planned', we are told to get on the LAN flight and we'll meet you down there.

Is this a proper response given the information we all have been following on your forum? The warnings from various embassies, etc. Most of us have travel insurance, but it won't cover civil riots and civil disturbances. We would hate to pawns in a game and end up spending days in airports either in Puerto Montt or Santiago just to be sent home. Any comments?

Thanks

Trapped tourist
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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by Trapped tourist » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Hi there, I'm interested to know if there is anyone in Natales, in particular with links to the red cross, who can tell us how we can get out of PA. It seems that we are not being offered any real help here, everything seems to be happening in Natales. Although our situation isn't bad, health wise etc., financially we need to make a move. We really just want to get into Argentina. We have been on to our embassy but all we are told is contact redcross in Natales. Natales seems worse than here at the moment. The tourist who had an Argentinian vehicle have now left in a convoy. Last we heard they were allowed through. Any updates on travel for us here in PA please.

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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by Trapped tourist » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:48 pm

Another thing is that tourists are still being allowed to fly in here, obviously they are not being told the truth and it's adding to the list of evacuees.

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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by Trapped tourist » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:59 pm

In response to Shackman, i am a tourist trapped here and let me tell you that there is nothing to do. It may be that by the time your flight is due it will be sorted but we have been told the same all week. If you can change your plans I would because there is going to be chaos anyway once transport does resume. If you don't have time to waste,
ie. this is your holiday of a lifetime, I would make changes so that you don't waste it. Tour operators etc. from other countries don't know exactly what is happening. I'm not political, just traveling and got stuck here. I've not seen any violence but we don't know what will develop. The worst thing is not being able to go where you want. We are reliant on transport resuming and for example it's 'sunday' here......so that's it no talks for another day. We can't see an end to it yet,! Another thing to consider is that embassies are advising against travel here. I think if you check the small print your insurance won't cover you if you travel somewhere that your embassy has advised against. This could be a get out for you. Hope so and good luck.

shackman
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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by shackman » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:46 pm

Thanks for the advise and comments!

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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by Dutchguy » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:02 pm

Yesterday we walked with a group of 10 people (me and my wife, an Australian girl, a French guy and 3 German couples) from Puerto Natales to the Argentina border. We had no trouble passing the roadblock on the road to Punta Arenas, strikers seemed friendly and even waved to us. From the road block its roughly 15 km to the Chilian side of the border (Doretea). From there its another 3 km to the Angentina side, but we got a lift here from a friendly Chilian couple couple which saved the steep climb up to the Argentina border for some of us. The Argentina customs officers were very helpful in arranging a taxi for us to El Calefate (800 A$ per taxi).

When we left Puerto Natales yesterday moring we heard rumours about evacuating tourists with planes, but we didn´t want to wait for that because we had enough false hopes allready and the time it would take to do so was most likely too long. After 2 hours walking the rumour was confirmed as we rang our guest house in Puerto Natales for an update. Me and wife hasitated to return as we left some of our luggage as we had too much to carry all the way to the border. When reading the latest updates in this forum I´m hapy we went on. Now we are save in El Calafate and can resume our holiday (or actually our honeymoon). Yesterday we directly booked a retun fligth to Ushwaia form El Calefate, but now I read on this forum that it is not advised to go to the Argentina side of Tierro del Fuego either. Is this true, and why is this?

When stuck in Puerto Natales we contacted our Embassy who informed us that the European embassies in Chili were gathering for a mutual action (what ever that may be) towards the Chilian Authorities. We also contacted several Dutch newspapers, 2 national ones and 1 local one. We were contacted by the local one (Dagblad de limburger) which resulted in an article on the 2nd page of the saturday edition. Yesterday morning I was contacted by the Ducth television (Hart van Nederland) as well based on this article for an interview. But as we were allready waking I lost reception and no Interview took place. This moring I was contacted again by them and the Interview took place, but it will only be published on their internet side. According to my brother back in the Netherlands, not much attention is payed to the situation in the Dutch news. So it might be good that more people try to contact their national newspaper or TV stations.

When reading the slow progress of the evacuation on the forum, and our good experience of walking to the border I whould recommend the to walk to border for those who are fit to do so. But that is based on my personal experience yesterday, I don´t know what changes took place since.

Everybody good luck there.

concernedtravelagent
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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by concernedtravelagent » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:28 pm

I'm a US based travel agent and had clients caught in the strife in PA until yesterday. The only way they got out of Punta Arenas was to walk dragging their luggage to the airport (currently open and LAN flights are flying in and out as scheduled). I haven't gotten all the details but it took them 3 hours and went through 8 barricades. Note that they did this in the morning and with an English speaking guide.
Fortunately, I still had control of their air reservation and rebooked their reservation as needed.

If I had any more clients planning to visit the next few weeks, I will definitely recommend bypassing the Chilean side of Patagonia. No amount of money lost is worth the risk of getting stuck in an internal strife.

Sadly, there is "no sense of concern/urgency" from any US based tourism industry company but mostly because they haven't heard about it (I didn't until my clients called from PA on the 12th), or that these disruptions are simply common occurrences that it lost its impact.

I will update periodically the status of flights to/from Puenta Arenas as reported in my airline reservation system.

SAtraveler
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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by SAtraveler » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:56 pm

Have just heard a rumour from someone who has a friend living in Punta Arenas that the government has offered a 3% increase instead and this has caused diversion in the strikers. Believe it has been reported by a paper in Chile. Not sure if anyone over that side can provide any more info than we have in Ushuaia, here most people are just sitting around waiting to leave.

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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by Flapjack » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:04 pm

I also walked from PN to the argentinean border yesterday. Traveled with my girlfriend and a german man. Very similar experience to dutchguy. Walk was not easy with 70 pound bags (we didn't want to abandon clothing from our suitcases) but it could be much worse. No issues at the roadblocks. I will say there is almost no possibilty of hitchhiking until you pass the chilean border station. A nice swiss lady gave us a lift down the argie side of the hill though. The argentinean border agents will call you a cab, about 30 pesos into town. We got one for just 600 to calafate. Rio turbio to calafate buses only run in morning. A group of about 15 of us who fled PN tried to group up and hire a bus to calafate but the price was even worse. If you don't want to pay, you could probably hitch turbio-calafate. We got a bus from calafate to el chalten leaving at 6:30 getting in around 9:30. Really tough to find a room in chalten, though there are many campsites in town and the trails are close by. Note that all LAN flights calafate-BA are booked through the end of the month, but we found one later this week on aerolineas argentinas for just under 400USD per person.

If anyone is still considering the walk, that was my experience and it went smoothly, the only problem being how busy it is in el chalten. There were dozens of people making the same walk the day we did it. Hope all this gets resolved sooner than later without too much damage.

zvi
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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by zvi » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:31 pm

Me and my wife together with 7 more persons left this morning puerto natales by foot to the argentiniean border.

it a 24KM walk.

we came by foot to the first barricade and they let us pass easely with no problams.

some of the pepole got h ride from local up to the barricade in the exit from puerto natales.

we walked 2KM and got anothr 15KM ride up to Deritu (the border city)

then he let us go an additional 6 KM up to the border to the second barricade.

the driver didnt want pepole to see that he helped the turist that why he didnt took us up to the barricade.

there are cops at the barricade outside of natales and the chile pepole are not violent - they smile and let you go.

from the border we got a ride to rio turbio and from ther got a ride to calafate

in total left puerto natales at 11:30 in the morning and got to calafate by 20:30

there were more turist walking the way and they got rides from locals as well.

it would be better to have in the group a spanish speaker it helps to negotiate the rides on the way and the ride from the border to calafte on a resnoble price 150 pesos for a person in a privet car

we took 3 cars with 4 persons in each car.

hope it was helpful to anyone

zvi and liron

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Re: Civil Strife Southern Patagonia Jnuary 2011

Post by admin » Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:08 pm

Big thumbs up to px for all the hard work, in the finest chile forum tradition.
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