Puerto Montt, port for the Lakes Region, and Iquique of the northern Atacama desert were linked when the Chilean Army massacred striking Saltpeter workers, their wive and children where they gathered in protest of poor working conditions, December 21, 1907. Over 15,000 were gathered when the Army opened fire. Death certificates for the victims were suppressed by the government, over 3,000 were buried in a common grave without ceremony in the city cemetery.
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The connection is father-son. Puerto Montt, founded by German immigrants and named for the president at the time, Manuel Montt, who invited German farmers suffering from a famine with the goal of populating the region. Montt was successful in this goal. In 1907 his son, Pedro’s first official act as newly elected president was, with Saltpeter production at a halt, to send the army to Iquique to suppress striking workers.
Now, there is a monument to these workers, “Monumento al pampino salitrero,” above the city plain. Set apart and poorly maintained, trash strewn, is a nod to the importance of railroads for the transportation of the mined product. A few hundred feet away….
….on a round-about is the monument.
Fresh tribute wreaths are on the south side.
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