LA TERCERA
La Tercera is a major newspaper in Chile. The Santiago-based daily was founded in 1950 and is owned by Copesa (Consorcio Periodístico de Chile), a media conglomerate.
Society
Benjamin Witte

'Pico Pa' Arc de Triomphe! Defacing Other Countries' Monuments

The outpouring of rage and resentment that erupted in last weekend's "yellow vest" demonstrations in Paris made headlines around the world. In far-flung Chile, which has had plenty of its own experience in recent years with large-scale, anti-government demonstrations, there was keen interest in the French protesters taking umbrage with leaders who seem out of touch with the everyday struggles of working families.

But those parallels aside, there was something else about the events in Paris that raised eyebrows in the long-and-skinny South American country: graffiti.

To the left of where someone spray-painted the capital's Arc de Triomphe with the words Les gilets jaunes triompheront ("the yellow vests will triumph") was another widely seen tag: Pico pa Macron. It is a message in profane Spanish or, to be more precise, profane Chilean Spanish — at least according to news outlets like the Santiago-based Radio Bío Bío.

"Typical Chilean?" an article on the radio station's web site asks about the wording of the graffiti, which translates roughly as "a d**k for Macron" or "suck a d**k Macron."

No one has claimed authorship for the monument-marring message, but speculation is high in Chile that one of their countrymen (or women) was almost certainly involved. "A popular chilenismo (Chilean slang expression) making reference to the male reproductive apparatus was spray-painted on the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, in a tone that was not very friendly to the French president, Emmanuel Macron," the Chilean news site Cooperativa reported.

Next victim: Cuzco's Inca wall — Photo: Rodolfo Baca Gómez-Sánchez via Instagram

It wouldn't be the first time someone from Chile got caught messing around with another nation's national monument. In late 2004, a pair of young Chileans were arrested in neighboring Peru for spray-painting on an ancient Incan wall in the historic city of center of Cuzco. Peruvian authorities held the pair in custody for several months, contributing to what the BBC described in 2005 as a "border row" between the two nations.

Easter Island "Moai" statues (minus one ear) — Photo: Thomas Griggs

In 2008, it was Chile's turn to be on the receiving end of an act of foreign vandalism. While visiting Easter Island, a Chilean territory, a tourist from Finland was arrested after chipping an earlobe off an ancient Moai statue — and on Easter weekend, of all times!

The man, Marko Kulju, was eventually allowed to fly home, but only after paying a $17,000-fine and agreeing not to return to Chile for at least three years. In comments published by the Santiago-based daily La Tercera, Kulju called it "the worst mistake of my life."

When in Rome? — Photo: Bence Boros

Finns aren't the only people in Europe to behave badly abroad. Just last year, police arrested a 45-year-old French woman who reportedly used an "ancient coin" to carve the words "Sabrina 2017" into a wall of Rome's world-famous Colosseum, the Italian daily La Stampa reported.

A Russian man was nabbed a year earlier for doing the same thing. Italian authorities eventually sent him packing, but not before charging him a cool 20,000 euros for his "contribution" to the Colosseum.

Watch out, Abe — Photo: Patrick Perkins

Not to be outdone by his neighbor, a man from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan tried to make his mark last year on one of the best-known monuments in the United States: Washington's Lincoln Memorial. The 21-year-old culprit, Nurtilek Bakirov, allegedly used a penny to carve the words "HYPT MAEK" in the fifth pillar of the monument's north side. Bakirov was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property.

What's not clear, as acknowledged by the Washington Post, is what exactly "HYPT MAEK" means. Perhaps next time, Bakirov should consider writing his messages in Chilean. "Pico pa señor presidente?"

Geopolitics

From Mugabe To Merkel, The Many Ways To Cling To Power

-Analysis-

Lord Acton's famous phrase about the corrupting effect of power (and absolute power) should have come with a footnote about the "clinging" factor. On any given day, it isn't hard to find someone in charge, somewhere in the world, using all their wits and energy to hold onto power beyond any reasonable claim to be doing so for the greater good of the nation, business or other realm supposedly being served.

Robert Mugabe is currently in the final throes of his decades-long iron grip on power in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe. A slow-motion military coup that began last week (which the generals continue to deny is a coup) is up against a 93-year-old dictator with nine lives, at least.

Zimbabwean daily The Herald"s Nov. 20 front page

Observers were expecting Mugabe's address to the nation Sunday to include a declaration that he was signing away power. Well, guess what? The fear is that when such a power cling is up against a power play, the country is bound to pay in blood. Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim recognized how important it was for African rulers to learn to voluntarily give up power — so much so that he set up a prize whose central purpose was to honor (and pay) national leaders to step aside.

Across the South Atlantic, another continent has seen its share of autocratic power-clingers. To its credit, South America has largely opted for bona fide democratic systems over the past two decades, following years of dictatorships across the region. Several countries have even included constitutional provisions against power-clinging, prohibiting a president from serving consecutive terms. In Chile, as a next-best alternative, we've seen recent presidents step aside for the obligatory term out of office ... only to return to run again in the next election.

"Piñera and Guillier set for a competitive and uncertain second round" — Chilean daily La Tercera"s Nov. 20 front page

After the first round of voting on Sunday, Sebastian Piñera, who was Chile's president from 2010 to 2014, won the first round ahead of a runoff next month to move back into his old office. He would replace Michelle Bachelet, who herself returned to the presidency after Piñera served his first term. It may seem like an odd form of democracy, but musical chairs always beats clinging to your seat.

At the same time, we are witnessing another political drama playing out in Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel announced early Monday that negotiations had broken down in her attempt to form a coalition government with two other parties.

"We are standing here, disappointed and concerned / We've closed the curtains and opened all questions From Bertolt Brecht's "The Good Person of Szechwan" — German daily Die Tageszeitung"s Nov. 20 front page

This comes nearly two months after Merkel came out atop national elections, and looked to be headed to a fourth term as the leader of Germany's government, which has no term limits for the position. Will Merkel opt for new elections? If she does, will she stand as her party's candidate? Or will she instead choose to remain as chancellor even without a parliamentary majority? To cling or not to cling …

blog

North Face Founder Douglas Tompkins Dies In Kayak Accident In Chile

La Tercera, Dec. 9, 2015

"Environmentalist entrepreneur Douglas Tompkins dies," writes Santiago-based daily La Tercera on its front page Wednesday, after U.S. conservationist and North Face Inc. founder Douglas Tompkins died in a kayaking accident, in his adopted country of Chile.

Tompkins, 72, was kayaking with five others on General Carrera Lake in far southern Chile when strong waves caused their kayaks to capsize. He was then flown via helicopter to a hospital in nearby Coyhaique, where he died from severe hypothermia.

In addition to outdoor gear maker The North Face, Tompkins also co-founded the clothing brand Esprit in the 1960s. He sold both companies and, with his wife Kris McDivitt Tompkins, acquired huge tracts of land â€" more than 2 million acres in total â€" in Chilean and Argentine Patagonia for preservation purposes. His 715,000-acre Pumalín Park in Chile is one of the world's largest private nature reserves.

blog

On Remote Easter Island, A Rising Independence Movement

Activists on the small Pacific island, with their legendary statues, are taking concrete actions to obtain more autonomy from Chile. But does full independence make sense?

HANGA ROA â€" A movement for independence is building on Easter Island, one of the world's most remote inhabited locations, better known for its enigmatic ancient statues than any modern political struggle.

Activists on this far-flung Pacific island, called Rapa Nui by the indigenous people, are moving forwards with their demands for decolonization of their ancestral land, which was annexed by Chile under an 1888 treaty. Indigenous Rapa Nui make up around 60% of the island’s population, with the rest largely immigrants from the Chilean mainland, 3,512 kilometers (2,182 miles) away.

But locals complain that excessive tourism (drawn by the beaches and massive moai statues) and migration are harming the island’s unique cultural and natural environment. The island was the scene of violent clashes in 2011 when police raided a hotel occupied by indigenous activists. Earlier this year, the Rapa Nui Parliament blocked access to all tourist sites on the island to protest the Chilean government’s migration laws.

Tamure dancers, Easter Island. Photo: Lufke

The Santiago-based newspaper La Tercera reports that local activists recently invited a team from the Indian Law Resource Center, an NGO dedicated to protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, to assess the situation on the island. Rafael Tuki, an indigenous representative to the Chilean government and leader of the pro-independence group Rapa Nui Parliament, told the newspaper he is taking the island's cause to the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, to "begin the process for independence.”

The movement’s goal is for Easter Island to be added to the UN’s list of “non self-governing territories”, which would compel Chile to bring self-rule to the island. This would require a UN member to promote its cause, and according to Chilean news site El Dinamo, a group of Easter Islanders recently met with Bolivian President Evo Morales to gain his support. Bolivia is embroiled in a legal battle with Chile over its claims to territory giving it access to the sea; and the Rapa Nui independence movement sees the country as a potential ally in its struggle.

More moai statues Photo: Nyanchew

If the UN agrees to recognize the island as a colony of Chile, an eventual referendum would have to be organized giving locals a choice between assimilation, independence, and “free association.”

While the Chilean government and even the mayor of the island’s capital oppose independence, some local politicians are calling for a referendum to finally settle the island’s status, writes Latin American news site Terra.

Unlike when the first giant moai appeared more than 3,000 years ago, any such news arriving from Easter Island will hit foreign shores right away.

A long ways away. Photo: Azwegers

Top Photo: David Berkowitz

blog

Extra! Chile Slammed By 8.4-Magnitude Earthquake

La Tercera, Sept. 17

Chile has been walloped yet again, this time by an "8.4-magnitude earthquake in the central-north zone" of the country, Santiago daily La Tercera reported Thursday.

The offshore event struck Wednesday night at 7:54 p.m. local time near the city of Illapel. The government's National Emergency Office (ONEMI) has so far confirmed five deaths, three from heart attacks and two from fallen debris. Another person is reported missing. ONEMI estimates that one million people have been evacuated in coastal areas in response to a tsunami alert that authorities issued for the entire length of Chile's extensive Pacific shoreline.

Tsunami waves did come ashore in Concón, a popular tourist destination approximately 140 kilometers northwest of Santiago, which was also shaken hard by the quake.

Deputy Interior Secretary Mahmud Aleuy described the earthquake as the "sixth strongest in the history of Chile and strongest in the world so far this year." It was Chile's third 8.0-magnitude or larger event in just the past five years. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck the south-central part of the country on Feb. 27, 2010. Four years later, on April 1, 2014, an 8.2-magnitude quake hit the northern city of Iquique.

Numerous videos of the powerful earthquake have surfaced in recent hours, including one taken in a Santiago supermarket, where employees appear to have locked customers in during the event. In the recording, frightened shoppers can be heard yelling things like "open the damn door."

The quake struck just ahead of Chile's "fiestas patrias" (national celebrations), which coincide with the country's Independence Day (Sept. 18) and tend to last several days.