And I’m back in Chile. Amazing. The culmination of goals I had set for myself, a pre-mid-life bucket list perhaps, after quitting my job in August. Thank you to all those people. You know who you are…who helped me get here.
There was the 1,500 nautical mile trip aboard the replica of the slave ship Amistad from Mass. to Puerto Rico. Then the double-handed sailing journey with my friend from Jersey City to Block Island, Rhode Island and back! Another sailboat delivery, and, a five-day solo backpacking trip through the Catskills.
My body took a beating, but survived. And on Saturday I arrived back in Santiago, a place I hadn’t visited since 2007.
I am here now to write about the amazing developments happening here in environmental conservation, adventure sports and mountains.
This will obviously include work on the development of a private conservation initiative on a 30,000 acre property in the Central Andes owned by my family and operated by my aunt called Parque Andino Juncal.
I lived here for nearly four years, and is the reason for this blog. It was a journey seen through unique eyes. My mother’s family had established themselves in Valparaiso from Australia in the early 1900s, and my father had written several books uncovering the sordid calculations of terror by the military dictatorship.
I was fascinated by the cultural changes and morphing of the people as the lingering shell of repression of cultural identity imposed by the 17-year dictatorship eroded away.
But I became jaded by the constant negativity by people in Santiago, a sense of constant profiteering by the country´s business class and frustration with my own goals.
And now Chile is post-Gothic, post-“buena Naty” (NSFW, look it up), post-Pokemon, post-massive student demonstrations and into the second, count it SECOND, term of Michelle Bachelet, the daughter of an assassinated military officer and the first woman president in Chile.
She will be inaugurated in March.
How much have things changed. How much does it matter? Will my constant analysis and tendency to focus on negative give way to seeking out what is positive? I think so.
And let me tell you of these positive things.
Within 24 hours of landing I was en route to nearby Cajon del Maipo to go rock climbing with nine nearly complete strangers. A few beers Saturday night turned into an invite to go climbing at 9 am Sunday morning. There would be eight Chileans and an American named Joshua.
The rock, called Piedra Rommel, was covered in climbers. The two 45-foot-high sandstone boulders along the river had some 20 routes coming off of them, ranging from the easiest to most difficult. There were women, men, children and adults clambering up and over this rock.
We set up camp nearby in the Mediterranean scrub brush, and proceeded to spend the Sunday afternoon drinking beer. Cries of successful summits, or agony as grip was lost and adrenalin surged in the moment of a fall, rang out past 8 p.m. That night I learned the art of grilling beef and pork, vegetables, potatos, and became close companions with the Chileans.
They were fountains of optimism, laughter, generosity and entrepreneurship. Oliver, a photographer, Pablo, a magician, Laucha, runs three small businesses, Valentina, works at an insurance company but wants to establish a program promoting healthy conversations around sex and sexuality. Is she serious? In conservative Chile? She was optimistic.
The next day was cliff jumping into a water hole, beer drinking and napping in hammocks or in the cool shade of a giant boulder next to a river.
And three days after I arrived it started it was over.
Now, I am off to Juncal for a busy week. I will spend three days with a glaciologist studying the curious life of a rock glacier at 10,000 feet. Then I will welcome a group of biologists from Bolivia, Argentina and elsewhere who have come to visit the park. There is also a change of park rangers to oversee and host of other tasks to get a better sense of how this park runs.
And then in a couple weeks, maybe a little (or a lot) of sailing in the most competitive and extravagant regatta in Chile, the Regata de Chiloe.
I’ll be posting regularly on Chile From Within with photos and video. Stay tuned.
Pinochet could have received $292 million dollars in loans from Chilean government, unclear if paid or repaid.
An investigation by the newly founded Chilean investigative journalism and government transparency organization ArchivosChile has discovered documents showing that ret. Gen. Augusto Pinochet was authorized to receive loans of $292 million from the Chilean state from 1977 to 1981. Published on the ArchivosChile website and the Chilean newspaper La Nacion, the article lends credence to suspicions raised years ago upon the discovery of secret U.S. bank accounts that Gen. Pinochet benefited financially from his position as dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1989.
John Dinges, an American journalist and author of two investigative books on Chile, is leading the initiative to explore Law 20.285, known as the Public Information Access Law or Transparency Law, which is similar to the Freedom of Information Act in the United States. ArchivosChile is based upon the model set by the National Security Archives, which uses FOIA laws extensively to obtain and archive historical documents produced by the US Government.
Dinges is the father of the author of this blog.
With these documents, he is seeking to find documents indicating whether money was loaned to Pinochet, and if any of this money was returned to the Chilean state. He is requesting documents from Chile’s Central Bank.
“We are trying to force them to give us that information,” said Dinges in a phone interview. “There is supposed to be an accounting for how that money is spent, and that is what we are going after.”
The mystery of who killed famed Communist singer-songwriter Victor Jara seems to be almost resolved, or at least says the compiled judicial testimonies released in Chilean court today and an elaborate recounting of his last minutes by Jacmel Cuevas, writing for Ciper Chile, an investigative journalism site. For the first time a group of officers surrounding his death has been identified. Also, the details of Jara’s last minutes are detailed as is the story of how his body was found dumped outside a cemetery, spirited away and anonymously buried by loved ones.
It places into doubt previous testimony blaming the death of Jara on Edward Dimter Bianchi.
On September 17th, after four days of imprisonment and multiple sessions of torture in a basement room in Estadio Chile, with a swollen face and fingers fractured by the butt of a rifle, Jara was shot by a low-ranking officer on a round of Russian roulette, with the barrel of the revolver resting against the temple. Jara’s body fell to the floor on its side, convulsing, said José Alfonso Paredes Márquez, an 18-year-old military conscript on guard duty who witnessed the above events and testified to Judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes recently.
Jara’s body was then shot again 43 times by the conscripts there, including by the person who is making this testimony. There were 44 bullet wounds in his body, according to the autopsy.
The ranking officer, Nelson Edgardo Haase Mazzei sat behind an interrogation desk and observed. This is according to the singular testimony of Paredes Marquez, who began his obligatory military service in five months earlier.
Paredes Marquez is currently 55-years-old, lives in the Central Coast region of Chile, and works building houses.
Haase, in testimony, denied that he was present in the Estadio Chile. Testimony of officers and soldiers, compiled by the judicial case and the investigation by CIPER, contradict Haase and place him in Estadio Chile during the time of Jara’s death. The name of the man who first pulled the trigger is not in the Ciper account.
Yesterday, Paredes Marquez was arrested by the Chilean judge. Last year, César Manríquez Bravo, the commander of the Estadio Chile prisoner complex, was arrested for being the responsible officer at the time.
On April 23, 2007, Haase, who owns a company that makes wooden crates for shipping wine, participated in a charity golf tournament in a team made up of other retired military officials. They are pictured below.
In a telephone interview with La Nación newspaper Haase declares that he doesn’t like soccer and has never stepped foot in Estadio Chile (now re-named Estadio Victor Jara.) Haase said he was in an undisclosed location in the south of Chile at the time.
En una conversación telefónica con La Nación, Haase desmiente siquiera haber pisado el Estadio Chile.
-Algunos conscriptos lo mencionan a usted como quien dio la orden de asesinar a Víctor Jara en el Estadio Chile.
-Yo nunca estuve en el Estadio Chile y no conozco a ese caballero (Víctor Jara).
-Pero usted sí fue oficial del Ejército.
– Sí, estuve en el Ejército.
-¿Y estuvo en Tejas Verdes?
-Yo he estado en muchas partes.
-¿Y en el Estadio Chile?
-Yo nunca he estado ahí. No lo conozco. Ni siquiera me gusta el fútbol.
-No me refiero al estadio como recinto deportivo, sino de prisioneros.
-Nunca estuve ahí.
-¿Por qué cree que estos conscriptos lo señalan a usted?
-No tengo idea de lo que me habla.
-¿Dónde estaba usted el 15 de septiembre de 1973?
-En el sur.
-¿En qué parte del sur?
-Eso a usted no le importa.
-Seguramente será citado a declarar
-Mire, no sé por qué estoy hablando esto con usted, pero responderé a quien corresponda si es una llamada oficial.
Yesterday, La Nación asked Paredes Marquez a question in the hallways of the Chilean courts, did Haase give the orders. Paredes Marquez nodded his head.
“Si estando en el pelotón que ultimó a Víctor Jara, Nelson Haase Mazzei era quien daba las órdenes, José Paredes Márquez, albañil y obrero de la construcción, asintió con su cabeza afirmativamente.
Haase continued his military career as a confidant of Manuel Contreras, head of the DINA, and was the commanding officer of the clandestine detention center of the “Cuartel Bilbao,” according to CIPER.
Names of officers and soldiers mentioned in article
comandante (r) César Manríquez Bravo
Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda
Marcelo Moren Brito
capitán David González Toro
capitán Germán Montero Valenzuela
conscripto José Alfonso Paredes Márquez
Nelson Edgardo Haase Mazzei
Rodrigo Rodríguez Fuschloger
teniente Pedro Barrientos
conscripto Francisco Quiroz Quiroz