The north of today’s Chile was originally under the control of the Incas, the south was controlled by the nomadic Araucanos. In 1541, Pedro de Valdivia, a Spaniard, founded Santiago. Chile gained its independence from Spain under Bernardo O’Higgins and an Argentine, José de San Martín in 1818. O’Higgins ruled as dictator until 1823 and created during this time with a two-party system and a central government the foundations of the modern state of Chile.
Under Diego Portales, dictator from 1830 to 1837, Chile waged a war against Peru (1836-1839) and thus expanded its territory. In the Pacific War against Peru and Bolivia from 1879 to 1883, Chile won Antofagasta, Bolivia’s only access to the sea and extensive areas of Peru. Pedro Montt led an uprising against José Balmaceda in 1891, overthrew it and established a permanent parliamentary dictatorship until a new constitution was adopted in 1925. Chilean industrialization began before the First World War and led, among other things, to the formation of Marxist groups. Juan Antonio Rios, who was president during World War II, was originally hired for Germany but led his country to war on the Allied side in 1944.
In 1970, Salvador Allende became the first president with a Marxist program in a non-communist country. Allende quickly established relations with Cuba and China, carried out Marxist economic and social reforms, and nationalized many private companies, including US firms. In September 1973 the military launched a coup against Allende, who killed himself. The military coup was backed by the CIA, which helped end a 46-year era of constitutional government in Chile.
The coup was led by a four-man junta under Chief of Staff Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet also assumed the office of president. Determined to “root out Marxism,” the junta overturned parliament, banned political activities and severely restricted civil liberties. Under Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship, thousands of Chileans were imprisoned, tortured, and disappeared, executed and displaced. According to a government report in 2004, nearly 28,000 people were tortured during his rule, and at least 3,200 were murdered or disappeared.
According to homosociety, the Chilean economy shrank under Allende’s socialist revolution, and slowly recovered with the re-privatization under Pinochet. In 1989, however, Pinochet lost a referendum on whether to stay in power. He resigned in January 1990 in favor of Patricio Aylwin. In December 1993, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the center-left coalition candidate and son of a previous president, was elected president.
Pinochet, who retained his position as army commander after losing the 1989 referendum, retired in March 1998. In October 1998 he was arrested in England on an extradition request from a Spanish judge. Pinochet was to be questioned in connection with the disappearance of Spanish citizens during his reign. British courts ultimately refused to extradite him and Pinochet returned to Chile in March 2000. He died in December 2006 at the age of 91, before trial on the offenses in his 17-year dictatorship.
Ricardo Lagos became the first socialist president since Allende in March 2000. Chile’s economic growth slowed to 3% in 2001, in part as a result of the drop in international copper prices and the economic turmoil in neighboring Argentina. In 2003 there were several minor financial scandals related to inside information and bribery. In response, Lagos promised new reforms for greater transparency. In 2004, Chile passed the first law allowing divorce.
In the 2006 presidential election, socialist Michelle Bachelet won 53% of the vote. The former pediatrician is a survivor of the Pinochet dictatorship. Her father died under the dictatorship, she herself suffered imprisonment, torture and exile. Bachelet took office on March 11, 2006, becoming the first woman in Chile’s highest office. She promised to continue Chile’s successful economic policy while increasing social spending. Their first major challenge was the boycott of 700,000 students who were calling for educational reform. The students ended the strike in June after the government promised to address their concerns.
In January 2008, President Bachelet introduced six new ministers to her 22-strong cabinet. The most important change was the appointment of Christian Democratic leader Edmundo Perez Yoma as Minister of the Interior, the highest political office in the cabinet. Bachelet also replaced the Ministers for Economy, Public Works, Mining, Agriculture and Planning. However, the cabinet changes are not expected to have any impact on government policy.
On April 17, 2008, Minister of Education Yasna Provoste was removed from office by parliament after she could not clarify how the Ministry of Education led to the disappearance of around US $ 500 million.