#ChileDespertó: Chile Has Awoken and We Cannot Sleep on Them

by Elisabet Raquel – @elisabet.raquel

(Traduccion en Español al final de este articúlo)

#Cacerolazo

Image from Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux’s music video to the song, “#Cacerolazo”.

There have been #cacerolazos since the ‘60s in Latin America when the people wanted a change in their government and society. People grab their cacerolas (aka pot & pans) and take to the streets to make their voices heard by banging loudly on them. Despite their short term wins, there has been a history of oppression of popular protests by government forces. One such example of this is Chile’s September 11, when a state building was bombed and a U.S. backed dictatorship was put in place – the other 9/11 that many people are not aware of. This was 1973, Chile while the country was under a democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende who seemed to not be able to undo the crisis that occurred when the elite class convoluted to create a scarcity of resources and provoke civil unrest. What ensued next was a dictatorship under Agustín Pinochet that lasted until 1990 and a series of state terrorism that had military and police in the streets kidnapping, torturing, murdering, and disappearing thousands and thousands of people. During this dictatorship, people never stopped protesting, but the cacerolazos became silenced and many people became frightened to take action. 


However, the #cacerolazos have returned to Chile, though so has the state terrorism. As of October 19th, 2019, President Sebastian Piñera announced a state of emergency with a curfew that started in Santiago and now has spread all throughout the country. What started in massive protests against an increase in the metro fare has ended in full-on state terrorism and Chileans are reliving the realities they had under the dictatorship of Pinochet. Military and police are back on the streets in their tanks and people are at their mercy – being attacked, kidnapped, murdered, and tortured. As of Monday October 28th, the same day that the United Nations human rights commission would come to investigate human rights violations, Piñera has called an end to the state of emergency, ridding of the curfew.  Despite this, the Chilean people are not giving up their fight for a better future, they are still out in the street protesting and creating a #Cacerolazo en Chile.

#LaTeleMiente

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“The TV Lies” Photo Source

I’m getting this information from my friends, family, and community organizations back in Chile because #LaTeleMiente and cannot be trusted. Of course, the media is not showing the truth of what is going on, but the Chilean youth are using the power of social media to record and share everything in hopes that the world pays some attention. Each day, I check in with all these people spread throughout the country that I built relationships with when I studied abroad there last year and met my family for the first time. One day I was watching friends and family share videos of massive protests in the metro stations and the next I was watching videos of police and military storming the streets. Every day I’m seeing videos of people being shot, taken from their homes, murdered and more. I feel the social responsibility to not traumatize people with these images, so I try not to share them on my social media, but I do want everyone to know what is happening. You can find on my story highlights everything that I’ve been sharing on Instagram @elisabet.raquel under the highlight called CHILE.

#ChileDespertó

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“Chile has Awoken” Photo Source

In Chile, the cost of living is high, the quality of life is low, the education system is privatized and health care is a joke. Not to mention that there are still so many people still missing from the last dictatorship, the state treats the indigenous Mapuche people as “domestic terrorists”, and Black and Brown immigrants as a plague. The massive protest to which Piñera called the state of emergency was just the tipping point of years of abuse from the state since the dictatorship and the implementation of a neoliberal economic system introduced to Chile in 1985 by the Chicago Boys, Chilean right-wing economists who studied in the U.S. Since then, Chile has been under a neoliberal transformation which has left the cost of living constantly rising while the Chilean people continue to make less than what is able to meet the expected standards of that livelihood. The minimum wage is between $400-$500 and the cost of living in Santiago is a little less than $1,000 a month. When I was living in Nuñoa, Santiago, Chile, I paid $500 for rent for a room in an apartment and the metro was more than $1 each way. I found the cost of living comparable to that of the U.S which is suffocating for people who are not living off of a U.S salary. With this increase in fares, the people said,  “ya po” and #ChileDespertó, rising in protest.

#ViolaciónesDeDerechosHumanos

“Hopefully the [loss of] lives of the people hurt you as much [the loss of your] supermarkets”. Photo Source uknown, viral image circulating Facebook and Instagram.

During metro fare the protest, there was property damage done and there are some people who are taking what they can from chain market stores. In these saqueos, stores have been emptied out completely and there has been more attention paid to this looting rather than the human rights violations occurring by the hands of the government. Many Chileans themselves (including some of my family) blame the violence and oppression they are facing on “looters” and believe that the Chilean military and police were sent out on the streets to set order, but it’s all a deepening plot of violence. Cities are in chaos due to the state terrorism, everyone is frightened, and if people are caught in these saqueos, they are taken by the military and police, left at the will of their mercy. One woman in a video I saw claimed that she was caught up in a saqueo and was taken away to a local police department where she and other people, including children, women, elders, and men, were forced to strip naked while they were hosed down and beaten. Some people, including come Chileans themselves, say that people doing saqueos deserve this maltreatment. However, what is occurring is pure violation of human rights in the name of protecting large corporate interests.

#NoEstamosEnGuerra

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“This isn’t a war. We have pots and you all have submachine guns.”
Photo Source: Mon Laferte

There are people protesting for their livelihood all throughout the country and military and police continuously attack pacific protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, actual bullets, batons, and even their vehicles. On Tuesday, October 22nd, the military and police shot at a group of protesters.  My cousin was in the group that was shot at and he received a bullet in the leg. They are also barging into peoples’ homes, taking them away in public, and throwing bodies out of moving vehicles at night, leaving them in the street. And the president? He hasn’t addressed the issue of the brutality being faced by the Chilean people at all. He claims that the Chilean government is at war with a very dangerous enemy – its own citizens, who are armless by the way. The Chilean people are not armed with weapons, but merely with pots and pans and the will to fight for a better future. What the Chilean youth is sharing through these videos don’t lie – they are raw proof of what is going on and that this is being shared publicly is revolutionary. However, many of these videos continue to be taken down or censored. The horrors of what is happening are being openly shared and I refuse to let this happen in silence. 

#PresenteHoyYSiempre

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“Stop the abuse and military represion in Chile” Photo Source

This time last year, I was in Santiago during my second semester at La Pontifical Universidad Católica de Chile taking courses on Trauma and Political Violence, Migration and Human Rights, Chilean History and Culture, and more. I visited the Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos and the secret torture centers like Estadio Nacional and Villa Grimaldi. I learned all about the oppression the country endured during the time of the dictatorship, finally learned the history of where I came from, and why my grandparents left.  Never did it cross my mind that this could have been my one and only opportunity ever to visit my country of origin and learn the truth. Now, I’m completely shattered because it very well could be. I feel that it is my duty to share this information and call an end to the violent oppression of my people by its government. This is after all, why my grandmother left in the first place, right? Her sacrifices granted me more freedom and with that comes a greater responsibility to fight for justice for all. Mi Chile lindo, estoy contigo #PresenteHoyYSiempre.

“What happens if I forget?”. Photo Source: @elisabet.raquel at the Museo de Memoria y Derechos Humanos in Santiago, Chile 2018

 

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#ChileDespertó y No Nos Podemos Quedar Dormidos

Escrito por Elisabet Raquel – @elisabet.raquel
Traducido por Jaime Guzmán Sánchez – @jgsanchez95

#Cacerolazo

Foto del video de música de la canción #Cacerolazo por Ana Tijoux

Los #cacerolazos han tenido una presencia en América Latina desde los años sesenta. Son una forma de protesta cuando el pueblo quiere cambio en el gobierno y la sociedad. La gente agarra sus cacerolas y se las llevan a la calle, golpeando las con cucharas para que sean escuchados. A pesar de sus victorias a corto plazo, ha habido una historia de opresión de las manifestaciones por parte de las fuerzas gubernamentales. Un ejemplo es el 11 de septiembre de 1973, cuando el Palacio de la Moneda — sede de la presidencia de la República de Chile — fue bombardeado, y la dictadura de Pinochet — apoyada por el gobierno de Estados Unidos — fue instalada. Este es el otro 9/11 que mucha gente no conoce. Ocurrió cuando Chile tenía un gobierno socialista bajo el presidente Salvador Allende que no podía deshacer la crisis económica  que aconteció cuando la clase élite se involucró para crear una escasez de recursos y provocar disturbios civiles. Lo que siguió después fue una dictadura que duró hasta 1990 que puso militares y policías en las calles. Este terrorismo patrocinado por el estado secuestró, torturó, asesinó, y desapareció a miles de personas. Durante la dictadura, la gente nunca dejó de protestar, pero los cacerolazos sí se silenciaron por temor de las represalias del gobierno.

En Chile ha vuelto el terrorismo del estado pero también el #cacerolazo. A partir del 19 de octubre de 2019, el presidente Sebastián Piñera declaró un estado de emergencia toque de queda que comenzó en Santiago y luego se extendió por todo el país. Lo que empezó como una protesta masiva contra el incremento de la tarifa del metro ha terminado como un tipo de terrorismo del estado y los chilenos están reviviendo las realidades que en una vez vivieron bajo la dictadura de Pinochet. El ejército y las policías están de regreso en las calles con sus tanques. El pueblo está a su merced — son atacados, secuestrados, asesinados y torturados. Desde el lunes, 28 de octubre — mismo día en que la comisión de los derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas empezó una investigación sobre violaciones a los derechos humanos durante las manifestaciones — Piñera quitó la declaración de estado de emergencia y toque de queda.  Sin embargo, el terrorismo continúa y el pueblo chileno no para la lucha por un mejo futuro — sigue en las calles manifestándose y haciendo un #cacerolazo.

#LaTeleMiente

“La TV miente” Credito por la foto

Recibo esta información de mis amigos, familiares y organizaciones comunitarias de Chile porque #LaTeleMiente y no se puede confiar en los medios de comunicación. Por supuesto que los medios no están mostrando la verdad de lo que está sucediendo, pero los jóvenes chilenos están utilizando el poder de las redes sociales para grabar y compartir todo, con la esperanza de que el mundo preste atención. Cada día, me comunico con todas estas personas repartidas por todo el país con las que construí relaciones cuando estudié allí el año pasado y conocí mi familia por primera vez durante esta estadía. Un día estaba viendo a amigos y familiares compartir videos de manifestaciones en las estaciones de metro y después estaba viendo videos de policías y militares irrumpiendo las calles. Todos los días veo videos de personas que fueron disparadas, sacadas de sus hogares, asesinadas y más. Siento la responsabilidad social de no traumatizar a las personas con estas imágenes, así que trato de no compartirlas en mis redes sociales, pero quiero que todos sepan lo que está sucediendo. Puedes encontrar todo lo que he estado viendo y compartiendo en m perfil de Instagram @elisabet.raquel bajo el “Highlight” que se llama “CHILE”.

#ChileDespertó

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“Chile Despertó” Credito de la foto

En Chile, el costo de vida es muy alto, la calidad de vida es baja, el sistema educativo está privatizado y el sistema de salud es una broma. Sin mencionar que todavía hay personas que aún están desaparecidas desde la última dictadura, a los indígenas Mapuche se les caracteriza como “terroristas domésticos” y a los inmigrantes con ascendencia africana o con tez morena son tratados como una plaga. Las manifestaciones que provocó a Piñera en declarar el estado de emergencia fue el punto de inflexión de años de abuso por parte del estado, desde la dictadura. En 1985, se implementó un sistema económico neoliberal por los Chicago Boys, economistas chilenos de perspectiva a la derecha que estudiaron en los Estados Unidos. Desde entonces, Chile ha estado bajo una transformación neoliberal que ha dejado el costo de vida en constante aumento, mientras que el pueblo chileno continúa ganando menos de lo requerido para poder sobrevivir. El salario mínimo es entre cuatrocientos y quinientos dólares estadounidenses y el costo de vivir es un poco menos de mil dólares por mes. Cuando yo vivía en Ñuñoa, Santiago, Chile, pagaba quinientos dólares por el alquiler de una habitación en un departamento y el metro costaba más de un dólar por trayecto. Encontré que el costo de vida es comparable al de los Estados Unidos, que es sofocante para las personas que no viven de un salario estadounidense. Con este aumento en las tarifas, el pueblo dijo “ya po” y #ChileDespertó, levantándose en protesta.

#ViolaciónesDeDerechosHumanos

“Ojalá [la perdida de] vidas del pueblo te dolieran tanto como [la perdida de] tus supermercados”.
Credito de la foto desconocido, pero se hizo viral en Facebook and Instagram.

Durante las manifestaciones, hubo daños propietarios y algunas personas tomaron lo que pudieron de los grandes supermercados. Muchas tiendas han sido vaciadas y los medios han prestado más atención a estos actos que a las violaciones flagrantes de derechos humanos a manos del gobierno. Muchos chilenos (incluyendo algunos miembros de mi familia), culpan a las saqueadores por la violencia y la opresión que enfrentan y creen que el ejército y la policía chilena fue enviada a las calles para establecer el orden, pero todo es un complot cada vez más profundo de violencia. Las ciudades están en caos por el terrorismo del estado, todos están asustados y las tiendas de comestibles se están vaciando. Si la gente es atrapada en estos saqueos, los militares y la policía se los llevan, dejados a la voluntad de su merced. Una mujer en un video que vi, afirmó que la atraparon en un saqueo y la llevaron a un departamento de policía local donde ella y otras personas, incluyendo niños, mujeres, ancianos y hombres, se vieron obligados a desnudarse mientras fueron lavados a manguerasos y golpes. Algunos chilenos, dicen que las personas que participan en estos saqueos merecen ser maltratados. Estos actos son una violación de los derechos humanos en nombre de la protección de los intereses corporativos.

#NoEstamosEnGuerra

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“No estamos en guerra. Tenemos ollas y ustedes metralletas.”  Credito de la foto

Hay personas que se manifiestan por su sustento en todo el país, sín embargo el ejército y la policía atacan continuamente a los manifestantes con gases lacrimógenos, balas de goma, balas reales, porras e incluso sus vehículos. El martes, 22 de octubre, el ejército en conjunto con la policía dispararon en contra de un grupo de manifestantes. Mi primo formaba parte de ese grupo y recibió un disparo de perdigones en la pierna. También están irrumpiendo en las casas de las personas, se los llevan sin importar el lugar o la hora y arrojan los cuerpos de los vehículos por la noche, dejándolos en la calle. ¿Y el presidente? Piñera no ha abordado en absoluto el tema de la brutalidad que enfrenta el pueblo chileno. Afirma que el gobierno chileno está en una guerra con un enemigo muy peligroso — sus propios ciudadanos — que por cierto son inofensivos. El pueblo chileno no está armado con armas, sino con cacerolas, sartenes y la voluntad de luchar por un mejor futuro. Lo que la juventud chilena está compartiendo a través de estos videos no miente — son prueba de lo que está sucediendo y el acto de compartir esto públicamente es revolucionario. Sin embargo, muchos de estos videos están siendo eliminados y censurados. Los horrores de lo que está sucediendo se está compartiendo públicamente y me niego a permitir que esto suceda en silencio.

#PresenteHoyYSiempre

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“Basta de abuso y represión militar en Chile.” Credito de la foto

El año pasado estuve en Santiago, durante mi segundo semestre en la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile donde estudié varios temas como Trauma y Violencia Política, Migraciones y Derechos Humanos, Historia y Cultura de Chile, y más. Visité el Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos y los centros secretos de tortura como Estadio Nacional y Villa Grimaldi. Aprendí todo sobre la opresión que sufrió el país durante la época de la dictadura, finalmente aprendí la historia de dónde venía y por qué se fueron mis abuelos. No se me había ocurrido que esto podría haber sido mi única oportunidad para visitar a mi país de origen y aprender la verdad. Ahora estoy completamente destrozada porque podría ser la última vez en visitar. Siento que es mi deber compartir esta información y poner fin a la opresión violenta de mi pueblo por parte de su gobierno. Esto es, después de todo, la razón por qué mi abuela se fue hace tanto tiempo, ¿cierto? Sus sacrificios me ha otorgado más libertad y con eso ha surgido una mayor responsabilidad de luchar por la justicia. Mi Chile lindo, estoy contigo #PresenteHoyYSiempre.

“¿Que pasa si olvido?”
Fuente de la foto: @elisabet.raquel en el Museo de Memoria y
Derechos Humanos en Santiago, Chile 2018

My Ultimate Travel Inspiration: Abuela

A note from the author: This is a tribute to my abuela who recently passed away on Friday the 13th, September, 2019. This article was made possible thanks to my family who shared their oral history, where I was able to match up parts of her story with photos and documents. She often would explain, “yo crucé montañas, rios, y oceanos para poder pasar tiempo contigo” to the grandkids in order to help us understand what kind of effort, distance, and sacrifice was invested in order for her to spend time with us. Clarita was a soul full of colors, love and forgiveness. She was magic with her unconditional love, like a poesía de alegría. She could lite up any room she walked into, filling a house with her energy resembling vibrant colors. To better understand why Clarita was the way she was, our greatest inspiration to keep going despite life’s obstacles, the following is her story.

Clara Beatriz Rey was born on July 29th, 1934 in Bogotá, Colombia, although the date is debatable. This stereotypical vivacious Leo personality argued that her real birth date is unknown since she has no birth certificate to prove it. Her family’s life took a turn when she was 4-years-old because her dad Guillermo Rey Chacón passed away due to Tuberculosis, leaving behind Clarita, her older sister of 7 years-old Maria Helena “Nena”, and their Mami Maria Helena Vazquez.

They moved in with her mom’s 14 siblings, 5 tios and 9 tias who helped raise the young girls. Her mom was the oldest of the 14, therefore she was known as el gran poder, or the mighty power, also due to her affability and kindness leading to a certain don, or gift, she had liaising with people. Clarita would later acquire this same don and impressive ability of connecting with people in a way that even a stranger on the street would love talking to her.  Furthermore, Maria Helena had a distinct ability to play the piano that her parents ordered from Germany.

Clarita finished up to 7th grade (2do de bachillerato), then went to work at a Kodak 100_4407shop that some of her aunts worked at, as well as a laboratory where she packaged medicines. Cue meeting her future husband Carlos Jaime Chavarriaga (pronounced Hi-meh) on a bus towards downtown, both of them on their way to work in 1954 when Clara was 19-years-old. Jaime worked at the Manhattan store, a clothing line for men. By the end of 1954, Jaime and Clara wed at the Iglesia Santa Teresita, and then by 1955 their first daughter Martha was born.

 

First Trip Abroad, 4 Kids, and Career

Clarita y Martha - Culver City, California

Clarita & Martha in Culver City, California

By the end of 1955, a tia of Jaime offered the family of three their first trip to the United States. They took a short stop in Cuba for a couple of days, and they stayed in the USA for about 5 months. Since they stayed in Culver City, California outside of LA, Jaime tried out for various roles as an extra for several movies searching for “Hispanic” actors. He wasn’t able to find a job, so they returned back to Colombia. However, this trip must have made on impact on her first born (and possibly the second born too since she could have been conceived in the USA), which later on it will make sense why.

Shortly after, the brood grew to a total of 4 kids with Maria Clara (1956), Carlos Jaime (1958), and Claudia Rosa “Rosita” (1960). In order to not confuse Carlos Jaime Jr with his dad, we will refer to Jaime Sr as “Don Jaime.” Most family trips consisted of long weekend “Puente” holiday trips to warmer climate and lower altitude pueblos outside of cold mountainous Bogotá a couple of times a year. Girardot, Melgar, and Utica were the most frequented spots. Don Jaime’s brother, Guillermo, was a pilot, therefore the couple or the whole family sometimes got to travel thanks to his benefit. By airplane in Colombia, they visited coastal locations like Barranquilla and Tumaco both on the Caribbean and the Pacific coast respectively. 

 

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Clara on her way to Tumaco, Colombia on the pacific coast in 1971. Her brother-in-law Guillermo was a pilot, so he let her take a quick photo opp.

Family Trips in Colombia:

Entrepreneurship ran through Clarita’s veins, as did her nurturing and healing essence. In 1962-66 she started a fashion design business out of their own house where she had a couple of seamstresses on her team. In 1964-69 she created a cake and dessert business overlapping with the other business. Fast forward a bit of time in 1983, she supported Carlos Jaime’s travel agency business which later turned into a catering and events business, Banquetes Pablo VI, which still continues to this day 36 years later. However, her love for working in the healthcare industry prevailed.

Clarita found an internship working as an instrument nurse at the Hospital San José in 1968. To the dismay of her husband Jaime, who like many men at the time felt she should stay at home to child rear and tend to housework, she went against his wishes as she discovered her passion for working in healthcare and continued with it. At the time, Don Jaime had been working at Abbott as a pharmaceutical drug salesman who visited different Doctor’s offices, a job he held until retirement when he created his own related company Disfarma LTDA. Throughout the years, Clara worked seasonally or part-time at several different hospitals: Clinica Palermo, Clinica de Marly, Hospital Militar, and Clinica del Country. She specialized in supporting heart surgeries from about 1968 until about 1988 usually on part-time or short-term based assignments. She took two separate breaks between those 20 years, once in 1977 and once in 1981.

Clara was always savvy to find or create opportunities anywhere. She landed a job as a live-in nanny for two Cuban girls in the Miami, Florida area (Coral Gables) in 1977. She was there for about 5 months, where she would send her earnings as remittances back home to the family. At the time, the eldest daughter Martha was 22, therefore she helped run the household in Colombia. She later had to go home for unexpected reasons the family does not like to talk about, however the experience served as preparation for exciting opportunities to come in the USA and abroad.

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Clarita’s Beauty Battle Scar

She took almost a year-long break in 1981 after she severely broke her right arm in a freak mini elevator accident at the hospital, when a small container (aka dumbwaiter or lift), that transported medical supplies and other materials between floors in the building, fell on her arm and broke skin and bone. Around the same time, Don Jaime and Clara separated since they spent most of their time fighting. It was a very tough year for Clara due to her arm, her failed marriage, and her eldest daughter had left to live in the USA for good. Once her arm was fully mobile again thanks to healing and physical therapy, she persisted with her seasonal work at the hospital. This is only one of the many examples of Clarita’s strength and resilience. It wasn’t until the birth of her first grandchild in 1988 that she decided to drop everything and leave Colombia for a while.

A New Chapter – Grand-parenting All Around The World

At the wedding from left to right: Clara, Richard, Martha, and Don Jaime.

Her eldest daughter Martha met a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, Richard Tracy, in 1978. They wed by 1980, and moved to the U.S. by 1981 after Richard completed his volunteer service. By 1988, they were living in Richard’s hometown Toledo, Ohio when Alexandra was born. Clarita decided by the time that Ale was 3 months that she was ready to be a full-time grandmother in the USA to help while both parents worked full time. A year later, and still the only birth of her grand kids she ever witnessed, Michele was born in 1989. Just two months after that, her 3rd granddaughter Diana Carolina or “Caro” was born in Bogotá to Carlos Jaime and his wife Diana Patricia. Because of this, Clara spent most of her time traveling between Colombia and the USA for the rest of her grand kids’ youth until the U.S. grand kids turned 18. For 19 years, her visits to the USA would usually span about 3-6 months each, about once a year, all depending on her Visa and who was able to cover her flights.

 

The most exciting birth of a grandchild occurred in the outskirts of Milano, Italy. Clara’s second daughter Maria Clara received a scholarship to study Opera in Italy, and she was there with her partner Carlos Yañez who was also studying his PhD from 1987 to 1994 for 11 years. In 1992, Clarita’s only grandson Andrés was born, providing her another way to explore outside of Colombia and help rear her 4th and last grandchild for a full year. In addition, she landed a job as a nanny for twin Italian girls. With her youngest daughter Rosita, who at the time worked for the Colombian airline Avianca, she was able to travel very easily due to perks and benefits from the job that were extended towards family. The two traveled throughout Europe together while they spent most of the time in Milano. They traveled to London, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, and all around Italy. Maria Clara and her family lived in Italy until 1996, when they moved back to Colombia.

 

Rosita and Clarita always traveled together when Rosita worked for Avianca

Again thanks to Rosita and Avianca, Clarita got to travel all over Latin America for the rest of the 90’s and early 2000s. They traveled to Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, and Quito. Maria Clara and Rosita spent a lot of time going to visit the USA to accompany Andrés and Caro throughout their youth, but not as much as Clara traveled there with the them. Thanks to Clara’s dedication and guardianship, as well as Rosita, Maria Clara, Martha, and Jaime’s funding and hard work, the four cousins grew up like siblings and all became fully bilingual Spanish-English.

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The 4 primos/siblings: Alexandra, Caro, Michele, and little Andres all together for the first time ever at the Bogota Airport.

Clarita en Santiago de Chile

Clarita and Rosita visiting Maria Clara and Carlos when they lived in Santiago, Chile

In 1991-1997, Martha’s family was living in Texas for 7 years, therefore Clarita had visited enough times to establish relationships in San Antonio, TX. She was able to acquire jobs with her Visa at the time working as a maid at a hotel, as well as babysat from time to time. When Martha’s family left for Mexico in 1997, she decided she was going to try to acquire U.S. citizenship. She continued work at the hotel, found a job at McDonalds, and helped care for disabled people. Whenever she had some extra time, she traveled to Mexico and was able to see some of the states of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon with Martha’s family. Perhaps due to viewing the USA as a ‘superior country’, Clara worked hard to acquire U.S. citizenship. She studied for years for the citizenship test to prepare for once she qualified to actually take the test, especially this visibly worn list of 100 questions in English. Although Clarita had the help of Martha and family to bid for citizenship, benefited from white privilege, and she worked very hard at several jobs, sadly her dream did not come true. It could have been the political and cultural nature of Texas, it could have been her broken English, but unfortunately U.S. citizenship was not granted to her after her test in 1999.

 

 

An Adventurous Life

Clarita Passport Photos

Clarita’s Passport photos through the years

Nonetheless, Clarita lived the last 20 years of her life traveling everywhere with her family. It was always her family connections who made it possible for her to travel so much, and on occasion she was able to save her own hard earned money from different jobs in order to be able to travel. Martha’s family moved to the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan in 1999, Maria Clara and her family moved to Chile for a year in the early 2000s, and then her sister Nena’s family moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2006, so there was still a lot of traveling. By 2012, all of the female grand-kids graduated from college, and so the family started traveling more together to new places. Alexandra moved to California, where it was the first time Carlos Jaime and Diana Patricia traveled to the USA in 2014 with the rest of the family. After that, different family members traveled with Clarita everywhere including an epically captured trip to Cuba.

Cartagena, Colombia:

Las Vegas, Nevada and the Grand Canyon:

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Clarita was very modern for an abuela, savvy with her cellphone, especially Whatsapp. Here is a picture she sent Alexandra about her piece of luggage she kept just because of the memorable trips Alexandra took with it.

Clarita was a resilient, independent, adventurous, and a vivacious soul. Her love for exploring new places almost matched her greater love for her family. For about 3 years, she begged Diana Carolina for a trip to Aruba. That trip did not occur because her 3 granddaughters thought they had way more time to plan and save up for the trip. Clara passed away unexpectedly in September of 2019 due to catching bacterial meningitis which sparked sudden rapidly deteriorating health. Thankfully, she did not suffer as she was in a coma for 11 days straight, 3 of which she was half-awake to what the family deems a miracle chance for her to say her goodbyes before she passed. The whole family was convinced she would live past 100+ years just based on her positive, magnetic, and vivacious attitude. Nevertheless, the family holds Clarita’s spirit in their hearts, and are currently grappling with how to move forward with this new void in their lives.

 

Stay tuned for our trip to Aruba which will pay tribute to Clara Chavarriaga Rey! Who knows when it will be planned, but it will happen!

Montañas, Rios y Oceanos

Possible tattoo inspiration found by Michele. Clarita, a Leo with the Sun as it’s ‘planet’ (star), would often say “yo cruce montañas, rios y oceanos para pasar tiempo contigo.”

Aventurando en Chile

Don’t let the size and shape of this country deceive you. With a 2,700 mile coastline, Chile contains an immense variety of climates and geographies and deserves a spot on the top of any travel radar.

With bustling cities, internationally acclaimed vineyards, an incredibly varied landscape, adventure activities, archaeological elements, and a booming culinary scene, Chile is a country that has something for everyone.

What to do in Chile
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the options for things to do and places to visit in this country, so meeting someone that can help you explore the best spots is a good way to start. Local guide Patricia has been doing exactly that for many years now, and it’s been a great way to combine her passion for wine and history with the love for her home country of Chile. Patricia, ultimately, narrowed down her choices to a tour through the Aconcagua valley which includes a trek to the petroglyphs, Chilean wine tasting and hanging out with penguins.

Her other favorite? A tour that visits the seaside cities of San Antonio and Cartagena where you can enjoy coastal views of the Pacific Ocean. After a city visit, the tour takes you to experience the art of Mapuche weavers, which is an exclusive textile technique by the Mapuche women. This creation of intricate and colorful textiles is one of the best-known arts of the Mapuche culture and incredible to see.

These tours, for Patricia, are her favorite because they combine the extraordinary Chilean nature, indigenous culture, local wine and are just an overall fun outing.

Food
One sensational way to immerse yourself in the Chilean culture is tasting the local food. From the traditional pastel de choclo to the ever popular completo sandwich, Chile is basking in the modern culinary scene.

The bustling city of Santiago is becoming densely populated with five-star restaurants and is experiencing its own “culinary renaissance”. Our food recommendations in Santiago that won’t break the bank? Try José Ramón 277 for some classic Chilean sandwiches or the hip Chipe Libre which has one of the best pisco sour and ceviche combos in town!

If you need more culinary options, check out Decanter’s list of the 10 best restaurants in Santiago.

Luxurious_Chilean_Lunch

History
If cultural history is more of a draw for you, Chile is brimming with ancient dwellings. If you want history, you can visit the Mapuche villages of Southern Chile, explore the streets of the historic port city of Valparaiso, or tour the intriguing moai statues on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the Pacific Ocean.

The Chug Chug geoglyphs in the Atacama Desert are the most important of their kind in Chile. Geoglyphs are “figures etched on the earth” and have been dated back to 900-1550 A.D. Because of the “favorable geological and climatic conditions” these fragile glyphs have been naturally maintained and kept in good condition. If you want to read more about the Chug Chug geoglyphs, the World Monument Fund has great information here.

The Mapuche are the largest indigenous culture in Chile and located in the southern regions of the country – especially the La Araucanía region – about 700 km south of Santiago. Mapuche, the name, actually encompasses many indigenous groups throughout Chile and Argentina, the majority are located in Chile’s south-central zone.

The traditional practice of natural medicine is one of the most prevalent and visible aspects of the Mapuche culture that can still be found in present-day Chile. Weaving is also a vital practice to the Mapuche women and the techniques and patterns have been passed down to younger generations for centuries.

If you are interested in the Mapuche culture, there are many opportunities to interact with them in an ethnotour. These tours make it possible to visit a traditional Mapuche ruka or house, learn their language, watch their weavers make exquisite textiles and just better understand their culture and beliefs.

Nature
The diverse landscape of Chile will have you exploring every corner of this country. From the north where the driest desert in the world is to the of the volcanoes of Patagonia (where 10% of the world’s active volcanoes are located), this country truly holds beauty for everyone.

Below you can find a summary of the best landscapes and views to see while visiting this fantastic country.

  • The Atacama Desert is located south of the Peruvian border and stretches 600 miles south along Chile and is known to be the driest place on earth.
  • If you keep traveling south from here you will hit the Central Valley which holds Chileans renowned wine regions. Our recommendation is to take the Pan-American Highways which takes you through lovely colonial villages contained adobe houses and rural areas that celebrate the Chilean cowboy culture.
  • From Central Valley, you can travel further south where you can experience the Araucanía Region where lakes, volcanoes, rainforests, and views of the Andes run rampant.
  • After this, you should find yourself in the immensely popular (and for good reason) Patagonia region. Glacial fjords, arid steppes, grasslands and the pinnacles of Fitz Roy are only some of the highlights that await you here.

If these scenic options don’t strike your fancy, you can check out the islands of Rapa Nui in Oceania where you are bound to get history, scenic views, and incredible experiences.

Exploring Chile like a local
As you can see, there are many ways to discover the true Chilean culture. Whether it’s tasting the famous culinary scene, learning from the indigenous population or traveling through Patagonia, you’ll be blown away by the beauty in every corner.

If we’ve convinced you of visiting Chile on your next vacation, take advantage of every minute there and let a local, like Patricia, show you around. After all, who better to help you make the best of the experience than someone who’s passionate about their country? And who knows, you may get more than a guide – you may make a friend.

 

Written by Ashley Winder

Introducing: Elizabeth Garcia

Her name is Elizabeth Garcia, but she goes by Elisabet or Lisa. A young U.S. based multicultural Latina with family dispersed throughout the Americas, but originally from México and Chile. From East L.A. and coming from two consecutive generations of immigrant women, Lisa has travelled very little for just tourism, but more so for her studies and to meet her families, on a mission to connect herself to them and her roots. This mission has led Lisa on a journey of logging her families’ oral histories, and conducting genealogical research and ancestrological work, which she does as side projects that consume her interest in understanding and resolving intergenerational trauma on an international level. 

After two years in total of studying abroad in Brazil, México and Chile, this coming year she will be completing her fifth year in college and receiving her undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Lisa’s dreams and goals include becoming a novelist and published author, working to help others realize their right to move freely between invisible international borders, and someday coming back to permanently live in her countries of origin – ideally spending half the year in México, half the year in Chile and skipping winter altogether (or spending the winter holidays with her family in Southern Califoria, which is still skipping out on the cold). 

Follow her on IG @elisabet.raquel