The Pinochet Lineage



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The Pinochet Lineage

(An official tourist video from Maule can be seen below.)

Pinochet is a French name, and the T therefore strictly taken should be pronunced. More precisely the name originates from Brittany in France, and ethymologically it may stem from the word »pin«, that is: pine, or maybe from the word »pignocher« which means to nibble at some food with the teeth.[1] A lookup in the yellow pages reveals, that Pinochets actually are more frequent in Brittany.

the first Pinochet in Chile in connection at least to the subject of this biography was Guillaume Pinochet (1696-1742), who was from Saint-Malo in Brittany and who migrated to Chile. He married creole Úrsula de la Vega (1704-1786) in 1718 in the town Penco few kilometers from what today is Chiles second largest city, Concepción, now capitol in Chiles Eight Region, Biobío. Concepción was by the way originally founded by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia (ca. 1500-1553) at the location where today lies Penco.

For Guillaume Pinochet the marriage with the creole secured him the right to stay in Chile as there were shifting conditions for non-spaniards and especially french immigrants – suspected of calvinism as they naturally were – to the colonies in connection with The War Of The Spanish Succession, 1701-1714, The Bourbon's rise to the Spanish throne and other incidents.[2] One hundred years after the Pinochet’s marriage, in 1818, Bernardo O’Higgins (1778-1842) declared The Republic of Chile in Concepción that was at the time more or less the southern border of how far The Spanish Empire reached in Chile; further south the defiant Araucanians ruled. Chile by the way never held status as a colony in its own right but was administered from Perú in the North.

Úrsula de la Vega came from Chanco about 30 kilometers South from Constitución, today in the 7. Region, Maule. She had inherited a property there, Conulemu, på 1000 cuadras, about ca. 13.500 acres with cattle, sheep, mules and horses. They settled there and had ten children. Guillaume in addition had some business activities in French circles in Concepción.

The next six generations in the male line leading to our biographied Pinochet were all born and lived in the Maule region around the towns Chanco and Cauquenes. First in succession was a Guillermo Anselmo Pinochet who overtook the Conulemu property. He married a Teresa Bravo in 1761. She died in a smallpox epedemic in 1765-66. The childrens grandmother, Doña Úrsula, who had become widdow in 1742, and who allegedly was a strong caracter, helped out on Conulemu raising the three children. Guillermo Anselmo died in a riding accident.

One of his three children, Alejandro Pinochet Bravo (1764-1830), was the most prominent in this lineage and he added more property to Conulemu. Cattle, sheep etc. were still bred, and wheat and wine was cultivated; the latter crop would a couple of hundred years later prove to be an important export good for Chile. He died one of the Cauquenes area's wealthiest men. In addition he was a colonel in the Chanco Regiment, among others during La Reconquista, 1814-17, when the Spanish Empire in vain tried to reconquer Chile among other colonies but the attempt was ill fated – The Republic of Chile was founded on January 1st 1818 and has maintained sovereignty ever since though there was a Spanish bombardment of Valparaíso as late as 1866.

The following generations leading to our capitán general Pinochet were less prominent or not prominent at all.

A son of Alejandro Pinochet Bravo, José María Pinochet y Urrutia-Avellaneda, married María Josefa Prudencia Letelier Verdugo and she by the way was also a great-grandchild of Guillaume Pinochet and also from Chanco.

A son of this marriage was Manuel Tomás Pinochet Letelier who married a woman by almost the same name as his mother, that is María Josefa Letelier Muñoz, also from Chanco and they were great-grandparents to this biography's main caracter.

A son of their marriage was Manuel Tomás Pinochet Letelier who was married to María Rita Vera Muñoz and they were the grandparents on the male side to the later capitán general Pinochet.

Their youngest of five children was born in Chanco on April 16th 1891 and his name was Augusto Pinochet Vera (1891-1944) as we notice the Spanish tradition of namegiving that is so that a child gets both its fathers and its mothers surnames, so that this Augusto got »Pinochet« from his father and »Vera« from his mother (who had Vera from her father); thus Augusto Pinochet Vera, everyday however just: Augusto Pinochet. He married in the port town Valparaíso in 1914 to Avelina Ugarte Martínez (-1986) who was from Chile's capitol, Santiago. They lived in Valparaíso, and the lineage's connection to the Maule area was thus broken. He moved from the area after his fathers death and took his mother with him.

Valparaíso was for centuries the most important port on the Westcoast of South America and the gate to the rest of the world. Ships on their way to The Pacific Ocean and The Atlantic called here because that trip until the opening of The Panama Canal in August of 1914 went South of South America, through The Strait of Magellan or round Cabo de Hornos, Cape Horn.

The capitol, Santiago, is about 120 kilometers into the land in the great, fertile North-South-going Valle Central, lying between The Andes La Cordillera de los Andes to the East, and La Cordillera de la Costa, a lesser mountainrange at the coast of The Pacific to the West. Valparaíso was then and is now the port of the capitol, though Valparaíso in terms of yearly tonnage handled as of 2007 is second to the port of San Antonio, less than 100 kilometers to the South. The major part of the Navy has its base in Valparaíso and The Navy has its main office there.

Valparaíso was then what one would today call a multi cultural town, and that litterally speaking, There were Spanish, German, British, French, Italian etc. circles in town – and not just circles but virtual communities in town of the different cultures's immigrants to Chile. They for example had their own voluntary fire corpses,[3] and there was spoken, written and run schools in the respective languages.

Even today some hundred years later Chile all together carries – side by side with its pronounced nationalist sentiments – its mark of being an immigrant country. Thus Jan Nørgaard Petersen in his Indtryk fra Sydamerika (Impressions From South America) from 2004 tells about the experience of Germans in the town Osorno in the 10th Region, Region de Los Lagos, in the southern part of Chile, where the author stayed at Residencial Alemania (»Hotel Germany«) going on to the town Puerto Varas, where a 43 year old Frau König Mödinger was a fourth generation immigrant and as such the first generation who did not speak German, while however her daughter was learning the language as she wanted to move back to mother country – Germany, that is![4] Jan Nørgaard Petersen writes that all of German ancestry points out the positive effects of the German influx to Chile, and he aggrees to that as far as agriculture is concerned, while he in so far as the prussian influence to the army goes, thinks it has been a negative influence.[5]

To show Chile's mark of immigration one could display the example of the country's soccer clubs. Among the 18 teams in the best league in the country, Primera División, in the season of 2009, are names like Audax Italiano, founded in 1910 by Italian immigrants, Everton, founded in 1909 by English immigrants, Palestino, founded in 1920 by Palestine immigrants, Rangers, founded in 1902 by Scottish immigrants and Unión Española, founded by Spanish immigrants in 1897. To further shed light on the country's totally different cultural structure and historical making in comparison to a country like for example Denmark, one could remark how three of the teams in the division have their origin at universities, that is the teams Club Deportivo Universidad de Concepción, Club de Fútbol Profesional de la Universidad de Chile and Club Deportivo Universidad Católica. Thee three clubs and their names can in a similar way be seen as evidence that Chile does not have the mark of being a nation of so to speak »one tribe« like Denmark does in an extended way.

Augusto Pinochet Vera worked in the beginning as a 14 year old in Valparaíso as an errand boy in the company Williamson, Balfour & Co, an English-Scottish company that exists in the Town even today and that until 1953 ran sheep herding on Easter island and managed the inhabitants rather authoritatively at that. A sister later got housing in connection to her occupation as a teacher and Pinochet Vera lived there with their mother. He studied at night and got to become work with custums at a company. He was a member of the French, voluntary fire corps in town. He served in the Second Infantry Regiment, Maipo, and could according to the laws return to his position as a customs worker aften having finished his duty.


[1] Vial, Gonzalo, Pinochet: La Biografía, 2002, s. 13-14.

[2] Vial, Gonzalo, »Augusto Pinochet 1915-2006«, tillæg i La Segunda, 11. december 2006.

[3] Koebel, W. H., Modern Chile, s. 73.

[4] Nørgaard Petersen, Jan, Indtryk fra Sydamerika, 2004, s. 325.

[5] Nørgaard Petersen, Jan, Indtryk fra Sydamerika, 2004, s. 328.

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7ma. Region del Maule

This video published on Youtube is an official tourist video from Maule: