The Chilean mayor with Lewis links

The great-grandson of Lewis emigrants has just been re-elected Mayor of Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile’s most southerly region, for a second term.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 11:43 am
Mayor Claudio Radonich, who has Lewis links
Mayor Claudio Radonich, who has Lewis links

Claudio Radonich has a not unusual Patagonian pedigree – Hebridean on one side and Croatian on the other as a result of two major migrations into the tip of Latin America in the early 20th century, to work on the great estancias.

On his Hebridean side, Claudio’s forebears were Neil Morrison from Breanish and Mary Montgomery from Habost, Lochs, who emigrated in 1911 and both died in 1966 at Porvenir, Tierra del Fuego.

Claudio’s grandmother, Kitty Morrison, married Tomas Radonich and they had four children.

Kitty died last year, just short of her 100th birthday, among the last of that generation of Lewis descendants in Patagonia. Claudio’s mother is from the indigenous Mapuche people.

Active in politics for more than a decade, Claudio stood under the banner of Chile Vamos, a coalition of four centre-right parties which also forms the government of the country. He received almost half the vote on a “unity” platform with the Magellenes region of Chile – of which Punta Arenas is the capital.

There is an extended Morrison family around Punta Arenas which keeps close contact with relations on Lewis. Another cousin, Mirko Vukasovic Morrison, has recently moved to Glasgow where he works as a graphic designer and photographer.

Mirko has visited Lewis on several occasions but Claudio has not got further than Glasgow. However, a twinning arrangement between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Punta Arenas city council seems a natural fit!