Destruction in the Violeta Parra Museum: “There Is Nothing Left to Burn.”

SANTIAGO – The Violeta Parra Museum was set on fire on Friday in a night of violent protests around Plaza Italia. The museum has suffered violent damage before, which has left the administration livid. Several firefighter units arrived to combat the flames which consumed much of the building.

As the Violeta Parra Museum burned again on Friday, the museum’s director, Carmen Luisa Letelier, told the newspaper La Tercera “it is completely inexplicable why they would attack a cultural site, especially one that is dedicated to such a popular and transversal figure as Violeta Parra.” She added, “there is nothing left to burn. We are overwhelmed, horrified.”

According to the museum, no personnel were harmed. All exhibitions remain safe as they were removed from the site following the first fire on Feb. 7.

Violeta Parra is a Chilean folk hero and among the founders of the Nueva Canción Chilena. Artists like her resurrected traditional folk music in the service of social justice. Parra achieved some fame especially in Paris in the late 1950s/early 1960s. She committed suicide in Santiago in 1967.

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History Repeats Itself in Chile

The Fires

On Friday at around 6 p.m., over a dozen firefighter units arrived at the scene as residents were evacuated from adjacent buildings on Carabineros de Chile and Ramón Corvalán streets. The flames have damaged the walls, roof, and interior of the museum, and smoke was visible from various places in the capital. The fire was under control by 8 p.m.

The museum already sustained severe damage due to a first fire on Feb. 7. Throughout the country, many monuments and public buildings were damaged recently, for example, the Monumento de Héroes de Iquique statue in Valparaíso. In this context, President Sebastián Piñera said, “never before have we seen that Chileans want to burn their own country.”

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