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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.