There’s something magical about Easter Island. Something that, long after leaving, still has my mind drifting back there on a regular basis.
From the moment you step off the plane, life becomes idyllic. The weather is balmy, the air fresh and Pacific Island-sweet and the atmosphere grabs you immediately.
The island isn’t big, it isn’t sophisticated. But is has that special something I have always looked for in a destination.
Story by Anna Leask – The New Zealand Herald; Photo by Andrew Gill
Historical clothing design of the day is from the Air Force – Roundels series, the the roundels used by the Air Force of Chile from 1918-1930. Each day a new design is chosen and an article is posted to highlight the historical significance of the design.
The usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon’s brother Joseph in 1808 precipitated the drive by the colony for independence from Spain. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand – heir to the deposed king – was formed on September 18, 1810. The Government Junta of Chile proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy (in memory of this day Chile celebrates its National Day on September 18 each year). After these events, a movement for total independence, under the command of José Miguel Carrera (one of the most renowned patriots) and his two brothers Juan José and Luis Carrera, soon gained a wider following. Spanish attempts to re-impose arbitrary rule during what was called the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle, including infighting from Bernardo O’Higgins, who challenged Carrera’s leadership.
Intermittent warfare continued until 1817. With Carrera in prison in Argentina, O’Higgins and anti-Carrera cohort José de San Martín, hero of the Argentine War of Independence, led an army that crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which was greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. A strong presidency eventually emerged, but wealthy landowners remained powerful.
Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by suppressing the Mapuche during the Occupation of Araucanía. A treaty with Argentina confirming Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan was signed in 1881. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879–83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third, eliminating Bolivia’s access to the Pacific, and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence.
The Chilean Civil War in 1891 brought about a redistribution of power between the President and Congress, and Chile established a parliamentary style democracy. However, the Civil War had also been a contest between those who favored the development of local industries and powerful Chilean banking interests, particularly the House of Edwards who had strong ties to foreign investors.
Chile in the 20th century
The Chilean economy partially degenerated into a system protecting the interests of a ruling oligarchy. By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, Arturo Alessandri, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. In the 1920s, Marxist groups with strong popular support arose.
A military coup led by General Luis Altamirano in 1924 set off a period of great political instability that lasted until 1932. The longest lasting of the ten governments between those years was that of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, who briefly held power in 1925 and then again between 1927 and 1931 in what was a de facto dictatorship, although not really comparable in harshness or corruption to the type of military dictatorship that has often bedeviled the rest of Latin America. By relinquishing power to a democratically elected successor, Ibáñez del Campo retained the respect of a large enough segment of the population to remain a viable politician for more than thirty years, in spite of the vague and shifting nature of his ideology. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932–52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez del Campo to office for another six years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez del Campo in 1958, bringing Chilean conservatism back into power democratically for another term.