The Shock Doctrine

Disaster Capitalism in Action: earthquakes

China Cracks Down on Grieving Parents

Jake Hooker, New York Times, July 11, 2008

"There is no official figure on how many children died in schools during the powerful May 12 earthquake. Seven thousand schoolrooms collapsed, according to Chinese government estimates. Thousands of students may have died, if not more, leaving behind bereft parents looking for answers.

"During the brief period of openness in late May and early June, parents marched with photos of their children and gathered at the wreckage of schools to hold memorial services. They held sit-ins outside government buildings. In one town, the top Communist Party leader got down on his knees and begged parents to stop a march, but they refused.

"But with the Olympic Games in Beijing approaching, the issue increasingly looked like a time bomb for the authorities, and they scurried to defuse it. The Propaganda Department banned coverage of destroyed schools in the domestic press. Paramilitary police officers blocked foreign reporters from demonstrations. Activists who tried to gather and publish information about school construction were detained.

Firms Ready to Profit off of $78 Billion Sichuan Earthquake Reconstruction

Alison Leung and Fang Yan, Reuters, June 12, 2008

"Asked how China's most destructive earthquake in three decades would affect his firm, Ma Chunji paused, then chose his words carefully. 'It's a sad thing,' said the head of Sinotruk, the country's top truck manufacturer. 'But it will stimulate demand. Beijing planned originally to re-adjust the speed of growth and compress the size of infrastructure projects and that would have affected us. Now we face a positive.'

"As China rebuilds quake-hit Sichuan province -- where nearly 90,000 are feared dead or missing and 5 million were left homeless -- investors and executives alike ask the awkward but natural question of who will join an estimated $78 billion reconstruction that has drawn comparisons to Katrina and Kobe....

"'In the short term, there're all kinds of catalysts,' said UBS strategist Hubert Tang. "But in the long run, if you look at a two- to three-year perspective, manufacturers have products exposed to the reconstruction theme. Just look at the pure amount of money to be spent.'....

"Apart from obvious beneficiaries in cement and infrastructure -- a boost for the likes of Anhui Conch and Maanshan Iron and Steel -- also touted are telecoms gear providers such as ZTE Corp and vehicle makers such as Sinotruk. China has sketched out a blueprint for rebuilding that spans hospitals and roads to power grids and telecoms. Deutsche Bank's chief economist for greater China, Jun Ma, estimates the effort will require 539 billion yuan ($78 billion) over three years, about 28 percent of that on new housing alone."

Peruvian President Compares Earthquake to War, Calls for Less Democracy

Ángel Páez, Inter Press Service, September 4, 2007

"An earthquake is like a war situation arising from a foreign invasion. In situations like this we need a single chain of command, with less democracy and a more vertical command structure."
- Peruvian President Alan García

US-Based Aramark Builds McDonald's Inside Tent Camps for Peruvian Earthquake Refugees

Lucien Chauvin, Washington Post, August 26, 2007

"Each tent camp is like a small United Nations of aid and supplies. The Angulos' camp includes tents from Italy, a water system from Spain, and supplies from Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela. A Peruvian religious congregation and a U.S. mining company co-manage the camp with Aramark....

"Aramark was installing a satellite dish and computers this week to provide residents with Internet access. There have also been hamburgers and Happy Meals from McDonald's, which has set up temporary operations in Pisco, a city without fast-food chains."

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