A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wine

Chile - Santiago pm

Plaza, Arts and Wine

10th Feb Santiago pm

After a coffee break in the museum, we headed round the corner past the Former National Congress Building of Santiago (ex Congreso Nacional), which is the former home of the Chilean Congress. Congress met in this building in central Santiago until Salvador Allende's socialist government was overthrown by Augusto Pinochet's military coup d'état on September 11, 1973.
During the Pinochet dictatorship, Congress was moved to new premises in Valparaíso; the old building was declared a national monument in 1976 and between 1990-2006 housed the ministry of foreign affairs. The Senate moved its offices in Santiago to this building in December 2000. On January 26, 2006 the Chamber of Deputies recovered its old offices. Work began on the original building under President Manuel Montt Torres (1851–1861), but the construction was not completed until 1876, during the presidency of Federico Errázuriz Zañartu. The building was destroyed by fire in 1895, rebuilt, and reopened in 1901, during the Parliamentary Era. It stands on Morandé 441 near the Blvd. Liberador Bernardo O'Higgins, partially surrounded by gardens that contain a variety of exotic trees and plant life. The eastern portion of the gardens was the former site of the Church of the Company. The building has a cross within a square plan, which creates four courtyards. It also features classical pedimented porticos with Corinthian columns on the north and east facades. The building and its gardens occupy a complete city block, which is adjacent to city blocks containing other nationally significant buildings such as the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palacio de los Tribunales de Justicia de Santiago and the building that currently houses the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino.
We went around the corner to arrive at the Plaza des Armas (lit Square of Weapons and originally a military training ground), which houses several important buildings. Our first port of call was the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago (Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago) is the seat of the Archbishop of Santiago de Chile. Four churches have stood on this site, each destroyed by a different disaster. Construction of the neoclassical cathedral took place between 1748-1800 (architects included Toesca and Celli); with further alterations (a splendid ornate facade by the Italian architect Ignazio Cremonesi in 1906) giving its present appearance. Previous cathedrals were destroyed by earthquakes. The cathedral, in the historic centre, faces the Plaza de Armas near Palacio Arzobispal de Santiago, and close to Parroquia El Sagrario, a Catholic temple and Chilean national monument. Its Baroque decoration rivals anything in Europe. There are ornate frescos on the ceiling, chandeliers, and gilded columns. It’s also rewarding to look down; there are intricate black and white patterns made of thousands of small tiles. The crypt below the main floor is starkly plain. The austerity seems fitting. The Metropolitan Cathedral stands on the northwest corner of the Plaza de Armas, the historic heart of Santiago. Its two towers stood tall when added in 1800, but are now dwarfed by modern office buildings next to it. As we were leaving the cathedral we headed right to the Museo de Arte Sagrado religious art museum, located behind the Cathedral, with a courtyard, colonial architecture and collection of Jesuit silverware, religious paintings, sculpture, and furniture.
Along the north side was a group of buildings. Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago (Royal Court Palace or Palace of the Boxes) (centre of pic) is located in the north central area of the Plaza de Armas. The building was built 1804-07 to house the royal courts of justice. It was the work of Juan Goycolea, a pupil of Italian-born Joaquin Toesca who designed nearby La Moneda Palace and the east facade of the Cathedral in the last two decades of the 18th century. The courts sat here for 2 years until Chile's first government junta, in 1810, assembled to replace the Spanish governor. Eight years later the Chilean Declaration of Independence was solidified and the building served as the meeting place for the new congress and the seat of government until 1846, until President Manuel Bulnes moved to La Moneda Palace. The Chilean National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional or MHN) is located in the Palacio de la Real Audiencia. Next to (left) it is the historic Post Office or Correo Central, located on what was the land lot originally owned by Pedro de Valdivia and where he built his house. The site was occupied by a building that served as the Governor’s and later the Presidential Palace until 1846. Construction of the current building, by Ricardo Brown dates to 1881- 1908, with a rococo facade and roof. Just behind was the Cuartel de Bomberos, HQ of the city’s oldest fire brigade and the first public building in the capital to incorporate private commercial outlets in an effort to generate a more stable income for the firemen, who serve on a voluntary basis even today. We decided on a quick walk around the Plaza before lunch, finding several interesting buildings and statues, notably “Al Pueblo Indigena” by Enrique Villalobos. The impressive Municipalidad de Santiago (City Hall) caught our eye on the east side; and we spotted the famous Chess Club of Santiago (chess = ajedrez) which meets on the outdoor stage on the eastern side of the plaza. A group of dancers were busy dancing Cueca (traditional Chilean dance), quite different from any other Latin dance. Cueca is unique in its waltz-like rhythm. On the doorstep to City Hall was the equestrian statue of Pedro de Valdivia (founder of Santiago: see history). A central fountain made us feel cooler, as it was becoming quite hot. We could see a nice arcade (Galerias) along the south side, the Portal Fernández Concha, which contained a mix of cafes and snack shops. We chose one, El Rincon del Portal, to have a typical Chilean lunch of chicken and bean salad.
post-office-santiago-plaza-des-armas_33450190683_o.jpgplaza-des-armas-santiago-chile_34259983895_o.jpg large_plaza-des-armas-santiago-chile_34219831826_o.jpg

After lunch we decided to head up towards the quieter Barrio Belles Artes area. Interestingly, as we headed along Merced we passed the Casa del Presidente Manuel Montt (Calle Merced 738), a controversial 2-term president in 1851 and 1861 who managed to annoy just about everyone, conservative and liberal! The only useful thing he did was to encourage German immigration into central Chile (Lakes District), which is why Puerto Montt is named after him. Then it was up to the beautiful Museo Belles Artes (which includes the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo), based in the relaxing green Parque Forestal. The beautiful Beaux Arts museum was free to visit and had more in than we’d originally thought. The glass roof with its interior balcony was very impressive and the side rooms had an interesting selection of artworks from the good (a few masters), indifferent (some local dignitaries paintings), avant-garde (actually quite good) to the bizarre and disturbing (some modern photos of bottoms!).
Museo Belles Artes is open Tue- Sun 10-18.45 and is free. The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Belles Artes or MNBA) is one of the major centres for Chilean and South American art. Established in 1880 (the oldest in South America), the current building, the Palace of the Fine Arts (Palacio de Belles Artes), dates to 1910 and commemorates the first centennial of the Independence of Chile. It was designed by the French-Chilean architect Emile Jecquier in full-blown Beaux-arts style and sited in the Parque Forestal which was designed by Jorge Enrique Dubois, who had been trained in the gardening school of Versailles. Behind it is located the Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo) of the University of Chile, also located the old School of Fine Arts (Escuela de Belles Artes). The Palacio de Belles Artes, the current home of the Museum is in Neoclassical Second Empire/ Baroque Revival, strongly reinforced with Art Nouveau details and touches of metallic structural architecture. The central entrance is through a gigantic enlarged version of Borromini's false-perspective window reveals from Palazzo Barberini, which encloses a pedimented doorway entirely surrounded by glass, a Beaux-Arts touch. Through a broken pediment the squared cupola rises to the top. The internal layout and the facade are modelled after the Petit Palais of Paris. The glass cupola that crowns the central hall was designed in Belgium and brought to Chile in 1907. The floor plan is a central axis marked by the entrance and a grand hall with a staircase to the second floor. In the grand hall, above a balcony from the second floor, there is a carving in high relief, which depicts two angels supporting a shield, located in the semi vault above the heads of two Caryatids that arise from the balcony, carved by Antonio Coll y Pi. Collections include works by Luis Vargas Rosas and Roberto Matta.
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo http://www.mac.uchile.cl/museo/mision-y-lineamientos
Both venues of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC), Parque Forestal and Quinta Normal are run by the Faculty of Arts of the University of Chile. As such, the Museum assumes the mission of the University: collecting pieces of cultural reality, promoting discussion and reflection about fields of human knowledge. MAC is focused on modern/ contemporary art, and has the responsibility to explore new art production, national and international, from a contemporary perspective. Over 2,800 artworks represent a historical reference. MAC has 1,000 engravings, 600 paintings, 130 drawings, watercolours, and temperas, and 80 sculptures. This includes works of prominent national artists Roberto Matta, Nemesio Antúnez, Matilde Pérez, José Balmes, and international artists Guayasamín (Ecuador), Hundertwasser (Austria), Noguchi (USA), David Batchelor (UK), and Jesús Ruiz Nestosa (Paraguay).

We collected our bags and, as we were hot AND thirsty, we walked through the Parque Forestal towards Merced to find famous Emporio La Rosa, reputedly the best ice cream in Santiago and one of the top in the world. Obviously we ordered some helados (ice cream) and a refreshing lemon drink. We then realised we were in Lastarria, so we had a quick recce of where to find Bocanariz restaurant for the night, passing the Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro and MAVI Museo de Artes Visuales/ MAS Museo Arqueológico de Santiago. The Cultural Foundation Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro (Santiago Archaeological Museum and Museum of Visual Arts) aims to conserve and promote heritage and contemporary Chilean art. The Plaza became a cultural landmark in the early 80s; an abandoned house became the Art Restoration and Conservation Laboratory. Later, alongside the Contemporary Arts Institute, art galleries, bookstores, handicraft stores and cafés were established, giving new life to the Lastarria neighbourhood. Since then, cultural activities related to arts, literature and music have developed in Plaza Mulato Gil. The building that houses MAS/ MAVI was designed by Chilean architect Cristián Undurraga Saavedra, with 6 exhibition halls on different levels connecting through a central space. Its location in Lastarria is alongside the National Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum, Gabriel Mistral Cultural Centre, and Telefónica Foundation. The “Chile Indígena” travelling initiative culminated with the foundation of Santiago Archaeological Museum (MAS). In 2012, the Foundation donated the collection to the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. MAS is now an exhibition space. Gabriela Mistral Cultural Centre (GAM) was originally built as the headquarters for the 3rd UNCTAD conference, held in Santiago in 1972, and consisted of a convention centre and 22-storey building. The building was finished in 275 days by several thousand volunteers, part of a propaganda initiative by the socialist government of Salvador Allende. The complex was damaged by fire in 2006 and rebuilt as GAM in 2010, named after the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. It looks like a giant rusty cheese grater from the street, with little plazas, murals, cafes and more.

BELLAVISTA Then, it was back over to Santa Lucia market (left) to buy shoes (Steve) and a vicuna cardi (me) before walking to Barrio Bellavista to visit the Lapis Lazuli shop http://www.lapislazulihouse.cl/eng/index.php (Bellavista 08. Second Floor) where we bought some Valentine Day earrings and cufflinks. From the foothills of the Chilean Andes, Lapis Lazuli House provides the world with fine lapis lazuli jewellery. Handcrafted in Santiago by expert artisans, its designs come from a three-generation family tradition of lapis lazuli jewellery. The natural stone, prized for its beauty and power, is mined from deep within the Andes, yet with its stunning shades of blue, one might believe it was pulled from the sky rather than beneath the earth. Located in Santiago de Chile, in the foothills of the Chilean Andes, Lapis Lazuli House has worked for over 40 years to provide fine, handcrafted lapis lazuli jewellery and ornamentation to clients worldwide. Their unique designs are individually crafted by Chilean artisans working with natural lapis lazuli, sterling silver, and semi-precious stones. Since it was founded, Lapis Lazuli House has supported dozens of local craftsmen in the design, manufacture, and promotion of their work, helping to reduce poverty in underprivileged areas. Lapis Lazuli House was founded by Luciana Celis in 1971. With encouragement from her father-in-law, Joseph Lamonica, Luciana established the first Chilean Lapis boutique in Bellavista, a well-known bohemian and artistic hub in Santiago de Chile. Lapis lazuli was declared the Chilean national stone in 1984. For their rich history and the quality of their fine Chilean handicraft, Lapis Lazuli House is recognised in prestigious travel guides such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, and Baedekers. In 2014, Lapis Lazuli House strengthened its international presence by establishing its first US subsidiary in Washington, D.C. The gemstone itself is considered semi-precious, and its colour comes from a combination of several minerals. While the rock is mostly composed of lazurite, from which it gains the iconic blue colouring, the presence of calcite is responsible for ivory streaking, and the golden hues are a result of pyrite. Today, lapis lazuli is mined primarily in Chile and Afghanistan. The deposits within the Chilean Andes are widely appreciated for their deep blue colouring. With the high yield of lapis stone from the Flor de los Andes mine (3,600 m above sea level), Chile has become the most respected source of lapis lazuli in the world. Then it was a walk back to the hotel for a rest before dinner.

We ordered an Uber to get us to Bocanáriz Wine bar, José Victorino Lastarria 276 http://www.bocanariz.cl. Bocanáriz is situated in the heart of one of the most beautiful and historic neighbourhoods in the city. The menu was designed around flavours that aim to enhancing the taste of the wine. Since opening, they have focused on being The Showcase of Chilean Wine, with one of the longest and awarded lists in the country and with a wine list awarded for the third year in a row as one of the best in the world, by the prestigious international magazine Wine Spectator. They have a selection of nearly 400 bottles, showcasing wine production in Chile, from acknowledged wineries with vast productions to signature wines of very small artisan producers. We chose their “Flights” menu where the wine and food are chosen to complement each other. (Actually I’d say the wine comes first and the food was chosen second or consider this, of the 19-page menu, 15 were the wine list!)
The food/wine as below!!
To start: visit Chile from sea to mountain range in gastronomy and wines, showing products and diversity in terms of peaks and expressions.
Entree: Trilogy of Sea and Mountain: Abalone in green sauce / Biscuit with chopped meat / Mature goats cheese & quince on toast Pairing 3 tasting
glasses of 50cc each:
- Sauvignon Blanc from Concha y Toro Terrunyo (Casablanca) 2015. Just 25 years ago there was only grazing and fruit in Casablanca Valley. In
1982 Pablo Morandé, Concha y Toro’s winemaker, planted Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, as the valley was perfect for cool climate
whites. The first wines (late 1980s) prompted more planting, curtailed only by a shortage of water. As there is no river in the valley, irrigation
is from artesian wells; one can now only plant if water rights have already been acquired. It therefore remains a small area of production, less
than 5% of Chilean vineyards. Casablanca has a cool climate. As the valley is open to the Pacific it benefits from thick maritime fogs, which can
remain until the afternoon, and cold winds off the ocean. The only problem is frost, which can strike into November. It is a great region for
white wine, and over 2/3 of the vineyards are white grapes, mainly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but it is also one the best sites in Chile
for Pinot Noir. The Concha y Toro Vineyard was founded by Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro and his wife, Emiliana Subercaseaux, in
1883 with grapes from Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, Merlot, Carmenère). The Concha y Toro family are connect-
ed to Chilean aristocracy; the director is Marquess of Casa Concha, a Chilean diplomat and ambassador; and the president Alfonso Larraín
Santa María is Marquess of Larraín in Spain. http://www.conchaytoro.com/descubre-vinos/fine-wine collection/terrunyo-sauvignon-blanc-en/
- Carménère Winemakers Black from Vina Carmen 2013 (Apalta). Winemaker’s Black expresses the energy and character of the Apalta Valley.
Deep and intense carmine red, the nose features ripe blackberries, blackcurrant, and cedar aromas that blend with light notes of paprika,
sweet spices, and lead. This wine of richness and volume with smooth, sweet tannins, has a lingering finish. Viña Carmen was founded by
Christian Lanz in 1850 and named in honour of his wife. In 1987 it became part of Grupo Claro, which has vineyards throughout Chile. In 1994
Vina Carmen was instrumental in rediscovering Carménère in their vineyards, specifically the Alto Maipo Valley, an event that returned this
variety, long thought extinct after the mid 19th century phylloxera infection, to the world’s wine heritage, becoming in 1996, the first winery to
create and sell Carménère wine. Winemaker is their premium label, produced by their winemaker, Sebastián Labbé. He was born in Chile, but
learned his craft at Margrain Vineyard, a boutique winery in Marlborough, New Zealand focused on producing white wines and Pinot Noir.
- Vinedos de Alcohuaz Grus (Syrah / Garnacha / Malbec / Petite Syrah) (Elqui) GRUS 2015 Viñedos Alcohuaz Grus, Elqui (Valley). Alcohuaz is the
name of the small village near the vineyard. Viñedos de Alcohuaz is a young project, the vines are 10 years old and planted on granite/ volcanic
soils in the semi-arid environment of the Elqui Valley. The vineyard is farmed organically-biodynamically. Marcelo Retamal of de Martino fame
is responsible for winemaking at this 18ha estate. GRUS is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Malbec, fermented in stone lagares and
aged 12 months in Nomblot concrete Eggs. The name GRUS comes from a constellation of stars - the crane bird. Elqui and Limari are out of this
world arid with less than 1 inch of rainfall a year (7 times less than the Gobi Desert!). The day-to-night temperature shift is about 16.1oC. Elqui
is unique because it has 3 distinct climate zones: Coastal (morning fog and less extreme temperature shifts); Mid-Valley (large temperature
swings (diurnal shift) and 330 days of sun a year); Andes (high elevation vineyards, up to 2133 m). Despite being within the Atacama Desert,
Elqui and Limari are ideally suited to vines. The valleys are actually considered cool climates because of the huge diurnal temperature shifts.
The Pacific Ocean breezes and morning fog, that appears along the coast around a 1⁄3 of the mornings through the year, help reduce the
intensity of the sun on the vines and make the valleys relatively cool for a richer, creamier Sauvignon Blanc, and dense, yet light, Syrah. The
Elqui Valley wine region is located 400km north of Santiago, at the southern edge of the Atacama Desert. Its latitude of 29° makes it Chile’s
northernmost wine region. Traditionally the region focused on producing Chile's trademark brandy, Pisco, but today Elqui Valley vineyards are
producing bright, aromatic wines. Elqui is famous for its bright sunshine, pure air and clear skies (the region is also home to a number of
astronomical observatories). Vineyards here receive far higher levels of solar radiation than any European wine region. The secret to
successful viticulture this close to the equator is altitude. Elqui's vineyards, some of the highest in the world, are up to 2200m above sea level,
which means warm, bright, days followed by cool, fresh nights. This diurnal temperature variation lengthens the grape growing season,
allowing the grapes time to develop intense varietal character, while retaining refreshing levels of acidity. There is no major north-south valley
here between the coast and the Andes, just a series of spectacular transverse valleys that deliver precious Andean melt-water to the vineyards.
Table wine was first produced here in the 1990s, when Chilean producers began to look beyond the Central Valley. The name Elqui means
'narrow valley' in the local Quechua language, which perfectly sums up the local geography as mountains line the valley on either side. Elqui
Valley features Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Carménère and Pedro Ximenez. http://vdalcohuaz.cl/
Main: We chose Strip roast in red wine with potato sweet potato and fried onion scales Pairing: 150cc Carménère 2014 Casa Silva Gran Terroir Los Lingues (Fundo Los Lingues, Valle de Colchagua), a smoky, savoury, black fruited Chilean Carménère. This is one of the finest examples of Chilean Carménère. The grapes are from vineyards planted in Los Lingues, 20km north-east of their Angostura site. Here the terroir gives the Carménère a smokier style with blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Emilio Bouchon arrived in Chile from St. Emilion, Bordeaux, in 1892, and his family has been making wine here ever since. They were pioneers in the Colchagua Valley, although it was not until 1997 that Mario Pablo Silva, the eldest son of the 5th generation, and his father, Mario Silva, shared the dream of making wines under their own label. The latter has dedicated much of his life to recovering the old vineyards and wine cellar and acquired a unique understanding of the terroir in Colchagua Valley. His other sons Francisco, Gonzalo, and Raimundo joined soon after. From the original vineyard site and winery in Angostura, new sites have been planted in Los Lingues, Lolol and Colchagua’s first coastal estate at Paredones. With the “Microterroir Project” and “Carménère Clone Project” now fully underway, the future is bright for Vina Casa Silva, which remains a family business. Vina Casa Silva is the most awarded winery in Chile. Located in the birthplace of rural Chilean tradition, Colchagua Valley has received more international awards and accolades than any other Chilean wine region. Colchagua Valley is divided into the Andean sector, influenced by the mountains, a central sector on the flatlands, and a coastal sector, influenced by the Pacific Ocean. Los Lingues, on the northeast border of Colchagua Valley at the foot of the Andes Mountains, has its own microclimate, which makes it a small sub-valley. Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon planted are of very high quality and character. Los Lingues Carménère has earned countless accolades at home and abroad. There is also a small amount of very good Petit Verdot grown here as well as an experimental garden. The soils are of alluvial-colluvial origin, composed of ancient terrace formations with low organic matter and low-medium fertility. The texture varies from fine sand, clay, and angulated granite stones with excellent drainage. Because the property is located at the foot of the mountains, it has a unique and irregular topography, making it a fascinating place to conduct micro-terroir studies. The climate is temperate Mediterranean. The influence of the Andes is felt in cool nights with day-night temperature oscillations up to 20oC, ideal for fruit concentration in grapes. The opening between the mountain ranges creates a breeze that keeps the temperature around the grape clusters uniform and ensures excellent health conditions. The average rainfall is lower here than in the rest of the valley. The wines are of exceptional quality with tremendous body and colour, natural sweetness and soft tannins. http://www.casasilva.cl/company.html

Dessert: Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream Pairing: Tasting glass (50cc) Armidita Pajarete (Moscatel) (Huasco) 2013 http://armidita.cl/en A
lovely sweet muscatel from Viña Armidita, a family-owned company located in the heart of the Atacama Desert, in the high Huasco Valley. Sunlight and sweetness combine with a balanced sourness to produce unique wines that express the terrúa of an unparalleled geography. Pajarete is a sweet full-bodied wine, elaborated with muscatel grapes. Armidita distinguish themselves as a winery that rescues Denominations of Origin that seem lost, infusing them with new life through an artisanal winemaking process seeking to recapture the qualities of the Muscatel. The winery was established by Nicolás Naranjo, a lover of winemaking. In 1873 he built the Armidita canal, 14km long, to irrigate his 250hc estate. He invited a vintner from Spain to plant the first vines. In 1880, Nicolás named the winery Armidita, in honour of his daughter who died age 11, and in 1888 he produced the first Chilean wine to receive an award in France. Together with Domingo Concha y Toro, Ismael Tocornal and Domingo Errazuriz, Don Nicolas is considered a pioneer of Chilean winemaking. After Don Nicolas, the estate had two owners before Don Gudelio Ramirez Muñoz. Attracted by the fertile Huasco valley, he acquired the estate in 1972 with his wife, Violeta Ibarbe, who had worked with her father in the vineyard and winery, and started to make pajarete. Nowadays, Gudelio and his daughters Sandra and Cecilia run the winery. History of Pajarete- Around the site of the town of Vallenar, 17th century Jesuits brought wine production from Andalucía (Monte de Pajarete) to El Carmen valley, as a sacramental wine. Its legacy was passed through generations in Chile’s Huasco Alto valleys, with different types of pajarete. Originally of rustic production (sun dried, sieve-crushed) with issues of oxidation, poor fermentation or dirty casks, it was long considered an inferior wine. It was illegally made and sold for nearly 200 years before the Chilean government trained producers in better production and made a legal and quality wine. Over 90% of pajarete is made in the Atacama/ Coquimbo area, specifically Huasco.
After a very pleasant meal we ordered (with a little difficulty) an Uber back to the hotel.

History of Santiago
European conquest and colonisation (1540–1810)
Pedro de Valdivia (right), a captain in the army, realising the potential for expanding the Spanish empire southward, and despite de Almagro’s failure, asked Pizarro's permission to head to the southern lands. With 200 men, he subdued the local inhabitants and in 1541 founded the city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura, now Santiago. Valdivia could see the agricultural richness of the land and continued to explore west of the Andes, founding over a dozen towns and establishing the first encomiendas. The greatest resistance came from the Mapuche people, who opposed European conquest and colonisation until the 1880s; known as the Arauco War. Valdivia died at the Battle of Tucapel, defeated by Lautaro, a young Mapuche toqui (war chief), but European conquest continued. Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia was from Extremadura (an impoverished region of Spain, also the birthplace of Pizarro) and was sent by Francisco Pizarro from Cuzco, reaching the valley of the Mapocho on 13 December 1540.
4ad023b0-8f12-11eb-95ca-e74b71dc51f6.pngValdivia camped by the river in the slopes of the Tupahue hill and met with the picunches (natives) who inhabited the area. Valdivia summoned the local chiefs and explained his intention to found a city on behalf of King Carlos I of Spain, as the capital of his governorship of Nueva Extremadura. The natives recommended a small island between two branches of the river next to a small hill called Huelén (Santa Lucia). On 12 February 1541, Valdivia officially founded the city of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo (Santiago of New Extremadura) in honour of St. James (Santiago being the Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu, "Saint James") and entrusted the grid layout of the new town to master builder Pedro de Gamboa. Gamboa designed a Plaza Mayor, around which plots for the Cathedral and the governor’s house were selected. In total, 8 blocks north to south, and 10 east to west, were built. Each solar (quarter block) was given to settlers, who built houses of mud and straw. Valdivia left months later to go south with his troops, leaving Santiago unprotected. The indigenous hosts of Michimalonco used this to their advantage, and attacked. The city was destroyed by the natives, but the Spanish garrison of 55 managed to defend the fort, led by Inés de Suárez, mistress to Valdivia. When she realised they were being overrun, she ordered the execution of all native prisoners, put their heads on pikes and threw a few heads to the natives. In face of this barbaric act, the natives dispersed in terror. The city was rebuilt, giving prominence to the newly founded Concepción, where the Royal Audiencia of Chile was founded in 1565. However, the constant danger faced by Concepción, due to its proximity to the War of Arauco and a succession of devastating earthquakes, would not allow the definitive establishment of the Royal Court in Santiago until 1607, reaffirming the city's role as capital.
Inés de Suárez, defending Santiago against a Mapuche attack in 1541
Inés Suárez, (c.1507–80) was a female Spanish conquistador who participated in the Conquest of Chile with Pedro de Valdivia and successfully defended Santiago against a Mapuche attack in 1541. She was born in Extremadura, and came to America c1537 in search of her husband Juan de Málaga, who had left with the Pizarro brothers. After searching South America, she arrived in Lima in 1538. Her husband was already dead, so in 1539 she applied for and was granted, as the widow of a Spanish soldier, a plot of land in Cuzco and encomienda rights to some Indians. She became the mistress of Pedro Gutiérrez de Valdivia (1497–1553) after he returned from the Battle of Las Salinas (1538). Although they were from the same area of Spain and at least one novelist tells of a long-standing love affair, there is no evidence they had met prior to this. Valdivia was a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. He was sent to South America in 1534, as lieutenant under Francisco Pizarro in Peru. There he took part on the side of Hernando Pizarro against Diego de Almagro in the battle of Las Salinas in 1538, which saw Almagro defeated and captured. In late 1539, encouraged by his captains, Valdivia requested official permission for Suárez to become a part of the group of Spaniards he was leading south into Chile. After the failure of Diego de Almagro’s expedition of 1536, the lands south of Peru remained unexplored. Valdivia asked governor Francisco Pizarro for permission to complete the conquest of that territory. He got his permission but was appointed only Lieutenant Governor, and not Governor, as he had wanted. Valdivia had to sell the lands and mine that had been assigned to him to finance the expedition. A shortage of soldiers was problematic as they were uninterested in conquering what they were sure were extremely poor lands. Furthermore, while he was preparing the expedition, Pedro Sancho de Hoz arrived from Spain with a royal grant for the same country. To avoid difficulties, Pizarro advised the two competitors to join their interests, and in 1539, a partnership was signed, leaving Cuzco in 1540, with seeds, swine, brood mares, 1000 native Indians, a few Spaniards and Inés de Suárez. En route 150 more Spaniards joined. Valdivia resolved to avoid the road over the Andes, which had proved fatal to Almagro, and set out through the Atacama Desert, where Suarez found water. On the way, de Hoz, seeking sole leadership, tried to murder Valdivia but failed (due to Suarez), and had to accept subordinate status. The natives, having already experienced the incursions of the Spaniards, (Diego de Almagro, 1535/6) burned their crops and drove off their livestock, leaving nothing for Valdivia’s band and the animals which accompanied them. The natives were not pleased by the return of the Spaniards due to the maltreatment they had suffered under Almagro, but Valdivia was able to regain their trust. After 5 months, they arrived at the Copiapo valley, where Valdivia officially took possession of the land in the name of the Spanish king. Soon after they continued south and in 1540, reached the valley of the Mapocho river, where they established the capital of the territory. The valley was extensive and well populated with natives. Its soil was fertile and there was abundant fresh water and two hills provided defensive positions. Soon after their arrival, Valdivia tried to convince the native inhabitants of his good intentions, sending out delegations bearing gifts for the caciques (chiefs). In 1541, Valdivia officially founded the city of Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura. After arriving in Chile, Valdivia and his men went out of their way to restore the relationship between conquistador and Indian that had been so harmed by Almagro. At first, Valdivia was successful in his efforts to deal benevolently with the native population, but this peaceful coexistence did not last long. One of the first orders Valdivia gave was to have a ship constructed at the mouth of the Aconcagua River to send to Peru for further supplies and to serve as a courier service, but soon was obliged to return in haste to Santiago to subdue a mutiny.
4b0f4f90-8f12-11eb-95ca-e74b71dc51f6.pngBernado O’Higgins (the Liberator) portrait in National Museum
Valdivia tried to convince the natives of his good intentions, sending delegations bearing gifts for the caciques. The natives kept the gifts but united under the leadership of Michimalonco, attacked the Spaniards and were at the point of overwhelming them. Suddenly, the natives threw down their weapons and fled. Captured Indians declared that they had seen a man, mounted on a white horse and carrying a naked sword, descend from the clouds and attack them. The Spaniards decided it was a miraculous appearance of Santo Iago (Saint James). On learning of Francisco Pizarro's murder in 1541, Valdivia appointed himself governor of the territory by the council of Santiago, and removed Chile from Peruvian control, acknowledging only royal authority, an arrangement the Crown found acceptable. Secure in his own domain, he pushed exploration south and aided the development of the country by dividing the land among his ablest followers and parcelling out the Indians in encomiendas. Chile possessed minerals, but Valdivia subordinated mining to agriculture and stock raising. Still, the colony was not prosperous; gold was scarce and the Araucanians warlike. In August 1541, when Valdivia was occupied on the coast, Suárez uncovered another plot to unseat him. After the plotters were taken care of, Valdivia turned his attention to the Indians and invited seven caciques to meet with him. When the Indians arrived, Valdivia them held as hostages for the safe delivery of the provisions and the safety of outlying settlements. On September 9, Valdivia took 40 men and left the city to put down an uprising of Indians near Aconcagua. A young yanakuna brought word to Captain Alonso de Monroy, who had been left in charge of the city, that the woods around the city were full of natives. Suárez was asked if she thought that the Indian hostages should be released as a peace gesture. She replied that she saw it as a bad idea; if the Indians overpowered the Spaniards, the hostages were their only bargaining ship. Monroy accepted her counsel and called a council of war. The Spaniards rode out to engage the Indians, led by Michimalonco. The Mapuche forced the Spanish to retreat across the Mapocho River and by mid-afternoon, they were backed up to the plaza itself. All day the battle raged. Suárez recognized the extreme danger of the situation and offered a suggestion. All day the 7 caciques who were prisoners of the Spaniards, had been shouting encouragement to their people. Suárez proposed decapitation, followed by tossing their heads out among the Indians to frighten them. There was some objection to the plan, since several men felt that the fall of the city was imminent and that the captive caciques would be their only bargaining point with the Indians. Suárez insisted that hers was the only viable solution to their problem. She then went to the house where the chieftains were guarded by Francisco Rubio and Hernando de la Torre and gave the order for the execution. Mariño de Lobera tells that the guard, La Torre, asked, "In what manner shall we kill them, my lady?" "In this manner," she replied, and, seizing la Torre’s sword, she herself cut off the heads. After the seven were decapitated and their heads thrown out, Suárez donned a coat of mail and helmet and, throwing a hide cloak over her shoulders, rode out on her white horse as a brave captain. The Spanish took advantage of the confusion among the Indians, and spurred on by the woman who now led them, succeeded in driving the now disordered Indians from the town. Valdivia arrived shortly after, but all that was left of the town was 3 pigs and 2 chickens. Valdivia rewarded Suárez with an encomienda. Although there is a good deal of consistency in the accounts, given the passage of time and the Spanish tendency to embroider their reports, it is likely there was some exaggeration in the telling, but certainly Suárez played a crucial role in the salvation of Santiago in 1541. Had it not been for her, the city would have certainly fallen and the Spaniards most likely slaughtered by the Mapuche, ending, at least for a time, the southward colonial expansion. This event was a setback in the conquest of Chile. The resistance of the Indians became daily stronger, and as the ship he had constructed in Aconcagua was also destroyed by the natives, Valdivia sent his lieutenant Alonso de Monroy and five followers to seek reinforcements in Peru in 1542. However, on account of a civil war there following the defeat of El Mozo Almagro by Cristóbal Vaca de Castro, Monroy could not obtain much aid, and returned in September 1543, with only 70 horsemen, and a vessel with provisions and ammunition to the port of Aconcagua. In 1543 new arms and equipment arrived from Peru and Valdivia started rebuilding Santiago. He sent an expedition, led by Juan Bohon, to explore the northern region of Chile. This expedition founded La Serena halfway between Santiago and the northern Atacama Desert, in the valley of Coquimbo. Valparaíso, though used as a port by the Spaniards from the start, had no considerable population until much later.
Detail of cathedral floor
In 1544 Valdivia sent a naval expedition consisting of the barks San Pedro and Santiaguillo, under the command of Juan Bautista Pastene, to reconnoitre the southwestern coast of South America, ordering him to reach the Strait of Magellan. The left sail from Valparaíso and although Pastene did not reach his goal, he explored much of the coast. He entered the bay of San Pedro, and landed at what now are Concepción and Valdivia. Encountering severe storms further south, he returned to Valparaiso. In 1546 Valdivia set out, with 60 horsemen, native guides and porters, and crossed Itata River. He got to Bío-Bío River where he planned to found another town, but was stopped by Mapuche warriors at the Battle of Quilacura. Realising it was impossible to proceed in hostile territory with so limited a force, Valdivia returned to Santiago. Shortly after he found a site for a new city (now Penco) and the first site of Concepción, subduing the country between Santiago and Maule River. To secure further aid and confirm his claims to the conquered territory, Valdivia returned in 1547 to Peru, leaving Francisco de Villagra as governor in his stead. There he tried to gather more resources and men to continue the conquest. The Gonzalo Pizarro rebellion had begun in Peru, and the insurgents attempted unsuccessfully to win Valdivia to their side. In 1548 he joined the royal army of Viceroy Pedro de la Gasca, and his military experience counted heavily in the victory of Xaquixahuana. A discontented faction from Chile managed to have him tried in Lima, accused of tyranny, malfeasance of public funds and public immorality (as, though married, he was living with Inés de Suárez "in the manner of man and wife”). In exchange for his freedom and confirmation as Governor, he relinquished Ines and on his return to Chile in 1549 married her off to one of his captains, Rodrigo de Quiroga. As recognition for his services Valdivia was appointed adelantado and won royal assent to his coveted title of Royal Governor of Chile, returning with his position and prestige considerably strengthened. He was forced to bring his wife to Chile, who only arrived after his death in 1554. In Chile the Spaniards' greed quickly surfaced with rumours of gold at the Marga Marga mines, near Valparaiso, and settlers began forcing the natives to work there. Arauco War In 1549-53, after his arrival back in Santiago, Valdivia again undertook the conquest of southern Chile, but faced heavy resistance from the indigenous population. He clashed with the Araucanians beyond Bio-Bio River in 1550 when he defeated them but by no means broke their will to resist, a will that grew stronger when the conquistador established settlements in their territory. In spite of fierce resistance at the Battle of Penco, he founded Concepción in 1550 and more southern villages of La Imperial, Valdivia, Angol and Villarrica, in 1551/2. After a brief stay in Santiago, Valdivia returned to the south in December 1552.
View from Cerro Cristobal (by gondolas).View of Santiago from Cristobal.
To keep the connection between Concepción and the southern settlements, Valdivia built forts in Cordillera de Nahuelbuta, with one at Tucapel in 1553. On the advice of the cacique Colocolo, the Araucanians united their efforts choosing as toqui (general-in- chief) the famous warrior Caupolicán. Valdivia had earlier captured Lautaro, an Araucanian youth who became his groom. Lautaro secretly remained true to his own people and rejoined them to show Caupolicán a means by which Valdivia could be defeated. The Araucanians revolted and fell on the over- extended Spanish forces in the south. The first sign that a big rebellion was coming was the attack on the fort at Tucapel, where they destroyed the fortress in 1553. Valdivia was at Concepcion when he received notice, and, believing that he could easily subdue the uprising, hurried south with only 40 men to stamp out the rebellion. Near the ruins of the fortress Valdivia gathered the remnant of the garrison, but he was ambushed and the Battle of Tucapel would be Valdivia's last. As each attack was beaten off by the Spaniards, Lautaro sent another, until the entire Spanish company was massacred and Valdivia was captured alive along with a priest by the Mapuche.
Statue of Valdivia in Plaza de Armas
There are many versions of Valdivia's death. According to Jerónimo de Vivar, a contemporary author, the execution of Valdivia was personally ordered by Caupolicán, who had him killed with a lance and put his head, along with those of two of his companions, on display. Another contemporary chronicler, Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo writes that Valdivia to evacuate all Spanish settlements on Mapuche land, but this offer was rejected and the Mapuche cut off his arms, roasted and ate them in front of him before killing him and his priest. Alonso de Ercilla says that Valdivia was killed with the blow of a club, then a warrior cut open his breast and passed his still quivering heart to the toqui, who sucked its blood. The heart was passed round from one to another, and a drinking cup was made from his skull. Another contemporary chronicler, Pedro Mariño de Lobera, wrote that Valdivia offered to leave the lands of the Mapuche but was killed by a warrior named Pilmaiquen, who said that Valdivia could not be trusted to keep his word. Lobera adds that a common story in Chile at the time was that Valdivia had been killed by forcing him to drink molten gold. The fact remains that probably all the stories are apocryphal, since none of Valdivia's party survived the battle, and the only witnesses were Indians captured in subsequent battles. The site of his death is close to the modern city of Valdivia. Suarez led a quiet life in Santiago, held in great esteem as a valiant woman and great captain. After Valdivia’s death, her husband became Royal Governor, in 1565 and 1575. They both died in Santiago, within months of each other, in 1580.
The Spanish never subjugated the Mapuche; all attempts, military and peaceful, failed. The Great Uprising of 1598 swept away all Spanish presence
south of the Bío-Bío River except Chiloé (and Valdivia which was later re-established as a fort), and the great river became the frontier between Mapuche lands and the Spanish realm. North of the line cities grew up, and Chile became an important food producer for the Viceroyalty of Peru. Valdivia became the first governor of the Captaincy General of Chile, under the viceroy of Peru and, through him, the King of Spain and his
bureaucracy. Responsible to the governor, town councils known as Cabildo administered local municipalities, the most important of which was Santiago, the seat of a Royal Appeals Court (Real Audiencia) from 1609 until the end of colonial rule. Chile was the least wealthy realm of the Spanish Crown for most of its colonial history. Only in the 18th century did a steady economic and demographic growth begin, an effect of the reforms by Spain's Bourbon dynasty and a more stable situation along the frontier.
View of Sky Costanera and Giratorio, Casa Colorada, La Moneda Palace (and Constitution Square)

detail of metro system and front of La Moneda Palace

Posted by PetersF 15:28 Archived in Chile Tagged museum cathedral chile santiago wine plaza Comments (0)

Chile - last day in Santiago

La Moneda, Cousino Macul

17th Feb Santiago LA MONEDA AND PLAZA

Our last day in Santiago and our last chance to watch the guard changing ceremony. Having taken the metro we arrived in good time, although there were already quite a few people there. It was, however, worth the wait as it was an impressive show with horses, marching bands, etc. The palace itself is quite interesting too! La Moneda Palace/ Palacio de La Moneda is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile and General Secretariat. It occupies an entire block in downtown Santiago, in the Civic District between Moneda (North), Morandé (East), Alameda del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins (South) and Teatinos street (West). La Moneda, originally a colonial mint (Moneda = coin) 1814-1929, was designed by Italian architect Joaquín Toesca. Construction began 1784 and it was opened in 1805. In June, 1845 under president Manuel Bulnes, the palace became the seat of government and presidential residence. In 1930, a public square, Plaza de la Constitución was built in front of the palace. After the presidency of Gabriel González Videla it ceased to be a presidential residence. In the military coup d'état of 1973, the Chilean Air Force bombarded the palace. Reconstruction was completed 1981, although some bullet marks have been preserved. During the restorations, an underground office complex (bunker) was built under the front square to provide a safe escape for dictator General Augusto Pinochet. President Ricardo Lagos opened the inner courtyards to the public during certain hours of the day. Lagos also re-opened Morandé 80 gate (used by Chilean presidents to enter the palace, eliminated during the restoration as not being in the original plans, but restored for its symbolism as the gate through which Chilean Presidents entered La Moneda as ordinary citizens). It was also the gate through which the body of President Allende was taken out after the 1973 coup. A traditional changing of the guard ceremony takes place every two days (odd days in odd-number months, even days in even-number months, inc Sun, at 10 a.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. on w/ends). A formal ceremony dating back to 1850, it lasts 30 mins and includes a band, troops with horses parading in the square, pomp and circumstance. Carabineros de Chile provides the guards and band for the ceremony.
The Palacio de la Moneda’s main façade faces Moneda street, and its rooms are distributed along the transverse and longitudinal axes forming several patios; Patio de los Cañones (entrance hall); a covered patio; Patio de los Naranjos (presidential ceremonies). To celebrate the bicentenary of Chile’s independence 2010, a public square, Plaza de la Ciudadanía (Citizens Square) was constructed on the south side of the palace down to the Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins or “Alameda”. Designed by Undurraga Devés Arquitectos, the Plaza has been called “one of the most important public works in the last century”. Paths leading down from the plaza give access to the underground Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Centre.

We had booked a trip to the Cousino vineyard for late afternoon, so decided to head back towards the Plaza des Armas to admire the buildings.
We went into the beautiful Post Office (left) built 1881 in Beaux Arts style (interior right) and then decided to try the National History Museum, which was not rated good on most websites, but had the advantage of being free! Personally I think they did it an injustice as it was surprisingly well done, dealing with the history of Chile in a chronological manner. There were a number of quite nice artefacts, including some prehistory ceramics, some great paintings (mainly of kings and governors, but notably also a famous one of Donna Ines Suarez defending Santiago in the Mapuche attack). As we headed towards the end of the upper floor an attendant approached us and asked if we’d like to go up the bell tower. Of course we did! Only 3 people are allowed up at a time, so we were quite lucky. The spiral staircase up 3 flights opened to a small balcony and a beautiful view of the Plaza below. When we’d finished we went back down and found that he was refusing everyone else; it looks like it’s up to the attendant, so we were really privileged.


Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago (Royal Court Palace or Palace of the Boxes) is a building located in the north central area of the Plaza de Armas. The building houses, since 1982, the National History Museum of Chile. The building was built 1804-07 to serve as the home for the royal courts of justice. It was the work of Juan Goycolea, a pupil and disciple of the Italian-born Joaquin Toesca who designed the nearby La Moneda Palace and the east facade of the Cathedral in the last two decades of the 18th century. The courts sat here for 2 years until Chile's first government junta, in 1810, assembled to replace the Spanish governor. Eight years later the Chilean Declaration of Independence was solidified and the building served as the meeting place for the new congress and the seat of government until 1846, until President Manuel Bulnes moved to La Moneda Palace. The Chilean National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional or MHN) is located in the Palacio de la Real Audiencia. The institution was founded 1911 and consists of the former palace's old rooms used as exhibition spaces for artefacts relating to the history of Chile. There is a room of archaeology/ethnology, as well as rooms for coins/medals, army stuff, paintings (artisanal), conquest, church and state, colonial life, republican Chile, popular front, etc. http://www.museohistoriconacional.cl

Definitely lunch time! We wanted to sit and enjoy the Plaza and its bustling life, so we chose an open air restaurant by the cathedral. Faisan d’Or, the restaurant, served us typical Chilean empanadas and a nice cool drink. Perfect.
Arica Culture 1000-1400; Chiu Chui 700-1000 and Atacama cultures 900-1200; Inca 1300-1400 and Arica 900-1200 AD pots

After lunch we just went for a stroll, passing Casa Colorada and ending at La Merced. The red basilica looked interesting, so we went in and were surprised it is not particularly mentioned in tourist guides. When Pedro de Valdivia established Santiago the Order of Mercy priests (Mercedarians)
arrived in 1541 and built a church. However, the Franciscans managed to take possession of it soon after in 1556, leaving the Mercadarians churchless. Juan Fernandez de Alderete, a member of Valdivia’s expedition therefore donated the La Merced land to them for their church. It was destroyed in several earthquakes until the current building (1765), completed internally by Joaquin Toesca (1799) in neo-Renaissance style. The towers were added in 1859 and 1885. It contains two splinters of “The Cross”, a painting (on the altar) of Mary from Emperor Carlos V and two wood carvings of Mary in cases in the nave. There were some grand tombs, of Rodrigo de Quiroga and his wife, Mateo de Toro Zambrano and the Count of Quinta Alegre. In the presbytery, are the symbols of basilical dignity: the tintinábulo and the conopeo, the only ones in Chile. To the left of the main altar is the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament, in Carrara marble. In the pink, apricot and green aisles were pictures of mercedarios saints. The main altar is surrounded by a construction supported by columns and pilasters, smooth. The sides are fully decorated with the pink, damask and green tones. After the church we went next door to their museum (previously the cloisters). We paid a minute entrance fee and went in. The museum is arranged around a central garden and we were the only people. The lower floor was interesting, especially their Easter Island room, which has one of the 29 remaining rongorongo tablets. The upstairs was less interesting as it was all artefacts from their liturgical processions. http://www.barriolastarria.com/museo_la_merced_barrio_lastarria.htm

WINE TASTING http://www.cousinomacul.com/en/
It was time to head back to the hotel so we could catch an uber to take us to Viñas Cousino Macul and Aquitania. It was quite a drive, but a sunny day, so pleasant. There were barriers at the entrance, but as we had prebooked it was fine. The English tour started at 3pm, and we went initially outside to look at the vineyards (originally they had owned most of the land up to the Plaza des Armas!), then inside to the vaults, both old wood barrels and the modern metal. The winery is heavily influenced by French traditions, including ideas about terroir, corks, ageing, etc. Interestingly they keep a “library” of each year’s wines, just a few bottles of each. Below that were the old vaults and barrels, no longer in use due to mould. Upstairs again was a small museum showing where they first exported to and even their ingenious bottling 4-stroke car engine! Finally, the tasting! We had a varietal, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

  • Antiguas Reservas Chardonnay. The first chardonnay was made in 1969 here and is one of their finer vintages, of quite restricted numbers.
  • Finis Terrae (Maipo), a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 75% of the wine comes from their oldest vineyards.
  • Antiguas Gran Reservas Syrah, their emblem wine.

Grapes were first grown on this estate in 1564, when the King of Spain granted Hacienda Macul to conquistador Juan Jufre. In 1760 Juan Antonio Cousino arrives from Spain and marries the heiress of the estate. Sadly she died giving birth to her first child, so Luis Cousino (her son) became sole proprietor on his father’s death. His half sister, Isadora, later joined him and was very influential in bring new varieties of grape from Europe and constructing the important winery vaults in European fashion. In 1970 much of the Macul land was appropriated and the family moved most of its vineyards, apart from this estate, which now produces their premium wines. The Cousino family still own the vineyards and winery! Then it was an Uber back as we were leaving early the next morning. We decided on a nearby Providencia pub for dinner, so started with a jug of terremoto on the balcony of Tio Manolo, followed by dinner of pastel de choclo at Bar Bazul.

Parliamentary era (1891–1925)
The so-called Parliamentary Republic was not a true parliamentary system, in which the chief executive is elected by the legislature. It was, however, an unusual regime in presidentialist Latin America, for Congress really did overshadow the rather ceremonial office of the president and exerted authority over the chief executive's cabinet appointees. In turn, Congress was dominated by the landed elites. This was the heyday of classic political and economic liberalism. For many decades, historians derided the Parliamentary Republic as a quarrel-prone system that merely distributed spoils and clung to its laissez-faire policy while national problems mounted. At the mercy of Congress, cabinets came and went frequently, although there was more stability and continuity in public administration than historians have suggested. Chile temporarily resolved its border disputes with Argentina with the Puna de Atacama Lawsuit of 1899, the Boundary treaty of 1881 and the 1902 General Treaty of Arbitration, though not without engaging in an expensive naval arms race beforehand. Political authority ran from local electoral bosses in the provinces through the congressional and executive branches, which reciprocated with payoffs from taxes on nitrate sales. Congressmen often won election by bribing voters in this clientelistic and corrupt system. Many politicians relied on intimidated or loyal peasant voters in the countryside, even though the population was becoming increasingly urban. Lacklustre presidents and ineffectual administrations of the period did little to respond to the country's dependence on volatile nitrate exports, spiralling inflation, and massive urbanisation. In recent years, particularly when the authoritarian regime of Augusto Pinochet is taken into consideration, some scholars have re-evaluated the Parliamentary Republic of 1891–1925. Without denying its shortcomings, they have lauded its democratic stability, its control of the armed forces, respect for civil liberties, expansion of suffrage and participation, and gradual admission of new contenders, especially reformers, to the political arena. In particular, two parties grew in importance, the Democrat Party, with roots among artisans and urban workers, and the Radical Party, representing urban middle sectors and provincial elites. By the early 20th century, both parties were winning increasing numbers of seats in Congress. The more leftist members of the Democrat Party became involved in the leadership of labour unions and broke off to launch the Socialist Workers' Party (POS) in 1912. The founder of the POS and its best-known leader, Luis Emilio Recabarren, also founded the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) in 1922.
Presidential era (1925–73)
By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, Arturo Alessandri Palma. He appealed to those who believed social questions should be addressed, those worried by the decline in nitrate exports during WWI, and those weary of presidents dominated by Congress. Promising "evolution to avoid revolution", he pioneered a new campaign style of appealing directly to the masses. After winning a seat in the Senate representing the mining north in 1915, he earned the sobriquet "Lion of Tarapacá.” As a dissident Liberal running for the presidency, Alessandri attracted support from the more reformist Radicals and Democrats and formed the so-called Liberal Alliance. He received strong backing from the middle and working classes as well as from the provincial elites. Students and intellectuals also rallied to his banner. At the same time, he reassured the landowners that social reforms would be limited to the cities.
Alessandri discovered that his efforts would be blocked by the conservative Congress. Like Balmaceda, he infuriated them by going over their heads to appeal to the voters in the congressional elections of 1924. His reform legislation was finally rammed through Congress under pressure from younger military officers, sick of the neglect of the armed forces, political infighting, social unrest, and galloping inflation. A double military coup set off a period of great political instability that lasted until 1932. First military right-wingers opposing Alessandri seized power in 1924, and then reformers in favour of the ousted president took charge in 1925. The Saber noise (ruido de sables) incident of 1924, provoked by discontent of young officers, mostly middle class lieutenants, lead to the establishment of the September Junta led by General Luis Altamirano and the exile of Alessandri. However, fears of a conservative restoration in progressive sectors of the army led to another coup in January, which ended with the establishment of the January Junta as interim government while waiting for Alessandri's return. The latter group was led by two colonels, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Marmaduke Grove. They returned Alessandri to the presidency and enacted his promised reforms by decree. A new Constitution encapsulating his proposed reforms was ratified in a plebiscite in September 1925. The new constitution gave increased powers to the presidency. Alessandri broke with the classical liberalism's policies of laissez-faire by creating a Central Bank and imposing a revenue tax. However, social discontents was crushed, leading to the Marusia massacre in 1925 followed by the La Coruña massacre.
The longest lasting of the 10 governments 1924-32 was that of General Carlos Ibáñez, who briefly held power in 1925 and again between 1927-31 in what was a de facto dictatorship. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. The Seguro Obrero Massacre took place 1938, in the midst of a heated 3-way election campaign between the ultraconservative Gustavo Ross Santa María, the radical Popular Front's Pedro Aguirre Cerda, and the newly formed Popular Alliance candidate, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. The National Socialist Movement of Chile supported Ibáñez. To pre-empt Ross's victory, the National Socialists mounted a coup d'état intended to take down the right wing government of Alessandri and place Ibáñez in power. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932–52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez to office for another 6 years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez in 1958. The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva by an absolute majority initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in Liberty", the Frei administration embarked on far-reaching social and economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian reform, including rural unionisation of agricultural workers. 1967, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who found them excessive. At the end of his term, Frei had accomplished many noteworthy objectives, but he had not fully achieved his party's ambitious goals.
Popular Unity years
In the 1970 presidential election, Senator Salvador Allende Gossens won most votes in a three-way contest. He was a Marxist physician and member of Chile's Socialist Party, who headed the "Popular Unity" (UP) coalition of Socialist, Communist, Radical, and Social- Democratic Parties, along with dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement (MAPU), and the Independent Popular Action. Despite pressure from the government of the United States, the Chilean Congress, keeping with tradition, conducted a runoff vote between the leading candidates, Allende and former president Jorge Alessandri. This procedure previously a formality, yet became quite fraught in 1970. After assurances of legality on Allende's part, the murder of the Army Commander-in-Chief, General René Schneider and Frei's refusal to form an alliance with Alessandri to oppose Allende, on the grounds that the Christian Democrats were a workers' party and could not make common cause with the oligarchs, Allende was chosen by a vote of 153 to 35. The Popular Unity platform included the nationalisation of US interests in Chile's major copper mines, the advancement of workers' rights, deepening of land reform, reorganisation of the national economy into socialised, mixed, and private sectors, a foreign policy of "international solidarity" and national independence and a new institutional order (the "people's state" or "poder popular"), including the institution of a unicameral congress. Immediately after the election, the United States expressed its disapproval and raised a number of economic sanctions against Chile. The CIA's website reports that the agency aided three Chilean opposition groups during that time and sought to instigate a coup to prevent Allende from taking office, known as Track I and Track II. In the first year of Allende's term, the short-term economic results of Economics Minister Pedro Vuskovic's expansive monetary policy were favourable: 12% industrial growth and 8.6% increase in GDP, accompanied by major declines in inflation (from 34.9% to 22.1%) and unemployment (down to 3.8%). Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, which had the effect of increasing consumer spending and redistributing income downward. Joint public-private public works projects helped reduce unemployment. Much of the banking sector was nationalised. Many enterprises within the copper, coal, iron, nitrate, and steel industries were expropriated, nationalized, or subjected to state intervention. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the administration's first year. However, these results were not sustainable and in 1972 the Chilean escudo had runaway inflation of 140%. An economic depression, begun in 1967 peaked in 1972, exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits in response to Allende's socialist program. Production fell and unemployment rose. The combination of inflation and government-mandated price-fixing led to the rise of black markets in rice, beans, sugar, and flour, and a "disappearance" of such basic commodities from supermarket shelves.
Recognising that US intelligence was trying to destabilise his presidency, the KGB offered financial assistance to the first democratically-elected Marxist president. However, the reason behind the US covert actions against Allende concerned not the spread of Marxism but fear over losing control of its investments. 20% of total US foreign investment was tied up in Latin America. Part of the CIA's program involved a propaganda campaign that portrayed Allende as a would-be Soviet dictator, even though their own intelligence reports showed that Allende posed no threat to democracy. Richard Nixon’s administration inserted secret operatives in Chile, in order to destabilise Allende's government and international financial pressure restricted economic credit to Chile. The CIA funded opposition media and politicians. By 1972, the economic progress of Allende's first year had been reversed, and the economy was in crisis. Political polarisation increased, and both pro- and anti- government demonstrations became frequent. By 1973, Chilean society had grown highly polarised, between strong opponents and strong supporters of Salvador Allende and his government. Military actions and movements, separate from the civilian authority, began to manifest in the countryside. The Tanquetazo was a failed military coup d'état attempted against Allende in June 1973. In its "Agreement", 1973, the Chamber of Deputies asserted that Chilean democracy had broken down and called for "redirecting government activity", to restore constitutional rule. 1973, the Chilean military deposed Allende, who shot himself in the head to avoid capture as the Presidential Palace was surrounded and bombed. Subsequently, rather than restore governmental authority to the civilian legislature, Augusto Pinochet exploited his role as Commander of the Army to seize total power and to establish himself at the head of a junta. CIA involvement in the coup is documented; it released documents in 2000 acknowledging that Pinochet was one of their favoured alternatives to take power.

Posted by PetersF 17:40 Archived in Chile Tagged museum chile santiago wine vineyards rapa_nui Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]