At the very south of Chile, and also the South African continent, lies Punta Arenas, a city of about 145,000 citizens, some 20,000 of which are Croatian and predominantly from Brač. There are few who still speak Croatian, but they still have a sense of being Croatian, and are quite persistent in seeking Croatian citizenship. If we take a trip to the cemetery in Punta Arenas, it immediately becomes clear that there must be a host of Croatian traces in the city itself. This is where the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Croatia, with honorary consul Rudi Mijač (from Split) at its head, is located. In the vicinity of the graveyard is a large Croatian square, known as the Plaza al Inmigrante Croata, located on Avenida Bulnes, between El Ovejero street and Hornillas street. The square was designed by architects from the Magellan Architectural Society, and was financed by the Corporacion de Magallanes, whose president at the time was prefect Mateo Martinić Beroš, and vice-president was Roque Tomas Scarpa Martinić.
Croatian square or the Plaza al Inmigrante Croata, Punta Arenas
There are several monuments located on the Croatian square: the Monument to the Croatian Immigrant, the Croatian national crest, a memorial plate of the 100th anniversary of the 4th firefighting division Bomba Croata, and a bust of Marko Marulić. There are two metal flagpoles on the square as well, manufactured by Metalurgica Ružić Ltd, and were donated by its owner, Santiago Ružić Romanelli.
The oldest monument on the square is the Monument to the Croatian Immigrant, which was unveiled on the 7th of June, 1970, and is composed of two main sections: a 14m tall obelisk with four columns, made in white marble, and three bronze figures, which represent and immigrant couple, holding up their child, which was born in Magallanes.
Punta Arenas, Croatian square and Monument to the Croatian Immigrant
The monument was a gift from the Yugoslavian government. At the time, it was called the Monument to the Yugoslavian Immigrant, only to be renamed with the founding of the Croatian republic. The monument was made by sculptor Miodrag Živković. The bronze parts were cast in Belgrade, and the stone sections were made by the author on site.
An invitation to the unveiling of the monument
A letter sent to the Croatian Heritage Foundation in Split related to erecting the monument.
Bishop Vladimiro Crnošija Borić (first on the left) spoke at the unveiling of the monument. Also with him are Mateo Martinić Beroš, the prefect at the time (wearing the sash), and Jerka Kusanović, president of the Damas Yugoslavas committee.
In 1978, on the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Croatians to Magallanes, the Chilean post office published a stamp and envelope with a picture of the Monument to the Yugoslavian Immigrant.
There are other monuments on the Croatian square. One of them is the Croatian crest, which was unveiled on the 30th of May, 2000, in honor of the first decade of the Croatian state, and the 100th anniversary of the Croatian Aid Society, which financed the monument.
Punta Arenas, the Croatian crest monument on the Croatian square.
The Croatian crest is the work of Guillermo Merin, and was made in his workshop. The base of the crest is made of reinforced concrete, and the upper section is made up of seven connected pieces. Before the top section was sealed, seashells brought over from beaches on the Adriatic were stored inside.
The Croatian square also contains a copper plate made in the ASMAR shipyard, dedicated to the Bomba Croata firefighting society, which was donated by Tomislav Martić Radojković, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the society. It was officially unveiled on the 6th of January, 2002.
And finally, a monument to Marko Marulić was erected in the Croatian square on the 20th of December, 2004. The monument, more specifically a bronze bust of the father of Croatian literature, was made by Split’s sculptor Ante Strinić. It was a gift from the city of Split, which sent a delegation to Punta Arenas led by the president of Split’s city council Josip Gotovac, mayor Miroslav Buličić, and deputy mayor Ljubo Urlić.
The monument to Marko Marulić was unveiled by the mayors of Split and Punta Arenas, Miroslav Buličić and Juan Morano Cornejo. Also in attendance, aside from everyone mentioned, were the honorary consul to Chile from Split, Juroslav Buljubašić, the principle of Bol elementary from Split, Davor Bučević, and the director of the Split City Museum, Goran Borčić, whose Split Marulićeva doba (Split in Marulić’s time) exhibition was opened that same day in Casa Azul. Branka Bezić Filipović was there as the head of Split’s branch of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, and journalists Marina Protić and Rodoljub Jović were there representing Split’s media. The musical section of the program included a performance by the Dalmacija Brač band, and on the following day, Hajduk’s veterans played their southernmost game, with squads made up of members from city rosters. There have never been that many people from Split in Punta Arenas before.
The presidents of sister-cities shaking hands. On the left is Miroslav Buličić, and on the right is Juan Morano Cornejo.
Not far from the Croatian square, also on Avenida Bulnes, is Parque Vicente Kusanovic M., a park that Punta Arenas dedicated to one of its more significant citizens of Croatian origin.
Vicente Kusanović Mihovilović (1875 – 1960)
Vicente Kusanović was born in Pražnice on Brač in 1875, and came to the south of Chile when he was twenty, with his brother Ante. The brothers worked hard, and in 1909 they decided to start their own company called Društvo Vicente & Antonio Kusanovic Ltd. They expanded their business, and bought up land outside of the city. Vicente went further afield than Antonio, and became politically active when World War I broke out in Europe, which would later bring him the position of Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He started up an initiative to establish a Yugoslavian bank, as well as other efforts for the common good.
Avenida Bulnes also contains the Plaza Santiago Violic Vlastelica square, named after a Croatian.
In the beginnings of the immigration days, Punta Arenas wasn’t paved, and people would walk in muddy and dusty streets. The city slowly developed over time, and numerous people from Brač found work applying the skills that they had acquired back home. They would insert pieces of stone taken from the sea into the roads, and cover streets with them without any bonding agents. This was called kongulavanje on Brač, and one such street, Avenida Colon, has been left intact to this day, in memory of the hard work and skills that the people from Brač brought over. The people who did this work were Jeronimo Serka, Slavo Bezmalinovich, Francisco Tomsich, Francisco Perich, and Pascual Boric.
Konguli in Avenida Colon.
Punta Arenas, the unpaved Avenida Colon from 1918.
Kongulavanje (photo courtesy of the Croatian home)
Calle Magallanes paved with konguli in Punta Arenas.
There is an elementary school in Punta Arenas called Escuela Republica de Croacia. The school isn’t attended by a large number of students of Croatian descent, but despite that they still hold extracurricular classes in Croatian, and the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports finances visits by professors from Croatia. One side of the school’s facade has the Croatian national crest and the other one the Chilean national crest.
The Republica de Croacia school in 2004 (with Petar Tudor from Santiago during a visit to Punta Arenas), and in its new guise today.
The street in which the Escuela Republica de Croacia school is located is called Croacia. The school is at number 101.
In memory of its sister-city, one of the districts of Punta Arenas was named Villa Split, and there are also districts called Poblacion Monsenor Boric, Poblacion Jorge Cvitanić, and Barrio Croata, or Croatian district.
Croatian district, the home of Rudi Mijač, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Croatia.
Aside from Croacia, there is a street called Mar Adriatico, and another 35 streets are named after Croatians:
Andres Stambuk Juan Sekul
Antonio Goic Jose Loncharic
Antonio Barticevic Jose R. Scarpa
Agata Gligo Kuzma Slavic
Bogoslav Jurisic Lucas Bonacic
Carlos Turina Maria Cristina Ursic
Chedomil Lausic Mateo Karmelic
Dr. Mateo Domic Mateo Paravic
Dr. Juan Rajcevic Monsenor Boric
Dra. Elena Ancic Natalio Brzovic
Dr. Emilio Covacevic Pasaje Gjuranovic
Dr. Emilio Turina Pedro Goic Kursevic
Esteban Capkovic Prolongacion Duvbracic
Esteban Scarpa Santiago Marinovic
Esteban Jacksic Vicente Kusanovic
Eugenio Gligo Zvonimir Gezan
Geronimo Stipicic Pedro Zambelic
At the Plaza Munoz Gamero central town square there is a fountain with the names of various cities from the world marked on it. Brač found its place here, alongside Moscow and Rome. The fountain is in need of renovation, and is currently not in use.
There is a slope in Punta Arenas called Subida Glavic, after the owner of a hotel that used to be there, by the name of Tres Puentes.
There is a firefighting society in Punta Arenas that was founded in 1902, by the name of Bomba Croata, number 4. At the beginning of the 20th century, 53 years after the founding of Punta Arenas, the city started to urbanize, and a group of our emigrants volunteered and formed a firefighting society. Initially it was known as the Compania Austriaca de Bomberos, and all of its members had Croatian family names, and were mostly from Brač. The name of the society changed many times, depending on historical events. Today, when the society has a Croatian name, it is difficult to actually find a member with a Croatian family name. However, they have still preserved certain phrases and adages from its early days, such as Pomoz and Bog i Hrvati. The anthem of Bomba Croata was written by Jose Perich Slater.
In 1978, the Chilean National Bank issued a medal to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Yugoslavians to Magallanes.
In 1986, the Yugoslavian community in Punta Arenas introduced a medal for achievements in science and culture. In 1994, its name was changed to the Croatian Community Medal.
 Magallanica r.37; No 2; Punta Arenas 2009.; Mateo Martinić Beroš: Vicente Kusanovic Mihovilovic pionero colonizador recuerdo de sus reveses fundiario
 Fugellie, Silvestre. 2001. Pioneros de la Patagonia. Magallanes. Pg. 61.
 Bezić Filipović, Branka. 2013. Jedan za sve, svi za jednoga. Croatian Heritage Foundation. Split. Pg. 102.