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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  n.73 Santiago dic. 2009

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962009000300003 

ARQ, n. 73 Valparaiso, Santiago, December, 2009, p. 20-22.

READINGS

The Latin American Pacific (1)

Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso
Alberto Cruz*
†Godofredo Iommi*

* Professor, School of Architecture, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaiso, Chile


Abstract

This vision is incorporated as a way of approaching the city-port of Valparaiso from a Latin American perspective, regarding the geographical situation of the Pacific Ocean, its recognition and its historical development. The city is inserted as an important port located in the south and is in direct access to the Latin American interior sea.

Key words: Latin American geography, Latin American history, Pacific Ocean, oceanic routes, interior sea.


It is necessary to indicate, even without rigorous outlines, the notion that refers to the present work regarding the Pacific Ocean. Leaving aside how much the habitual denomination indicates, it refers to the oceanic mass that occupies approximately half the globe, mass surrounded by the Antarctic, Australian, Asiatic and American continents. The concept of Pacific Ocean that is adopted here, arises from the European expansion; someone else could think —although already inappropriately called Pacific—that the Polynesian expansion would offer us another notion and different contours. The reasons for both adopted assumptions, oceanic mass and contours are founded in an appreciation of our contemporary reality of Latin Americans. The notion of the Pacific arises with and after the appearance of America as a continent, and from the fact that the ocean as such is recognized and revealed by the first Spanish navigations and the posterior Russian and English ones, until the discovery and occupation of Australia. From this, and not in another way, the ocean became incorporated to the “world”, which for the first time became aware of its earthly totality.

If we take Chile, and in the year 1968 we revise its maritime traffic of ships with the Chilean flag, we confirm that its navigation continues to be towards Asia and it only uses the Pacific in a coastal route towards the Panama Canal or the Straits of Magellan. The disproportion is huge between these routes and the transoceanic by the Pacific, in a country that after Russia has the longest coastline on the mentioned ocean. The actual and low demographic density, the ethnic cohesion of its settlements, the production rates, its per capita Gross National Product, the already detected tangible possibility of exploitation of its natural resources, (...), configure a low motivating scenario in the short term if one considers the continent according to the orientation and national politics. Including if the good wishes and repeated official letters are taken into account —from the dawn of independence— that tend to unite Latin American countries, one does not see in these intents a clear and defined orientation regarding which one could tie into a possible unit. As a rule of thumb, such unity appears as a distant horizon and is emphasized in treaties such as the Common European Market as an adopted model in the circumstances. There seems to be lacking a directive line of thought that really commits the continent as such, and that therefore, would not exclude or diminish the role that each country has to play in its own development, assuming that the national progresses inscribes themselves in the consolidation of this continental unity.

The following is postulated: an oceanic projection and conception assumes the dominion of the interior continental sea. Interior sea is referred to as the area comprised between the two big oceans that surround Latin America. The name was alluded to by the commentator Oviedo when he called the vast and unexplored interior of America, mare magno. The thesis proposes an operation of the type that Thales de Mileto did when, solicited by the Pharaoh to measure the pyramid, instead of measuring it from its base to the peak, he measured its shadow. The thesis proposes the recognition of this interior sea, the need to conceive and govern it as a necessary and congruent base to measure and govern the ocean projection. Focusing the continent from this viewpoint allows us to re-visit it in its actuality and become aware of its perspectives. As a first measure corresponds seeing the continent not in function of the North, but of its own North which is the South; for this reason the vision changes and raises as American peak the extreme that is indicated by the Antarctic continent.

 

Notes
1. This article and its images are an extract of the publication entitled Para un punto de vista latinoamericano del Océano Pacífico (Towards a Latin American point of view of the Pacific Ocean) carried out by Alberto Cruz and Godofredo Iommi, published for the School of Architecture of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Viña del Mar during December of 1973.