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It is the heart of the City of Tacna, in her they are carried out those but civic important acts as that of the Procession of the Flag, are also some of those but tourist important attractiveness of this city.

The procession of the flag
(Episode of the Captivity of Tacna)

"Tacna and Arica - the same thing that Alsace and Lorena - they have been everywhere theater during their long captivity of interesting episodes that you/they have made proverbial the unquenchable patriotism of the children of those counties. Unfortunately, in Peru there has not been a writer that to likeness of Paul Deroulede in France, have eternizado those events in the book, for example of the coming generations and also for honor and glory of the country.

Me that I have been born in Tacna and that I have passed my childhood and my youth's part there, I have been present witness of those episodes that I always remember with pride. A partner of journalistic works asks me that he narrates some of these anecdotes, and I consent to the demand, knowingly that my story won't take place in the spirit of people that you/they read it the deep impression that shook my spirit when I saw be developed before my eyes the unexpected and moving scene that I will refer.

It happened the case in 1901 (sic). It was for then accidental Intendant of Tacna, the general don Salvador Vergara, impressionable and suspicious man that, during their brief administration he/she always stayed on the weapons, clever for any event, to the military garnish that was to their orders, like he/she hoped an invisible enemy attacked the square from a moment to another.

An institution very old and very noted tacneña: the Society of Mutual Helps "The Future", wanted one day to make bless in the parochial Church a magnificent silk banner, embroidery with gold, but, like in those days they had prohibited the Chilean authorities to exhibit Peruvian flags in the city, it was need to send a Commission of partners to the Intendency to procure the corresponding permission. General Vergara's negative was firm.

-Not I want flags in the streets, he/she said. They provoke patriotic manifestations and those manifestations give origin to against manifestations that put in danger the public order.

And there was not half of making him/her vary the resolution.

Days later, already in eves of July 28, the Society "The Future" that wanted to take place somehow the day of the Homeland, requested the wanted permission again, and the Intendant refused it again.

-Take the banner to the Church in a box, he/she said, and in the same form they return with him to the local of the Society. We save this way ourselves a conflict.

He/she insisted the Commission, alleging that in Tacna all the foreign collectives, even China, enarbolaban their flag when them placía and that it was not fair that the Peruvians that were in own floor, are only private of this freedom.

A strange idea, knows God of what later reaches, it should cross in that moment for general Vergara's brain, because, changing tone suddenly, he/she said:

-They have you the permission that you/they request, but with the condition that they guarantee me, personal low responsibility that driving the flag for the streets, the Peruvian town won't make manifestation some of patriotic character. I demand, certainly, in a concrete way that there are not acclamations neither live, neither the lightest scream that means, neither far, a provocation for the Chilean element.

The members of the Commission looked at themselves a confused point, estimating, without a doubt, too venturous the commitment that I/you/they were put, but, resolved to everything, they accepted it, putting this way in serious risk their responsibility.

-It is well, Mister Intendant, - one said of them - speaking for all. -A single scream won't be heard in the streets during the procession of the banner.

The following day the Peruvian newspapers, at the same time that they gave to know the public the serious commitment contracted by the commission, they recommended the children of the place that the day of the party honored with its attitude the determined word to the leader of the county efficiently.

The aprestos for the great ceremony that should be carried out later one week, in the day of the Homeland, began certainly with all activity amid the public most intense expectation.

The institution in charge of organizing the program - expert of the cavalier and rebellious character of people of Tacna - it sheltered the intimate fear that the party ended up in tragedy. An alive one Peru, answered with an alive Chile, it could transform the streets of the city into a battle field. Amid this uncertainty, it arrived, finally July 28.

In the tomorrow's first hours, more than eight hundred members of the Society "The Future" led to San Ramón's Church - the main of Tacna - the banner that had to bless. This adjournment was carried out, intentionally, for streets little converged, in order to avoid, as much as possible that the beautiful flag was known by the neighborhood before the ceremony.

This began at ten o'clock with the competition of almost the Peruvian population's entirety.

The three ships of the temple were materially replete of people. Out, in the atrium and in the adjacent streets, a countless multitude awaited, impatient the end of the religious party to escort the flag of the captivity.

In the biggest altar it officiated, aided by two deacons, the Priest Vicar of the parish, doctor Alejandro Manrique - predecessor of the celebrated one Andía Cures that soon after sacrificed its life in service of the Homeland.

Bendíjose the banner, cántose a you solemn deum, and soon after the Vicar ascended to the pulpit and he spoke to the enormous concurrence, exhorting it to always maintain latent in the soul the love of God and to the Homeland, to support with integrity the bitterness of the captivity and to trust without fainting the just repairs of the future.

This sentence, entitled "Cruz and the Flag", moved intensely to the auditory.

Finished the ceremony, the concurrence began to abandon the temple and to augment the immense crowd that became agitated, imposing, in the surroundings.

At the last, when they were no longer nobody inside the Church, he/she appeared in the door, sustained on high, beautiful and radiant as never, the white and red flag of Peru.

And then, in that solemn instant, it happened there, in the street full with sun and tight of men, women and children, of all social condition; something unexpected, something that I won't forget never, something that made me experience one of the deepest emotions in my life.

The banner appeared in the door of the temple, and ten thousand people congregated in the atrium and in the immediate streets they became agitated a moment, and then without previous agreement, as impelled by a single and irresistible will, they fell, at the same time, of knees extending the arms toward the blessed emblem of the Homeland.

An exclamation, neither a single exclamation, neither the most insignificant scream was not heard. Sealed all the lips for a commitment of honor, remained silent. And amid that strange and enormous silence that infused astonishment and it caused admiration, the flag, lifted very up, very up, it advanced slowly for amid that ocean of discovered heads.

And it passed the flag and behind her, as enormous escort, the whole town, and that procession advanced without musicians neither acclamations - always in silence, always majestic - it traveled, imposing respect, and almost fear, the central shreds of the captive city.

In an intersection, an old soldier of the Field of the Alliance, a man of the town invalidated by a grapeshot helmet, step opened up, like he/she could, for among the compact crowd, and approaching to the banner, he/she kissed with religious unction the fringes of gold of the glorious emblem. And a hive of children imitated the old soldier then. And before that show, at the same time simple and sublime, I must press the eyes to contain the tears.

To the step of the retinue - in which the crowd was transfigured by the pain and the patriotism - the pedestrians were discovered pale of emotion, and until official and Chilean, visibly impressed soldiers, raised the hand mechanically to the height of their caps Prussians in attitude of making the military greeting.

Long years ago I witnessed this episode. In the time lapsed up to now, events of all nature have impressed my spirit strongly; but none - I repeat it - he/she has left deeper print that this in my heart.

Now, when evoking it after so much time, they go by my memory other a hundred patriotic anecdotes happened in our counties irredentas, and my spirit is comforted and my trust grows in the salvation of those towns, worthy a thousand times of a great future, and I sit down pride, big and legitimate pride to have been born in Tacna."

(Federico Barreto Bustíos, 1921)












Page created web March 30 of the one 2005.
© Copyright 2005 Gualberto Valderrama C.