Valparaiso Connections II

the Chilean difference

Ricaro’s name tag reads, “Oceania Cruises, your world, your way.”  I began my two previous blogs with Ricardo, “Valparaiso Separation” and “Valparaiso Connections I.” There’s a lot to be said for the Oceania tours.  Every one lead by a knowledgeable native of the host country, fluent in English, we became familiar, some more than others, with them personally, one non-representative example.  As were progressed down the coast from Iquique to Cape Horn we met a cross section of Chileans.  Unlike other countries, in Chile we met only unsmiling guards on the streets, no protest rallies.

As the tour bus is about to turn down Varparaiso’s Argentina Avenue, here is a flash forward to an elaborate demonstration tableau in the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada as a backdrop, rose as in the color of bull’s blood used as pigment.  The protest was in support for veterans and causalities of the ill considered 1982 Falklands War.  We zoomed by the Parque De La Memoria, dedicated to the 30,000 people “disappeared” by the same military dictatorship of the Falklands War debacle.

Our entry to both Valparaiso and Buenos Aires was a cruise over the secret graves of thousands dropped, alive, into the ocean from military aircraft.

What is most chilling is the silence about this throughout our travels in Chile.  No memorials, no protests, silence, only stone faced military guards.

The following is from Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, beneath which are catacombs piled with disarticulated skeletons buried and cared for in the Catholic tradition .

In Lima’s Plaza de Armas we witnessed this peaceful demonstration by pensioners protesting low payments.  To be honest, around this time, in Chile, there were huge demonstrations, hundreds of thousands in Santiago, about the same issue.

The Lima crowd was peaceful.

Watched by a heavy contingent of armed police supported by large “paddy wagons” to cart people away.  The vehicle marked “Prodegur” (i.e., prosecution) was one of them.  Given the history of government disappearances in the region, how brave the demonstrators must be.

Our vehicle turns onto Argentina Avenue, passing under Spanish Avenue and these supports bruiting the “Patrimony of Humanity” status of Valparaiso.

Turning onto Argentina Avenue, the overpass support columns announce Valparaiso’s status as a World Heritage Site. It is the old city around the port which holds this designation.

Other murals feature the zinc panels of the Old Town and cultural opportunities.  I noticed the pictured flooring is identical that of Hotel Brighton, see “Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill.”

I wonder how a man of a certain ago scrapes his knees, these appear to be homeless people.

Two men carry on conversation on Avenue Argentina, Valparaiso during the weekend Avenue Argentina street fair.

They gives us big smiles and waves when they spotted me / us.  The people were open and friendly.

16 thoughts on “Valparaiso Connections II

    1. Thanks for reading and your observation, Tom. I revised the text to be less specific. Though certain relics are sacred, for example the bones of a saint, a group of skulls and bones bring up a feeling of anxiety at the very least. I was working through that in the text and to contrast the catacomb remains with the anonymous dumping of a person from a military helicopter while alive. In the future I can improve it further.

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    1. Which protest? Peru or Chile? The people were gathering about pensions, not wages. The Chilean protests were huge and the government took notice. The Peruvian demonstrations were tiny and did not make the news. The small protest I witnessed in Peru was peaceful and we saw nobody detained. In both countries the pension question is complex. There, as well as here in the USA, there is the question of how to handle people who, for whatever reason, do not pay into the system. In Peru and Chile there are small monthly “old age” pensions to those people. Here in the USA we make no such payments. These payments are outside the context of my posting which is the difference between Chile and Argentina in recognition of the fate of more than 60,000 disappeared citizens. In my experience, the disappearances are talked about in Argentina. In Chile there is silence (and a small “Peace Park” at Villa Grimaldi were people were “disappeared”, in other words, tortured and murdered, their bodies secretly disposed of).

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      1. The whole pension, retirement system is so complicated. I have a friend who worked for his dad in a small business. There was no retirement or pension. By 50 years old, his got a job working for a large chain store and got some pension. His wife didn’t do any better. It’s so hard for people like them to retire with so little income. It’s not uncommon to see people work in their old ages.
        I’m fortunate to work for the public school for 25 years and bought the “air time” to make 30 years (doesn’t exist any more) for my retirement.

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    1. Last Saturday, Nazis were on the streets and highway overpasses of east Orlando, Florida, flying Nazi flags and Trump banners and mottos. They were reviled, though what makes them believe now is “their moment”? In the video clips the demonstrators were in their 40’s and above. Answer: the Republican National Committee (RNC) published a statement supporting the “patriotic” (The RNC’s words) January 6, 2021 rioters who desecrated the U.S. Capitol.

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