Tag Archives: Santiago

Backpacking in Chile- The Top 5 Highlights

3 Oct

Firstly, I must say, at the risk of sounding cheesy and predictable, that Chile is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. And that’s pretty much for one reason alone: The Andes. They’re enchanting, breathtaking, and pretty much omnipresent in Chile- just take a look at the map. The country is bordered by the Andes to the East forming a natural border with Argentina, legendary for its precarious mountain crosses, which claimed the lives of many Spanish conquistadores. If all goes to plan I’d like to return to South America to trek in the Andes and take in their beauty in Argentina and Peru also. The mountains have a spirit, echoed by the friendly people you meet all over Chile, and that sort of sentimental kindness is infectious- I’m surprised they haven’t tried to bag it! So, with the Andes as my absolute number 1 highlight, here are my real top 5 destinations I visited during my time backpacking in Chile, from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama…

Stunning Andes

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New data: Overcrowding in Chilean jails revealed

11 Dec

Following Wednesday’s comment piece on the deadly prison fire in Santiago, the following figures have come to light, revealing the full extent of overcrowding in Chilean prisons. After at least 81 prisoners perished in the San Miguel jail fire, the nation will expect results from Sebastián Piñera’s pledge for prison reform. Click on the Many Eyes interactive graphic below to see how the data compares…

Prison Prisoners Capacity
Source: Fundación Paz Ciudadana 2009
Puente Alto 1,752 630
Santiago Sur 6,237 2,446
Valparaíso 2,898 1,178
Arica 2,104 1,092
San Miguel 1,654 892
Concepción 2,096 1,194
Antofagasta 1,155 68
Santiago 1,730 1,197 

Overcrowding in Chilean Jails Many Eyes

Chile prison fire warns world of overcrowding dangers

8 Dec

San Miguel prison in flames

Described as the worst tragedy in the history of Chile’s prison system, a large fire that broke out in a Santiago jail earlier today has killed 83 prisoners, and President Sebastián Piñera has warned the number may rise.

It is believed that the blaze at San Miguel jail was started when inmates set their mattresses alight after a fight between rival gangs got out of control. The scene outside has been described as chaotic, as police try to placate hundreds of relatives who have gathered to find out whether their loved ones have survived.

This sad event should warn governments of the risk of overcrowding in prisons, a long-standing issue in Chile which, according to Amnesty International, has the highest per capita rate of prisoners in Latin America. San Miguel jail has a capacity of 1,100 prisoners (and by some estimates only 700) but it housed 1,960 inmates when the fire broke out. Not only does overcrowding mean a higher risk of violence with more inmates living at close quarters than is advisable, but in this case it will also have greatly hindered the evacuation effort. Continue reading