"The sense of decline in Echaurren Plaza, near the heart of the World Heritage site in Valparaiso, Chile, is palpable.
On a typical Sunday afternoon, the Emporio Echaurren cafe has pulled down its metal blinds to avoid attempted robberies. Around the corner from the burned out shell of the Subercaseaux palace, buildings stand abandoned, with their roofs caved in and squatters occupying the ground floors.
“It’s enough to make you cry,” said Cecilia Jimenez, an architect who helped with the bid to become a World Heritage Site in 2003. “There was an enormous energy back then, but that has died.”
Valpo has always been a bit of a mess, but it seems the 2019 chaos has somehow made it even worse. Same story as most of Chile’s major cities, the “estillado” has turned them in to lawless, violent, trash and graffiti-strewn dumps.