Friday, June 13, 2008

It's a matter of national security

Chile has gotten just a dose of US-based paranoia. Everything is a security risk, it would seem. I have tried on numerous occasions to take pictures in supermarkets, and have been told repeatedly "no se puede sacar fotos aca" (you can't take pictures here). I'm told to talk to a gerente (manager) who is never available, or is on such a complete and total power trip that all he can do is tell me that they have to protect their assets against security threats. Oh come on! It's a grocery store!

Then there is the phenomenon of the yellow-jacketed security force on the metro. Since the public transportation overhaul in Santiago, officially called "TranSantiago" but unofficially dubbed "TranSanfiasco" (you do the math), the metro has had to hire security to help with pedestrian traffic and people getting on and off the metro. And making sure we stand on the correct side of the yellow line that delimits the platform. The other role of the yellow jacket brigade, I found out yesterday is to prevent people from taking photos. Once again, I was told to put the camera away on the metro yesterday. Give some people just an ounce of power...

And yet, just a couple of hours later in Valparaíso, I witnessed a near international-incident, of five college-aged gringos doing what only college-aged gringos would think to do.

And then I took a photo of it.

Protect your supermarkets, your minimarkets, your metros, your busses. But then let five foreigners approach a military vessel in the most important port in the country, and let some gringa with good timing and a telephoto lens publish it on the Internet. Glad we've all got our priorities straight.


Carrie said...

That's pretty amazing. Great picture! I was expecting you to say they shot the kayakers or something.

Eileen said...

oh dear, no! that would have been terrible! Luckily Chile's pretty peaceful these days. Sure, we get the occasional riot, or teargas, but so far no boater-shootings.

Alejandro said...

A diferencia de EEUU, en Chile la prohibición de tomar fotos en los lugares más insólitos, incluyendo los cementerios, yo creo que obedece más que nada a un síndrome de "pequeños hitler", un modo que tienen los guardias de cuanta localidad pública que hay para reforzar su autoestima, como un resabio del autoritarismo que aún sigue presente pr estos lados.

Eileen said...

Jano, tienes toda la razón. Yo lo llamo "el síndrome de cachito de poder". Y se me había olvidado de que nos prohibieron sacar fotos también en el cementerio.

Gracias por dejar comentario!

Naughty Butterfly said...

I think you're so wrong about it. In the case of shops or subway, they don't prohibit taking photos for security reasons. Rather, they do it because they want to protect their intellectual property and image. These people don't think that you are plotting an attack. In Chile, if you want to make a film in a public or private place you you have to ask permission, and probably pay. For example, is not advertising films in the "Metro", or at the "Universidad de Chile", nor in the "Moneda". That is the point, to protect the public image, though probably many times they do so excessive.

In the submarine case, they generally warn that you don't pass the security radious, but how there is not an attack paranoia, often such approaches are tolerated.

By the way... it is a very good picture! there is a hight contrast between the stately and technological submarine and the fragile canoes moved by humans.

Eileen said...

I've asked repeateadly why I can't take pictures, and have been told it's for security reasons, so you may be right, but the security guards are not apprised of the reasoning. Many times the pictures I have wanted to take are of products themselves, like a shelf-full of yogurt, which favors my interpretation, but whatever! It's very hyperprotective in any event.

and thanks for the comment. The photo is the reward I get for being in the right place at the right time with my camera.