Chile From Within

A Dogs Life, Aperrando, Beat, Hero Dog

Posted in chile, Chile culture, mierda, Santiago, Uncategorized by tomasdinges on December 10, 2008

Heroic dog tries to save his buddy who has been hit by a fast-moving car in the fast-lane of an six-lane highway. The incident occurred March 23rd 2008, but the video was recently released, according to highway officials. A wave of attention around the world has been attracted by this most “human” of reactions.

Welcome to a dogs life in Chile, the Beat life.

There are thousands of them in Santiago and throughout the country.

Roaming in packs through the city, they have a history of attacking young children and old ladies. They are also sweet and loyal, but it still is not suggested you touch them. They can be mangy, scabied, scarred and limping, not to mention funny-looking. Survival of the fittest indeed. With no leash to speak of, no caretakers, they adopt the characteristics of a pack of orphaned kids, or a bored gang afterschool.

Remember the movie Kids?

They guard their territory, and have rampant sex with large and small, and get stuck, they scavenge what they can, strike up useful friendships sympathetic people, and will sometimes follow you home.

You can identify the leaders, the bitches, the new arrivals and the lame and weak one’s who despite their physical attributes have garnered the loyalty of the bigger dogs, and thus protection.

One identifies bizarre combinations, dachsunds and terriers, big head, small legs, and occassionally purebreds.

They are to some extent adored and given nicknames and protection, as they permeate Chilean society.

One blogger, Carmen Figueroa Cox, writing for the conservative, and “pure-bred” El Mercurio website, has even suggested that “quiltros” be Chile’s country image to reflect Chile’s actual mestizo state, and debunk the absurd pursuit of purity, and thus exclusivity and exceptionalism in Chilean blood lines.

To Aperrar is a verb meaning “to dog it.” It is the closest thing to Beat, as used in On the Road, exhausted to the point of exaltation.

But how did the quiltros get here.

Well, I’d just say it is partially the irresponsibility of  a country with fucked up views of virility and sex, even dog sex. Or at least this is what one person told me.  Male dogs are not castrated because it is inhumane, said one dog owner in a conversation. These male dogs are also allowed to roam the streets at night, only to come home to scraps.

Pet “owners” take minimal care of them and seem to adopt them willfully, but take little care.

Often times it is a question of money. Spaying and neutering cost much money that is often better spent elsewhere.

The Humane Society would still be something that Chileans would associate with victims of torture under the Pinochet regime, not dogs.

In lieu of social norms and any sort of policy to deal with the issue, there are occasional roundups and mass slaughter of street dogs, or quiltros.

In one case the dogs who had staked a claim to the Plaza de la Constitucion, or the Plaza in front of the Presidential Palace, survived a roundup of three years ago. Why? They had the protection of the Presidential guard, literally.

The dogs often have the sympathy of the people, who give them nicknames, like Jonas and Mero, in this fictional account of the above video.

But for those who don’t have this protection, there is mass slaughter (euthenasia), which most recently occurred at the Sociedad Protectora de Animales where the bodies of 30 cat and dogs were found on site. It is alleged that weekly 50 dog carcasses are removed from the site.

See The Clinic for more:

resulting in this:

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New York heart Chile, Melodic Death Metal

Posted in chile, Chile culture, Pinochet, Santiago by tomasdinges on November 30, 2008


ProChile, the country’s office for promotion, has leased a corner of SoHo for a new store named Puro Chile. Apparently it will be about more than fruit, one of the raw elements that makes Chile wonderful, but also, “gourmet Chilean products, distribute tourism pamphlets, and maintain a wine store in the back of the shop.” Wow. exciting.

It is news for me, far from the AIDS/HIV fiasco in which thousands (maybe two) of Chilean’s diagnosed with AIDS/HIV were not informed of their status and thus not prescribed life-extending anti-retroviral drugs, or the release of a secret video  in which a high general states at a cocktail party that,”in these difficult times with our neighbors…any Chilean who enters the country will leave in a coffin. And if we run out of coffins, then we will use plastic bags…”

It is to be seen if Chile can finally, for once in its tortured life, present itself as one in a time in its history where a pluralistic, democratic society is beginning to have meaning.

A country tourism office leases a 1,000 square foot corner for $100 a square foot in one of the hippest neighborhoods in New York City. That is a sign of changing economy, they say. That corner spot, should go to a bank, says Crain’s.

Even a bank is hipper than Chile in Soho.

Chile has a strange, incoherent history with the promotion of itself. Maybe it is because it’s base level of division and insecurity.

A proud country with proud countrymen, it is a fragmented society. I speak not only of Pinochet, but of the feudal and colonial history.

I am not sure that the Basque immigrants lauded by some as the reason for Chile’s current economic success would applaud the Mapuche indian warriors Lautaro (Lef-Traru, in their language Mapundungun, or Speedy Crested Caracara, a falcon-like bird of prey) or Colo-Colo. These were main leaders of the last stand of the Mapuche people who in the late 1500’s rebuffed the Spanish colonialists under Pedro de Valdivia.

Now Colo-Colo is the name of football team that was famously sponsored by Augusto Pinochet, a middle-class military officer who was not part of the landed ruling class.

The immigrants (Basque’s and other Spaniards) and orphans (Bernardo O´Higgins was the bastard child of an Irish-born, Spanish military leader  who would lead the drive for independence from the Spanish in the early 1800’s) would form the first landed elite. Later, British and German’s primarily would form the other immigrant group.

The Indians became marginalized and modern Chile began to grow based on the latifundista system, separated between the patrones and the peones in the fertile valley’s throughout Central Chile.

Wealth and culture were generated in rural areas, and society as we know it was reinforced. Then things moved to Santiago. The Mapuche’s tried to blend in, erasing their last names and shedding their past. The elite secured their hold on finance and society.

What was unique and commonly appreciated by all Chileans is a tough one.

I’m not sure that the sopaipillas or jote would be celebrated by the patrones. Violeta Parra (radical), Gabriela Mistral (lesbian), or Pablo Neruda (Communist) would be cast-off as well.

And then there was Pinochet, who made it all worse.

A divided Chile was solidified and cultural icons became politicized. Chile began to talk poorly of its own country.

Upper class would be disdainful of anything but their class, while those underneath would be enconsced in their lack of opportunity and racism and classism rampant through society.

Would the Chilean go the mountains to appreciate nature, No. Would they celebrate the beach, yes, but calling it cold and rough. Often times a visitor will find the first question posed to be “Why did you come here?” Chileans will often refer to their own country as  “the ass of the world,” or, “el poto del mundo.”

They say there is no culture here.

Well, the Swedish melodic death metal band The Haunted, doesn’t think so.

According to the lead singer’s blog post about their Friday concert in Santiago, where they played at Rock y Guitarras in Nuñoa,

“I’m exhausted, it’s a couple of hours after the show we just played in Santiago de Chile. How did the show go? It was insane. Really…

“I am so fucking grateful my heart is about to burst. The shows we’ve been playing so far this year have by far been the most intense ever since we started the band back in ’96/’97. It’s as if the bullshit macho crap that was there for a while at shows we played is gone. It’s unbelievable and so relieving. It’s as if people are finally getting the whole fucking point to this music. To go fucking nuts. To just fucking lose it and let all the tarblack fucking ugliness out and be fucking done with it; TOGETHER. An hour and a half of sheer undiluted fucking release. I surrender to this completely.”

Oh, and the old Chilean tourism logo and jingle, a product of an expensive research campaign that didn’t seem to have asked anybody whether they actually liked the final product:

“Chile: All Ways Surprising”


Gringos En Chile, by Cinco Metros

Posted in Andes Mountains, Chile culture, Chile film, People and Places, Santiago, US, Viva Chile by tomasdinges on December 12, 2007

Picking up on the what-its-like-to-live-and-survive-in-Chile-as-a-foreigner conversation over at Don Güill’s Chile blog C.hileno this is an incredible opportunity to feature the excellent short “docu-fiction” by up and coming documentary filmmaker and editor Anthony Rauld about life and love in Chile. Anthony’s newest documentary, created by Lauren Rosenfeld, is about life and water and a big gold mine called Pascua Lama in the Atacama Desert, “Watershed.”

Part II can be found on YouTube here.