Chile: Neo-Nazi violence in Barrio Suecia

La Tercera, Chile/December 6, 2006
By Elliott Coon

Providencia’s Barrio Suecia, best known for its themed bars, nightclubs and fine dining, was recently the scene of two violent episodes.

Last week a U.S. couple eating on an outdoor terrace suffered an unprovoked attacked by about ten young people, and this past Saturday a fight broke out between a group of young people and an Avenida Suecia restaurant staff.

In both instances the young people provoking the fights were “skinheads,” often associated with Chile’s neo-Nazi groups.

Saturday’s incident began around 11pm when six skinheads verbally insulted two black waiters. The conflict quickly became physical when the skinheads began hitting waiters with hiking poles, which prompted waiters from neighboring bars to come to the defense of the black waiters. The attack left four of the skinheads, one waiter and one client injured.

Increased crime in the area led to a surveillance initiative launched in 2004. A government security study reported that incidents such as rape, sex-trade tourism, drugs and alcohol-related violence had grown by 59 percent in the area. (ST April 2006).

The increased security efforts have brought some success, but violent episodes continue to tarnish the neighborhood’s image. Many businesses complain of diminished clientele due to spreading fear of such crime. Others, however, say things have been slowly improving.

Recently, most of the property in Suecia has been bought by Chilean businessman Horst Paulmann, who intends to develop a series of high-rise buildings in the area. The extensive renovations proposed are hoped to eradicate much of the crime along with the thriving club scene. (ST April 2006)

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