Patagonian dreams from deep in the heart of Aysén
The hearts of travelers beat strongly in Aysén with Patagonian dreams of traveling no more and remaining. Remaining in all the tons of ochre that change according to whims of every evening or of the green that attempts to superimpose itself on the infinity of colors that explode in every corner of Aysén.

Aysén is Patagonian color, contrast and diversity, where one can stand before the vast openness of the Pampas, turn around and admire the mountain range that dominates its surroundings. The diversity of Aysén is impressive, from Mount San Valentín at the geographic center of the region one can travel for a hundred kilometers in any direction visiting sites of extraordinary beauty and each of them unique, from the cold of the Northern Ice Fields to a warm microclimate of what is called Chile Chico (little Chile) where it is possible to grow peaches in Patagonia. One can sail through the emerald depths of Lake General Carrera and visit the villages on its shores, going ashore at Puerto Tranquilo, head toward Explorers’ Bay and from there sail to Laguna San Rafael to see the icebergs that break away from their mother glacier. From the lagoon one can return to the interior, cross over several ice fields until reaching the powerful Baker River, the most voluminous river in Chile. From there one can continue toward the south until arriving to Caleta Tortel, capital of the water, the green and the blue, with an imaginary domain over thousands of islands that make up the intricate puzzle of the Aysén coast. If the contrast is still not sufficient, one can leave behind the humid forests of the coast and head to the dry pampas of Balmaceda and follow the line of the border until arriving to the disquieting Valley of the Moon in Ñirehuao. From here one can return to the forests that explode in their greenery between Puerto Aysén and Coyhaique, with innumerable waterfalls that tumble in an ecstatic abundance of Patagonian nature.

Although there are 300 kilometers from north to south, from Raúl Marín Balmaceda to Candelario Mansilla, there is a complexity of geography to Aysén that requires at least two days to travel by car. The Southern Highway is the mother road of Aysén, branching out into small roads that give the feeling that they do not lead anywhere because there are no signs in inhabitation despite the fences that subdivide the land. In another category, there are trails that laboriously attempt to join small settlements with the highway and others more irregular known only by the locals that can only be travelled on foot or by horse and that do not appear on any map.



Is Aysén an ancestral name?
The origin of the name Aysén is attributed by some to the Huilliche word “achen”, which means “to be destroyed” or “to break up”, which is exactly what one can see from the coast, where the land, ice and mountains appear to be falling toward the sea. Others attribute it to the Tehuelche word “aiken” which means place or encampment. However, there is no evidence the Tehuelche people, who called themselves the Aonikenk, ever reached the coast and passed this word to the Chonos and they in turn to the first European explorers that sailed the waters of Aysén.

The Tehuelches, a name given by the Mapuche that means “rough men”, used to arrive to Aysén from the Pampas in the summer, reaching to the limits of the Andean range, which prevented them from accessing the sea. The Chono people moved along the coast in their canoes and spending much of their lives in them, as described by different explorers, indicating that they had strong bodies but weak legs as a result of passing their lives in their canoes.

The Chonos moved among the channels and fjords without entering the interior of the region, impeded by the thick vegetation, fierce rivers and the Andean range that passes through the middle of much of the territory and in parts approaches the coast. From their lives as gatherers and fishermen they left few vestiges of their presence, except for conchales like those on Gran Guateica Island or human remains like those recently found near Puerto Gala. Nevertheless, they had contact with the first explorers, serving in some cases as their guides or even, as in the case of the English sailor, John Bryon, who survived the shipwreck of the ship the Wager in 1741, saving his life and helping him to reach Chiloé Island.

For centuries the Tehuelches, a hunting-gathering people, followed trails from the pampas to their hunting grounds in Aysén where they stayed in pre-established encampments. The Tehuelches left signs of their presence, mainly in the form of wall paintings that can still be seen in Laguna Verde, Cisne Medio, Coyhaique Alto, Cerro Castillo, Chile Chico, Cochrane and others. A common factor of these sites is that they are located where the pampas opens to interior of Aysén, and curiously are the same routes that were later used by settlers to establish themselves in the region.

Visitors who feel the call to explore Aysén share the same feelings of the great, small and anonymous explorers that passed through this region.

The original peoples arrived to Aysén at least 9,000 years ago according to fossil data found at Baño Nuevo, Ñirehuao, which establishes it among the oldest on the continent. A genetic study published in the journal Nature in July 2012 describes three major migratory currents that went from Asia to the Americas via the Bering Strait. The first of these, 15 thousand years ago, populated the continent from Canada to the far south of Chile, navigating along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The most important evidence is spearheads from the Clovis culture in North America, some 11,000 years old, and the remains found at Monte Verde, Puerto Montt, dating 12,500 years ago.

(Figure: List of archaeological sites in the Americas)


The expanse of Aysén and its difficult access made it seem a distant and inhospitable land, but also made it a magnet for explorers who ventured to the cold waters of its coast seeking a way into the interior. The first European to do so was Hernando de Magallanes in 1520, giving it the name of Tierras de Diciembre (December Lands). Later, the first Spanish explorers gave the name Trapananda to the region of Aysén, which in Old Spanish suggested faraway and practically inaccessible lands.

During the era of Spanish rule the region went unnoticed between the strategic Magallenes Channel and the Chiloé Island because the territory lacked precious metals or large human settlements, but rather it was populated by small tribes of hunters and gatherers without well-defined social organization or hierarchy. However, the region had a strategic military value because it was visited by expeditions of powers that were enemies of Spain that might eventually dispute its sovereignty. Curiously, the territory had a mythic value for the authorities of the epoch because it was maintained that one of the innumerable channels in the region led directly to the City of the Caesars, with streets of gold and a fountain of eternal youth and other marvels that outdid all else that had been seen in the conquest of the Americas. Several expeditions were organized with the aim of finding this fabled city but without sufficient human resources to make a success of such undertakings.

In 1741 a castaway from the English warship Wagner changed the perception of the Spanish of this region. They realized the importance of the territory, which could have been claimed by other European powers. Thus, an expedition was organized in 1744 by Alférez Mateo Abraham Edward, who sought the castaway from the English ship and the lost artillery. Abraham not only found the artillery, but also explored Laguna San Rafael, the Messier Channel, made contact with the Chonos and gathered nautical information. Later, the explorations of José de Moraleda between 1786 and 1793 resulted in the first maps of the coast of Aysén. Writing in his log about the number of islands he had seen, Moraleda stated that it was not possible to make an exact approximation, in which “a thousand seems a small number”.

English explorers returned in December 1832 in the brig-sloop, the Beagle, under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy, which entered Chilean waters given that the country was then independent from Spain. Accompanying the expedition was the young naturalist Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution made the voyages of the Beagle among the most famous in history.


Following Chilean independence in 1812, Aysén returned to anonymity until 1870 when the central government sent Captain Enrique Simpson to explore the coast of Aysén with the aim of finding a route into the interior of the region. Simpson discovered the river that today bears his name and that runs down the middle of Coyhaique Valley. Aysén was the last territory to official obtain the presence of the State when, in 1928, the Government of Chile established the Intendance in Puerto Aysén and at the same time recognized the communities of Balmaceda, Puerto Ibáñez and Chile Chico.

There are many reasons why men and women sought to make their lives in Aysén, populating the region spontaneously without the intervention of the central government.

On the coast, the Guaiteca cypress was the first economic resource that attracted interest from outside the region. Among those interested was the immigrant Felipe Westhoff who came looking to export railway ties to Peru. Westhoff founded Melinka in 1859, naming it after his wife. The name seems to have been confused with other ancestral names, but nevertheless it is of Russian origin. In 1880, the businessman Ciriaco Álvarez, originally from Chiloé, established sawmills around what is now Puerto Aysén to work with what was called the green gold of the Guaitecas. The company operated on a large scale with lumberjacks, boats and a certain level of machinery. In his poem Machu Picchu Neruda wrote “Tiempo en el tiempo, el hombre, dónde estuvo?” (Time upon time, and man, where was he?) . We can only imagine where was the man who cut and transported timber and lived and died among these enormous forests. While their lives belong to the anonymity of history, they left behind a cultural heritage brought from their place of origin, Chiloé.

People from Chiloé (Chilotes) were the first settlers to arrive to Aysén via the natural routes provided by the channels along the coast, without the inclement weather being a major obstacle for them. However, in contrast to the generous soils of Chiloé, the land in Aysén did not lend itself to cultivation along the coast and the settlers depended on supplies from outside. One hundred and twenty workers from the Sociedad Explotadora del Baker died from scurvy in 1906 because supply ships did not arrive in time. Some historical source raise doubts about this interpretation and suggest the deaths were the results of conflicts between the Sociedad Explotadora and the workers. Of these lives cut short all that remains are simple and nameless wooden crosses on the Island of the Dead at Caleta Tortel, as if waiting for some future researcher to clarify one of the mysteries of era of settlement.

At the end of the 19th century, the Government of Chile contracted scientists to explore the Aysén region, among them the German Hans Steffen, who was in the region 1894 and 1899. The motive was to establish sovereignty over the region called Western Patagonia and establishing a definitive border with Argentina. The major difficulty for Chile was the lack of access to the interior of Aysén, which impeded carrying out an emigration, basically because of the lack of roads from the coast. In contrast, Argentina had open territories toward its border with Chile, which to today represents a natural route to Magallanes or to the north of the country.

As a result of these explorations, the Government of Chile decided to populate Aysén by offering large land concession to private companies on the condition that the companies had to extract their products through Chile, construct roads to the coast and settle communities and build towns. While there were some exceptions, the reality was that products were removed through Argentina, without meeting the commitment to invest in the development of infrastructure and even less in populating the region.

From the beginning the companies acted as the real power and authority, especially because their concessions were located near the border and thus they could impede the entrance of those seeking to establish themselves on virgin lands in the interior of Aysén. But history sometimes follows its own course and in the case of Aysén Chileans entered the region via Argentina, giving rise to the spontaneous colonization of the territory beginning around 1900. In effect, the settlement of Aysén took place without the intervention of the Chilean Government, which at that time did not exercise effective control of the territory. In contrast, the companies pressured settlers based on their particular interpretation of the rights given to them in their concessions and consequently rapidly fell into conflict with peasants who sought their future in the thousands of unoccupied land in the region. Violence reached a height in what has been termed the War of Chile Chico in 1918 resulting in the deaths of three police officers and a worker, as well several wounded settlers.

Most of those who came to live in Aysén were peasants from central Chile and Chiloé along with some families from Magallanes, which for different reasons lived for a time in Argentina before coming to live in Chile. These families suffered the hostility of the Argentine authorities, which in part arose from border conflicts, but were also a secondary effect of major strikes in the Argentine Patagonia that were harshly repressed by the Federal Government. As well, some of this group of Chileans traveled through the pampas pasturing their herds, which had negative effects on the land, and in this case, the Argentine pampas was not uninhabited like Aysén. Paradoxically, the colonizers of Aysén and their descendents maintained strong ties with Argentina and even today at various points along Patagonia it is common that people regularly cross the border and that children of Chilean parents are born in Argentina (and vice versa).

This easy passage from one side of the border to the other suggests that at the beginning settlers did not give much importance to their nationality. This results in links being forged with both countries and the emergence of the particular culture of the inhabitants of Aysén, with customs typical of Argentina like the game the truco or the dance the chamamé. They also inherited customs from Chiloé like a belief in magic in life and nature that gave rise to stories that lie between myth and reality. The early settlers in Aysén, who prefer the term pioneers, left the most important cultural imprint, which can be summarized in the pride of being Patagonian and Aysenian, a feeling that is shared among the entire population independent of their social origin, gender or age.

(Figur: Historic Events Map of Aysén)



1520 Hernando de Magallanes sails along the Aysén coast during the expedition that circumnavigated the world.
1553 The Spanish mariner Francisco de Ulloa explored the southern regions of Chile during the era of Spanish dominion.
1557 The Spanish explorer Juan Ladrillero sailed to the Gulf of Penas and along the Patagonian channels until reaching the Straits of Magellan.
1562 Arias Pardo Maldonado explored to the south of Chiloé, taking possession of the territory of Trapananda, now Aysén.
1674 Antonio de Vea, Spanish mariner, was sent by the Viceroy of Peru to explore the southern channel in search of English settlements.

1741 The British ship the HMS Wager, which was part of the fleet of Commander George Anson, was wrecked on an island that bears the name of the ship to south of the Gulf of Penas.
1741 John Byron, a young midshipman at the time of the shipwreck of the HMS Wager, wrote a book about the mutiny that divided the survivors into two groups. He survived the harsh conditions of the southern winter together with Captain Cheap, Lieutenant Hamilton and midshipman Campbell. The group was able to reach Chiloé Island thanks to the help of Chono canoeists. Byron’s book about the shipwreck has been the source of inspiration for novels about sailing and exploration, some of which became movies, such as the Master and Commander. The Far Side of the World, which was shown in Spanish as Capitán de Mar y Guerra.
1744 The expedition of Mateo Abraham Edward found the remains of the English ship the Wager. Edwards explored San Rafael Lagoon and had contact with the Chono people.
1766 The Jesuit priest José García Alsué went up the Puyuhuapi Channel and to Queultat and explored the area in search of the City of the Caesars.
1786 Expedition of José de Moraleda who undertook a detailed mapping of the area between Chiloé and the coast of Aysén.

1828 First voyage of the Beagle under the command of Pringle Stokes who, after exploring the Patagonian channel up to Aysén, committed suicide in Hunger Port in the Magellan.
1834 The second voyage of the Beagle around the world under the command of Captain Robert Fitz-Roy, who explored the Patagonian channels. The young Charles Darwin participated in the voyage. His subsequent theory of evolution made the Beagle one of the most famous ships in history and synonymous with exploration.
1834 Charles Darwin sailed along the coast of Aysén on board the Beagle. Darwin was cited out of context as describing Aysén and Patagonia as a “green desert”. In reality Darwin was deeply impressed by the tropics and by Patagonia, as he wrote in his autobiography, “The glories of the vegetation of the Tropics rise before my mind at the present time more vividly than anything else; though the sense of sublimity, which the great deserts of Patagonia and the forest-clad mountains of Tierra del Fuego excited in me, has left an indelible impression on my mind”
1856 Francisco Hudson Cárdenas, a lieutenant in the Chilean navy who was born in Chiloé explored the coast of Aysén looking for a pass through the Ofqui Isthmus. He discovered that there was no pass and recommended the construction of a canal. The Chonos were accustomed to crossing the isthmus portaging their canoes and in that way avoided the dangerous Gulf of Penas.
1859 Founding of Melinka, named by Felipe Westhoff in honor of his wife.
1862 Captain Francisco Vidal Gormaz of the Chilean navy explored Chiloé and Aysén as far as Guaitecas.
1878 Eruption of Lautaro volcano, which had originally been called Mount Humboldt. An Argentine expedition in 1952 renamed the volcano Lautaro in honor of Mapuche military leader during the first stage of the Spanish conquest of Chile.
1880 The Chiloé entrepreneur Ciriaco Álvarez began logging Guaiteca cypress trees and constructed warehouses and stores near what is now Puerto Aysén to supply goods to his workers. Because of the fortune he amassed he was called the “Cypress King".
1886 Pedro Ñancupel Alarcón, called the pirate Ñancupel, was captured in Melinka. He was tried and convicted for robberies and murder and sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in Castro.
1894 The Welsh explorer Llwid Ap Iwan traveled for the first time through the area between what is now Coyhaique and Lake General Carrera.

1901 Pioneers gradually began arriving, first to Balmaceda, and to Puerto Ibáñez in 1908, Chile Chico in 1909, Coyhaique in 1912, Baker and Lake Verde in 1914.
1902 With the British government acting as arbitrator, the border between Chile and Argentina in southern Patagonia.
1903 Concession given to the Industrial Society of Aysén.
1906 One hundred and twenty workers died, the majority of them from Chiloé. According to the official version, the cause of death had been scurvy. Nevertheless, it has been suggested that the workers were poisoned by the private company Explotadora del Baker, but this has been denied by several authors. The company was going bankrupt and its workers had undertaken arduous work without the aid of machinery or logistical support or adequate food supplies, totally isolated from the rest of the country where the company was the only de facto authority. The island, with its anonymous and simple wooden crosses, was declared a National Monument in 2001.
1907 Carl Johan Fredrik Skottsberg, a Swedish botanist and explorer traveled through Patagonia. He arrived by land from Argentina to area around the Cisnes River and then went south, traveling by what is now Coyhaique and Lake General Carrera, returning to Argentina via the Jeinimeni River.
1908 Concession given to the Sociedad Explotador Río Baker.
1917 Founding of Balmaceda.
1918 The first doctor in Aysén, Dr. George Schadebrodt, of German nationality, came to Coyhaique.
1920 The entrepreneur and pioneer Esteban Lucas Bridges, who authored the book El último confín de the Tierra (The last frontier of the Earth), began business operations in the area around the Baker River.
1924 Founding of Puerto Aysén.
1924 Concession given to the Cisnes River Livestock Company.
1926 Founding of Lake Verde.
1927 Founding of Valle Simpson.
1928 Founding of Chile Chico.
1928 The Territory of Aysén was established by the Government of Chile.
1928 The first hospital was established in the city of Puerto Aysén.
1929 Founding of Coyhaique, originally named Baquedano.
1929 The first newspaper in the region, El Aysén, was founded.
1929 Arturo Merino Benítez, together with Captain Vergara and Lieutenant Schaerer took off from Puerto Montt and flew over the Aysén estuary, making them the first pilots to fly over continental Chiloé and Aysén.
1930 Founding of Cochrane, originally named Pueblo Nuevo.
1930 First movie theater was opened in Puerto Aysén by the Spanish immigrant Roberto Campistó.
1930 Discovery of the cave paintings near the Pedregoso River in Chile Chico by the German geologist Max Yunge.
1930 The first midwives arrived to Puerto Aysén, Elena Domínguez, and Coyhaique, Julia Bon.
1930 Opening of the experimental Puerto Montt-Puerto Aysén airline with the upgrading of two amphibious airplanes in Puerto Aysén.
1930 Regular maritime services between Puerto Montt and Puerto Aysén began.
1931 Three Kawaskars are killed in Bajo Pisagua, near the Island of the Dead and the community that was the precursor to the contemporary town of Caleta Tortel. A group of Kaweskar canoeists approached Estancia Posadas to exchange food for furs. On a second occasion there was a confrontation that resulted in the deaths of the three Kaweskars.
1931 The approximate date of the founding of Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez. The area was among the first to be settled by pioneers beginning around 1908.
1932 Juan Augusto Grosse, who was born in Germany, began exploring in Aysén. His routes of exploration are considered precursors of the roadways that would be constructed in the region.
1934 Founding of Guadal.
1934 Establishment of the first theater group in Aysén, the Evaristo Lillo Artistic Center.
1934 Juniuos Bird and Margaret McKelvy explored the southern channels in a small boat the Hasperus. They made contact with the original peoples of the channels and conducted archeological, anthropological and linguistic work. Their journey from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas is legendary. Bird is considered by some to be the inspiration for the movie character Indiana Jones.
1935 Founding of Mañihuales.
1935 Founding of Puyuhuapi by German colonists who arrived to the area drawn by the writings of the explorer Hans Steffen.
1936 Colonists begin starting large-scale fires to clear land for farming. The practice of setting fires continued until 1956 and reduced forests by 50%.
1938 Construction began of a fully equipped luxury hotel for tourists to San Rafael Lagoon. The three-floor building remained empty because tourist did begin arriving to the area until decades later. The hotel was abandoned and finally destroyed by a fire in 1994.
1952 Founding of Cisnes.
1955 Founding of Caleta Tortel.
1942 The first newspaper in Coyhaique, El Regional, was established.
1952 Ernesto Hein Águila founded the legendary Hein Airline that provided services to every corner of the region.
1952 Founding of Cisnes.
1959 Creation of the Laguna San Rafael National Park.
1960 Luis Ojeda and Baldo Araya Uribe founded the first radio station in Aysén, Patagonia Chilena de Coyhaique. It was particularly famous for the personal messages that listeners sent to relatives throughout the region, making them part of the public domain.
1962 Federico Führer, a German pilot and pioneer in aviation in Aysén, died in an accident near Lake O’Higgins.
1963 Chilean workers were repatriated from the Argentinean province of Chubut when the Federal Government of Argentina annulled petroleum contracts, which resulted in high levels of unemployment. The repatriated Chileans began the community of Gabriela Mistral de Coyhaique.
1964 The British mountaineer Eric Shipton made the first east-to-west crossing of the Northern Icefield. Shipton was a distinguished climber with experience in the Himalayas and other extreme parts of the planet, as well as authoring several books on mountaineering.
1965 Police lieutenant Hernán Merino Correa died in a confrontation with Argentine police in the Laguna del Desierto, an area bordering on the Chilean community of Candelario Mansilla. In 1995 a arbitration court decided that the Laguna del Desierto belonged to Argentina.
1966 Opening of Presidente Ibáñez Bridge in Puerto Aysén.
1966 Founding of Villa Cerro Castillo.
1966 Founding of Villa O´Higgins.
1966 Felipe Bate Petersen held the first conference on the original peoples of Aysén, while he was a high school student in Coyhaique (approximate date). Bate is now a distinguished archeologist and founder of the theory of Latin American social archaeology.
1967 Ohri Donoso Lehmann created the theatrical group Los Ñires in Coyhaique, which performed throughout Chile until the military coup d’état of 1973.
1969 Study by Hans Niemeyer of the cave paintings near the Pedregoso River.
1972 Felipe Bate discovered the archaeological site of Baño Nuevo; with skeletal remains dating back 9,000 years. The military coup of 1973 interrupted his research.
1972 The song Viejo puente song by the group Los Lazos and directed by the musician Arturo Barros wins the folk music competition in the Viña del Mar Festival, an important musical event at the level of Latin America.
1973 The military coup d’état took place on September 11, 1973. In the Aysén Region the Secretary of the Communist Party Juan Vera and José Pérez and Néstor Castillo were taken prisoners and subsequently disappear. The teacher Jorge Vilugrón was shot in Puerto Cisnes.
1975 Founding of the newspaper El Diario de Aysén.
1976 Official beginning in Puerto Montt of the construction of the southern highway, which after more than 20 years reached Villa O’Higgins. To date no history has been written that takes into account the technical, political and social aspects of this construction. There were doubtlessly thousands of anonymous actors in the Military Work Corps and laborers with minimum employment program whose labors made this possible. Special mention should be made of those who died in the construction of the highway, because there is no official record of this with their names and the circumstances of their deaths, although there are animitas (*) along the roadside as a record of the men and women that faced the rigors of building a highway through Aysén. (*) Animitas are small shrines that generally feature a cross on top. They are common throughout Chile and are a way to commemorate the death of a loved one, usually when the death by accident or violence. They are common along roadways and families light candles and leave flowers.
1983 Founding of Villa Amengual.
1991 Eruption of the Hudson volcano, one of the most violent recorded in Chile. It resulted in physiognomic changes in the area, including destroying pastures and fertile fields. Other eruptions have been recorded in 1930, 1971 and 2011.
1994 Founding of the newspaper El Divisadero.
1998 Pablo Besser, Mauricio Rojas, José Montt and Rodrigo Fica made the first complete north-to-south crossing of the North Icefields.
2002 Seven students from the Santa María University in Valparaíso died while climbing Mount San Valentín in the Northern Icefields.
2005 Researchers from the Patagonian Ecosystem Research Center (CIEP) discovered sites with cave paintings at Lake Póllux, El Salto and Lake Elizalde.
2006 The citizen group Aysén Life Reserve was formed, and soon gave rise to the organization the Council for the Defense of Chilean Patagonia, which encouraged opposition to the construction of large hydroelectric projects under the slogan “Patagonia without dams”.
2006 Constitution of the company Hidroaysen with the objective of constructing two controversial hydroelectric facilities on the Baker River and three on the Pascua River and a transmission line to central Chile.
2007 An earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale took place. The subsequent tsunami caused the deaths of ten people in Aysén fjord.
2008 Opening of the Aysén Regional Library.
2008 Opening of Electronic newspaper, defined as “ citizen 2.0 and 100% collaborative”.
2009 CIEP researchers discover cave paintings near Coyhaique.
2009 First Aysén Patagonian film festival.
2010 First digital and printed editions of the magazine
2010 Debut of the Latin pop band Los Vásquez from Coyhaique. Their first album Contigo pop y cebolla had the highest sales in Chile in 2011.
2011 Discovery of the remains of Chono people near Puerto Gala.
2012 A social movement emerged in Aysén that left the Region paralyzed with protests over diverse issues with the Chilean Government over making substantial improvements in areas of the economy, health care, education and measures to mitigate the high cost of living in Aysén compared to other regions of the country. Its slogan “your problem is my problem” resonated deeply within the region and beyond among those who sympathized with its social demands.