Tag Archive | "Chile"

Trans-Pacific Partnership Due to be Signed in February 2016

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be signed in New Zealand on 4th February 2016, it was announced today, after leaders from the 12 participating countries met in Manila to discuss the timeline for the comprehensive free trade agreement.

TPP countries. In dark green: currently in negotiations; in light green: announced interest (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

TPP countries. In dark green: currently in negotiations; in light green: announced interest (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Leaders also agreed on a two-year period for each country’s parliament to approve the deal, meaning it will likely come into force in 2018.

The presidents of Chile, Peru and Mexico, who are in the Philippines for the 13th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC), joined US president Barack Obama and eight other heads of state to finalise the deal after the conclusion of five year-long negotiations in October.

The TPP, which will cover 40% of the global economy, is set to create the largest economic block in history by reducing around 18,000 customs duties between the 12 countries and establishing common rules on issues like intellectual property, labour regulations and environmental standards.

Supporters of the deal say that the new block will act as a counterweight to China’s growing dominance in the global economy.

However, NGOs and politicians across the Pacific countries have raised concerns over the secrecy in which negotiations were conducted, the deal’s environmental implications, its impact on internet freedoms and healthcare costs, and powers given to transnational corporations.

President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, which recorded US$45.8bn in trade with the countries involved in 2014, may face problems in ratifying the TPP in a congress where many opposition politicians have expressed concerns. Earlier this year Senator Francisco Chahuán publicly demanded a review of the negotiations with greater “transparency”.

Bachelet responded to criticism of the deal on Monday, saying, “We understand that we have to strengthen democracies and human rights […] but we also need to improve social policies and the economy.”

“We have very good arguments with which to explain to people why the TPP is good for us. We’ll be defending it wherever [we need to],” she concluded.

The full text of the agreement was made public on 5th November. However, Chile is Better Without the TPP, a campaign group made up of 58 social and environmental organisations, continues to condemn the lack of public participation in the negotiations, extensive concessions to the US on trade issues, and the potential loss of national sovereignty.

“The late release of these texts confirms the fears sparked by pages leaked by Wikileaks and which organisations across the world have raised. This deal is not good for citizens, even less for countries like Chile, and it is the expression of what happens when governments make deals without social nor political participation,” the group said in a statement.

Some have highlighted the unequal opportunities of countries within the agreement. Out of the 12 countries involved Peru, Mexico and Chile come 12th, 11th and 9th respectively in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, which measures the challenges and advantages affecting different countries’ ability to benefit from international trade.

The TPP includes: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, the US, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

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Chile: Bachelet Announces Giant New Marine Parks to Protect Ocean Life

The marine parks will protect large area's of Chile's territorial waters (Photo via Wikipedia).

The marine parks will protect large area’s of Chile’s territorial waters (Photo via Wikipedia).

The Chilean government has announced the creation of protected marine parks covering over one million square kilometres of its territorial waters.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet made the announcement at the inauguration of the ‘Our Ocean’ International Conference in Valparaiso, Chile.

In her speech earlier this week, Bachelet declared the formation of a 297,000 km2 Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park surrounding the islands of San Ambrosio and San Félix, as well as a network of marine parks in the Juan Fernández Archipelago comprising over 13,000 km2. In addition, she promised to extend the protected marine area surrounding Easter Island so that it covers over 720,000 km2.

Commercial fishing will be prohibited in marine parks in an effort to protect the rich and diverse ocean habitats in the region.

According to a marine biologist at National Geographic, Enric Sala, about 72% of the species in the waters around the Desventuradas Islands are endemic, meaning that they are found no where else in the world. This makes the region one of the most diverse and pristine ocean environments on Earth.

“We must think of optimising our resources,” said mayor of Easter Island’s Rapa Nui community, Pedro Edmunds Paoa. “Our resource is the sea and the future of Rapa Nui is the sea.”

Vice President of Oceana in Chile, Alex Muñoz, described that years of unregulated fishing practices drastically threatened these endemic species and harmed the natural ecosystem.

“For many years, Chile has been one of the most important fishing countries in the world,” Muñoz said. “Unfortunately, that led to depletion of our marine resources. With the creation of this marine park around Desventuradas, we’re becoming a leader in marine conservation.”

While these new marine parks are definitely a step in the right direction, countries around the world still have a long way to go to meet the UN’s stated goal of protecting 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020. This goal was set at a UN biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and was agreed upon by more than 190 countries.

“These dangers and threats [to the world’s oceans] transcend borders and demand effective international collective actions,” President Bachelet said in her speech at the conference. “It is essential that we act now for the future of all countries, particularly for small island states and coastal communities that are especially vulnerable and depend directly on the sea.”

The conference, which concluded yesterday, announced over 80 new initiatives on marine conservation and protection valued at more than US$2.1 billon.

In addition, the 56 countries in attendance made new commitments to protect more than 1.9 million square-kilometres of the ocean.

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Agreement Reached in Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

Trade ministers from 12 countries —including three Latin America ones— have reached an agreement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, creating a new economic block which will include 40% of the world’s economy and the countries’ 800 million people.

TPP countries. In dark green: currently in negotiations; in light green: announced interest (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

TPP countries. In dark green: currently in negotiations; in light green: announced interest (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The TPP, which still has to be ratified by lawmakers in each country, will reduce trade barriers between the US, Japan, and nine other Pacific countries and affect prices of goods and services all over the world. Supporters estimate that it will increase global economic activity by US$200 billion per year.

Mexico, Peru, and Chile have signed up to the deal, hoping to increase exports and attract investment, particularly from Asian markets. The TPP is expected to form an integral part of the three countries’ economic strategy in future.

Mexican Economy Minister, Joaquín López-Doriga, hailed the TPP’s potential effects on his country’s automotive industry, saying that Mexico was among the most active in negotiations because it is one of the countries “with the greatest capacity for automotive production in the world.” Previous free trade partnerships, such as NAFTA, have been credited with recent booms in auto-related investment in the country and it has been estimated that the TPP could increase the size of its US$397 billion industry by 37% over the next five years.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, said today that the deal would offer advantages for small and medium-sized businesses in his country thanks to a special chapter designed to allow them to “enter into global chains of value”. He also highlighted the potential increase in “non-traditional” exports such as agro-industry, fishing, manufacturing, and cotton and alpaca wool products.

The final agreement– which also included Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam – was reached in Atlanta yesterday after five days of talks, but negotiations have been going on for the last five years.

A sticking point had been the issue of the length of the monopolies that biological drug companies should have over new patents. The US had pushed for up to 12 years, but many countries have expressed fears that such a period would significantly increase the cost of health-care by impeding the creation of generic medicines.

Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Heraldo Muñoz expressed satisfaction at the agreement of a five-year limit, – the same as the existing rule under a bilateral trade agreement between the US and Chile. “This is a valuable deal for Chile, and one which protects our interests,” he said. “The TPP will be one of the defining trade agreements of the 21st century. We’ll be part of the largest and most modern economic scheme in the world.”


Critics of the deal, however, say it does not go far enough to protect the rights of citizens, particularly in developing countries.

Protestors against the TPP in the US (photo courtesy of Public Citizen)

Protestors against the TPP in the US (photo courtesy of Public Citizen)

On the issue of pharmaceutical patents, a statement released by Doctors Without Borders said, “Although the text has improved over the initial demands, the TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries, which will be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies.”

Further criticism has stemmed from the secrecy in which the TPP – which also affects issues such as internet legislation, digital rights, and environmental protection measures – has been negotiated. The public has had no access to drafts of the bill – aside from a few leaked chapters – and even some of the countries involved have complained of being kept in the dark about the contents of the agreement. The full text of the agreement has yet to be released to the public, though a summary has been published.

Chilean activist group, Chile is Better Without the TPP (PCCMST) denounced the “absolute secrecy and lack of effective citizen participation” in the agreement, expressing their “profound rejection for the irresponsible actions of Michelle Bachelet’s government”.

One controversial point included in the deal is its investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS), which enable companies to take legal action against governments whose decisions negatively affect their investments in a country. This has been a particular issue for countries with involvement in extractive industries, such as Peru.

Peruvian economist Felix Moreno told RT that, “the secrecy is a result of the deal’s content, which the public is not going to like.” He says the TPP is “an agreement with a lot of small print, which has been very intensely negotiated and in which various special interest groups and large companies have applied a lot of pressure to ensure certain advantages”.

The agreement will now be put before the parliaments of the 12 countries involved.

The absence of China from the TPP has lead many to label the deal a US challenge to China’s growing dominance in the Pacific region. China refused to join the new economic block due to restrictions the TPP would place on its financial sector.

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Latin American Leaders Call for Reform of UN Security Council

Leaders of several Latin American countries, including Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Cuba, called for reform of the United Nations Security Council yesterday, as well as a change in attitudes towards migration, as they addressed the UN General Assembly in New York.

Cuban President Raul Castro also highlighted his country’s relations with the US.

Cuban President Raúl Castro spoke at the UN General Assembly for the first time (photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

Cuban President Raúl Castro spoke at the UN General Assembly for the first time (photo: UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

While diplomatic relations between the two countries were formally restored in July this year, Castro said they could not be entirely normalised until the lifting of the “economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the US” and the closure of Guantánamo Bay, calls that were reiterated by other Latin American and Caribbean leaders.

The UN General Assembly has voted in support of a resolution calling the US to end the embargo each year since 1982 and plans to draft a new resolution on the matter are on the agenda for a meeting next month.

In his first address to the UN since succeeding his brother Fidel in 2006, Castro also backed requests from other Latin American leaders for reform of the UN Security Council.

The security council is the UN’s most powerful body because it has a role in shaping international law and takes the lead on identifying and responding to international crises and acts of aggression. It has 15 members, with the US, the UK, France, China, and Russia all occupying permanent seats, while the remaining ten seats are filled by non-permanent members which serve two-year terms, without the veto power held by permanent members.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, said that Chile’s 2014 – 2015 term on the council has “[reaffirmed] our belief in the need to reform the Council by increasing the number of its permanent members and limiting the scope of veto powers, at least in cases of crimes against humanity.”

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet talks before the UN General Assembly (photo courtesy of Chilean government)

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet talks before the UN General Assembly (photo courtesy of Chilean government)

The President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, echoed her calls for changes to the council’s structure and called for a more equitable representation of countries within it, saying, “If we want democracy to rule within our own republics, it is fair that we would also want it for the United Nations.”

Bachelet began her speech by referencing the migration crisis which is currently affecting Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. She insisted on the international community’s duty of “solidarity” in the treatment of “civilians who are fleeing desperately to save their lives and to create a better destiny for themselves,” adding that her government “has decided to take in refugees from the civil war in Syria” and will participate in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa from 2016.

Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, whose country recently declared migration to be a human right, was among the most vocal in criticising the migration policies of developed countries.

“For Ecuador’s government, there’s no such thing as an illegal human being,” he said, “and we think the UN should make a point of this idea. The migration policies of wealthy countries are truly shameful.”

Correa lamented that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for post-2015 do not include any mention of “the free movement of people”, highlighting the injustice of a system which encourages “the free movement of goods and money for maximum profit” while the movement of people seeking to earn a living is penalised.

He linked the current migration crisis to the failure to end global poverty, which “for the first time in history is not the result of a lack of resources but of perverse and restrictive systems”.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa at the UN (photo courtesy of Ecuadorian government)

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa at the UN (photo courtesy of Ecuadorian government)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose country is the primary source of migrants to the US, meanwhile highlighted the need to stop “stigmatising immigrants and blaming them for the problems of the countries they arrive in”, which he said aggravates the experience of “danger, rejection, discrimination, and abuse” suffered by migrants.

“All over the world, millions of migrants are in need of a collective and effective response [to migration issues],” he concluded, “a global response which should come from the UN.”

All the Latin American leaders who spoke yesterday also raised environmental concerns, ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year, with Bolivian president Evo Morales insisting that “the only good way to live” is “in harmony with Mother Earth”.

Chile’s Bachelet affirmed that “many of the challenges facing the world today cannot be solved in an isolated manner by each country”. The creation of sustainable societies, she said, “will only be possible if we can agree on a set of changes to make not only on a national level, but on a global one too.”

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Chile: Ten Dead As Result of Earthquake

The epicentre of the estimated 8.4 magnitude earthquake.

The epicentre of the 8.4 magnitude earthquake.

Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi) most recent report indicates that the 8.4 magnitude earthquake that shook Chile on Wednesday evening has claimed at least ten lives.

The country’s Interior Undersecretary and the Director of the Onemi met with experts this morning to assess the damage produced by the earthquake and successive aftershocks that have targeted the central area of Chile.

Chile’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (Shoa) has ruled out the possibility of a tsunami, and the one million people evacuated from their homes are now free to return.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet held a press conference this morning announcing the establishment of a disaster area to provide emergency aid to those affected by the catastrophe. She also announced that the festivities planned for Chile’s Independence Day on 18th September were cancelled.

Many towns across the affected areas still do not have access to water and electricity. Damage has been reported mainly to roadside infrastructure, with few building collapses. The airport of Santiago was also damaged, but national airline LAN announced that normal operations resumed this morning.

Chile’s National Seismological Centre (CSN) has reported some 50 aftershocks thus far, felt across the Andean country through the night.

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Chile: Tsunami Alert After 8.4 Magnitude Earthquake

Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi) has issued a red alert tsunami warning and evacuated coastal areas after the country was rocked by an 8.4 magnitude earthquake.

The earthquake struck a few minutes before 8pm local time, with the epicentre just off the coast of Chile, around 50kms west of the town of Illapel. Local media is reporting at least one fatality, dozens of injuries, and damage to buildings across towns in the central region of the country.

The epicentre of the estimated 8.4 magnitude earthquake.

The epicentre of the estimated 8.4 magnitude earthquake.

The earthquake, which was followed by a series of moderate aftershocks, also hit the nearby city of Valparaíso and the capital Santiago. Minor tremors were felt as far away as Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.

Residents of coastal areas were ordered to evacuate to designated safe zones after a tsunami alert was issued for the entire country. Coastal monitoring stations reported sea rises of 4.5m in Coquimbo and 1.8m in Valparaíso.

Several municipalities ordered schools to stay closed on Thursday.

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Chile: Congress Takes First Step to Decriminalise Abortion

Chile moved a step closer to decriminalising abortion last night after the Congressional Health Commission voted in favour of new legislation that would allow women to terminate a pregnancy in certain situations.

World abortion laws (Image via Center for Reproductive Rights)

World abortion laws (Image via Center for Reproductive Rights)

The bill under debate was presented by President Michelle Bachelet earlier this year. It proposes giving women the right to seek an abortion without fear of criminal charges in three concrete scenarios: when woman’s life is in danger, if the foetus is ‘unviable’ (suffers from deadly birth defects), or in cases of rape.

After a long debate, the Commission voted eight to five in ‘general’ favour of the new legislation. This means it will continue to be treated in Commission before a final vote on the bill (due on 8th September).

“There is an important month ahead and we are going to make the most of it to improve this bill,” said Commission president Juan Luis Castro, a doctor and legislator for the Partido Socialista (PS). “I have no fears that we won’t be able to persuade and argue in the best way in the debate that follows, so that we will hopefully secure the vote of all members [of the Commission].

However, Gustavo Hasbún of the opposition Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI) lamented the result. “Today, Chile lost, the country and public opinion has been tricked, because this bill practically legalises abortion fully. The three scenarios that they talk about when abortion is permitted has no medical or legal substance.”

The Catholic Church has also campaigned against the new bill, including taking out full-page adverts in major newspapers in recent weeks, urging legislators to vote against it.

If the bill is approved, it will then pass to the floor of the lower house of Congress, where the government faces a tough debate that has divided opinion within it’s majority coalition.

Chile is one of only six countries in the world where abortion is currently banned in any circumstance. The others are El Salvador, Nicaragua, The Dominican Republic, Malta, and The Vatican.

Abortion was legal under certain circumstances for decades until the outright ban was introduced by dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1989. At present, women seeking an abortion under any circumstance can face up to five years in prison.

Introducing the bill in January, Bachelet stated that: “Facts have shown that completely banning abortion and making it illegal, has not stopped the practice.”

It is estimated that up to 150,000 illegal and unsafe abortions take place every year in Chile.

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Chile: Teachers Strike against Education Reform Bill

'Teachers and students united in the struggle' (photo courtesy of Colegio de Profesores)

‘Students and teachers united in the struggle’ (photo courtesy of Colegio de Profesores)

This morning, thousands of Chilean teachers began an indefinite strike in protest of the government’s proposed education reform law.

The bill, called ‘Carrera Docente’, introduces a new pay scale system for teachers, which would include periodical tests as a prerequisite for climbing the pay scale ladder. It also details new grounds for dismissal for teachers who do not meet the academic requirements, and an increase in “non-teaching” hours for activities such as meetings, planning, and marking.

“We dialogued for more than three months, and presented our proposals, but little of that was reflected in the bill,” objected union leader Jaime Gajardo.

Responding to the strike, Economy Minister, Nicolás Eyzaguirre, said he lamented the decision, arguing that there had been a genuine dialogue with the teachers, and that they had been aware of the details of the law project. “I would call for continued talking. We believe that Carrera Docente is a tremendous leap forward for teachers,” the minister assured.

Conversely, in a letter to President Michelle Bachelet, the union criticised the “informality with which the Ministry of Education handled the discussions”, and the consequent mistrust and discomfort it had caused among their representatives.

The teachers also accused the project of being based in a fundamental mistrust in educators and stripping the training institutions of their responsibility, saying that teacher training institutions “have made education a cheap degree to implement in order to achieve greater economic benefits.” For the educators, the certificates and the tests for the pay hikes shift the responsibility from the training institutions to the teachers themselves. In addition, the union stated that the project “sustains the market-based education model”.

In Chile, municipalities are in charge of the public schools. The Chilean Association of Municipalities (ACHM) expressed its discontent with the strike, and called for the ministry and the union to continue negotiations. ACHM communicated that even though the teachers have promised to make up for any missed classes, “there is always a loss of hours that affects the performance and continuity of our students.”

The teachers’ union similarly called for the Education Ministry to establish another round table of dialogue. In the meanwhile, there will be marches in Santiago today and on Wednesday 3rd June, when the teachers will be joined by a column of the students’ union, Confech, which has expressed its solidarity with the teachers. On Friday the teachers will hold a national assembly of their delegates to decide on the continuation of the strike and to draft another letter to the president.

Education is a salient political issue in Chile. The student movements have been mobilizing since 2011demanding that the government fulfils its promises of free university education and ending private profit in education. The protests often result in violent confrontations between the police and the demonstrators. Reforming the sector is one of the major promises for President Bachelet’s second term in office. Carrera Docente, which would be implemented in 2016, is the government’s attempt to deliver the reform.

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David Trumbull: A Yankee Reformer in Chile

Upon announcing my upcoming trip to Chile to my mother, she had offhandedly mentioned that my great-great-grandmother and namesake, Anita Trumbull, had lived in Chile as a child. “I think her father was a pastor or something.”

It turns out that he was a little more than that. Due to his contributions to the country, the Chilean national congress had held a moment of silence when Reverend David Trumbull died. “They bestowed Chilean citizenship upon him out of thanks,” says Ricardo Vasquéz, director of the David Trumbull School in Valparaíso.

While in the city, I visited the sites of his missionary work including the school and church that he founded at the end of the 19th century. I reached out to those living in Valparaíso who have been touched by Trumbull’s legacy to better comprehend the magnitude of this man’s contributions to Chile’s past and present.

The Man

Portrait of David Trumbull in Valparaíso, Chile (Photo: Victor Polanco; Edited by: Katie McCutcheon)

Portrait of Rev. David Trumbull (Photo: Victor Polanco)

The family’s name was written in American history long before Trumbull brought his family to Valparaíso.

John Trumbull (1756-1843), David Trumbull’s great-uncle, was described as “the finest American history painter of the late Georgian era, excepting Benjamin West.” He is best known for his Declaration of Independence painting, which hangs in the United States Capital Rotunda and adorns the backside of the two dollar bill. Other members of the family include painter John’s father, Jonathan Trumbull, who served as Governor of Connecticut during the American Revolution, and was a friend of and advisor to George Washington during the war.

The family’s South American story began when David Trumbull finished his studies at Yale University and the Princeton Theological Seminary and aged 26 travelled to Valparaiso on the part of the American and Foreign Evangelical Union.

“If you look at it from another point of view, when you think about 1845, for them, it was as if one of our missionaries were to go to Africa,” Vazquéz laughs. “Going to another place in which there’s a different language—so it was a challenge, he faced a huge challenge.

“He was contracted by the foreign mission of the Presbyterian Church of New York. And he took on the missionary spirit.” So much so that on 2nd August 1850, after spending five years working in Chile, Trumbull returned to New Jersey to bring his new wife, Jane Wales Fitch, with him to form their home in Valparaíso.

He organised the Union Church in 1847, although the physical church building was not finished until 1871, as before 1855 chapels for non-Catholic services could only be constructed “if the construction was behind a tall wall and without towers or bells,” according to Trumbull’s magazine The Record.

It wasn’t until 1865 that those not adhering to the national religion were able to “practise what religion they may within the confines of privately-owned buildings”. This allowed non-Catholic foreigners to “maintain private schools for the teaching of their own children in the doctrine of their religions.” Until that year, article 5 of the constitution had dictated: “The religion of the Republic of Chile is the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman religion, to the exclusion of public exercise by any other.”

Later, Trumbull founded the Colegio David Trumbull in 1869. The school’s main objective was to provide primary education to children of Chilean Protestants “who object religious errors taught in the public schools of the city”.

Trumbull descendant Annie Bacher tours school he founded in Valparaíso (Photo: Victor Polanco; Edited by: Katie McCutcheon)

David Trumbull  Presbyterian School  in Valparaíso (Photo: Victor Polanco)

Apart from the church and school that bear his name, perhaps the greatest part of Trumbull’s work in Valparaíso was his influence on laws regulating marriage and education of Chile.

“Thanks to his contribution, secular laws in Chile were brought in – the civil register and the civil matrimony were created,” explains Vasquéz. The push for civil laws were in large part due to the influx of foreigners from the United States and Europe in Chile in those years,

In 1877, Trumbull wrote a four-chapter defence of mixed marriages, which was published in the newspaper “La Voz de Chile.”

As an example of the way in which the prohibition of mixed marriages punished Chilean women, Trumbull described the story of a young man from the United States who had a child with a young Chilean woman, and when the man inevitably returned to his country, he “didn’t hesitate in abandoning the mother and child.” Although it can’t be known whether the man would have stayed with the woman had the law permitted it, but Trumbull asserts, “the law left them no other choice than abandonment, or to continue illicit and immoral relations.” By permitting mixed marriages, these situations of illicit relations and abandonment could be avoided.

Trumbull questioned if it was possible “to initiate a legislation different than that which reigns, without invading the sacred limits of the church”.

Trumbull Church interior in Valparaíso, Chile (Photo: Victor Polanco)

Trumbull Church interior (Photo: Victor Polanco)

Shortly before the passing of the bill allowing civil marriage, in 1883 Trumbull referred to those who were forced to choose between their religious beliefs and civil rights in a lecture for the Young Men’s Christian Association. He said that Protestants could only enjoy the experience of wedding and the formation of families “in the sacrifice of personal convictions and in the avowal of repugnant opinions”.

The pamphlet with the lecture’s transcript, which remains in the Rare Book Room of the US Library of Congress, quotes Trumbull saying, “this has led to untold measures of shame, sorrow, and pain.”

Finally, on 16th January 1884, Chile’s congress passed the Law of Civil Marriage, and the law creating the Civil Register became part of the constitution. “This means that the church lost the traditional authority to legally establish the family,” writes Irven Paul, author of ‘A Yankee Reformer in Chile, Life and Work of David Trumbull’.

“This law rescinded the authority of the Church to register births, marriages, and deaths of all inhabitants of the nation.” According to Paul, Senator Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna is said to have commented that the passing of the law “was a declaration of the second independence of the nation”.

Trumbull’s commitment to the success of this law was clear in his reaction.

According to Paul, Trumbull had promised, “if these laws were approved by Congress, he would become a Chilean citizen.” This was doubly impactful, given the fact that only three generations earlier, his great-grandfather had played a central role in the American Revolution alongside George Washington. Despite being “a loyal United States citizen until his last drop of blood,” Trumbull sacrificed his US citizenship to give himself over to the country to which he devoted much of his life and work.

Trumbull died in Valparaíso on 1st February 1889. The city’s newspaper, El Heraldo reported: “It was a complete revolution that which he forged in our country; he himself was a proper revolutionary, and even before his life ended he couldn’t walk through our streets without being greeted by everyone with shows of respect, love, and appreciation by all for being a good man, in all sense of the word.”

After Reverend Trumbull

The Trumbull family remains sprinkled throughout the United States and Chile. Though I was unable to determine the whereabouts of all of nine of the Trumbull children, I followed the journey of his eighth daughter – my great-great grandmother – Anita, from Chile to New Jersey through the diary she wrote almost every day.

Trumbull descendant Annie Bacher in Valparaíso, Chile (Photo: Victor Polanco; Edited by: Katie McCutcheon)

Trumbull descendants Annie Bacher and Pauline Reed in Valparaíso, Chile (Photo: Victor Polanco)

At the age of 26, the same age at which her father had set off for his mission in Chile, she constantly questioned her privilege, whilst highly valuing her parents’ work in Valparaíso. “In Father’s memory I would like to do some good work, worthy of a child of his and mother’s,” she wrote in her diary. “My life seems so selfish – so lacking in strong and lasting influences. I ought to strive to help those about me more than I do – not seek admiration, but means of helping others.”

An anecdote from Paul’s book brings light to the meaning David Trumbull brought to people’s lives. He tells a story from Anita and her sister Julia’s vacation to Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in 1886: “They were surprised to notice the name of their native city painted on the door of a cottage. With trepidation they inquired of the owner—a retired sailor, why he painted the word ‘Valparaíso’ on his door?”

The story goes that by saving him from black smallpox and bringing him back to life, Trumbull and his wife changed the whole course of his life. He explained to the youngest Trumbull sisters: “That town is just like it sounds—a Valley of Paradise.”

The Legacy

The tomb remembering Trumbull’s death “raised by his friends in this community and by citizens of his adopted country” remains in the Dissidents Cemetery of Valparaíso, which stands in front of the imposing Catholic Cemetery No. 1. The tomb reads: “This country has a gifted and faithful minister and friend. He was honoured and loved by foreign residents on this coast. In his public life he was the counsellor and statesman, the supporter of the poor and the consoler of the afflicted memory of his permanent services, fidelity, charity, and sympathy.”

An article in the New York Times from Trumbull’s lifetime remembers him as “The Rev. David Trumbull, who is to this country something of what Luther was to Germany,” comparing Trumbull to the German priest credited with starting the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The article noted his humanity, commenting that he “is a good controversialist, and is as bold as he is talented”.

His legacy remains alive in Valparaíso, where the school and church bearing his name continue to flourish.

Original exterior of Trumbull Church (Photo: Victor Polanco; Edited by: Katie McCutcheon)

Original exterior of Trumbull Church (Photo: Victor Polanco)

The original school has been renamed the David Trumbull Presbyterian School, and still stands up high in the hills of Valparaíso today. It “is maintained with energy and enthusiasm, carrying the name of its founders and the oldest of all missionaries who arrived to these lands,” according to Vasquéz.

The original Union Church still stands today in Valparaíso’s centre, despite four significant earthquakes since its construction. The organisation of the Union Church moved to neighbouring Viña del Mar, and the Presbyterian Church of Chile now uses the original building, but the original wooden pews and New England-style floors are reminiscent.

Materials documenting the family legacy remain scattered across the United States and Chile. Trumbull’s journals, meeting minutes, and attendance records rest on shelves in the pastor’s office in the Union Church in neighbouring Viña del Mar, where the church moved in the early 20th century. The ‘David and Jane Wales Trumbull Manuscript Collection’ is contained in 12 boxes in the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, and remains of the family’s library wait in moving boxes in Trumbull’s great-great granddaughter Pauline Reed’s house in Santiago.

Perhaps the most telling signs of Trumbull’s legacy living on in Valparaíso today were the warm, familiar hugs, the broad smiles, and the looks of wonder and amazement I received when I was introduced to members of the church and school as his great-great-great granddaughter. He may be long gone, but Trumbull is far from forgotten in this faraway city he came to call home. `

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Chile: President Announces Cabinet Shuffle

In the midst of a popularity crisis, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced today nine changes in her cabinet.

Five ministers will be replaced by people external to the cabinet, while four were already part of her administration but were reassigned to new ministries.

The main change is the removal of Rodrigo Peñailillo from the Interior Ministry, who will be replaced by Christian Democrat Jorge Burgos. Peñailillo, a close collaborator and possible successor of Bachelet, was recently criticised for having worked with a company being investigated for its contributions to the political campaign.

The Economy Minister was also replaced, in this case by Rodrigo Valdés, an economist and former president of the State Bank. Other changes include Social Development  (where the former minister was replaced by her deputy, communist Marcos Barraza), Culture, Labour, Justice, and Defence. The former ambassador to Argentina, Marcelo Díaz, was appointed Secretary General of the Government.

President Bachelet had requested all 23 cabinet ministers hand in their resignation last week, as a way to renew her administration in the face of low popularity ratings and corruption scandals involving her son and several politicians and businessmen. The latest polls show Bachelet’s approval rating at an all-time low of 31%, a massive drop from the 84% with which she finished her first term in 2010.

The new ministers were sworn in this morning at the presidential palace of La Moneda.


Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

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As a possible ‪Grexit‬ looms in the old continent, we revisit Marc Rogers' article comparing Greece's current situation to Argentina's own 2001-2 crisis.

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