Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

The Burning of Diego Portales

No, Diego Portales is not living person. This Chilean building has a lot of historic memory in it walls. Since democracy arrived in our lives, in 1998, this building had been used as the central base for counting votes and for announcing the official results of the vote. A branch is occupied by the Defence Ministry. Before that, in 1972, the president Salvador Allende declared it a Cultural Centre, and in 1973, after the coup, it became the base for the Pinochet administration. Jorge Pérez explains this and other details in his blog (ES) , that are necessary to understand the historic value of this building.

The official reason for the fire, is that the building's electrical system hasn’t had proper maintenance. The fire damaged 40% of the whole structure. About the maintenance issue, Jorge Sepúlveda posts in his blog (ES) “the institutionalism falls down because of bad maintenance” he explains about different historic events and personal experience that helps to understand why these things happen, and how they are reflected in culture.

Another view of the situation comes from Pitufa, a witness of the fire, she was with some friends in the neighbourhood and wrote that the smell made them walk to Diego Portales building. While they were on their way, Pitufa shot photos, which are available here.


  • Thanks for the link to my article about Diego Portales building and his relation with cultural politics in Chile.

    Only a comment: my name is incorrectly writing, please correct.

    Jorge Sepúlveda T.
    Independent Curator

  • Opsss, already change, sorry.

  • Hay un tema ese de escarbar quizas ,primero tímidamente,en las cascaritas de pinturas de nuestra frágil historia ,Thanks.

  • Ricardo

    My name is Ricardo Humberto Portales Cortes Monroy. I like to know more informatiom about Diego Portales. My family has said that we related to him.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site