[[There are indications about Judaized natives in this
article. But there is no indication that natives have
[Marranos and Inquisition
terror of the "Christian" Church - Francisco Maldonado de
*Marranos were known in the earliest days of Chilean
history. Rodrigo de Orgoños, one of the Spanish officers in
the company of Diego de Almagro (who discovered Chile in
1535), is said to have been of New Christian origin. In
1540, Diego García de Caceres of Plasencia, Spain,
accompanied the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia to Chile and
later occupied an important position.
Forty years after his death, Caceres' Jewish ancestry was
asserted in the pamphlet La
(Lima, 1621; reprinted 1915). This
publication created a scandal because it revealed the Jewish
origin of many prominent families, and the *Inquisition
ordered its withdrawal from circulation. Among Caceres'
descendants were the heroes of Chilean independence, General
Jose Miguel Carrera and the statesman Diego Portales.
The inquisitional tribunal established in Lima in 1570 also
had authority over what is now Chile, and the first
auto-da-fé was held shortly afterward. Nevertheless, the
Marrano settlement in this relatively remote outpost of the
Spanish Empire continued to grow.
The climax of inquisitional activity here came in 1627 with
the arrest in Concepción de Chile of the eminent surgeon
Francisco *Maldonado de Silva, one of the most remarkable of
all inquisitional martyrs, who was sent to Lima with others
for trial. After nearly 12 years of imprisonment, he was
"relaxed" with ten other persons in the auto-da-fé on Jan.
23, 1639 - the greatest known in the New World up to that
[Secret judaizing - Jews at
stake in 1644 - 28 Marranos at the end of the 17th century
around Santiago - Inquisition cases]
Secret judaizing nevertheless persisted in the colony. The
physician Rodrigo Henriquez de Fonseca of Santiago and his
wife were burned at the stake in Lima in 1644 on a charge of
adherence to the Law of Moses; his brother-in-law, Luis de
Riverso, escaped a similar fate by committing suicide in
At the end of the 17th century, the Holy Office in Lima was
informed of the presence of approximately 28 Marranos in and
around Santiago, though apparently no action was taken on
Among the other Chilean Marranos who suffered minor
inquisitional penalties was Francisco de Gudiel, born in
Spain in 1518, who, according to his sentence, "was still
awaiting the coming of the Messiah" (Gudiel's daughter
married the son of another Marrano, Pedro de Omepezoa).
A New Christian soldier, Luis Noble, was punished in 1614 on
the charge of having stolen a crucifix in order to practice
"rites in the Law of Moses", and in 1680 Captain León Gomez
de Oliva suffered confiscation of his possessions as part of
his punishment for secretly practicing Judaism.
[18th century: no trace of
Marranos or Inquisition - independence and abolition of
Inquisition in 1813]
From the beginning of the 18th century there is no trace of
Marranos or inquisitional activity against them in Chile,
and the Inquisition itself was abolished with Chilean (col.
independence in 1813.
[17th century: English
plans for Chile]
Jews from other countries, in particular England, showed
some interest in Chilean affairs in the 17th century. The
outstanding case is that of Simon de *Caceres, and
ex-Marrano established in London, who in 1656 submitted to
Oliver *Cromwell a plan for an expedition to conquer the
"Wilde Custe" of Chile for the English with the assistance
of a Jewish military contingent that he proposed to raise
and to lead. The Jewish origin of Subatol Deul, said to have
been associated with the English buccaneer Henry Drake and
the burial of his treasure in 1645 near Coquimbo, is
dubious, notwithstanding the documents regarding this
discovered in 1926.
The same applies to Carlos Henriques, who was in charge of
the commercial mission that sailed from Deptford, England,
in 1966, and to the Jewish ancestry of Juan Albano Pereyra,
in whose home the hero of the Chilean revolution, Bernardo
O'Higgins, spent his childhood. ON the other hand, it is
likely that in Chile, as elsewhere in Latin America, Marrano
blood is to be found in the ancestry of many of the older
[since 1810: legal entry
into Chile also for non-Christs - missioned Judaizing
Until the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed (1810),
entry into Chile was prohibited to foreigners and especially
to Jews. At that time there were no traces of Judaism that
might be attributed to the descendants of the Marranos.
Nevertheless, judaizing sects of Indian ascendancy were
discovered in the 20th century who claim to have received
their Judaism through Marranos. Some of them call themselves
Iglesia Israelita [[Israeli Church]], and they are
concentrated in the regions of Curacautín, Cunco, and Gorbea
- frontier areas of Spanish Catholic influences until the
conquest of the Araucanos in the 1880s. Some of them observe
a portion of the Jewish commandments, and others identify
solely with the Old Testament and a small part of the
[Catholicism as the state
religion - restrictions for other religions - 1865:
private religion and schools permitted - 1884: civil
marriage - 1925: constitution with religious freedom]
The early republican constitution did not serve as a legal
basis for overt Jewish life, for it established Roman
Catholicism as the state religion and prohibited open
practice of any other religion (Paragraph 5 of the
Constitution of 1833).
It was only in 1865 that a special law permitted
non-Catholics to practice their religion in private homes
and establish private schools. A series of liberal laws from
the years 1883-84 that established, inter alia, civil
marriage and state-controlled registration of citizens
(rather than church controlled) extended religious
tolerance. The constitution of 1925 explicitly established
freedom of religious observance for all religions that are
not opposed to morality.
[since 1882: Jewish
immigrants after Russian pogroms - Jewish immigrants from
Argentina - Jewish organizations and camouflage]
During the 19th century individual Jews reached Chile and
for the most part assimilated with the population. At the
start of the pogroms in Russian in 1882, Chile was mentioned
as a possible haven for persecuted Jews, and during
subsequent years it seems that Jews arrived in the country
either individually or in small groups. But it was (col.
only at the beginning of the 20th century that they began to
increase in number. The most prominent immigrants until
World War I were East Europeans who had first tried to
settle in Argentina and Sephardi Jews from Monastir,
Macedonia, who arrived in Temuco, southern Chile, and laid
the cornerstone of Chile's Sephardi community.
Outstanding among the early arrivals was Naum Trumper, the
son of settlers from Moisésville in Argentina, and a close
friend of President Arturo Alessandri of Chile; among the
later settlers, the Testa, Arueste and Albala families. The
first communal prayers were held in Santiago in 1906, and
the first Jewish organization, Sociedad Unión Israelita de
Chile [["Israelite Union of Chile"]], was founded in 1909.
Nevertheless, many Jews did not feel secure in the Catholic
state, and therefore camouflaged their other organizations
with such inconspicuous names as Filarmónica Rusa [["Russian
Philharmony"]] (founded in Santiago in 1911 and later known
as Centro Comercial de Beneficencia [["Commercial Welfare
Center"]], 1914) or Centro Macedónico (founded in Temuco in
[Herzl Zionism and annual
Zionist congresses in Chile - central Jewish organization
[[Racist]] Zionist activity began in Chile in 1910, but it
was the *Balfour Declaration and international recognition
of the aims of Zionism after World War I that noticeably
increased its momentum. In its wake, and under the impact of
the Tragic Week in *Argentina, the need for a centralized
Jewish organization was forcefully expressed, and
consequently, in September 1919, the first Congress of
Chilean Jewry was convened. It was attended by
representatives of 13 organizations from six cities,
including both Ashkenazim and Sephardim, together with
representatives of Hijos de Sión [["Sons of Zion"]] from
Caracautín, the organization of the Indian judaizers.
The congress dealt with Jewish matters of a general and
local nature, and, despite the differences of opinion,
established the [[racist]] Federación Sionista de Chile
[["Zionist Federation of Chile"]], the central organization
of Chilean Jewry and its official representative vis-à-vis
both the Jewish and non-Jewish world. From then on, a local
[[racist]] Zionist congress has been convened annually in
The unifying objectives were implemented further a year
after the congress, when the Ashkenazi communal
organizations in Santiago united to form the Círculo
Israelita [["Jewish Circle"]], which has remained one of the
principal Jewish organizations in Chile. In the same year,
the Centro Juventud Israelita [["Israeli Youth Center"]] was
established by university youth, who in 1922 founded the
Policlínica Israelita [["Israelite Polyclinic"]] as a clinic
for the general population.
[1922: Immigration plans of
In 1922, the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA)
investigated the possibilities of implementing a settlement
project in Chile and thereby expanding Jewish immigration.
But these plans never materialized, and Jewish immigration
throughout the 1920s continued to be a trickle.
[1930s: expansion of the
Jewish Circle - youth organization - more Zionism - and
communism and anti-Zionism]
The Jewish organizations continued to develop and by 1930
had crystallized. The Círculo Israelita embarked upon
diversified community activity (in the field of culture,
education, religious affairs, and especially in burial
services) and also erected a large central building to serve
the entire community.
The Sephardi organizations increased in number and
diversified their activities. *WIZO was founded in 1926; the
growing youth organizations united to form the Asociación de
Jóvenes Israelitas [["Israelite Association of the Young"]]
(A.J.I., 1928), which continued to administer the
Policlínica and also developed a legal aid service.
[[Racist]] Zionist activity had likewise made great gains.
As early as 1922 Chilean Jews contributed more to the
*Jewish National Fund than Jewish communities with much
larger populations; 1,600 persons acquired the shekel
[[bonds]] in 1929, and the *Keren Hayesod had considerable
On the other hand, during and following the 1920s,
anti-Zionist and particularly communist elements were active
among Jews in Chile. In 1930-2, a severe crisis overtook
organizational life in Santiago, particularly Círculo
Israelita [["Israelite Circle"]] and the Federación Sionista
[["Zionist Federation"]]. (col. 464)
[Crisis after 1929 - Jewish
burial society formed]
In part the crisis stemmed from the financial difficulties
faced by the Jewish organizations as a result of the
economic crisis that greatly affected the peddling business;
in part it was caused by tension within the Zionist Movement
and social and political instability. In the wake of the
crisis, the philanthropic Bikkur Holim organization of
Santiago, founded in 1917, also entered the field of
communal activity and, in particular, a new hevra kaddisha
burial society]] was formed and acquired its own cemetery,
putting an end to the monopoly on burial services previously
held by the Círculo Israelita.
about immigration - committee for immigration - 1,000s of
Jews coming from Germany - and more organizations founded]
In 1931 *Hicem established a committee in Santiago to
represent the organization in matters of immigration. The
committee did not support the activities of the local group,
Bikkur Holim, and the latter accused Hicem of spreading
information about the great possibilities of absorbing a
large immigration that created illusions incongruent with
the actual economic situation in Chile. This conflict led to
a public controversy within the Jewish community that lasted
throughout the decade and negatively influenced the already
limited possibilities for Jewish immigration.
The controversy was finally resolved on the eve of World War
II with the establishment of a committee for immigration
whose composition and activities were agreeable to both
sides. Meanwhile, despite the restrictions and the
difficulties imposed on immigration, thousands of Jews from
Germany entered the country during the 1930s and quickly
established an auxiliary organization (Hilfsverein [["Help
Association"]], later known as Comité Israelita de Socorros,
Cisroco, 1933 [["Israelite Help Committee"]]), a communal
institution (Sociedad Cultural Israelita B'ne Jisroel,
1938), and a [[racist Zionist]] B'nai B'rith lodge (1937).
Thus another social and organizational element was added to
Chilean Jewry and left its mark on the community as a whole.
[1939: Jewish refugees are
kept in the south - movement to the capital -
anti-Semitism against German Jews to settle in the south -
Representative Committee founded]
Some of the refugees - 879 in number - who reached Chile
after the outbreak of the war were accepted on condition
that they settle in the south and not move to the capital.
[[In the south of Chile winter lasts 5 months with fog
without end and much rain with temperatures of 0 to 5
degrees, absolutely uncomfortable. Summer is with much rain
with temperatures up to 18 degrees]].
Fifteen families made an attempt at agricultural settlement,
especially on the island of Chiloé, and tens of others were
supposed to follow them; the rest settled in the cities of
After several years of living in difficult climatic and
economic conditions, however, a sizable number settled in
the principal cities of the country. This move was in turn
exploited by the anti-Semites, who had already attempted to
harm Chilean Jews during the 1920s and whose activities had
increased during the 1930s and particularly during the war.
They now demanded that all German refugees be obligated to
settle in the south.
Against this background of intensified anti-Semitism, the
Comité Representativo [["Representative Committee"]], the
central body of Chilean Jewry, was established in 1940. This
organization encompasses all the Jewish organizations of
Chile and represents Chilean Jewry vis-à-vis the
authorities, combats anti-Semitism, and also engages in
matters of a general nature. It is a member of the [[racist
Zionist]] *World Jewish Congress. An agreement between the
Zionist Federation and the Comité Representativo signed in
1943 accords to the former all Zionist activity and its
representation vis-à-vis the local authorities.
[[There is no number of Jewish refugees indicated. Probably
there were also Jewish refugees coming under contingents of
Despite anti-Semitism, the economic position of the Jews
gained increasing stability during World War II, and in 1944
the Banco Israelita [["Israelite Bank"]] was established in
Santiago. It rapidly became one of the most respected credit
institutions in the country. After World War II a small
number of Jews continued to arrive in Chile, and in 1957
some refugees from Hungary were permitted to enter the
country.> (col. 465)
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Chile, vol. 5, col.
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Chile, vol. 5, col.
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Chile, vol. 5, col.