“Valparaiso Connections III” brought us to Pedro Montt Avenue and the building of this imposing façade, Congreso Nacional de Chile (National Congress of Chile). The very fact it is in Valparaiso is a recollection of the former National Congress, disbanded by the ruling Junta on September 13, 1973. During the final years the Pinochet dictatorship chose Valparaiso for the site of a new congress building . The former National Congress building still stands in Santiago, now housing the offices of both houses of congress.
I am fascinated the façade is shared by two founding fathers of Chile, Bernardo O’Higgins and José Miguel Carrera. O’Higgins father never married his mother (in other words, Bernardo was a bastard). Cared for by his mother’s privileged family, he used his mother’s family name until the death of his father. Carrera, was also born of privilege, the acknowledge son of his father who attended the best schools, well positioned to lead the movement for Chilean independence. Benefactors looked after O’Higgins, they sent the seventeen year old to Europe to finish his education.
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In the chaos of war, in spite of ill-health and lack of military training, O’Higgins out performed Carrera as an officer through reckless bravery; surviving, he became an admired military leader through this example and ultimate victories. Carrera resented being overtaken (by a bastard), did not respect O’Higgins leadership and the two feuded. O’Higgins became the first head of the independent Chile while Carrera gathered a force. Exiled in Paraguay, Carrera marched across the intervening wastes battling indigenous forces. Eventually captured by those loyal to O’Higgins, Carrera suffered a mock trial and execution.
All five of Carrera’s legitimate offspring married and prospered, today his descendants number in the hundreds, being the majority of Chile’s ruling class. Today, the followers of Carrera (Carreristas) fight for his recognition against the O’Higginistas, who they despise. The balance is on display on the National Congress façade on Pedro Montt Avenue. The building is next to Plaza O’Higgins.
Measured by acreage, O’Higgins is far ahead of Carrera. The following photograph, from my posting “A Far Country VII: View of Tempanos Fjord” is from within Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, the largest protected land in Chile.
A large lake in Patagonia is named after General Carrera.
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