In the second half of the 17Th century, when non military vessels were
attacking the Spanish merchant vessels on their way to Spain from
Panama, there was only one word in Spanish to designate those attackers,
be them true pirates, freebooters, privateers or corsairs, and that word
was "Piratas". Even if their fate was not always the same depending on
which group they belonged to (to be hanged or not), the word was the
same. And when in 1951, a group of Chilean Yachtsmen created "The
Hermandad de la Costa" (translated in English as "The Brotherhood of the
Coast"), they certainly did not have in mind to allow the possibility to
confuse who we are with "piratas". I am convinced, and to be proven
wrong will take supporting documents and not just hear say, that the
founding brothers never had in mind that we would one day play pirates
or that we could claim a spiritual ancestry with the "brothers of the
coast" of the Island of La Tortue, also called piratas.
The fact is that a pirate is a common law criminal at sea. That is the
legal definition and the only one accepted by all.
There has been pirates from the day man ventured at sea, back thousands
of years ago where ever shipping was to be found, as the long maritime
history of the Mediterranean and the China sea will testify. Pirates
were common throughout history and today they are active in most parts
of world, however, none are currently more conspicuous than those
hijacking ships along the coast of Somalia. The pirates active along the
East Coast of North America and in the Caribbean during the 17th and
18Th centuries only represents a small part of the history of piracy.
One should never doubt the nature of piracy. Pirates are conceited and
violent. They bear arms and attack whoever is not with them and could
yield a benefit, however small it might be. Pirates steal, rape, take
hostages, ask for ransoms and kill. They don't play games. Remember Leon
Klinghoffer in October 1985, thrown overboard on his wheel chair from
the deck of the Achilles Lauro.The fact is that many seaman are still
being killed (Sir Peter Blake) or seriously injured annually by pirates
testify to this. Many contemporary pirates (as pirates of old) are
convicted criminals who hide their real names behind a nickname.
Pirates do not love the sea. They merely see it as a their criminal
hunting ground - the place where they conduct their illicit activities.
There is no such thing as a pirate uniform or pirate dress. Pirates will
wear anything they have or whatever clothes is practical, including
clothes that they may find in their loot.
In short, there is nothing more alien to what the Brotherhood of the
Coast represents than pirates. In fact, the use of nicknames was not
even a custom in Chile, and in the rest of South America until much
later when this habit of having a nickname was brought in by the
European brotherhoods. And I am at a loss as to why in many cases, we
hold brotherhood functions asking brothers to dress as pirates or even
using the word "pirate" in naming
the function, or even worse, using a pirate logo (skull and crossed
bones) for their table. To me, the use of that word can only bring
disservice to who we are and I don't think it adds anything to the fun
and the joy to be had by getting together as brothers. I hope it will
not take a 9/11 of the sea for the message to get through.