At 17, Moises Olmos was recognized as one of the youngest television cameramen in Chile, he said. Later he worked as a political correspondent for a national TV network in Valparaiso, Chile.
His work covering the national congress for Chilevision opened his eyes to the politics of his country, where corruption was evident, he said. At the same time, he realized that the opportunities for the thousands of professionals graduating from the country's universities was limited.
So, at the age of 21, Olmos decided that he wouldn't be able to progress like he wanted. He packed his bags and flew more than 4,000 miles to Miami. Fourteen years later, Olmos has his own production company in Denver, which, among other projects, produces the local entertainment program "Allimite" that airs on Telemundo.
"I came with the hunger to do something here. It wasn't something that was born when I got here. I knew that here I could grow," said the producer, who is now 35 and living in Denver. "Everybody talks about the American Dream, and I said, 'Well, why not me?' Then I had the desire to launch my own business, to create my own shows and make a name for myself."
That entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and self-sufficiency is typical of Chileans, said Jose Cornejo, an engineer who was born in Santiago and has lived in Denver since 1976. His ability to play dozens of typical Latin American instruments inspired his sons, Daniel, Pablo and Elias, to form the Latin fusion band Debajo del Agua in 2001.
"I believe for us Chilenos it is imperative that we keep moving forward. It wasn't so easy to get to this country from Chile. You have to cross all of Latin America to get here. Maybe that's why you come a little better prepared to confront whatever comes your way and keep on going," he said.
There are approximately 1,680 Chilenos in Colorado, according to the Census. Many of them came with clear goals they planned to achieve. But even with that desire, chilenos in Colorado are very united when it comes to helping the next one to arrive, said Pame Bradford, president of Chilenos en Colorado, which was formed in 2008.
"Chilenos here are supportive, united, brave. We're fighters that don't go down easily, especially when we're trying to help others," said Bradford, who lives in Aurora.
Chileans are also inclusive, Bradford said, and that's why there are hundreds of volunteers from various cultures who come to the annual Chilean Independence Day festival organized by Chilenos en Colorado to enjoy Chilean food, wine, pastries, dance and music. This year the festival will be in Denver's Cook Park on Sept. 17.
But Chilenos don't gather only to celebrate their national holidays. In February 2010, when an intense earthquake magnitude 8.8 rocked a large part of their homeland, causing tidal waves and destroying dozens of towns, Chilenos en Colorado responded to the tragedy with a fundraiser that brought in more than $16,000.
Olmos helped, producing a commercial to promote the event, while Cornejo and his sons offered to play. Funds were delivered to the Chilean Embassy in Washington, D.C.
"This feeling of unity is well ingrained in the Chilean family," said Sonia Valenzuela, who is Bradford's mother. "When we found out about the earthquake, we decided that we had to do something, whether we had family members affected or not."
That kind of support is now directed toward Chilean university students who for the past three months have been marching in the streets, calling on the government of Sebastian Piñera to reform the country's educational system, which is one of the most unjust and expensive in the world, according to student leaders.
The movement hopes to bring to an end the for-profit educational system with increased financial support from the federal government, according to news reports. The protests have turned violent, with at least one death reported and hundreds arrested.
"The education system in Chile has been completely privatized to a point that's nearly criminal. Education has become a business," said Cornejo, who studied engineering in Santiago for two years and completed his degree at the University of Colorado at Denver. If you want a country to rise up, you have to concern yourself with the level of education. At a very basic level, public education is going to enrich or impoverish a nation, and Chile has the funds to finance it."
Lack of funding to finish her degree is exactly what caused Bradford to immigrate to the United States 25 years ago. After traveling the country, she decided to stay and work in Houston, Texas. There she met her husband, Aaron Bradford.
The couple moved to Denver when she decided to open an interpreting service. She also teaches martial arts at Jewell Elementary School and Bradley International Elementary School. Her classes are offered at low cost so that children who couldn't usually afford to enroll at a martial arts academy have a change to learn, she said.
"To me, it's my contribution not only as a woman, as a chilena and a Latina, but also as a martial artist. This is my gift to the community, and I think that many Chilenos make a similar kind of offering," she said.
For his part, Olmos wants to keep creating innovative programs for Colorado's Latino community. His most recent project is focused on launching an Internet channel that would broadcast live telecasts of local amateur leagues, he said. Fútbol Total will air local soccer games via Ustream that would be accessible to everyone.
"We want to make stars out of the players on the street," he said.
Chile's unique combination of diverse geographical areas and Mediterranean climate make it ideal for winegrowing and producing a wide variety of grapes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, and red wine varieties like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère.
Some of the most prominent valleys in the region offer established wine tours through their vineyards.
- Wines of Chile, winesofchile.org
1 cup of red port
3 tbsp. of cognac
1 egg white
2 tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
In the blender, mix the wine, cognac, egg whites and sugar until foamy. Pour into cocktail glasses and sprinkle powdered cinnamon on top.
Courtesy of Pam Bradford
Celebración de la Independencia de Chile
Cuando: September 17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Donde: Cook Park, 7100 E. Cherry Creek South Drive, Denver
Info: chilenoscolorado.com, 303.747.5956
$: 2 adult/por persona, $5 familia/family