It was a warm afternoon when we left the streets of Santiago after a day of sightseeing and proceeded to the famed Santiago Cathedral , the majestic religious building held wonders I wanted to see and photograph , the ornate frescoes and architecture were a wonder to view.
Leaving the Cathedral we proceeded down a street leading away from the Cathedral.
This street was beautiful and was similar to many streets in the Mediterranean countries.
Beautiful buildings with ornate facades and terrazzo overlooking the streets.
I have enclosed some pictures of the street showing its beauty and romantic buildings.
The street was quiet and had an aura of solitude and gave me a feeling of being in a place that held respect and a past history that evoked feelings of walking in a revered place.
We walked down the cobbled street admiring the buildings until I noticed that intermingled in the cobblestone brickwork were many stones inlaid with names and dates of birth and death.
I have enclosed pictures of the cobblestoned street and a few actual pictures of the engraved inlaid plaques .
We then noticed the plaque on a wall outside a building that fronted the street.
I have enclosed a picture of the massive doors giving entrance to the building
These doors gave me a feeling of witnessing the doorways to the infamous KGB in Russia
The Plaque told the story of the building and how the engraved stone inlays came about.
In 1973 Pinochet a military General was given a plebisite to govern the country under Military law. He ruled from 1973 to 1974 under a Chilean Junta and was accused of many crimes from torture to embezzilment and many domestic crimes in between
He ruled as president from 1974 to 1990
The building and engraved bricks show the names of those who passed through his doors to never return.
Immediately after the military coup of September 11, 1973, new controls established concentration camps throughout the Chilean territory in which they were committed systematically and with impunity, crimes of state terrorism, political persecution , torture, kidnapping, murder, enforced disappearance and illegal burial, among other crimes Regiments, police stations, air bases, farm houses, seals, schools, public buildings, ships and private homes were used by the security services. Throughout the country was established places “public” (National Stadium, Dawson Island, Piragua, Chacabuco, Quiriquina Island, Cuatro Alamos etc.) And “secrets” (Villa Grimaldi, The Firm, Colonia Dignidad, Venda Sexy, Londres 38, José Domingo Cañas, etc.)., for the arrest, trial, torture and murder of opponents of the military dictatorship.
The list is long, then rescued the detention centres where it is known, remained, members of the United Popular Action Movement (MAPU) who were subsequently killed or made to disappear..
Weeks later north of Santiago we visited the beautiful romantic city of Valparaiso , the chief port for all of Chile , a picturesque city that is built on hillsides that sweep down to the sea.
Here we were fortunate to be given a tour over the Chilean naval traing ship the Esmerelda , this was courtesy of an ex Captain who served on the ship who has since become a relative of mine through my marriage to Ana
The ship is a graceful schooner that is over a hundred years old the brasswork is brilliant and the decks shine with a brilliant lustre of varnish and is maintained by a crew in immaculate dress.
I have attached some pictures of this magnificent ship
Later I was to learn that this naval training ship also played a dark role in the regime of Pinochet.
The Navy used as places of detention, interrogation and torture ships “Lebu”, “Maipo” and “Esmeralda”, the three at the port of Valparaiso, the Naval Air Base “The Belloto,” Naval War College and the “Barracks Silva Palma”.In the case of “Esmeralda”, the investigations conducted by the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed that a specialized unit of the Navy moved from the September 11, 1973 to 1974, within the purpose of interrogate detainees in the ship and those who were brought from other facilities of detention of the Navy. These interrogations included torture and mistreatment.
Finally I show a picture of the Chilean Naval Intelligence Centre and lastly a Picture of the Chilean Naval ships in dock
In conclusion I must say that as many countries Chile has once had a bad time under a military Junta/Dictatorship but has emerged to become one of the richest countries in the world
Chile is the only country that can proudly boast that it has no overseas debts to the International monetary union.
Chile wears the tag of being a third world country and this is mainly through its national infrastructure, apart from that this country must rate as the leader in all South America
One last point for travellers
Be wary when travelling in overseas countries in that not portraying yourself as a typical western tourist with camera around your neck for two reasons
1 Theft of cameras is prevalent in third world countries and can occur at any time , buses , in streets and anywhere that is open to the public
2 Many foreign countries frown heavily on photographs being taken of government buildings or of situations that arise that are specific to that country
I was fortunate in having Ana with me in all my photographic situations but even so was able to take a few pics that maybe on hindsight I should not have.
Diplomatic strained relationships can be very embarrassing
Emu aka Ian