Marching through the Atacama during the War of the Pacific, one Chilean general opined that his troops had fought ‘more against the desert than against men’. For those soldiers, the desert became a hell on earth.
Like a herald of lost Atlantis, Gregor MacGregor arrived in 19th-century London with news of a Central American utopia. Unfortunately, Poyais didn’t exist and its would-be emigrants found only a ‘sinister coast of disillusion’.
In certain parts of Spanish America today O’Higgins is a name still remembered and honoured to an extent that would surprise the great majority of Irishmen who have never heard of the once famous Viceroy of Peru or of his son, the founder of Chilean independence.