Chile History: Governments From Balmaceda to Allende

By | September 19, 2021

(República de Chile). State of South America (756,096 km²). Capital: Santiago (administrative capital), Valparaíso (legislative capital). Administrative division: regions (13). Population: 17.819.054 residents (2014 estimate). Language: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages. Religion: Catholics 70%, Protestants 15.1%, non-religious / atheists 8.3%, others 6.6%. Currency unit: Chilean peso (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.822 (41st place). Borders: Peru (N), Bolivia (NE), Argentina (E), Pacific Ocean (W). Member of: APEC, OAS, UN, and WTO, associated with MERCOSUR.


Liberal president JM Balmaceda, elected in 1886, tried to answer the demand for new reforms; however, hitting some vested interests he was opposed by the conservatives who managed to dismiss him in 1891. Many privileges were restored and, lacking the reaction of the less well-off classes, in conditions of increasing unease, the government devoted itself to problems of international politics. In 1898 he reached an agreement with Argentina for the delimitation of the central-northern border and in 1902, making use of the arbitration of the King of Great Britain, he stipulated, again with Argentina, a treaty for the arrangement of the southern borders (the Land of fire was divided between the two Republics). However, the international successes could not cancel the internal difficulties. Progressive groupings challenged the conservative line head-on and proclaimed the need for a replacement. The attempt made by JL Sanfuentes, who took office in 1915, to initiate legislation more open to social needs came too late: in 1920 the “Liberal Alliance”, formed by liberals, radicals and democratic socialists, overwhelmed the party in power and led to the presidency A. Alessandri Palma, which introduced various laws in favor of workers; against him once again the conservative right reacted with force and in 1924, with the help of the Army General Staff, forced Alessandri Palma into exile. From that moment, in an alternation of coups of force and returns to legality, which among other things also saw the “restoration” of Alessandri Palma and the adoption, in 1925, of a new Constitutional Charter, as a country located in South America according to topmbadirectory, Chile was governed by hand heavy by the conservatives, aided by the army. The same military, from 1927 to 1931, had their own exponent, General Ibáñez del Campo, to the presidency of the Republic.

In June 1932 the left reacted and managed to install a socialist government for a few weeks after which Alessandri Palma (1932-38) returned to power, this time with a conservative program. In 1936, on the wave of resistance to Nazism (the Chilean collectivity of Germanic origin had not remained insensitive to Nazi ideological penetration), the democratic parties, including the liberal one, formed a Popular Front which in 1938 won the elections and designated the presidency of the Republic the radical P. Aguirre Cerda. His successor Ríos Morales (1942-45) declared war on the Axis. At the end of 1945 the supreme office of the state was assumed by another radical, G. Gonzáles Videla. A friend of the United States, he got involved in the Cold War and banned the Communists. The Popular Front was now dead. The country was again subjected to liberal-conservative regimes. The presidencies of Ibáñez del Campo (1952-58) and Alessandri Rodriguez (1958-64) sanctioned precisely that political situation. But this very nineteenth-century involution caused an important backlash. On 3 September 1964, with an overwhelming majority, the Christian Democrat E. Frei Montalva was elected president, advocate of a “revolution in freedom”. His government was distinguished by a whole series of progressive measures, which found their maximum expression in the agrarian reform, in the scholastic reform, in the accentuated state participation in the exploitation of the copper mines. The persistent economic difficulties of the country and, at the same time, the need for more and more frequent Christian Democratic convergences with the liberal-conservative right favored the advance of the left, which, having reconstituted a frontist alliance, Unidad Popular (communists, socialists, radicals, social democrats and dissident Christian Democrats), won the elections of September 1970 bringing the socialist S. Allende to the presidency of the Republic. Allende’s program, aimed at a gradual realization of socialism in compliance with the democratic Constitution and, in particular, at the elimination of the foreign capitalist mortgage on the Chilean economy (in 1971, among other things, the nationalization of the copper companies began), however, encountered violent internal opposition which caused, together with the economic pressures exerted on the country from outside, a serious crisis, which resulted in the mid-1973 strike of the transport workers that paralyzed the country.

Governments From Balmaceda to Allende