Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Slice of Life: 21 de Mayo

Today is a holiday in Chile, celebrating the Naval Battle of Iquique in 1879. According to Wikipedia:

The Battle of Iquique took place on May 21, 1879 during the War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru. It has became one of the most emblematic battles of the war due to the glorification of the fallen Chilean captain Arturo Prat and Admiral Grau's noble gesture of saving the enemy crew and rescuing Prat's body to be sent to Chile.

The naval battle of Iquique was a Peruvian tactical victory; the blockade on Iquique was lifted and Chile temporarily left the area. In the battle of Punta Gruesa [the second part of the Naval Battle of Iquique] Peru lost the "Independencia". Both battles proved to be strategically costly; one of the most powerful warships in the Peruvian Navy was lost, while Chile only lost one of its oldest wooden warships. This left the Peruvian Huáscar alone to fight the entire Chilean Navy. Also, the heroic death of Captain Prat inspired thousands of Chilean youth to join the army. This is considered in Chilean history as one of the most important factors for achieving victory.

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