The CHF branch office in Split, local Croatian organisations and the Croatian honorary consulate in Chile organised a tour of Santiago, Punta Arenas, Porvenir and Antofagasta by guests from the homeland featuring the Klapa Kantaduri band from Brač.

Early April saw the kick off of a tour of Chile organised by the CHF branch office in Split, local Croatian organisations and the honorary consulate in this distant land. Appearing on the tour was the Klapa Kantaduri a cappella band from the island of Brač, with Split-Dalmatia County represented by Petroslav Sapunar, the president of the county assembly.
Immediately upon arrival in Santiago March 31st we headed out to Estadio Croata (http://www.estadiocroata.cl) where the klapa band sang at a luncheon. There we met Nives Malenica, the new Croatian ambassador to Chile, accompanied by Renee Ivin, minister counsellor, and Iva Pletikos, first secretary.
Among the members of the local Croatian community on hand were writers Antonio Skármeta, Alexandar Skoknić and Čedomil Goić, Karen Muller Turina, Estadio Croata president Ruben Marinković, Franco Ferrera Cvitanović and many others.
That same day we continued on to Punta Arenas. We were welcomed there by Rudi Mijač, Croatian honorary consul and by Marcos Matulić, president of the Club Croata (http://www.clubcroatapuntaarenas.cl/es). The first performance by the Klapa Kantaduri band (http://elpinguino.com/noticias/159173/Llega-la-msica-croata-de-Klapa-Kantaduri-a-Punta-Arenas) was staged the following day, April 1st, at the municipal theatre house, but was cut short when a state of emergency was declared following an earthquake in Iquique. The entire Chilean coast was evacuated to tsunami-safe areas.
As we were accommodated in the unsafe zone, we spent almost the entire evening in the family home of Marcos Matulić. We visited the cemetery, the Sokol sports club (http://www.laprensaaustral.cl/deportes/el-club-deportivo-sokol-croata-se-alista-para-celebrar-su-centen-2987) and the Croatian Square. In the evening a show was staged at the Croatian club, this time, to the delight of the audience, the show went on to its end.
Next up was to Porvenir in the Tierra del Fuego, a small town of 4000 inhabitants founded by immigrants from the Croatian village of Mimice. That there are many people who came from the island of Brač also here was best seen at the town cemetery.
The Klapa Kantaduri band performed before a packed secondary school auditorium, with Governor Alfredo Miranda and Deputy Mayor Ingrid Melipillan on hand. The local folklore ensemble performed the Cueca, the Chilean national dance. There was also a get-together at the Croatia Club (http://studiacroatica.blogspot.com/2012/09/huellas-croatas-porvenir-club-croata-2.html) hosted by its president Patricia Beros.
The tour wound up with a visit to northern Chile, but not on the planned schedule. We did not visit Iquique, where there were problems with the water supply and possible repeat earthquakes. To avoid exposing ourselves to risks, we decided to visit only Antofagasta. There we were welcomed by, among others, Croatian honorary consul Pedro Marinov.
We visited the Sokol club, their “Split” sports fields and the saltpetre town Chacabuco. As Pedro Marinov is a very active singer and performs with the Klapa Tri Sulara band, they joined the Klapa Kantaduri on stage several times (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZJIiDitpfQ)
Along with the performances of the two klapa bands, a get-together was organised for the local Croatian community at the Tarantela restaurant, and they were joined by the Jeka folklore ensemble for a performance at the Croatian centre (https://foursquare.com/v/hrvatski-dom-sociedad-croata/4deaf2841f6e3ddebddb2c1d) which staged a party to celebrate its 120th anniversary.
Joining the many local Croatians were the leading figures in the Croatian community, including Ivan Šimunović, the owner of the only five-star hotel in the region. At the helm of the centre are its president Vedran Tomičić and vice president Joško Zlatar.
As all the objectives of this trip were not achieved as a result of force majeure, we decided to repeat the tour in the coming year and improve it with new ideas, on which work has already begun. The Croatians of Chile certainly deserve this.

Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović