¿ Quien fue Diego Portales

¿ Quien fue Diego Portales


Santiago de Chile from the hills

I have spent one day in Santiago de Chile and I’m not sure I should write this. I am rather like a selfish child torn between wanting to share and preferring to keep this locked up. And, on top of that, with only one day in the books, it would be hard to be less qualified than I.

Santiago is beyond cool.

Begin at the end


This is Diego Portales. He looked better just before June, 1837, which is when he was assassinated. And after he was assassinated, his body disappeared. (You need to read the rest of this to find out where his body went.)

I learned of Diego today and took this picture of his statue and started to read about him. It appears that the case could be made that he had more influence on Chile than any other non-head of state. And while Chilean historians that are much better versed in this than I will ever be, may offer a variety of discussion regarding his longstanding impact, my take is Diego brought stability and prosperity to Chile through ideas that drove the country in the direction of some level of political and social harmony, at a time when that was far from overtly achievable.DSC_0050

Charlene Richardson wrote this about Diego. “…Ending the small unities and establishing one militia, the Civic Guard, helped to gain and maintain order. Establishing a coalition of landowners, military, and church was the next step towards domestic unity. Once this network of communication and peace was established, Chileans no longer battered against each other, but rather worked together to establish a stable civilian government. Diego Portales ideals and principles were the building blocks that Chilean government rests upon. His desire to design and manage a stable, peaceful government allowed the country to behold the beginning of economic prosperity and growth.”

Of course no good deed or idea goes unpunished, and so Diego was destined to meet some opposition from, well the opposition. After Diego’s government installed a dose of martial law, the opposition went after him personally and professionally and it was not long before he was arrested. And sure enough, when the tide turned against his accusers (they made some really bad decisions) they did what squirrels in a cage do (if the squirrels have guns). They shot Diego.

I didn’t read that Diego became a martyr. But in death, his progressive ideas gained momentum and the rest is Chilean history.

So what happened to Diego?

I visited this church in Santiago today.  In 2005 during a renovation project, one of the workers noticed a peculiar stone in the area that was going to be under construction. He removed the stone and found the well-preserved remains of Diego Portales.  It is unclear how he got there but it is very good that he was found. DSC_0059






For those at home keeping score…

Days on the road… 4
Countries visited… 4 (not counting Newark)
Air miles… 5952
Miles on a bus/car… 75
Miles on my feet… 7
Miles on a boat… 0
Parasites I’ve ingested… 0 (I think)
Parasites that have affected me… 0 (I know)
Languages I’ve butchered… 1
Countries I’ve been asked to leave…  0
Curses I’ve said under my breath because they couldn’t open the airplane door in Panama for nearly an hour to let us off…  43 

3 thoughts on “¿ Quien fue Diego Portales

  1. Hmmm… your trip starts with jugglers and a corpse. sounds a little like the Fates who “greet” you before you enter the underwold!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s