BECK index

Chile 1950-1935

Sanderson Beck


   Chile of Montt, Pérez & Errázuriz 1850-76
   Chile: War of the Pacific to Balmaceda 1876-91
   Chile’s Parliamentary Republic 1892-1920
   Chile of Alessandri & Ibáñez 1820-35

Chile of Montt, Pérez & Errázuriz 1850-76

Chile 1831-50

      External trade in Chile increased from the 1840s to the 1860s despite a major recession in the 1850s. Gold-mining starting in California in 1848 and in Australia from 1853 increased the export of Chile’s grain. This export boom in the 1850s raised food prices for Chileans. In 1844 Francisco Bilbao had published in El Crepusculo (The Twilight) his “Chilean Society” which criticized colonialism, the church, and most of Chile’s government which reacted by ordering all those copies of the periodical burned. In September 1844 José Victorino Lastarria presented at the University of Chile his paper “Investigation into the Social Influence of the Conquest and the Spanish Colonial System upon Chile,” and he blamed most of Chile’s problems on that and the church.
      President Manuel Bulnes in April 1850 appointed Antonio Varas the Interior Minister. Francisco Bilbao and Santiago Arcos founded the Equality Society (Sociedad de la Igualdad), the year they began publishing The Friend of the People. Victorino Lastarria joined the Equality Society, and he and Federico Errázuriz issued a manifesto for the rights of equality before the law, free expression, inviolable property, free education, and private industry. They accepted universal suffrage for all men. Errázuriz warned Chile’s Congress not to prevent the Republic’s march to civilization. Men including some police agents used clubs to break up a meeting of the Equality Society on August 19, and in the next five days their membership tripled. The Society for Equality tried to take on the new tyrants.
      On 10 February 1851 about a hundred citizens in Concepción offered their Intendant General José María de la Cruz as a presidential candidate. The Liberal Party had nominated Ramón Errázuriz for president, and the Liberals persuaded him to withdraw by the end of March. President Manuel Bulnes Prieto proposed Manuel Montt as the Conservative candidate. The Equality Society protested this, and President Bulnes shut them down. General José de la Cruz and some protestors took up arms. Montt was the first of a series of civilians elected the President of Chile. On April 20 (Easter) a mutiny in the Valdivia battalion tried and failed to take over the barracks at Cerro Santa Lucía. The army directed by President Bulnes on a horse suppressed the revolt and killed their leader, Col. Pedro Urriola. About 200 men died in the brief battle.
      Liberals in La Serena revolted on September 7, and they captured the Yungay Regiment by inviting the officers to lunch. The rebels also took over Charles Lambert’s steamship Firefly. Lambert backed the government, and they returned it at the end of the civil war. General Manuel Bulnes commanded the attack on the rebels who were led by General José de la Cruz; but by the Loncomilla River on December 8 neither side won the battle which left about 1,800 soldiers dead. They made peace eight days later with the honorable treaty of Purapel. The siege of La Serena ended on December 31, and the last skirmish of this short civil war was at Copiapó on 8 January 1852.
      President Manuel Montt on 18 September 1851 had appointed the conservative Fernando Lazcano Mujica the Minister of Justice, Religion, and Education. His attempt to replace secular professors at the Instituto Nacional with priests caused a scandal. Montt transferred Lazcano to be the interim Minister of Treasury, and he was elected to a 9-year term in the Senate and later became Senate president.
      The 1850s were a time of material progress in Chile. Agricultural exports from the mid-1840s to the early 1870s multiplied by 15 times. In the 1850s over half of Chile’s exports went to England, and 94% went to England, the United States, Peru, France, and Germany. The northern miner Matías Cousiño Jorquera married into the very wealthy Gallo family that enabled him to extend mining operations at Lota and Coronel in 1852.
      President Manuel Montt believed in primary education for all the inhabitants and proposed one school for boys and one for girls for every 2,000 citizens. During his two terms from 1851 to 1861 the number of primary schools increased from 571 to 911 including 648 public schools. The University of Chile was started in 1843, and most of their 859 degrees awarded in the next 14 years were in law. The 1854 census found that 17% of men and 10% of women were literate, and in 1865 one of five men could read and one of seven women. El Progreso condemned the Bishop of La Serena for banning books by Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Byron, de Staël, Gibbon, and others. Silver exports reached a high of nearly 8 million pesos in 1855. That year Caja de Crédito Hipotecario was established, and it would become the most valuable mortgage bank in South America. Also in 1855 the Venezuelan jurist Andrés Bello directed the writing of the Chilean Civil Code, and in 1857 he wrote, “The progress made in the last five years can be called fabulous. Magnificent buildings are rising everywhere.”1 Bello worked in Chile until his death in 1865.
      President Montt was easily re-elected without much opposition in 1856. That year Lastarria published a book that criticized Chile’s 1833 Constitution for its failure to protect civil liberties, and he urged social regeneration. President Montt refused to grant a general amnesty, but in 1857 Chile’s Congress approved the amnesty law, though exiled Liberals rejected Montt’s conditions. In August the Congress refused to pass the budget until President Montt appointed a new cabinet. That forced him to name some Liberals. Chile’s Conservative Party was founded in 1857 and was an advocate for the Church. On 29 December 1857 a manifesto announced the new National Party that would support the government in elections. The global recession of 1857 affected Chileans with bankruptcies and widespread unemployment in 1857-58. In a meeting in January 1858 at the farm of the diplomat Ramón Subercaseaux Conservatives led by Joaquín Tocornal joined with Liberals that included Federico Errázuriz to form the Liberal-Conservative Fusion. Conflicts during the Congressional elections in 1858 would lead to another civil war in 1859. On December 12 a few young Liberals who worked on the radical news-sheet La Asamblea Constituyente called for a constituent assembly in Santiago; but soldiers broke up the meeting, and fifty radicals went to prison.
      Young Carrasco Albano urged more freedom in his Comentarios sobre la Constitución Política with separation of church and state and easier naturalization for Protestants. The Society for Equality used agitation, and El Amigo del Pueblo supported the artisans and accepted the name “revolutionaries” but by the progress of ideas, not violence. In 1852 Pedro Félix Vicuña’s El porvenir de hombre emphasized the development of manufacturing and industry, and in 1859 Ambrosio Montt published his Ensayo sobre el Gobierno en Europa which looked at the successful examples of England and the United States. In March 1858 Pueblo published “Visiones proféticas” in which angels sing,

Democracy is the idea of God;
   it is the principle of social perfectibility;
   do not profane this sacred principle.
1. Love God the Creator above all;
   this is the principle of principles.
2. Do not be perjurers or wicked.
3. Render public worship to the divine idea.
4. Love your parents, your elders, and all men;
   respect others so that you may be respected.
5. Do evil to nobody; may your lips pronounce
   nothing but peace, concord, love, and friendship.
6. Raise women to the dignity they should occupy in society,
   seeking in woman the tender mother, the beloved wife,
   the chaste friend, the adored sister,
   the innocent daughter,
   and the angel that sheds perpetual peace
   in this exile we call the world.
7. Live content with what you possess.
8. Do not be false, or hypocritical or mendacious.
9. Respect the peace of families.
10. And love the creative principle.
And then men understood how mischievous they had been,
   and understood what democracy was,
   and they were democrats, and they were happy.2

      The Liberals and Conservatives formed a Fusion movement, and they had a “protest banquet” on 19 October 1858. Radicals and younger liberals had been inspired by Lamartine’s 1858 history of the early stages of the French Revolution, and they opposed the pact with the Conservatives. A small group of guerrillas had seized the town of Talca in the Central Valley in January 1858. That year an editorial in El Curicano wrote,

While the capital absorbs all the income, receives all
the material improvements, concentrates all the benefits,
the provinces … languish in misery and backwardness….
Under the Spanish regime the provinces were exploited
and paid heavy taxes to support the Spanish court.
Now, there is little difference.
We pay heavy taxes and are exploited in a thousand ways
to beautify the court of Santiago.
In our jurisdiction the government does not invest a tenth
of the funds we contribute to the national treasury.3

      President Montt asserted the government’s authority over the church. When the church appealed to the Supreme Court on an employment issue, Mont supported the church’s jurisdiction. Archbishop Valdivieso fired up religious aristocrats against Montt, weakening the Conservative Party. Liberals took the opportunity and revolted again. On 6 January 1859 radicals seized the barracks and controlled Copiapó. On February 12 rebels took over San Felipe. A rebel army of 1,000 men marched 300 miles through desert, and they defeated government forces at Los Loros on March 14. Then they entered La Serena in triumph.
      In the South insurgents trying to attack Concepción were captured, and the rebels who marched on Chillán were defeated in the battle at Maipón. On April 12 only 33 men were killed while 125 were wounded. The government took about 300 rebels prisoners. On April 29 General Vidaurre Leal with 3,000 soldiers attacked less than 2,000 rebels at Cerro Grande. They killed about 100 and captured 500 men while the government had 50 soldiers killed in the largest battle of the 1859 War. The revolutionary army dissolved. By then the montoneras had dispersed. A mutiny in Valparaíso was put down in August. Armed men on September 18 attacked a celebration and mortally wounded General Leal.
      From 1852 to 1860 in the Casa de Correción 71% of the 4,158 female inmates had been sentenced for “faltas al pudor” which included theft, drunkenness, vagrancy, prostitution, adultery, concubinage, and public scandal. In 1859-63 Chileans suffered from uprisings by the oppressed Indians, and a revolt by the Mapuche in 1859 provoked Chileans to take over Araucanía in 1860.
      In April 1860 President Montt appointed Antonio Varas the head of his cabinet. After his presidency Mont became President of Chile’s Supreme Court, and he held that position until his death on 4 September 1880.
      On 16 September 1860 Antonio Varas gave an inspiring speech at the inauguration of a statue of Diego Portales (1793-1837). Newspapers urged Varas to run for president, and National Party leaders supported him on December 15; but on 12 January 1861 he declared that even if they elected him against his will, he would leave the country. In March the National Party nominated the moderate José Joaquín Pérez, and he was elected and cheered at his inauguration on September 18. He urged national reconciliation, and on October 4 he submitted to Congress an amnesty bill for the past ten years.
      About 45,000 children in Chile were attending public and private schools in 1861. That year Chile’s production of silver was 33,000 metric tons, and in 1876 it would reach a high of 52,000 metric tons which was one-third of the world total. Chile’s silver production would then decline to 26,000 tons by 1890.
      In April 1862 Chilean freemasons organized an independent Grand Lodge, and by 1872 they had ten lodges. President Pérez in July appointed ministers from the National, Liberal, and Conservative parties including Manuel Antonio Tocornal as Interior Minister and Victorino Lastarria as Finance Minister. The Radical Party was organized in 1863. In September a railroad connected Santiago with Valparaíso which had over 60,000 people. In Santiago at the La Compañia church on December 8 at least 2,000 people, mostly women, died in a fire on the last day of month-long devotions to the Virgin Mary. This bitter tragedy stimulated new fire regulations.
      In April 1864 the Spanish navy took over the Chincha islands off Peru’s coast including the rich guano there. Chile’s government declared neutrality, though they denied Spanish ships coaling rights in their ports. On 25 September 1865 Chile declared war on Spain. Chile soon allied with Bolivia and Peru. On November 26 Chile’s corvette Esmeralda captured the Spanish gunboat Covadonga. On 7 February 1866 a few Chilean and Peruvian ships fought off two Spanish frigates in the battle of Abtao. In retaliation on 31 March 1866 (Easter) Spanish ships bombarded Valparaíso for three hours causing commercial losses estimated at 15 million pesos.
      Also in 1866 Chile made a treaty with Bolivia that set the boundary at 24° South latitude, and they agreed to share equally revenues from guano and minerals found between 23° and 25° South. Bolivia was to finance the construction of a port at Mejillones and share with Chile half its revenues from export taxes.
      President Pérez was re-elected in 1866, and the Congressional elections in 1867 reinforced the Fusion. The Fusion majority in the Chamber of Deputies voted to impeach Chile’s Supreme Court and its president Montt. The case moved to the Senate in September 1868, and the Senators dismissed the charges in May 1869. In 1868-69 many young monttvaristas joined independent Liberals and Radicals by participating in Reform Clubs in Santiago and provinces. They held a national convention in September 1869. That year the National Agricultural Society was founded. The elections in 1870 had less intervention from the executive, and the opposition was able to win 40 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. During the 1860s no opposition party was able to elect a majority in the Congress.
      A constituent congress meeting in 1870-73 was able to pass only one constitutional amendment which in 1871 prohibited Chile’s President from succeeding himself. The Liberal Federico Errázuriz was supported by Archbishop Valdivieso and some Conservatives for president. The dissident Liberals, Nationals, and Radicals nominated the mining magnate José Tomas Urmeneta for president. In 1871 Errázuriz won with 226 votes to 58 for Urmeneta in the Electoral College. Some of Urmeneta’s supporters wanted him to lead an armed revolt, an idea repudiated by the Radicals Manuel Antonio Matta and Angel Custodio Gallo.
      Federico Errázuriz Zañartu became President on 18 September 1871. In January 1872 the Conservative Minister of Education, Abdón Cifuentes, decreed “freedom of examination,” which increased the tension between Liberals and Conservatives, and Diego Barras Arana, who was head of the Instituto Nacional, strongly opposed that. Student protests and passionate debates in the Congress resulted in Cifuentes resigning in July 1873. The Fusion disintegrated as the Conservatives withdrew to become the opposition. A new Penal Code in 1874 was also controversial over a civil marriage law and non-Catholic plots in public cemeteries which had been decreed in December 1871. In 1871-72 the capitalist Agustín Edwards Ossandón drove up the price of copper by 50% and made a profit of $1,500,000. The Congress of 1873-76 enacted several amendments to the Constitution modifying emergency powers and excluding some classes of public officials. President Errázuriz blocked the reform for proportional representation in elections, and in September 1874 the Interior Minister Eulogio Altamirano devised a compromise that allowed that in the Chamber of Deputies. They reduced the qualifications for voting to only being a literate man.
      In 1872 telegraph connected Santiago to Buenos Aires, and in 1874 a cable across the Atlantic Ocean speeded communication between Chile and Europe. Some Liberals opposed the government in the new Liberal-Radical Alliance of 1875. José Alonso became the first Radical in the cabinet as the Foreign Minister. The value of Chile’s exports in 1875 rose to $74 million, and the government’s revenues were $16.4 million.
      The revolutionary Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna had been the Intendant of Santiago, and in early 1875 he decided to run for president. His campaigning excited the electorate. President Errázuriz recommended the Liberal Aníbal Pinto for president, and in March 1876 Congressional elections suffered from his intervention. Vicuña Mackenna withdrew a few days before the voting. When some officers offered to plan a coup for him, he replied, “A government imposed by force of arms can never be pleasing to the people.”4

Chile: War of the Pacific to Balmaceda 1876-91

      President Aníbal Pinto was inaugurated on 18 September 1876. That year Chile suffered a deadly epidemic of small pox and another one in 1880. Droughts and occasional rainstorms damaged crops, livestock, and roads in 1876-78. Wheat and flour exports fell sharply, and about 300,000 workers became unemployed. The price of food was high, and business was slow. In October 1877 the Thomas Bank collapsed, and by July 1878 every bank except one lacked the funds to cover their deposits. Congress approved a law requiring acceptance of notes issued by private banks for paying debts. Financial institutions were not obligated to convert bank notes into gold or silver. President Pinto imposed a 10% surcharge on import duties, and he reduced the budget, laying off public employees. He disbanded Army and National Guard units. Churches and charities provided soup kitchens. About 50,000 Chileans emigrated, and some desperate people turned to crime. The Congress reacted by authorizing the flogging of thieves. In July 1878 the Congress revised the tariff code, and later that year they approved the herencia tax on gifts and estates. Congress refused to pass the mobiliaria tax on income and invested capital.
      Conservatives were the first to hold a national party conference in December 1878. That year women were allowed to attend universities in Chile. In 1878-79 the Congress debated and then approved small taxes on inheritances and property. In 1879 Eulogio Altamirano, the Intendente of Valparaíso, warned that venereal disease was a “national calamity” because it affected over half of the volunteers for military service.
      From the 1820s to the 1870s Chile’s gold production decreased from 1,200 kg to 270 kg; silver production increased from 20,000 kg per year to about 127,000 kg; and copper production went from 2,725 metric tons per year to 45,600 metric tons which was more than a third of the world’s copper supply.
      Argentina claimed sovereignty over Patagonia and the Straits of Magellan. President Pinto sent the historian Diego Barros Arana to negotiate, and he agreed to cede Patagonia and part of the Straits. Pinto and the Argentine consul-general worked out an agreement that put off the sovereignty issue, and they signed the Fierro-Sarratea treaty in December 1878.
      Conflict with Bolivia over the boundary heated up in 1874 as the discovery of silver and guano in the Atacama Desert was valuable. Chile gave up part of the Atacama Desert, and Bolivia promised not to raise taxes on Chile’s nitrate company operating in the Atacama. In February 1873 Bolivia and Peru had made a secret treaty. In 1874 Chile made a treaty with Bolivia which confirmed the border at 24° South latitude, and Bolivia agreed not to increase export taxes on Chilean nitrate exports for 25 years. Before the War of the Pacific began in 1879, Chile, Britain, Germany, and France had acquired nearly 50% of the nitrate production in the Tarapacá fields. A Chilean company produced all the nitrate, and more than three-quarters of the 8,000 people in Antofagasta were Chilean. Chile’s army had been reduced to less than 2,500 men who were mostly stationed on the Indian frontier. In 1876 Chile had closed its Naval Academy and School for Mariners, and they began to hire foreigners for their Navy. In 1878 Chile reduced its national guard to about 7,000 men. President Pinto took Chile’s currency off the gold standard, and he made paper money inconvertible.
      In December 1878 Bolivia’s dictator Hilarión Daza enforced a new nitrate tax, and Chile’s Antofagasta Company refused to pay the tax. Bolivian officials arrested the manager and seized the company’s property to auction it off to collect the nitrate tax. The port’s captain prohibited exporting nitrate, suspending operations and making more than 2,000 workers unemployed. When Chileans protested, Bolivia revoked the Antofagasta Company’s nitrate concession.
      Demonstrations in big cities strengthened nationalist sentiments, and in February 1879 President Pinto ordered the Army to occupy Antofagasta and the territory that had been ceded to Bolivia in 1874. The Congress and the press urged him to move the Army north, but Pinto declined to cross the border. Two weeks after Chileans occupied Antofagasta, Bolivia declared war in March. Chile knew about the secret alliance between Bolivia and Peru, and Chile declared war on both of them on April 5.
      Chilean soldiers met with little resistance in occupying Antofagasta. On May 21 Peru’s ironclad Huáscar rammed Chile’s wooden Esmeralda. While his ship was sinking, Captain Arturo Prat stormed the Huáscar and was shot dead. His effort made him a revered martyr to Chileans. In that battle Peru lost its ironclad Independencia. In October the Chileans used heavy shelling and then boarded the Huáscar and the Pilcomayo. The Peruvians surrendered what was left of their Navy. On November 19 about 9,500 Chilean troops led by Commander-in-chief Erasmo Escala occupied the port of Pisagua in Tarapacá province. Eight days later the Peruvians killed more than 500 Chilean troops. After Chile’s armies took over Pisagua and Iquique, political turmoil in Peru and Bolivia changed their presidents. By the end of 1879 Chile’s Navy dominated the seas.
      Early in 1880 Chile’s Army moved into Arica and Tacna. On March 22 General Manuel Baquedano led Chilean infantry and cavalry to victory over a much smaller Peruvian army at Los Angeles in Moquegua, Peru. Commander-in-chief Escala resigned on March 28. That month the arsenal of Chile’s Army blew up. In the battle for Tacna on May 26 General Baquedano led an army of about 13,000 men against some 10,000 or more Peruvians and was victorious by inflicting more than 4,000 casualties while suffering about 2,000. On June 7 Chile’s army of 5,479 soldiers overwhelmed 1,628 Peruvian troops at Arica, killing and wounding about a thousand men while suffering 474 casualties. In July the Peruvians captured the Rimac loaded with Chilean soldiers, and people in Santiago reacted by rioting. By July all of Peru’s and Bolivia’s troops had retreated north of Tacna, giving Chile control of the nitrate region. The United States and England offered to mediate; but when Peru learned of Chile’s territorial demands, they rejected negotiation in late 1880.
      President Aníbal Pinto ordered Chile’s Commander-in-chief Manuel Baquedano to attack Lima, and recruits increased their Army to 25,000 men. They landed on the central coast of Peru by the end of 1880. Peru had more troops defending their capital; but on 13 January 1881 the Chileans defeated Peruvians at Chorrillos and then again two days later at Miraflores. These two battles had heavy casualties on both sides, and Chileans took over Lima on January 17. Guerrilla forces continued the war until 1883.
      In July 1881 Chile and Argentina signed a treaty that confirmed Argentine sovereignty over Patagonia with Chile controlling the Straits of Magellan.
      Between 1878 to 1882 the export tax on nitrate had gone from 4 to 22 pesos per ton which increased customs revenues from 6 million pesos to 29 million. In 1882 Chile had nearly 1,200 miles of railroad tracks, and the state owned more than half. Chileans were upset after Peruvians killed all 77 soldiers in a garrison and mutilated their bodies at Concepción on July 9 and 10.
      The government of Chile turned over the rich nitrate properties to certificate holders which pleased British and French investors. The British John Thomas North had purchased cheaply certificates to the most valuable nitrate fields in Tarapacá. In February 1883 the wealthy North established the Liverpool Nitrate Company, and he sold stock to buy equipment. He was called “the Nitrate King.” By 1884 they were producing 3,000 tons of nitrates per month. The company paid annual dividends of 20% or more until 1886 when he and his partners sold it to start new companies. He formed the Nitrate Railway Company that enjoyed a monopoly for transporting nitrates in Tarapacá for ten years. Then Chile’s President Balmaceda and the Congress managed to end his monopoly and restore competition.
      The Mapuche had fought back against Chileans in 1868, and a general uprising occurred in 1880-82 during the War of the Pacific. Col. Cornelio Saavedra had a plan to encircle the Arauco territory, and in 1881 and 1882 Chile’s military built forts on the long-ago destroyed sites of Imperial and Villarrica. In the 1870s a railway had been built to a deep canyon near Mapuche land. Constructing a steel bridge enabled the completion of the railroad to the Mapuche heartland by 1893. Chile’s government claimed all of the Mapuche land and sold it to many people including about 10,000 European immigrants.
      The lawyer Domingo Santa María had been elected to the Senate in March 1879, and he was appointed Minister of the Interior. Conservatives nominated General Manuel Baquedano for president, but he withdrew before the voting. Santa María was elected President in 1881, and he was inaugurated on September 18. In 1882 with help from his Interior Minister José Manuel Balmaceda they were able to pass laws to secularize marriage, the birth registry, and cemeteries.
      On 10 July 1883 about 1,500 Chilean soldiers decisively defeated 1,880 Peruvians and hundreds of Montoneras and militia led by Col. Cáceres near Huamachuco, Peru by killing 800 and capturing 300 while suffering only 68 killed and 98 wounded.
      After having Lima occupied for two and a half years Peru agreed to cede coastal territory to Chile which increased its size by a third with valuable natural resources. Bolivia was made a landlocked nation. The Treaty of Ancón was signed on 23 October 1883. Peru ceded Tacna to Chile. They agreed that Chile would administer the provinces of Tacna and Arica for ten years, and then a plebiscite would decide which nation would retain them. During a mutiny by Peruvian troops they allowed the Chileans to occupy Arequipa on October 29. Chileans faced an insurrection by Indians.
      Chile had an army of 45,000 men by the end of the War of the Pacific, and the last Chilean troops left Peru in August 1884. President Santa María wrote the peace treaty made with Bolivia in March 1884. Antofagasta became part of Chile, and Bolivia was allowed access to the newly Chilean port of Arica. Chile let Bolivia collect 35% import duties on goods going through Arica bound for Bolivia. During the war Chile was forced to develop manufacturing. In 1883 they founded the National Manufacturer’s Society, and they reported that in the 1880s Chileans founded more factories than existed in Chile before the war. From 1880 to 1883 the merchant marine multiplied its shipping by five.
      In 1885 the Chilean government hired the German Lt. Col. Emil Körner to be subdirector of the Escuela Militar to modernize Chile’s military education. He would help found a war college in 1886 to improve the scientific and technical education of officers. Loans and paper money had been used to finance the war, and they caused higher prices and long-term inflation.
      President Santa María endorsed the Liberal José Manuel Balmaceda, who was Foreign Minister in 1881 and Minister of the Interior from 1882 to 1885. The opposing candidate withdrew, and Balmaceda was easily elected President in 1886. He revived relations with the Vatican, and he appointed the respected Mariano Casanova to be archbishop. In 1887 some Radicals led by Malaquías Concha organized the Democratic Party. He worked for universal suffrage and secular and free education, and workers and artisans supported the Democratic Party. Concha would support Balmaceda in the 1891 Civil War.
      In 1884 and in 1888-89 Congress helped the rich by abolishing taxes on income, gifts, and estates, relying on revenues from the export of nitrates. From 1886 to 1889 Chile’s nitrate production doubled to 2 million metric tons, and government revenues from nitrate duties increased from 37 million pesos in 1886 to more than 58 million in 1890. From the late 1880s to 1930 revenues from the nitrate industry provided more than half of the government’s normal revenues.
      President Balmaceda borrowed 30 million pesos from foreign banks and 23 million from Chilean investors to finance massive public works that included railroads, bridges, telegraph lines, hospitals, schools, wharves, jails, ministry buildings, and a canal for the Mapocho River. They also established schools for medical studies, the military, and the arts. The Ministry of Public Works was begun in 1887 and was one-fifth of the national budget while the Ministry of Education was only one-seventh. School enrollment in Chile was 79,000, and it would increase to 150,000 in 1890. Balmaceda’s limited intervention in the 1888 elections upset Conservatives. In 1888 the Catholic University of Chile was founded.
      In 1889 the Liberals lost their majority in the Senate. Congress was concerned that the President was going to choose the Finance Minister Enrique Salvador Sanfuentes to be his successor. On May 30 Balmaceda withdrew Sanfuentes from presidential candidacy and appointed him Minister of the Interior. Congress met in June and censured that ministry, and they voted to postpone a decision on the taxation law. Without taxes public officials could not be paid. Strikes began at the port of Iquique and spread in the nitrate region and to Valparaíso and Concepción and then to coal mines at Lota. The worst violence was at Valparaíso where at least fifty people died. Congress convened on June 1, and Balmaceda in his annual address to Congress proposed constitutional reforms and auctioning to Chileans some state-owned nitrate fields. On June 12 Julio Zegers proposed that the Chamber of Deputies delay discussing the law on tax collection until the President named a cabinet the Congress could support. On August 7 he selected a new cabinet to be led by Belisario Prats. When he resigned, Balmaceda named his 13th and last cabinet with Claudio Vicuña as Minister of the Interior.
      His government spending enlarged the public debt, and an economic recession occurred in 1890 which cut the price of nitrate in half, making it unprofitable. By 1890 British interests owned 70% of the nitrate industry. When Congress convened in June, President Balmaceda urged reversing the trend that was weakening the executive with a “bastard parliamentary system” that he feared would lead to “the dictatorship of Congress.” Three days later the Senate censured his cabinet led by Sanfuentes, and the Chamber of Deputies agreed with that on June 7. On July 24 Zegers called on Congress to impeach Balmaceda, and he declared him unfit to continue. President Balmaceda reacted by decreeing the Congress closed. Dockworkers in Iquique went on strike in early July, and it spread to railway and foundry workers, mines at Huantajaya, throughout the nitrate region, north as far as Pisagua and south to Antofagasta. These strikes have been called “the first major social conflict in Chilean history.”5 Congress demanded that the President select a new cabinet, but Balmaceda refused. Congress censured him and would not pass the budget to fund the government. The 1890 budget authorized spending $21,000,000 on the Ministry of Public Works and $6,628,000 on the Ministry of Education.
      On the first day of 1891 President Balmaceda decreed that if Congress would not pass a budget, then he would use the 1890 budget again in 1891. Congress considered that unconstitutional, and they called upon Captain Jorge Montt and the Navy to support them against the President’s usurpation. The fleet sailed north and occupied Iquique and blockaded nitrate ports and Valparaíso for the Congress, and starting in February those revenues did go to Congress. The Navy captured Pisagua on February 6 as Balmaceda’s troops surrendered. The forces for Congress occupied Antofagasta in March. That month a Liberal Convention nominated Claudio Vacuña for president, and without opposition a Constituent Assembly elected him in April; but because of the war he was never inaugurated.
      Balmaceda’s Minister of the Interior Domingo Godoy had shut down newspapers, closed the University, prevented banks from sending funds to the north, and had attacked haciendas of opponents. The idealistic Julio Bañados Espinsoa replaced Godoy in May. The opposition cut telegraph wires and disrupted railroads. Congress supporters met at the Cañas hacienda near Santiago on August 19-20, and they executed about 25 young men. Balmaceda’s troops were defeated the next day at Concón and one week later at La Placilla. Marines restored order in Valparaíso by killing about 300 people. The Army of the Congress entered Santiago on August 31. Vice Admiral Jorge Montt became the President of a Junta, and they eventually restored order. More than 6,000 people died in this short civil war of 1891. During the civil war Balmaceda had issued 20 million pesos in paper money, increasing the money supply by 50%. Although he had the Army on his side at the start, intervention by his military advisor, General Emil Körner, who had become Commander-in-chief, changed that. Balmaceda gave his authority to General Manuel Baquedano and found refuge in the Argentine embassy. His presidency expired on September 18, and the next day Balmaceda committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
      In October without an opponent Jorge Montt was easily elected President, and he was inaugurated representing the Independent Party on December 26.

Chile’s Parliamentary Republic 1892-1920

      Congress was the dominating political institution in Chile after the civil war of 1891 up until 1924, and that era in history has been called the “Parliamentary Republic.” The four main parties based on the elections every three years from 1894 to 1918 were Liberals, Conservatives, Radicals, and Liberal-Democrats, and during that period none of those parties ever had less than 14 Delegates in the Chamber or more than 40. During this period the rich would pay less in taxes than they had in the 1870s and 1880s. Between 1891 and 1915 Chile would have 60 different executive ministries.
      President Jorge Montt (1891-96) in early 1892 granted amnesty to the officers of Balmaceda’s government. Persecution of Balmacedists continued in 1892. Selective amnesty was passed in 1893, and a more comprehensive amnesty in 1894 allowed Enrique Sanfuentes, Julio Bañados Espinosa, and others to return to public life. In 1892 Congress passed the Communal Autonomy law that increased the power of municipalities over local affairs. This enabled Hacendados and other wealthy people to use bribery and corruption to replace the authority of Congress, and by the year 1900 the seats in Congress could be purchased.
      The Army and Navy were reorganized, and work was done on incomplete public projects. Montt abolished nonconvertible paper money, and reviving the gold monetary standard faced opposition from representatives of the debtor class. The gold standard became law on 11 February 1895, and the Conversion Act went into effect in July 1896. In 1895 Chile’s government borrowed £2 million to buy paper pesos, and by 1897 they had burned about 44 million pesos, leaving 15 million still circulating.
      Chile during the War of the Pacific had occupied Bolivian territory at Puna de Atacama, and in December 1895 Bolivia unilaterally ceded it to Chile. In April 1896 Chile agreed to that based on Argentina accepting British mediation on border questions. Lack of progress on their border disputes triggered an arms race, as Chile’s military budget went from 13 million pesos in 1894 to 48 million in 1896.
      The Coalition candidate Federico Errázuriz Echaurren for President in June 1896 defeated Vicente Reyes of the Liberal Alliance in the Electoral College 137-134, and that was confirmed by the Congress 62-60. He was inaugurated on September 18. He instruct his ministers to prefer Chilean manufactures in public projects as long as they charged no more than 15% above foreign competitors. He gradually moved his policies toward the Conservatives, and in 1898 he appointed the Conservatives’ president Carlos Walker Martínez the Minister of the Interior. Errázuriz was careful not to make decisions until he had the support of the Congress. He arranged a contract to give Santiago a new sewage system and to provide water from the reservoir of Peñuelas. His decision not to revive coin conversion caused a run on the banks. His government then circulated more paper money. Chile exported 9 million pesos in gold coins in 1898. That year to prevent a banking crash the government went off the gold standard and put about 50 million pesos into circulation.
      Urban artisans organized mutual societies to help families suffering from illness, accidents, or death, and by 1900 there would be over 200 such organizations. In 1900 government employed 5,500 people, and by 1925 they had 26,500 working for the government. From 1900 to 1930 landowners doubled the cultivated land, increased irrigation by a third, and added more than a million cattle.
      On 8 March 1901 the Liberal Alliance nominated Errázuriz’s cousin Germán Riesco for president. Errázuriz suffered from poor health, and he died of cerebral thrombosis on 12 July 1901. The Minister of the Interior Aníbal Zañartu became Vice President and governed until Germán Riesco Errázuriz became President on September 16. The Coalition had nominated Pedro Montt, but he lost to Riesco 184 to 83.
      Conservatives strongly opposed President Riesco (1901-06), and the newspaper El Porvenir considered him a “threat to religion.” The Congress was so divided that they forced him to appoint 17 different governments in his five years. He was a lawyer and had worked as a clerk for the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court. He supervised a revision of the Code of Civil Procedure in 1902 and a Code of Penal Procedure in 1906. He continued public works and especially helped secondary schools and the education of women. He doubled the number of normal schools that trained teachers. In 1906 the Chilean Student Federation was organized. On 16 August 1906 a powerful earthquake devastated Valparaíso, killing over 2,000 people and destroying property worth millions of pesos.
      On 28 May 1902 Chile and Argentina agreed in a pact to seek arbitration and limit naval armaments. Britain’s King Edward VII gave 54,000 square kilometers to Chile and 40,000 to Argentina. To celebrate this peace treaty they erected the large statue of Christ the Redeemer of the Andes on 13 March 1904 near the border on a mountain ridge on the road between Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago. On 20 October 1904 Chile finally signed a peace treaty with Bolivia, and they agreed to construct a railroad from Arica to La Paz which was completed in May 1913.
      On 22 October 1905 demonstrators gathered in Santiago to protest tariffs on cattle imported from Argentina. The crowd increased to over 25,000, and it turned into meat riots that lasted two more days. President Riesco sent in soldiers who killed about 230 protestors while 20 troops also died.
      On 6 February 1906 about 3,000 workers protested in the public square in Antofagasta. Troops shot at the unarmed protestors and killed 58 while more than 300 were injured.
      In 1905 and 1906 Chile increased the paper money supply from 55 million pesos to 80 million, and this caused a sharp fall in the exchange rate and increased inflation.
      The National Union Party nominated Pedro Montt for president in 1906, and he was elected by a large majority. His father Manuel Montt Torres had been President 1851-61. Pedro earned a law degree at the National Institute in 1870. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1876, and they elected him their president in 1885. President Pedro Montt called out the Army to suppress large strikes in 1907. At the Santa María school in Iquique on December 21 General Roberto Silva Renard gave the protestors one hour to leave, and then he ordered his men to shoot the negotiators. When the crowd surged forward and tried to escape, soldiers also used machine guns. The dead were buried in a mass grave. They killed about 2,000 workers, women, and children, and 300 soldiers died in the fighting.
      In 1907 the money supply reached 150 million pesos. The Chilean Workers’ Federation was organized in 1909. By 1910 more than half of Chileans were living in cities. That year Chile still lacked enough running water and adequate sewer systems, and epidemic diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, and bubonic plague killed more than 100,000 Chileans every year from 1909 to 1914. President Pedro Mont died on 16 August 1910. The Minister of the Interior Elías Fernández Albano became Acting President, and he appointed Emiliano Figueroa Larraín the Minister of the Interior. When Fernández died on September 6, Figueroa became Vice President and Acting President. Liberals and Nationals agreed to make 75-year-old Ramón Barros Luco the President, and he was inaugurated on December 23. In 1910 the provincial schoolteacher Alejandro Venegas traveled about Chile and wrote this:

We have armies, warships, fortresses, cities and ports,
theaters and racetracks, clubs, hotels, public promenades,
monuments, and … opulent magnates,
lords of true dominions, who live in splendid palaces…;
but at no great distance from the theaters,
in gardens and lordly residences there lives the people,
that is to say nine tenths of the population of Chile,
plunged in the most fearful economic,
physical and moral poverty, and degenerating rapidly
through overwork, poor diet, lack of hygiene,
extreme ignorance, and the grossest vices.6

      President Barros Luco once said, “99% of problems solve themselves, and the remaining 1% have no solution.” To counter changes coming from Congress he made it his policy to make any deputy, who caused the fall of one of his ministers, the next head of his cabinet. This system rotated 15 ministers through that position. He tried to end the corruption in the political parties by ending the falsifying of results. That led to more electoral bribery. He promoted construction of the port of San Antonio as well as roads, bridges, drinking water, and sewers. During his four-year term they also founded the national School of Engineering, the Museum of History, the National Archives, and the School of Aviation. In 1912 Luis Emilio Recabarren formed the Socialist Workers’ Party, and in 1922 he renamed it the Communist Party. Between 1885 and 1914 Chile had borrowed more than £50 million from foreign nations, and over 60% of that was spent on public works that included railroads. By 1914 Chile had 8,638 kilometers of railways, and more than 60% were owned by the state.
      When the Great War began in August 1914, Chile declared its neutrality. During that war the United States replaced Britain as doing the most trade with Chile that was estimated at $299,600,000 in 1920. In the Congressional Elections of March 1915 the Liberal Alliance gained a majority in the Senate while a Coalition of Conservatives, Balmacedists, and Nationals controlled the Chamber of Deputies. On May 25 President Barros Luco signed the Non-Aggression, Consultation and Arbitration Pact which was called the “ABC Pact” because it included the three great South American powers Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
      The Liberal Democrat Juan Luis Sanfuentes was President 1915-20. Chile had 7,800 manufacturing plants by 1915, and they employed about 80,000 workers and provided about four-fifths of consumer needs in Chile. In 1916 Congress approved a new tariff law that raised levies on imported goods from 50% to 80% in order to protect domestic industries. A few items such as jam had their tax increased by up to 250%. During inflation local industries thrived as production went up 53% by 1918. Improved technology helped Chile triple its exports of copper during the Great War. The nitrate industry continued to prosper, and its work-force more than tripled from 1890 to 1920. In 1895 the British owned 60% of the nitrate industry. Chile’s share grew gradually, and in 1918 they owned 60%.
      In 1916 Chile had 543 legal bordellos and about 10,000 that functioned outside the law. Venereal disease was epidemic as law did not allow municipalities to regulate brothels. About 21% of infants born in 1900 died before the age of six from congenital syphilis. A decade later medical breakthroughs by the Wasserman test and Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s “magic bullet” for killing microbes would greatly reduce that problem.
      In the elections of March 1918 the Liberal Alliance increased their majority in the Senate and gained a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. That year Chile had 228 million pesos in paper money circulating, and this increased to 400 million pesos by 1925. In February 1919 most of the workers in the sheep-processing industry went on strike in Puerto Natales, and the suppression killed 15 including 4 soldiers while 28 were seriously injured.
      The Primary School-teachers Society had begun in 1915, and in 1918 Chile had 336,000 primary students, 45,000 secondary students, and 4,000 in colleges. In 1919 the government founded the University of Concepción. The General Teachers’ Association was founded in 1922. Chile’s first census in 25 years estimated in 1920 that the population had increased from 2,688,000 in 1895 to 3,715,000.

Chile of Alessandri & Ibáñez 1820-35

      Arturo Alessandri had begun his political career in 1915 as workers helped him win two-thirds of the votes against a Tarapacá senator. For this he was called the Lion of Tarapacá. He ran for president in 1920, and on June 3 the Electoral College gave him 179 votes to 174 for Luis Barros Borgoño, candidate for the National Union Party. Both sides questioned the result, and the Congress directed a Tribunal of Honour to vote, and on September 30 they elected Alessandri 177 to 176. The Congress ratified this 87 to 29 in early October, and Alessandri was inaugurated on December 23. In 1920 Chile had 105 strikes involving 50,439 workers.
      President Alessandri appointed Pedro Aguirre Cerda the Minister of the Interior and directed him to work on social reforms and economic issues to alleviate the depression in the nitrate market that closed the San Gregorio office at the end of January 1921. A confrontation between workers and police resulted in 73 dead. Congress was blocking Alessandri’s program, and his opponents got a majority in the Senate in the March elections. The Alliance controlled the Chamber of Deputies as Radicals gained one third of the seats. In 1921 Congress raised import duties by 50% and increased tax on special items even more. The monthly production of nitrate fell from 222,315 metric tons in December 1920 to only 75,443 in December 1921 while exports dropped by half. By 1922 they had closed 70 offices, and more than 20,000 unemployed workers had abandoned the North. In January 1922 the Socialist Workers Party became the Communist Party of Chile. In February a general strike in Valparaíso sponsored by the International Workers of the World (IWW) failed. With so many unemployed it was easy for employers to hire replacement workers.
      With a divided Congress little was accomplished, and by 1924 the treasury was so broke that pay for civil service and the military was six months in arrears. Some officers had to buy food to feed their troops. An effort in Congress to give themselves a salary (dieta) of 30,000 pesos for senators and 15,000 for deputies was not popular, and it required a constitutional amendment. In the elections of March 1924 Alessandri intervened using military force to “purify the parliamentary benches.” The Alliance gained seats in the Chamber of Deputies, but the National Union still controlled the Senate. After Congress had opened in June, officers began regular meetings at the Military Club in the Alameda, and they vehemently opposed the dieta. Public demonstrations grew as new organizations sprang up. Most of them supported Alessandri and opposed the obstructing Senate.
      While senators debated a bill for Congressional salaries on September 2, about 50 junior officers in the gallery applauded those who opposed that. The Minister of War asked for the names of the officers but could not get them. On September 3 a protest by 56 military officers for higher pay led by Col. Marmaduque Grove and Major Carlos Ibáñez del Campo demanded that President Alessandri dismiss three of his ministers, enact a labor code, pass an income tax, and raise military salaries. Alessandri appointed Luis Altamirano to head his cabinet. Alessandri insisted that the Congress pass a list of projects that he presented on September 5. He threatened to use the Army to close down Congress if they refused. On September 8 Altamirano demanded that the Congress pass eight laws which they did. The next day Alessandri, not wanting to be a puppet of the military, resigned, and he was granted asylum at the United States Embassy. The Congress declined to accept his resignation, but they granted him a six-month leave of absence to visit Europe. Alessandri left to go to Italy.
      On September 11 the Military Junta took over the government. General Luis Altamirano, Admiral Francisco Nef, and General Juan Bennett formed a Military Junta, and Altamirano claimed dictatorial power and dismissed the Congress. He tried to control the economic crisis and reform local bureaucracies. In 1924 in Chile one-tenth of the owners with the largest properties owned 90% of the land.
      School enrollment was 80,000 in 1891, and less than 30% of the people were literate; but enrollment would reach nearly 400,000 by 1925 when half the people were literate. Only about 10% of students were in secondary schools, and this would not increase much by 1920 when 4,000 people were in colleges. From 1889 to 1907 Chile let in 55,000 immigrants while in the same period Argentina accepted more than 2 million.
      On 8 January 1925 Ladislao Errázuriz announced his candidacy for president. Another military coup by Major Ibáñez and Col. Grove deposed Altamirano on January 23, and General Pedro Dartnell was Provisional President for four days. Then the diplomat Emilio Bello Codesido, who was a Balmacedista, was President of the Junta until March 12. On February 13 a new law authorized housing tribunals that could lower rents. A revolt by the Valdivia infantry was suppressed quickly on February 27, and they banished Errázuriz and about a dozen other Union politicians for 18 months.
      Arturo Alessandri was welcomed back to Santiago and resumed being President on 12 March 1925. He retained Col. Carlos Ibáñez as the Minister of War and did not recall the Congress, ruling by decree. On April 7 Alessandri appointed 53 new members from all parties to the Grand Consultative Commission to revise the 1833 Constitution. He accepted their Constitution and submitted it to the voters, and 93% approved it in a plebiscite by 134,421 voters on August 30. He decreed a central bank on August 25. The 1925 Constitution was promulgated on September 18, and elections for Congress were held in November. Although the new Constitution separated church and state, the government approved a church subsidy of 2.5 million pesos for five years.
      Ibáñez began campaigning for president and insisted on advising Alessandri on important issues. Alessandri resigned again on October 1, and his Vice President Luis Barros Borgoño was Acting President until December 23. A former Minister of Justice Luis Barros Borgoño became President, and he also kept on the Minister of War Col. Ibáñez.
      In Chile’s presidential election on 22 October 1925 Emiliano Figueroa Larraín, a Liberal Democrat, ran as an Independent and got wide support with 186,187 votes to 74,091 for José Santos Salas of the leftist Social-Republican Union of the Wage Earners of Chile. Public employees established the Union of Chilean Employees in 1925. President Figueroa promoted War Minister Ibáñez to Minister of the Interior on 9 February 1927. Figueroa’s brother Javier Ángel was President of the Supreme Court. After Ibáñez arrested Javier Ángel in 1927, Figueroa gave in to political pressure and resigned on May 10.
      Ibáñez became Vice President and governed with increasing power. In the election on May 22 Ibáñez with 98% of the votes defeated the Communist candidate Elías Lafertte. Ibáñez became President on July 21. At that time union membership was about 204,000. President Ibáñez suppressed the Chilean Workers Federation and other unions that were dominated by Communists. He assumed dictatorial power, and he expelled political leaders who opposed him in Congress. He abolished the Communist Party and suppressed independent unions. He got big loans from the United States and banks and spent it on public works. Ibáñez initiated the position of Comptroller General with independent authority to demand accountability in any branch of government. He unified all the police departments with the national police and named them Carabineros.
      In 1925 Chile’s nitrate industry employed 60,800 workers and produced 2,532,000 metric tons, and by 1933 these declined to 8,486 workers and 43,655 metric tons. The nitrates were costing more than the synthetic fertilizers. In the mid-1920s the Princeton economist Edwin Kemmerer advised Chile on economic issues, and they returned to the gold standard, started a Central Bank, and made the railroads more efficient. They added a new 6% tax on all economic activity. The internal taxes by 1926 provided 215 million pesos for the government. Ibáñez started two development banks for agriculture and mining in 1927-28. Loans depended on Chileans owning at least 75% of the mine. In 1928 the Industrial Credit Institute began using government pension funds to stimulate manufacturing. Congress approved raising tariffs by at least 35% and as much as 50% on imports that compete with Chilean products. Ibáñez borrowed much money, and by 1930 Chile owed £62 million to banks in the United States, Britain, and Switzerland.
      In February 1928 Ibáñez banished about 200 politicians. He also repressed the Communists, and he outlawed the Communist Party in March. In October he even expelled Alessandri who moved to Paris. In August the Congress had given decree powers to the Finance Minister Pablo Ramirez who wanted to replace the landowners.
      About 47,000 settlers in 1927 did not have property deeds, and in 1928 the government formed the Agricultural Colonization Bank. Powerful people used this to get grants of large tracts of occupied land, and then they evicted the residents. The historian Alberto Edwards published his La Fronda aristocrática that praised Ibáñez for radically reconstructing authority. In 1928 Chile’s Army had 25,400 men and 1,200 officers. In 1929 Chile’s Navy acquired six new destroyers that had been built in Britain. Ibáñez made the Chilean Air Force a separate institution in March 1930. The first commercial airline was started in 1929, and after 1932 it was known as LAN (Línea Aérea Nacional).
      From 1928 to 1931 the government spent nearly 760 million pesos on projects to improve drains, bridges, roads, barracks, prisons, airfields, ports, and about 500 kilometers of railroads. In June 1929 the United States mediated an agreement that returned Tacna to Peru while Arica remained in Chile which paid Peru $6 million. The new frontier was well-defined by 1932. The Wall Street crash of October 1929 that triggered the Great Depression did not begin affecting Chile until the second half of 1930.
      Ibáñez removed public employees who opposed his policies, and he added 9,000 new positions. In February 1931 the Congress gave him emergency powers. On July 13 he appointed an independent cabinet for “national salvation,” and the Radical Montero became the Interior Minister. When the Finance Minister Pedro Blanquier announced a budget with a gigantic deficit, two ministers resigned. Crowds protested in the streets, and university students went on strike. The government attempted to dominate the remaining unions, and in 1931 they published a labor code that regulated union organizing. Their department of labor helped establish 300 labor organizations with about 50,000 members into the Republican Confederation for Civic Action. Leaders could enter politics, and the Congress provided 19 seats for them. When the Ibáñez presidency ended, official union membership was down to 56,000. He maintained the gold standard as debt piled up. Unemployment increased, and protests became stronger. After naming the Senate president as Vice President, Ibáñez resigned on July 26 and fled to Argentina.
      In the depth of the Depression seven different men were President of Chile for 17 months between Ibáñez in July 1931 and Alessandri in December 1932. They were president of the Senate Pedro Opaso, law professor Juan Esteban Montero, Radical Party president Manuel Trucco, military officer Arturo Puga, journalist Carlos Dávila, brigadier general Bartolomé Blanche, and chief justice Abraham Oyanedel. Montero served twice, and he was elected on 4 October 1931 when Trucco was President. Puga and Dávila called the government the Socialist Republic, and Oyanedel supervised the election held on 30 October 1932. The Finance Minister Gustavo Ross had defaulted on Chile’s foreign loans, and he made up for it by using copper and nitrate revenue to buy back the loans at lower prices. He spent 15 million pesos and got back over 139 million in bonds, reducing the foreign debt by 31%.
      Copper production went down from 317,000 tons in 1929 to 163,000 in 1933 while copper exports fell from $111 million to $33 million. The League of Nations in its World Economic Survey 1923-33 evaluated that the Depression devastated Chile more than any other nation. The League of Nations also reported that more than three-quarters of Chileans were undernourished. Chile’s government appointed the Unemployed Aid Committee to provide housing and food.
      The Liberal Arturo Alessandri was re-elected on 30 October 1932 with 55% of the votes over three other candidates. The new Congress opened on December 19, and Alessandri was inaugurated on Christmas Eve. He served for six years and returned Chile to civilian leadership. He retained the price controls that the Socialists had imposed. In 1933 he abolished Guggenheim’s nitrate company and replaced it with the Nitrate and Iodine Marketing Board to control the industry and take 25% of the profits. To stimulate building he suspended taxes on all construction projects that would be completed by the end of 1935.
      At Ránquil in June-July 1934 evicted settlers resisted, and he sent national police who used guns to drive them out, killing more than one hundred homesteaders. Women were allowed to vote for the first time in the municipal elections of April 1935.


1. Chile Since Independence ed. Leslie Bethell, p. 25.
2. Chile: The Making of a Republic, 1830-1865: Politics and Ideas by Simon Collier, p. 215.
3. Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism by Brian Loveman, p. 122.
4. A History of Chile, 1808-2002 by Simon Collier and William F. Slater, p. 124.
5. Chile Since Independence ed. Leslie Bethell, p. 52.
6. A History of Chile, 1808-2002 by Simon Collier and William F. Slater, p. 185.

Copyright © 2023 by Sanderson Beck

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Latin America & Canada to 1850

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