Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Hill of the Cross

Many cities in Chile have a hill or mountain that is part of their cultural heritage. In Punta Arenas this is the "Hill of the Cross", one of the most emblematic places in the city, actually it is an historic monument. A must see for those visiting the city.

From the viewpoint of the hill the view of the city with its colourful roofs is splendid, the Great Island of Land of Fire (Tierra del Fuego) seems to be closer, and if the day is bright may have a nice view of Sarmiento Mount and southern Brunswick Peninsula. But undoubtedly, rain or shine, from the viewpoint we can have the best view of Strait of Magellan.

At the beginning of Punta Arenas the hill marked the western limit peripheral, there potatoes and oats were planted with very good results, so it was at first called "Hill of the Seeds." In 1881 the Presbyterian Raphael Eyzaguirre placed a big cross in the top of the hill to celebrate the end of his mission in the southern region. Over the years the people started to identify the hill to the cross, so that in 1887 it was officially renamed "Hill of the Cross". However about ten years later a small group of people, perhaps dissatisfied with the government, pulled and broke the cross and then threw the remains in the centre of the city upsetting the people, so at their request another cross was placed because they considered that the hill would lose its identity if replaced by any other monument as some had proposed. The major of the city approved the new cross expressing that without the cross the hill would lose its soul.

However the hill is not only known for the cross but also for a bloody crime that happenned there by the year 1923 which remained for long time in the memory of the 25.000 inhabitants of that quiet Punta Arenas. The 4 members of a family, including two little girls, were cruelly murdered for no aparent reason that could explain the event or even point suspects. There was no political background or passion intrigue behind that. No suspects or motives.
The family however had 2 friends who had come from the north of the country, Abelardo Puentes and Claudio Borrego, who were charged with the crime without sufficient proof of guilt. They were condemned to death penalty, executed without delay and the case was closed which caused controversy among the people of Punta Arenas.
The case introduced to Region of Magellan the phrase "bad people from the north" expressing the feeling of the population toward newcomers from other parts of the country, actually this expression is used to the present.

In 2003, 80 years after that bloody event a movie based on the case has been produced and entirely filmed in the Region of Magellan, actually the first production made in here in recent decades. The story revolves around an Irish photographer, Ernest Handler, an immigrant who took pictures of the event and through his gaze is arming the police intrigue and showing the customs of those years in the small city of Punta Arenas.

During the investigation to build the story the prison of Punta Arenas was evacuated because a new one was inaugurated, so the director and producer of the film had freely access to that old building and they found interesting documentation that proved in fact that two men were innocents of the crime. They actually were victims of the social intolerance and political interest.

The movie titled "Bad people from the north" (Gente mala del norte) premiered at 10th Patagonia Film Festival in 2011 and also exhibited at the same festival in 2012.

Also a book of 116 pages, spanish, titled "El crimen del Cerro de la Cruz" written by Daniel Vega Delgado.

To get to the viewpoint proceed up hill on Calle (road) Fagnano or Calle Waldo Seguel, in the centre of the city, or if you prefer you can get there by private vehicle or taxi, however worth to do that on foot because it is one of the oldest sector of the city and when you get there, with a nice view of the city and the Strait of Magellan, you will forget the tiredness.
Sure you will have many interesting panoramic photos to display in your blogs.

No comments:

Post a Comment