21 de Mayo
On the twenty-first of May, Chile celebrates a major holiday, Glorias Navales, with festivities, celebracions, military parades, speeches and commemoration services in honor of the battle of Iquique on May 21, 1879,during the War of the Pacific.
There are many sporting events named Glorias Navales: yacht races, bicycle racing, marathons and others.
But what does this holiday celebrate? What are the Glorias Navales? To understand this, we need a little backstory.
May 21st marks the anniversary of the great naval battle of Iquique. This battle, on May 21, 1897, took place during the War of the Pacific the naval forces of Chile and Peru.
Iquique is a port town in northern Chile that at the time was controlled by Peruvian forces. Chile´s navy had blockaded the port with two ships The Esmeralda and The Covadonga. Peru sent two vessels, The Huascar and The Independencia to confront the Chilean blockade.
The Peruvian vessels where iron-clad and better armed than their wooden, Chilean counterparts. The Independencia chased the Covadonga away while the Esmeralda was left to fend the Huascar.
The cannon fire of the Esmeralda was ineffective against the iron-clad Huascar and while the Peruvian vessel´s shots took a toll on the personnel of the Chilean ship, the damage to the ship was minimal.
The Peruvian captain of the Huascar decide to ram the Esmeralda.The Chilean captain, Arturo Prat, yelled to his men to board the Peruvian ship but unfortunately not many heard him and he leaped onto the enemy ship and was shortly killed.