Monday, May 9, 2011

Poets, Potheads, Pacos and a Pelican

Ever since I first read Pablo Neruda, I have wanted to visit his house at Isla Negra, and so I finally did (he also had houses in Valparaiso and Santiago which I visited last trip, but Isla Negra was his main house). He was whimsical to say the least, collecting ships. Sadly, no photos are allowed in the house, so you'll have to imagine them! Aaarggh. But never fear, the website has a great gallery: (includes images of all 3 houses, all worth checking out, very whimsical, he even had some crooked floors in the Santiago house because he felt it made the house more like a ship at sea. He loved the sea.) The house is such a dream, in a place almost exactly like California's central coast. Isla Negra, like Carmel, was an artists' community and it's very much like Carmel only smaller. Beautiful cypress trees, a rocky coast, lovely quiet streets and sea breezes.

the view from the living room.

That's a bust of Pablo's head looking out to sea on top of the rock in the center

I had a cafe cortado right here, very reminiscent of Nepenthe in Big Sur

The pelican of Santo Domingo who had no fear of this puppy or people. It was a lovely day on the coast

Lots of dead giant squid lying around on the beach

Back in Santiago, I revisted the Museo Bella Artes which, while damaged by the earthquake of last year, is still fine (but you can see some damage here):

Some of the wonderful art that Chile is full of:

Pacha Mama, South American Earth Goddess
Totem Figure, Gaspar Galaz

I love Marian shrines, so here are two I visited today. El Templo Maipu which is a shrine to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, who became the patroness of the Army in the struggle for Chilean Independence under San Martin and O'Higgins (that's right, Chile's first leader was a bastard Irishman... the church is built on the site of a famous battle where the Chileans first defeated the Spanish.

Back in town, the Gruta de Lourdes:

I had to visit El Parque Por La Paz ... though I'm beyond depressed with the coup stuff. Allende's body was actually exhumed this week at the request of his daughter to determine once and for all if he committed suicide or was murdered by Pinochet's goons. He was alone in the presidential palace when they came for him, and the military claims they found him dead with an AK-47 in his hands (a gift from Castro). That always sounded way too much like an anti-Marxist fantasy to me and we all know how anti-Marxist Pinochet was. I don't know how they can ever truly determine the cause of death, but perhaps. I think, considering Allende's determination to stand up for the constitution to the end, he was murdered. If you read about the man, it's hard to believe he would commit suicide....
Anyway, the Parque por la Paz is definitely not state-supported like the Museo de la Memoria (which I did finally visit with my class last's a-play-by-play of September 1973, with videos, newsreels, etc. leading up to the coup, and then displays of art by people who were imprisoned and survived the regime). Parque por la Paz is much more grassroots and lefty with its memorials to such groups as MRI. It was a wealthy man's compound (Villa Grimaldi) converted into a campus of torture, where incidentally former President Bachelet was imprisoned and tortured when she was 22 for no other reason than that her father was a military officer who worked in Allende's govt...
There are are roses planted for those who died or disappeared from here, and lots of stuff about Victor Jara, probably the most famous person brutally murdered by Pinochet's goons. He was the child of poor peasants, like many are in Chile, sort of the Bob Dylan/Joan Baez of Chile and when they captured him and took him to the National Stadium, the story goes that they asked him to sing. He sang "Venceremos" which is basically 'we shall overcome', and they apparently shot him execution style (or by Russian roulette, no one is sure) and dumped his body in the street. Horrible, and for anyone who tries to make excuses for the dictatorship (and way too many people do here, it's disgusting), take that as Exhibit A and examine your conscience if you can still convince yourself that 'one has to break a few eggs to make an omelet' as one Chilean woman once said in defense of the dictatorship. As long as it's not your egg. Maybe she should have had toast.
Would you kill this man?
The class divisions here are painful to witness, and it was class that brought on the Chilean apocalypse. The city is basically split, everything west of Plaza Italia is middle and working class, everything east is upper middle and upper class. And I never saw a Guanaco east of Plaza Italia, though I havent spent much time there. I know as much as anyone that Marxism hasn't panned out, as they say, but the movement here was probably the best that ever occurred and it should have been allowed to play itself out...if people actually lived by the constitution they would have let it. So much for democracy. I think one of the hard things about the coup here is that one realizes that on some level democracy and marxism both died here. Think about it...1973...What we have now is something else (corporatism I suppose, which is arguably a form of fascism), but if you want to know where and how the two great ideologies of the 20th c. met their end, come here and find out. And weep for the people who picked up the tab (they deserve your regard, your prayers, your thoughts, whatever you care to give):
the central fountain

each flower has a name of someone murdered or disappeared by the regime. This is heartbreaking.

This was the area where the torture chambers were and it's now planted with birch trees.

a wall of names of people who disappeared after coming to Villa Grimaldi. I don't think anymore only about Chile when I see this stuff (especially since I'm an Estadounidense--the things our govt has supported would send us all to hell, which is worth keeping in mind when we go to the polls), I think about humanity. We do this to each other. Repeatedly. The recent murder of Osama Bin Laden highlights the despicable behavior of our own govt. at Guantanamo...apparently none of the torture led to any leads, which just goes to show that the Bush regime was the lowest point our nation has dipped to, and to come clean, we need to immediately begin a thorough investigation in order to prosecute Cheney, Rumsfeld, Woo and Bush for war crimes....'m figuring Obama wants to wait for a second term to pursue this if he chooses to at all. I think it's necessary, not out of any kind of spite, but just to get back on track. The Bush presidency was profoundly unamerican and it has damaged our soul just as Pinochet damaged the soul of Chile. Denial does not serve anyone in these cases. Chile's record on prosecuting the torturers is pretty abysmal as there is a genuine fear of the military. What are we afraid of? Haliburton? Actually maybe we are--or rather the Congress that is completely funded by companies like Haliburton. The rest of us are just apathetic or don't know where to start.
The moral of the story is, at the least, don't vote for clueless people (Bush, Reagan, Pinochet, Nixon... they're clueless, we all know that). I don't love Obama, but he has a clue and understands that torture doesn't work. I also think he has a moral sense which is completely lost on the so-called Christians of the Bush admin. who never talk about what's 'right', only about who's evil and doesn't deserve their moral consideration.
As I left I was nearly run down by an armored bus, the vehicle of choice in transporting the Carabineros, who I ran into later at the big gathering of potheads advocating for legalization of marijuana. A guanaco was at hand of course, but it was peaceful as everyone was stoned..the usual dredlocked kids, bob marley t-shirts, drumming circles, etc. The Marijuana legalization movement is hardly threatening on a political level (class) as it's really a libertarian thing, but it was still nice to see the Carabineros leaving them alone....though they're always ready, note the water gun on the top of the guanaco.

I asked if I could photograph a couple carabineros on May Day (they were patrolling the corners with police dogs, which are horribly intimidating) and instead one said, 'no let me take a picture of you' Aargh. As my teacher said, they knew you were a tourist and would likely not let you photograph them if you were a young Chileno like him. But I'm not a young Chileno, I'm a harmless looking gray-haired Estadounidense.

On a lighter note (its been christmas-tree-ified):
street dogs appear in the most unlikely (or not) of places...this one at Lourdes

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