- Oct 2018
in the harbor of St. Maria–a small, desert, uninhabited island toward the southern extremity of the long coast of Chili.
Map of Santa Maria, 1700
Santa Maria is a possession of Chile, roughly 10 nautical miles from the mainland, and just south of the port town Concepcion. More recently the island was used as a penal colony for supporters of Chile's Salvador Allende after his government was overthrown by a US-sponsored coup.
Although Delano describes it as nothing more than a "desert, uninhabited island" it in fact has a well-documented history in the European colonization of South America, especially concerning the Dutch West India Company's conflicts with Spain in the late 16th century (note mentions of Santa Maria in Lane, pp. 73-77).
Note as well that by the conclusion of the narrative, the Saint Dominick does fulfill its intended journey from Valparaiso, Chile to Callao, a port just outside of Lima, Peru. (See map, contemporary with the composition of Benito Cereno.)