Artur Stelmasiak talks with Pablo Domeyko, a great-grandson of Ignacy Domeyko – a hero of Chile and friend of Adam Mickiewicz

ARTUR STELMASIAK: – Your great-granddad dreamt about independent Poland all his life. His dream finally came true. How do you like Poland?

PABLO DOMEYKO: - For me Poland is known from family stories, still modern which still…

– What are you particularly discovering?

– I am discovering Polishness….If somebody does not know the history of Poland, he can only discover modernity of this country where there are a lot of young and happy people in the streets. On the other hand, it is seen that Poles are really emotionally related to Polishness and national values. This strong identity is something valuable, as this is the fundament of our country. Now I understand suffering of my great-granddad and other Poles who had to leave their homeland for various reasons.

– You were in Poland in the beginning of the 90s of the last century. How did our country and Poles change at this time?

– This is completely different Poland, especially people are different. I remember that Poles used to complain that everything was going badly. At present I see enthusiasm and faith in the future.

– How much are you Polish and how much are you Chilean?

– (laughter). I am Chilean in 100 per cent but I really love Poland. I regret that I do not speak Polish very well.

– Your great-granddad Ignacy Domeyko is one of the most important people in the history of Chile. Is it easier for you to live in the country with such a surname?

– I can say that it is easier for me for this reason. However, I must note that the Chilean are not completely open up to people from other countries.

– But I heard that Poles are associated there with everything which is the best: honesty, hardworking, good education and high moral values.

– Undoubtedly, a Pole is associated with somebody who is good and prominent. The Chilean look at Poles through the prism of two people – St. John Paul II and Ignacy Domeyko.

– Ignacy Domeyko is a great person. Today it is difficult to imagine modern Chile, if your great-granddad had not arrived in this country poor in the XIX century. It was thanks to him that Chile is the richest country in Southern America. In what place in the history of Chile is Ignacy Domeyko?

– It is a difficult question….surely he is known and has got a place in this pantheon. It seems to me that it is in the lowest place than it should be. It does not result so much from a bad….but from the lack of historical education. One learns a lot of history, as if it was a telephone book.

– And it was how Domeyko is more famous in Chile than in his homeland. In Poland very few people know who was the best friend of Adam Mickiewicz. But let’s compare Chile and Poland. You perceive some differences and similarities, don’t you?

– The landscape of Poland is even similar to the south of Chile. There are most differences in behaviours. I can see that Poles love beauty. It is a great value in the public space. Whereas the Chilean are more practical. In Poland people care about historical reconstruction of buildings whereas in Chile there are difficulties with it, as we have about 12 earthquakes a day. Approximately every 25 years we have very strong earthquakes which destroy buildings and cause enormous losses.

– There is a belief that Latin America is very religious. How would you compare faith of Poles and the Chileans’?

– It seems to me that Poles are more spiritual and very religious. Also our religious consciousness is on a much higher level. You do not only believe, but you also have intellectual facilities for this faith.

– It is nice to hear such flattery. But in Chile it is not too bad. Is the Church in your country also popular with the society?

– We had serious problems which were used by enemies. The Church, is however, very popular and respected. Over 60 per cent of the Chileans declare to be Catholics but the problem is low attendance to the Holy Masses and weak religious consciousness. For example, physical workers believe that although they are Catholics, they do not have to go to church, but if one talks with them, they speak about God’s presence in their life.

– You are aiming at establishing a museum of Ignacy Domeykoin Santiago de Chile. Are you afraid that he will be forgotten?

– Such a concern always exists, but I think that life of Ignacy Domeyko is colourful and interesting. This person raises a lot of interest which often changes into a hobby.

– Does this hobby also change into interest in Poland?

– Yes, it does as it is impossible to get to know Ignacy Domeyko without any knowledge of Poland and its history.

– After the Second World War at the family home of the Domeyko family, seals from the Embassy of the Second Republic of Poland in Chile were kept. You gave them only after Poland regained freedom. How do you evaluate relations of our countries now?

– These relations are good and Poland is regaining its position in the industrial sphere. However, it seems to me that cooperation between Chile and Poland might be better. I will remind that we used to have alive contacts at the times of the Second Republic of Poland. However, now I am afraid about Chile, as we have the authority which leads our country to a bad direction.

– Surely is it all about the leftist president Michelle Bachelet?

– Exactly it is. Instead of dealing with supporting economy and social policy, she is introducing, for example, legalization of homosexual couples. Recently, in the lower chamber of the parliament, the president has enforced an act permitting abortion. In Chile a lot is spoken about it and I know that conservative politics will sue this act to the tribunal. In the constitution we have a writing about protection of the unborn lives. I am afraid that president Bachelet will want to change the constitution.

– But bishops react to such ideas, don’t they?

– There were very strong documents and pronouncements of bishops but there are also priests who relativise changes about the law of life. Some priests defend leftist ideas.

– Chile is one of very few countries for me where everyone has got a right to live and I hope that it will not change. You have one of the lowest interest of perinatal deaths in the world which proves that you care about life of both children and mothers. Is Chile an evidence that abortion prohibition is something normal or simply good?

– Certainly it is. Recently I have talked with women who are not Catholics but they are for abortion prohibition. Whereas leftist groups and some media show extreme cases to the public opinion, explaining that we have inhuman law. Personally I think that the society in Chile does not want to have babies killed in its country.

– In Poland there is a real chance to introduce law ruthlessly prohibiting abortion. What would you tell politicians who will be in the Seym soon?

– Do not be afraid to defend the unborn, as every child has got his dignity and right to live.

– How do you perceive the future of Poland and challenges which it is facing?

– In my opinion Poland has got a great task to do in Europe, which does not completely know where it is supposed to go. An example can be the issue of migrants, but there are also others, like promoting homosexuality. One cannot put families and marriages on the same level as homosexual couples, as it is a distortion of the human nature and a socially harmful action.

– Inacy Domeyko dreamt about independent Poland. Do you think that he would be proud of his homeland?

– I think so. Contemporary Poland is Poland of dreams of many generations. Every Pole has got his history but we are related together with the history of Poland connected with God. Great sufferings and difficulties which our homeland has gone through, were not without a reason. Maybe that is why Poles are so strong today.


„Niedziela” 25/2016

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl