Anti-Chilean sentiment

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An Example of expressions of Bolivian irredentism over territorial losses in the War of the Pacific (1879–1884). In the mural it is written; "What once was ours, will be ours once again", and "Hold fast rotos (Chileans), for here come the Colorados of Bolivia"

Anti-Chilean sentiment refers to the historical and current resentment towards Chile, Chileans, or Chilean culture. Anti-Chilean sentiment is most prevalent among Chile's neighbors Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.

One of the historic causes of anti-Chilean sentiment is the aggressive Chilean expansionism that took place during the 19th century.


Despite no war erupting between the two nations, there have been elements of anti-Chilean sentiment in Argentina in the past and present. Anti-Chilean sentiment in Argentina can be blamed on the historical and ongoing border disputes in the Patagonia region. In addition, the events that occurred during the Beagle conflict in 1978 resulted in many Anti-Chilean speeches and rhetoric in the Argentine media. Argentine General Luciano Benjamin Menendez was a leading advocate for war during the conflict and was known for his aggressive and vulgar discourse against Chileans.[1]

Another source of resentment are the substantiated accounts that Chile aided Britain during their Falklands War victory over Argentina. During the 1990s Chile's involvement in the Falklands war was only a source of speculation however it was highlighted in the Argentine tabloids when Margaret Thatcher visited Augusto Pinochet during his home detention in London in the late 1990s. Chile's involvement in the war unraveled when Thatcher acknowledged Pinochet for helping Britain win the war.[2]

In Bolivia anti-Chilean sentiment is fueled by Bolivian claims for territory in the Pacific coast. A common political discourse attributes Bolivia's underdevelopment to its loss of seaports in the War of the Pacific becoming thus a landlocked country. Bolivia lost its Litoral Department and its outlet to the Pacific Ocean, following the War of the Pacific. Currently Chile's huge copper vein in the Atacama Desert—which makes Chile the largest copper exporter in the world—is held in the lands claimed by Bolivia; the same lands lost during the war.

In Peru, a strong anti-Chilean sentiment exists due to losing "a large chunk of its southern territory to Chile" in the War of the Pacific.[3] Peru lost its provinces of Tarapaca and Arica, and then suffered the indignity of having its capital, Lima, be not only occupied by Chile at the end of the war, but essentially ransacked.

Citizens of all three countries also believe they have been economically exploited by Chilean businesses over the last decade, which have taken over large market shares of various consumer businesses, especially retail (Cencosud, Falabella, D&S) and banking.

Outside of South America, and during the California Gold Rush Chileans experienced a high degree of Anti-Chilean sentiment by American miners. Chilean businesses and mine workers would usually be harassed and at times violently attacked.[4][5]

Anti-Chilean terminology[edit]

In Argentina the word Chilote is the degrading term for Chileans,[6] instead of Chileno which is the correct word for Chilean. Normally a Chilote is an inhabitant of the Archipelago of Chiloé (part of Chile), but in Argentina the word has been picked up to describe any Chilean. Another derogatory term is chileno punga, because many Chilean pickpockets are caught mostly in the Buenos Aires Metro.

In Peru and Bolivia, the word roto ("tattered") is used to refer disdainfully to Chileans. The term roto was first applied to Spanish conquerors in Chile, who were badly dressed and preferred military strength over intellect.[7] In modern usage, roto is an extremely offensive term used to disparage the ill-mannered or those who the speaker wishes to associate with the ill-mannered.[8]

Chilenos Roto later applied to "broken and impoverished" lower classes (generally peasants). The term was first applied to Chileans during the War of the Confederation; specifically, Chilean soldiers received the name from Peruvian soldiers.[9] The term later became used by Chileans themselves in praise of the conscript soldiers of the Pacific War era, to indicate determination despite adversity.[9][10][11] In Chile, roto also became a term of nationalist rhetoric, sexism, and racial superiority at that time.[7]


  1. ^ See Diario El Centro Archived 5 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Chile, also in Diario Página12 «Si nos dejan atacar a los chilotes, los corremos hasta la isla de Pascua, el brindis de fin de año lo hacemos en el Palacio La Moneda y después iremos a mear el champagne en el Pacífico» ("If they let us attack the Chileans, we'll chase them to Easter Island, we'll drink the New Year's Eve toast in the Palacio de La Moneda, and then we'll piss the champagne into the Pacific.")
  2. ^ "Pinochet - Thatcher's ally". BBC. 22 October 1998. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Lopez, Edison (16 January 2008). "Peru disputes boundary with Chile". USA Today. Lima, Peru. Associated Press. There is strong anti-Chilean sentiment in Peru because the country lost a large chunk of its southern territory to Chile in a war in 1879. 
  4. ^ "The Gold Rush", American Experience, PBS 
  5. ^ Kowalewski, Michael (1997). Gold Rush: A Literary Exploration. Heyday Books. California Council for the Humanities. ISBN 0930588991. 
  6. ^ Drake, Paul W. (August 2003), "Citizenship, Labour Markets, and Democratization: Chile and the Modern Sequence" (PDF), Hispanic American Historical Review, ISSN 1527-1900, lingering racial stereotypes and derogatory terms (chilote) hindered full assimilation 
  7. ^ a b Larraín, Jorge (2001). Identidad Chilena. Santiago, Chile: LOM. p. 148. ISBN 956-282-399-7. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "roto" at Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (in Spanish)
  9. ^ a b Frazier, Lessie Jo (2007). Salt in the Sand. Duke University Press. p. 109. ISBN 0822340038. Retrieved 21 January 2013. Roto had long been a derogatory term... 
  10. ^ Plath, Oreste. Epopeya del "roto" chileno (in Spanish)
  11. ^ Gutiérrez, Horacio. Exaltación del mestizo: la invención del roto chileno (in Spanish)