Organized criminal groups are feeding and drugging would-be terrorists to maximize the damage that looting and fires have caused in the heart of Santiago, Chile, a local councilman told Breitbart News in an interview this week.
René Barba, who sits on the council of Lo Barnechea, a Santiago suburb, expressed alarm at the description of what is happening in Chile as an ongoing protest movement, while also acknowledging social problems in the country. Chileans took to the streets in revolt against a proposed hike in subway fares in Santiago in October. Conservative President Sebastián Piñera ceded to the demand and pushed even more reforms than the subway protesters demanded, hiring a brand-new cabinet and proposing the drafting of a new national constitution.
The average Chilean outraged by the propose fare hike went home, Chilean officials have denounced, leaving only a combination of criminals and foreign agents from communist Cuba and neighboring Venezuela fighting to tear down the fabric of Chilean society.
Mobs waving anarchist flags have burned down dozens of subway stations, hospitals, supermarkets, and churches in the past month. The church attacks have resulted in particular outrage as looters not only stole the holy artifacts necessary for Catholic Mass, but burned, beheaded, and desecrated statues of Jesus, Mary, and Catholic saints.
No one within the alleged protest movement has made a case for an existing relationship between proposed subway fare hikes and the Catholic Church.
Shocking images of looting have also flooded social media and Chilean television, including the below footage of a man stealing a washing machine and calmly stuffing it into his car, with no sign of police around to stop him.
The violence is particularly grave in light of the tremendous economic success that Chile has experienced for decades, the product of neo-liberal reforms that opened the country to foreign investment and freed the market for local talent.
Barba spoke to Breitbart News from Miami, Florida, where he is visiting to tell the story of Greater Santiago and seek support against what he calls an organized communist/socialist effort “to destroy our history.”
Barba is also in America advocating for the people of Lo Barnechea, one of the more remote suburbs outside of Santiago and one in which the rioters have faced significant resistance, failing to take over a local shopping mall after locals expelled them on multiple occasions.
“In Chile, nobody dies of hunger,” Barba noted in his remarks to Breitbart News. “In Chile, no one lacks a home. In Chile, more than 2 million immigrants have come in the last few years looking for work and better living conditions … no one flees Chile, on the contrary, people want to come to Chile.”
Barba said that, in his decades of experience in Chilean politics, he had never seen the native Chilean left behave the way looters are behaving today.
“If I see how the Chilean left has acted throughout history on the street, how they organize and react, it has nothing to do with what we are seeing now. Guys, for example, handing out food before the protests, alcohol, we assume drugs,” Barba denounced. “There are people [at rioting sites] there waiting for them with food and before that, they give them drinks, so they’re throwing parties in those places.”
“When you see how these youths and people at the protests are acting, these radicals and anarchists, you can tell that they are not afraid of anything,” he said. “They are given drugs so that they can create this impetus so that they face police fearlessly and enter burning buildings with no problem.”
Barba said that the protest movement is essentially made up of three types of people: “the biggest one, people who were protesting because of the need for improvements – for example, better salaries, or lowering the cost and improving the quality of public transportation, or people who have problems with the price of medicine.”
The two other groups, he said, are “common delinquents who take advantage of the situation” and “the one that worries us the most, and why I am here asking for support and help … an organized group with ties to Cuba and Venezuela.”
Chilean immigration officials announced in mid-November the expulsion of 50 foreign citizens, including 30 Cubans, found participating in looting and riots – a phenomenon finding parallels in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil, whose governments have been forced to deport dozens of Cuban and Venezuelan government agents seeking to generate violence in those countries against their moderate to conservative leaderships. Barba’s concerns also echo remarks by Chilean Congressman Luis Pardo Sáinz last month to Breitbart News, who expressed alarm at “very well organized, systematic, very violent activity” that evidence indicated was organized by Cuban and Venezuelan regime agitators.
Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has all but confirmed those suspicions.
Referring to the riots in Chile last month, Maduro said on a televised broadcast, “it’s going better than we thought it would, and so much is still left to come … [but] I can’t say any more, those are secrets of the super mustache.”
According to Barba’s tally, the riots have destroyed “70 subway stations, 140 supermarkets, practically all pharmacies, in 3 days … a week ago they burned 120 churches and destroyed all the iconography.”
Barba added that at least one of those stations was designed to be “anti-fire,” meaning that it would take industrial-grade explosives, not simply gasoline and a match, to burn it down – “that has to be a determined terrorist effort.”
He also noted that one region of Greater Santiago lost its only hospital, asking, “if you want improvements in health care, why burn the hospital?”
Left standing, he noted, is the headquarters of the Communist Party: “That headquarters is perfect. Nobody has touched it, and everything around it is burned down, destroyed.”
He noted that local police have compiled evidence pointing to the Venezuelans, including individuals with Venezuelan accents organizing riots and flyers instigating attacks on public places that use Venezuelan slang. The various nations of Latin America all have distinctive words and phrases they use that are often uncommon or unheard of in other countries.
“The word chévere [‘cool’] isn’t used in Chile, so when I see information circulating on the street demanding these people act, they use Venezuelan language, there are obvious Venezuelan activists involved,” Barba said.
On Thursday, Martí Noticias, a U.S.-based outlet directed at Cuban audiences, revealed that a Chilean online monitor investigation revealed dozens of Twitter accounts based in Cuba and Venezuela agitating for more violence and looting in Chile.
That positive reception from accounts in socialist and communist states differs significantly from the desperation and outrage that Chileans are expressing on local television.
“A bunch of people, thieves, every night, all the neighbors are suffering,” a woman told Chile’s Tele 13 in a broadcast. “We were watching how the poor workers … here were trying to defend themselves, defend their work, but it was impossible, they were organized gangs.”
“We are just tired, we’re so tired of these delinquents, and the government does absolutely nothing,” an older man says.
In a particularly moving interview, a man who identifies himself as homeless interrupts the broadcast to denounce the rioters.
“I am a person in a homeless situation but I am a decent person and I haven’t looted a single carton of yogurt,” the man says. “Whoever wants to steal, they’ll steal … this is unfathomable, yesterday they punched a woman and they are looting the businesses of small business people, the people who, if you steal, they won’t have a job tomorrow, people who don’t have insurance in their stores.”