History of Chile

From Academic Kids

This is the history of Chile. See also the history of South America and the history of present-day nations and states.


Early history

Chilean territory was among the last to be populated in the Americas.

Prehispanic Chile was home to over a dozen different indigenous peoples. Despite such diversity, it is possible to classify them into three major cultural groups: The northern peoples, who developed rich handicrafts and were influenced by pre-Incan cultures; the Mapuche culture, who inhabited the area between the river Choapa and the island of Chiloé, and lived primarily off of agriculture; and the Patagonian culture, composed of various nomadic tribes, who supported themselves through fishing and hunting.

As the Incan Empire expanded, it was only able to integrate the northern part of Chile. Incan attempts to colonize Central Chile were unsuccessful, having met fierce resistance by Mapuche warriors. The Lircay river subsequently became the boundary between the Incan empire and the Mapuche lands.

The first European to sight Chilean territory was Ferdinand Magellan who crossed the Strait of Magellan on November 1, 1521. However, the title of discoverer of Chile is usually assigned to Diego de Almagro. De Almagro was Francisco Pizarro's partner, and he received command of the southern part of the Incan Empire (Nueva Toledo). He organized an expedition that brought him to central Chile in 1537, but he found little of value to compare with the gold and silver of the Inca. Left with the impression that the inhabitants of the area were poor, he returned to Peru, later to die in a Civil war.

After this initial excursion there was little interest from colonial authorities in further exploring modern-day Chile. However, Pedro de Valdivia, captain of the army, realizing the potential for expanding the Spanish empire southward, asked Pizarro permission to invade and conquer the southern lands. With a couple of hundred men, he subdued the local inhabitants and founded the city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura, now Santiago in 1542.

Although de Valdivia found little gold in Chile, he could see the agricultural richness of the land. He continued his explorations of the region west of the Andes and founded over a dozen towns and stablish the first encomiendas. The greatest resistance to Spanish rule came from the Mapuche culture, who opposed european conquestand colonization untill 1880s, this resistance is traditionally labelled as the Arauco War.

Valdivia died in the Battle of Tucapel, defeated by Lautaro, a young Mapuche toqui (war chief) but the European conquest was well underway. The Spaniards never subjugated the Mapuche territories; various attempt at conquest, both by military and peaceful means, failed. The Great Uprising of 1600 swept all Spanish presence south of the Biobio river (except for Valdivia and Chiloé), and the great river became the frontier line between Mapuche lands and the Spanish realm. North of that line cities grew up slowly, and Chilean lands eventually became an important source of food for the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Chile was the least wealthy realm of the Spanish Crown for most of its colonial history. Only in the 18th century did a steady economic and demographic growth begin, an effect of the reforms by Spain's Bourbon dynasty and a more stable situation along the frontier.


Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins

The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand — heir to the deposed king — was formed on September 18, 1810. Spanish attempts to reimpose arbitrary rule during what was called the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle under Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile's most renowned patriot and a member of South America's Irish diaspora. Other revolutionary leaders included the exiled British admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, who commanded the Chilean Navy from 1817-1822.

Chilean independence was formally proclaimed on February 12, 1818.

The 19th Century

The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, family politics, and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. The system of presidential power eventually predominated, but wealthy landowners continued to control Chile.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by persistently suppressing the Mapuche. In 1881, it signed a treaty with Argentina confirming Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan, but meaning the lost by Chile of all of oriental Patagonia, and a considerable fraction of the territory it had during colonial times. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879-1883), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence.

In the 1870s, the church influence started to diminish slightly, with the passing of several laws that took some old roles of the church into the State's hands, like the registry of births and marriages.

In 1886, José Manuel Balmaceda was elected president. His economic policies visibly changed the existing liberal policies. He began to violate the constitution and slowly began to establish a dictatorship. Congress decided to depose Balmaceda, who refused to step down. Jorge Montt directed an armed conflict against Balmaceda, which soon extended into the Chilean Civil War of 1891. Defeated, Balmaceda fled to the Argentine embassy, where he committed suicide. Montt became the new president.

The 20th Century

By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. A military coup led by General Luis Altamirano in 1924 set off a period of great political instability that lasted until 1932. The longest lasting of the ten governments between those years was that of Gen. Carlos Ibáñez, who briefly held power in 1925 and then again between 1927 and 1931 in what was a de facto dictatorship. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932-52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez to office for another 6 years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez in 1958.

The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva by an absolute majority initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in Liberty," the Frei administration embarked on far-reaching social and economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian reform, including rural unionization of agricultural workers. By 1967, however, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who found them excessive.


Missing image
Salvador Allende

In 1970, Salvador Allende gained the presidency of Chile. Allende was a Marxist and member of Chile's Socialist Party, who headed the "Popular Unity" (UP) coalition of the Socialist, Communist, Radical, and Social-Democratic Parties, along with dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement (MAPU), and the Independent Popular Action. His program included the nationalization of most remaining private industries and banks, massive land expropriation, and collectivization. Allende's proposal also included the nationalization of U.S. interests in Chile's major copper mines. Allende had two main competitors in the election — Radomiro Tomic, representing the incumbent Christian Democratic party, who ran a left-wing campaign with much the same theme as Allende's, and the right-wing former president Jorge Alessandri.

Allende received a plurality of the votes cast, getting 36% of the vote against Alessandri's 34% and Tomic's 27%. This was not the first time the leading candidate received less than half of the popular vote. Such had been the case in every post-war election, save that of 1968 — Alessandri himself was elected president in 1958 with 31%. In the absence of an absolute majority, the Chilean constitution required the president-elect to be confirmed by the Chilean parliament. This procedure had previously been a near-formality, yet became quite fraught in 1970. After assurances of legality on Allende's part, and in spite of pressure from the US government, Tomic's Christian Democrats voted together with Allende's supporters to confirm him as president. Allende received 153 votes to Alessandri's 35.

Immediately after the election, the United States expressed its disapproval and raised a number of economic sanctions against Chile. In addition, the CIA's website reports that the agency aided three different Chilean opposition groups during that time period and "sought to instigate a coup to prevent Allende from taking office(.)" [1] (http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/chile/#6) (For years, the CIA denied having taken any active role in the events that unfolded after 1970. But a Chile Declassification Project during the Clinton Administration released tens of thousands of documents, including 700 controversial CIA documents that the Directorate of Operations had refused to release—records of U.S. covert operations between 1968 and 1975 to destabilize the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and, after the violent 1973 coup, to bolster the military regime of Augusto Pinochet.[2] (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20001113/))

In the first year of Allende's term, the short-term economic results of Minister of the Economics Pedro Vuskovic's expansive monetary policy were unambiguously favorable: 12% industrial growth and an 8.6% increase in GDP, accompanied by major declines in inflation (down from 34.9% to 22.1%) and unemployment (down to 3.8%). However, these results were not sustained and in 1972 the Chilean escudo had runaway inflation of 140%. The combination of inflation and government-mandated price-fixing led to the rise of black markets in rice, beans, sugar, and flour, and a "disappearance" of such basic commodities from supermarket shelves. [3] (http://icarito.latercera.cl/icarito/2003/912/pag1b.htm)

By 1973, Chilean society had grown highly polarized, between strong opponents and equally strong supporters of Salvador Allende and his government. A military coup was attempted against Allende in June 1973, but it failed. Just a few months later, however, on September 11 1973, another coup was staged (see Chilean coup of 1973), and this time it was successful. As the armed forces attacked by land and air the presidential palace of La Moneda, President Allende died. The nature of his death is unclear: His personal doctor said that he committed suicide with a machine gun given to him by Fidel Castro, while others say that he was murdered by Pinochet's military forces while defending the palace.

Controversy surrounds the alleged CIA involvement in the coup. As mentioned above, the CIA officially denies having taken an active role in any events that took place in Chile after 1970. However, recently declassified documents indicate that the CIA was at least passively supportive of a coup to overthrow Allende, though not necessarily in favour of bringing Pinochet himself to power. This matter is discussed more extensively in the U.S. intervention in Chile article.

Following the coup in 1973, Chile was ruled by a military regime which lasted until 1990. The army established a junta, made up of the army commander, General Augusto Pinochet; the navy commander, Admiral José Toribio Merino; the air commander, Gustavo Leigh; and the director of the carabineros; César Mendoza. Resigning after disagreements with Pinochet on July 24, 1978, Leigh was replaced by General Fernando Matthei. Mendoza resigned after the carabineros were blamed for the deaths of three communists in 1985 and was replaced by Rodolfo Stange.

The military dictatorship pursued decidedly laissez-faire economic policies. During Pinochet's 16 years in power, Chile moved away from a largely state controlled economy towards a free-market economy, increasingly controlled by a few large economic groups that fostered an increase in domestic and foreign private investment — as well as numerous controversial effects.


Pinochet (seated) as Chairman of the Junta following the coup (1973)
Pinochet (seated) as Chairman of the Junta following the coup (1973)

After the coup, Chileans witnessed brutal and large-scale repression. The four-man junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet abolished civil liberties, dissolved the national congress, banned union activities, prohibited strikes and collective bargaining, and erased the Allende administration's agrarian and economic reforms. The junta jailed, tortured, and executed thousands of Chileans. According to the Rettig commission, close to 3,200 were executed, murdered or "disappeared"; higher estimates exist. According to the Latin American Institute on Mental Health and Human Rights (ILAS), "situations of extreme trauma" affected about 200,000 persons; this figure includes individuals killed, tortured or exiled, and their immediate families.

The secret police, DINA (Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional) spread its network throughout the country and carried out targeted assassinations abroad. The junta also set up at least six concentration camps.

The regime outlawed or suspended all political parties and suspended dissident labor and peasant leaders and clergymen. Eduardo Frei and other Christian Democratic leaders initially supported the coup. Later, they assumed the role of a loyal opposition to the military rulers, but soon lost most of their influence. Meanwhile, left-wing Christian Democratic leaders like Radomiro Tomic were jailed or forced into exile. The church, which at first expressed its gratitude to the armed forces for saving the country from the danger of a "Marxist dictatorship," became increasingly critical of the regime's social and economic policies.

In Operation Condor, a campaign of assassination and intelligence-gathering dubbed counter-terrorism, conducted by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay in the mid-1970s, many people were tortured, disappeared and were killed without trial.

In 1974, the country was divided into 13 regions (it had previously been divided in provinces). This design has continued until today.

The junta embarked on a radical program of liberalization and privatization, slashing tariffs as well as government welfare programs and deficits. The new economic program was designed by a group of technocrats known as the Chicago boys because many of them had been trained or influenced by University of Chicago professors.

The junta's efforts to restore the market economy created extreme hardship. The regime's wage controls did not abate the world's highest rate of inflation; between September 1973 and October 1975, the consumer price index rose over three thousand percent. Exchange rate depreciations and cutbacks in government spending produced a depression. Industrial and agricultural production declined. Massive unemployment, estimated at 25 percent in 1977 (it was only 3 percent in 1972), and inflation eroded the living standard of workers and many members of the middle class to subsistence levels. The underemployed informal sector also mushroomed in size.

The economy grew rapidly from 1976 to 1981, fueled by the influx of private foreign loans until the debt crisis of the early 1980s. But despite high growth in the late 1970s, income distribution became more regressive. While the upper 5 percent of the population received 25 percent of the total national income in 1972, it received 50 percent in 1975. Wage and salary earners got 64 percent of the national income in 1972 but only 38 percent at the beginning of 1977. Malnutrition affected half of the nation's children, and 60 percent of the population could not afford the minimum protein and food energy per day. Infant mortality increased sharply. Beggars flooded the streets.

The junta's economics also ruined the Chilean small business class. Decreased demand, lack of credit, and monopolies engendered by the regime pushed many small and medium size enterprises into bankruptcy. The curtailment of government expenditures created widespread white-collar and professional unemployment. The middle class began to rue its early support of the junta but appeared reluctant to join the working class in resistance to the regime.

The junta relied on the army, the police, the oligarchy, huge foreign corporations, and foreign loans to maintain itself. As a whole, the armed services received large salary increases and new equipment. The oligarchy recovered most of its lost industrial and agricultural holdings, for the junta sold to private buyers most of the industries expropriated by Allende's Popular Unity government. This period saw the expansion of monopolies and widespread speculation.

Financial conglomerates became major beneficiaries of the liberalized economy and the flood of foreign bank loans. Large foreign banks received large sums in repayments of interest and principal from the junta; in return, they lent the government millions more. International lending organizations such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank lent vast sums. Foreign multinational corporations such as International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), Dow Chemical, and Firestone, all expropriated by Allende, returned to Chile.


Chile's main industry, copper mining, remained in government hands, but new mineral deposits were open to private investment. Capitalist involvement was increased, pension funds and healthcare were privatized, and Superior Education was also placed in private hands. One of the junta's economic moves was fixing the exchange rate in the early 1980s, leading to a boom in imports and a collapse of domestic industrial production; this together with a world recession caused a serious economic crisis in 1982, where GDP plummeted by 14%, and unemployment reached 33%. At the same time a series of massive protests were organized trying to cause the fall of the regime, without success.

After the economic crisis of 1982, Hernan Buchi became Minister of Finance from 1985 to 1989. He allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. He introduced banking legislation, simplified and reduced the corporate tax. Chile pressed ahead with privatizations, including public utilities plus the re-privatization of companies that had returned to the government during the 1982–1983 crisis. Under these new policies, the rate of inflation dropped from about 1000% per year to about 10% per year. While this was still a high rate of inflation, it allowed the economy to start recovering. From 1984 to 1990, Chile's gross domestic product grew by an annual average of 5.9 percent, the fastest on the continent. Chile developed a good export economy, including the export of fruits and vegetables to the northern hemisphere when they were out of season, and commanded high prices.

The military junta began to change during the late 1970s. Due to problems with Pinochet, Leigh was expelled from the junta in 1978 and replaced by General Fernando Matthei. Due to a scandal, Mendoza resigned in 1985 and was replaced by Rodolfo Stange.

Problems with Argentina coming from the 19th century reached a high in 1978, with disagreements over the Beagle Canal. The two countries agreed to papal mediation over the canal. Chilean-Argentine relations remained bad, however, and Chile helped the United Kingdom during the Falklands War.

Chile's constitution was approved in a fraudulent national plebiscite held in September 1980. It came into force in March 1981. It established that in 1988 there would be another plebiscite in which the voters would accept or reject a single candidate proposed by the Military Junta. Pinochet was, as expected, the candidate proposed, and he was denied a second 8 year term.

Return to Democracy

Missing image
Patricio Aylwin

After Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the constitution was amended to ease provisions for future amendments to the constitution, create more seats in the senate, diminish the role of the National Security Council and equalize the number of civilian and military members (four members each). Many among Chile's political class consider these and other provisions as "authoritarian enclaves" of the constitution and have pressed for reform.

In December 1989, Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, running as the candidate of the Concertacion (Coalition of parties including the Partido Demócrata Cristiano (DC), Partido Socialista de Chile (PS), Partido por la Democracia (PPD), Partido Radical Social-Demócrata(PRSD)), was elected president. In February 1991, the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, established a year earlier by Aylwin, released its report of Human Rights Violations during the period of military dictatorship, known as the Rettig Report (after former Senator Raul Rettig, president of the commission).

In the 1993 election, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle of the Christian Democratic Party was elected president for a 6-year term leading the Concertacion coalition, and took office in March 1994.

A presidential election was held on December 12, 1999, but none of the six candidates obtained a majority, which led to an unprecedented runoff election on January 16, 2000. Ricardo Lagos Escobar of the Socialist Party and the Party for Democracy (PPD) led the Concertacion coalition to a narrow victory, with 51.32% of the votes. He was sworn in March 11, 2000, for a 6-year term.

Besides its association with Mercosur, in 2002 Chile signed an association agreement with the European Union (comprising FTA, political and cultural agreements), in 2003, an extensive free trade agreement with the United States, and in 2004 with South Korea, expecting a boom in import and export of local produce and becoming a regional trade-hub.


1520: Ferdinand Magellan passes through the Straits of Magellan, and becomes the first European to describe Patagonia.

1536: Diego de Almagro arrives from Peru, passing over the Andes to the valley of Copiapó, and explores the central region of Chile as far as what will later become Santiago de Chile. Foundation of Valparaíso.

1541: Pedro de Valdivia founds Santiago de Chile. In the following years, he (and others sent by him) founded La Serena and Concepción.

1546: Uprising of Michimalonco, Mapuche chief: Santiago destroyed. Mapuche military leader Lautaro is captured by the Spanish.

1552: Lautaro, after six years of imprisonment by the Spanish, escape and teaches his people military strategy, including riding horses.

1553: Mapuche uprising under Lautaro. Pedro de Valdivia is killed.

1557: Death of Lautaro.

1598: "Disaster of Curalaba". Governor Ignacio García Oñez de Loyola killed in a Mapuche ambush.

1602: General uprising of the Mapuches under Pelantaro. All cities south of the River Biobío are destroyed.

1681: By royal decree, the Atacama desert is declared to be the border between the Captain-Generalship of Chile and the Viceroyalty of Peru.

1776: The territories of Tucumán, previously governed as part of Chile, become the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. (See History of Argentina.)

1808: García Carrasco, unpopular Governor of Chile.

1810: Imitating the juntista movement of the rest of Latin America, the criollos (people of Spanish ancestry, but not born in Spain) of Santiago de Chile proclaim a governing Junta.

1811: Tired of being circumvented by political intrigues, José Miguel Carrera takes power by military means and initiates a dictatorship.

1812: Hostilities begin between the moderados, led by Bernardo O'Higgins, and the exaltados, led by Carrera. Carrera institutes the first Chilean national symbols (flag, coat of arms, and national anthem), and Fray Camilo Henríquez begins to publish the Aurora de Chile, the first Chilean newspaper. The Chilean Constitution of 1812 comes into effect. Founding of the Logia Lautaro.

1813: The Spanish send military expeditions (under Antonio Pareja and Gabino Gaínza) from the Viceroyalty of Peru. In the ensuing battles O'Higgins rises to be seen as a figure of great stature, overshadowing the continually less popular Carrera, who ultimately resigns. Francisco de la Lastra becomes Supreme Director.

1814: The "Disaster of Rancagua". Mariano Osorio, in command of a third Spanish expedition, defeats O'Higgins (October 12. Osorio reconquers Santiago for Spain. Exodus of Chilean patriots to Mendoza, Argentina, where they receive the support of José de San Martín. Those patriots who are captured by the Spaniards are deported to the Archipiélago Juan Fernández. Osorio is confirmed Governor of Chile by the Viceroy Fernando de Abascal of Peru. The talaveras, under the command of San Bruno, install a regime of terror extending to those merely suspected of sympathy for the Chilean cause.

1815: Guerrilla resistance against the Spanish begins, led by Manuel Rodríguez Erdoiza. Increasing enmity between Osorio and Abascal leads Abascal to replace Osorio with Casimiro Marcó del Pont.

1817: Battle of Chacabuco. O'Higgins defeats Rafael Maroto, reconquering Santiago. Captain San Bruno, hated chief of the talaveras, is captured and — less than 24 hours later — executed by firing squad. O'Higgins becomes dictator.

1818: O'Higgins signs the Chilean Declaration of Indepencence (February 12). Shortly afterwards, in the Battle of Maipú, a new military expedition led by Mariano Osorio is defeated, and Chile definitively obtains independence (April 5). The rivalry between O'Higgins and Manuel Rodríguez ends with the ambush and assassination of the latter in Tiltil. The brothers Juan José and José Luis Carrera are shot in Argentina, probably on the orders of O'Higgins or the Logia Lautaro.

1821: José Miguel Carrera arrested as a montonero (mounted rebel/bandit) in Argentina, and exectuted in Mendoza.

1822: Military expedition to Peru. San Martín undertakes a prudent military campaign, enters Lima, but sees the impossibility of crushing the last Spanish redoubts, a job that is left for Simón Bolívar and Antonio José de Sucre. The Chilean Constitution of 1822 comes into effect.

1823: Ramón Freire leads a military expedition from Concepción to Santiago and forces O'Higgins to resign. He goes into exile in Peru, where he dies in 1842. Freire becomes dictator.

1825: Taking advantage of the unsurveyed border, and ignoring the royal decree of 1681 and the principal uti possidetis, Simón Bolívar grants the port of Cobija to Bolivia. This gives Bolivia an outlet to the sea between Chile and Peru, which it will retain until the War of the Pacific.

1826: Freire resigns, initiating an interregnum know as The Anarchy.

1830: Diego Portales begins to clandestinely remodel Chilean institutionality, converting it into an authoritarian republic.

1831: José Joaquín Prieto becomes president of Chile. He will serve two consecutive five-year terms. With him, the so-called decenios (decade-long reigns) begin, which continue until 1871. This 30-year Conservative Party hegemony is sometimes referred to as the Authoritarian Republic.

1832: Discovery of mineral deposits in Chañarcillo, and the beginning of the rise of silver in what was then el Norte Chico and now constitutes the Atacama and Coquimbo regions of Chile). The mining fortunes constitute an important source of power in the following decades.

1833: Chilean Constitution of 1833. "Portalian" — that is, inspired by Diego Portales — definitively fixed Chilean institutions.

1837: Diego Portales is assassinated by mutinous soldiers in Quillota. A Chilean military expedition debarks in Perú, beginning a war with the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation.

1839: Battle of Yungay and defeat of the Confederation.

1841: Manuel Bulnes, victorious marshall of the Battle of Yungay, elected president of Chile.

1843: University of Chile founded. It will become the country's most prestigious university. Fort Bulnes established, the first Chilean presence on the Strait of Magellan.

1851: Manuel Montt becomes the third of the decenal presidents, but is immediately faced with civil war. Last failed attempt of Concepción to gain hegemony over Santiago.

1856: The Dispute of Sacristán ("Cuestión del Sacristán"). An apparently trivial question of ecclesiastical discipline divides the Conservative Party into secular and ultra-Catholic factions, which lays the ground for their political defeat in the elections of 1861.

1857: The Civil Code of Chile comes into effect; it will become a model for Latin American legal codes down to the present day.

1861: José Joaquín Pérez of the Liberal Party elected president. His party will retain power until the Chilean Revolution of 1891.

1863: A French adventurer proclaims himself Orélie Antoine I, King of Araucanía. After a short time he is arrested by the Chileans and deported, but the incident meant the end of the Chilean preocupation with occupying the remaining Mapuche, before some other power could do so and divide Chile in two. This intensification of activity is known as the Pacification of Araucanía.

1866: War with Spain. The port of Valparaíso is bombed by the Spanish.

1871: A constitutional reform prohibits re-election, resulting in the end of the decenios. Governments of five years duration persist until 1925, except for the premature death of Pedro Montt in 1910.

1879: In defense of the interests of the Chilean industrial oligarchy, Chilean soldiers occupy the Bolivian port of Antofagasta, precipitating the War of the Pacific against Peru and Bolivia. The Chilean cause is adopted by the general populace after the death of Captain Arturo Prat in the Naval battle of Iquique. The same day, May 21, Captain Carlos Condell sinks the powerful Independencia, which together with the capture of the Huáscar in the Naval battle of Angamos, eliminates Peruvian sea power and permits the Chileans to land troops at will along the coast throughout the military theater of operations.

1881: Chilean troops occupy and sack Lima, capital of Peru. The war will continue another three years, with the Peruvians retreating to the Sierra and successfully defending their mountainous redoubts. Argentina takes advantage of the military situation to impose upon Chile a settlement of their border disputes, granting all of Patagonia to Argentina. The Mapuches also take advantage, with an armed rising against the increasing Chilean occupation of their territories, but are finally and definitively defeated for the first time in three centuries of combat.

1883: Law of Civil Matrimony adopted. This secularization was fiercely resisted by the Roman Catholic Church.

1884: War of the Pacific ends, allowing mining of saltpeter in the regions conquered from Peru and Bolivia, leading to great national prosperity for Chile.

1888: Policarpo Toro leads an naval expedition to annex Easter Island.

1891. Chilean Revolution of 1891. The constitutional president José Manuel Balmaceda is overthrown by troops favorable to the National Congress. The beginning of "Parliamentarism" under which the Chilean oligarchy governed on its own behalf.

1906: Massacre of the Escuela Santa María de Iquique; soldiers fire on saltpeter workers and their unarmed associates. It will be years before the workers, terrorized by the brutal repression, resume the struggle for their rights.

1910: The centenary of independence is darkened by the death of President Pedro Montt, the only president between 1831 and 1925 who failed to complete his term of office.

1920: Arturo Alessandri Palma elected president, indicating a rise to power by the Chilean middle class.

1924: Chile's first income tax levied.

1925: After intense political agitation the Chilean Constitution of 1925 is adopted, only slightly less authoritarian than that of 1833. The Impuesto Global Complementario, a graduated income tax, is introduced.

1927: Amidst great political instability, and by way of a bloodless coup, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo takes the presidency. He will govern as dictator, taking Benito Mussolini as his model, until 1931. Also in 1927, the corps of carabineros — militarized police — is founded.

1929: The economic crash of 1929 strikes Chile with more force than any other country on earth.

1931: The deep economic crisis obliges Ibáñez del Campo to step down. A series of civilian governments and military juntas follows, some of which last no more than a few days.

1932: The period of political anarchy ends with the return to power of Arturo Alessandri.

1938: Massacre of Seguro Obrero.

1939: The Radical Party gains power, which they will keep until 1952.

1945: Gabriela Mistral receives the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1946: Gabriel González Videla becomes president, backed by a broad alliance of parties, including the Radicals and Communists. Once in power, he acceded to pressure from the United States and promulgates the Law of Defense of Democracy, also known as the Ley Maldita ("accursed law"), which outlawed his former allies the Communists, some of whom were placed in concentration camps in Pisagua. Poet Pablo Neruda hounded into exile.

1952: Carlos Ibáñez del Campo returns to the presidency, this time via the ballot box, ending the era of the Radical Party. His emblem is the broom, with which he proposed (fruitlessly) to sweep away the Radicals' legacy of corruption.

1964: Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva becomes president, proclaiming the so-called "Revolution in Liberty".

1970: Salvador Allende elected president; his leftist orientation greatly displeases the government of the United States. See 1970 Chilean presidential election.

1971: Poet Pablo Neruda receives Nobel Prize for Literature.

1973. The Armed Forces, carabineros, and others stage a coup, overthrowing Allende, who dies in the course of the coup. Augusto Pinochet establishes himself as the head of a military junta. The subsequent repression of leftists and other opponents of the military regime results in approximately 130,000 arrests and at least 3,000 dead or "disappeared" over the next three years. See Chilean coup of 1973.

1976: The machinations of the United States oblige Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, dictador de Filipinas to cancel a scheduled visit by President Pinochet to the Philippines.

1980: The military government promulgates the Chilean Constitution of 1980, which is adopted by plebiscite. Economic begins to be significantly influenced by the ideas of the Chicago School and of Neoliberalism.

1988: Pinochet loses the plebiscite foreseen by the la constitution, which brings about, by agreement of all, elections the following year.

1990: Patricio Aylwin takes office as President. Transition to democracy begins.

1994: Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle is elected President.

1998: During a visit to London for medical reasons, Augusto Pinochet is arrested in accord with the orders of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, beginning an international struggle between his supporters and detractors. He returns to Chile the following year, and the charges against him are later thrown out on the basis of his ostensibly deteriorated mental state. The affair will continue for years; in 2004 a Chilean court will rule that Pinochet is, indeed, mentally competent to stand trial. Chile suffers greatly from the world economic crisis, resulting in years of inflation and unemployment.

2000: In the second round of voting, in a tight contest with rightist Joaquín Lavín, Ricardo Lagos Escobar is elected President.

See also

Articles about Allende/Pinochet coup d'état in Chile

External link


Some of this material was drawn from Cronología de Chile in the Spanish-language Wikipedia.

de:Geschichte Chiles es:Cronología de Chile fr:Histoire du Chili pt:História do Chile


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