Chile celebrates 208th Day of Independence

Fiestas Patrias

SANTIAGO –  Today is National Day in Chile, celebrated all over the South American country to commemorate the first step on the way to independence, the First National Assembly or Primera Junta Nacional de Gobierno.

The two-day festivity begins annually on September 18 to commemorate the proclamation of the First Governing Body of 1810, and the beginning of the Chilean independence process.

President Sebastián Piñera, accompanied by First Lady Cecilia Morel, participated this Tuesday in the Ecumenical Te Deum held at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Santiago.

The ceremony was chaired by Monsignor Juan de la Cruz Suarez, Dean of the Cathedral, and counted with the participation of the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran and Methodist communities, among others.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, the Judiciary, government authorities and parliamentarians. 

During the ecumenical prayer prayers were held for the homeland, peace, families, the poor, the most needy, workers and people of good will.

“I want to wish all my compatriots that they have a very happy Patriotic Holidays, that they can renew the spirit, that they can share with their families, that they can live and relive the best of our history, of our traditions, of our culture,” said the president.

The Head of State moved to the Cathedral from La Moneda, after participating in a corner and the official photos with ministers and undersecretaries, in the traditional convertible Ford Galaxy, greeting the people who accompanied him during the trip. During the trip he was escorted by the Presidential Regiment No. 1 Grenadiers, who paid him honors.

After the ceremony, the President returned to La Moneda, on a trip that also included honors.

It is capped with the “Day of the Glories of the Army” (Día de las Glorias del Ejército) on September 19, which marks the anniversary of the first-ever military parade in the history of Chile. Army Day was formally established in 1915.

Chile’s Fiestas Patrias include kite-flying competitions and cooking demonstrations in different cities of the country. In most regions, there’s cueca dancing underneath open-walled ramadas to shield the sun. Friends and family gather for food and drinks, and empanadas, are served everywhere.

Fiestas Patrias generally feature empanadas de pino, a version of the savory pastries that comes stuffed with seasoned ground beef, olives, and raisins—a delicious way to celebrate the nation’s heritage.

These two days are celebrated jointly with parades and street parties which incorporate Chilean traditions such as dancing the Cueca and the Chilean Rodeo, rounded off by a huge military parade on the 19th in the Parque O’Higgins.

Several world leaders have extended their wishes to the Chilean people on this occasion.

“The United States and Chile share a long-standing friendship, rooted in our common values and the deep ties between our peoples. Thirty years ago, Chile’s historic plebiscite paved the way for a peaceful and successful democratic transition. Today, Chile is a leader in the region, exemplifying the benefits of strong democratic institutions and open markets,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We value the work we have accomplished together to support regional peace and security. Our vibrant economic ties and our joint initiatives in science, education, technology, and innovation benefit both our countries,” the statement read.

Fiestas Patrias: Piñera kicks off Chile’s national holidays

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said sent a congratulatory cable to President Sebastián Piñera, conveying his best wishes to “the friendly people of Chile”.

UAE’s rulers including President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and others dispatched similar messages to President Piñera on the occasion.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev sent a congratulatory letter to his Chilean counterpart, in which he wrote: “On this remarkable day, I extend my best regards to you and wish the friendly people of your country lasting peace and progress.”

Also, Evo Morales from the neighboring Bolivia congratulated Chile on its national day. “At a time when relations between our countries are entering a new era of peace, we salute the brotherly people of Chile in their Independence Day,” Evo Morales wrote on Twitter.

In the publication was also a flyer with quotes to Salvador Allende and images of children and young people with typical costumes of huasos.

Morales also thanked “the Chilean brothers who stand in solidarity with the Bolivian maritime demand.”

The message of the Bolivian leader comes after yesterday invited the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, to “close the wounds opened more than a hundred years ago” by the Bolivian demand for a trip to the sea, given the proximity of the ruling of the court of The Hague on this request, scheduled for next October 1.

In a hearing at the headquarters of the Bolivian government in La Paz, the head of state of Bolivia said that the cause of his country has support even within Chile.

Sebastián Piñera responded to the invitation of his Bolivian counterpart indicating that he is willing to “dialogue” but always “respecting the current treaties”, referring to the 1904 agreement with Bolivia “today fully in force, which clearly established the boundaries between both countries.

The International Court of Justice of the United Nations based in The Hague (Netherlands) plans on October 1 to issue its ruling in the lawsuit filed by Bolivia in 2013, to force Chile to negotiate on sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.

Bolivia lost in 1879 in a war with its neighbor about 400 kilometers of coastline and about 120,000 square kilometers of territory.