Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Security (Theatre) in Chacala

Yesterday's post about the gated development at the north end of Chacala inspired a few comments.

My son mentioned the concept of "security theatre". That's the idea that all the airport security stuff is bogus. For show. Theatre.

As proven by newspaper articles about what gets thru security. And the quality of the bozos doing security. And by the unaddressed problem that anybody can go up in a private plane, or buy a share in one of the "condo" planes, and take off with no inspection at all. So much for "Homeland Security". At least Mr. Bush's friends are profiting from the show.

Well, one of Chacala's "security threatres" is the security at the gate into the development. Hundred of workers come in and out every day. Mostly construction guys, and some housekeepers and gardeners. They all get out of the vehicles they arrive in, and leave a plastic ID with the security guy. Then they get back in the trucks, and go to work. It looks to me like security rarely compares the photos to the faces, and anyone can use anyone's card. At the end of the day, the workers pick out their cards as they leave.

I assume the idea is that if your card is left at the gate at the end of the day, you are still inside and they will look for you. Two problems here. One, no one appears to be checking that the card matches the face. And two, if you really want in, you can just walk down the path along the wall, until the wall ends, and step thru the barbed wire fence.

Another "security theatre" around here is the police. You occasionally see six or seven of them, armed with machine guns and riding around in the back of pickups. They don't seem to have a reputation for doing much crime solving. When there was an actual, serious, criminal event near here last summer, it wasn't the police who identified the perpetrator, and solved the crime. It was one of Chacala's local heros and the victim. Plenty of police presence, but not much useful action.

Here's another story, this one from last winter, during the rash of small-time robberies in Chacala. In the middle of the night a robber collected a bunch of items he wanted from the tiendas and restuarants. Then he used his cell phone to call a taxi to help him take away his loot. Someone had meanwhile called the police about the robbery. The police set up three road blocks between Chacala and the Crucero (highway intersection).

But guess what? Somehow the taxi, with the robber and his haul, managed to get thru all three roadblocks. Does that sound a little strange? The view from the locals is that the taxi driver and the cops were in cahoots with the robber. How reassuring.

This house, and the three other places I have rented here, all have metal grills on their windows. Sturdy ones. Probably pretty secure. Although you could probably hook a chain to one of the grills, and pull it off with a truck, or maybe even a pry-bar. But the grates look pretty solid, and feel comforting.

The bars feel comforting to me, now that there has a robbery at this house. Not while I was living here though. Last Spring there was a rash of small robberies in Chacala. Usually attributed to "druggies" from Las Varas or the gypsies. Before the robberies the bars made feel like I lived in a jail. Now I appreciate the safety aspect.

Right now, I like having the window grills and steel door, because it makes me feel secure about my computer and camera. Before I had such cool stuff, security didn't matter much to me. I would carry my money, wallet, and passport in my pocket if I left home. But it was difficult last winter, living in a tent with a computer. It was like having a baby to take care of.
I had to make arrangements for its care and supervision before I left it alone in the camp. Or take it with me.

It's funny (sort of), the only serious robbery I know about in Chacala was during my first winter here. There was a big social event where a number of people from the US were staying in some of the villas in the gated development. It that case $1500US cash, a camera and some other things were stolen. The concensus of opinion around here was that it was that the security guards were the prepatrators or that robbery and some other, earlier, robberies in the development. Apparently with pretty strong evidence for that belief.

They seem to have changed their security personnel after that robbery. I spend some time around the current security guys at the front gate. We pick up some of the trash throw out the car windows of people coming and going into the development. These security guys wear yellow tee-shirts and are the helpful-type security guys. The previous group wore neo-Nazi uniforms and carried big sticks. Billyclubs.

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