Chile Presidentialism

Government of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo

The 1 of October of 1925, Arturo Alessandri Palma resigned the presidency, temporarily taking over as Vice President Luis Barros Borgoño, who served as Minister of the Interior. On October 24, 1925, Emiliano Figueroa prevailed by a large majority in the first direct vote and at the end of the year he began his duties. During his mandate he was unable to introduce the changes that were expected, little by little he moved away from the effective direction of public affairs and his Minister of War, Colonel Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, tried to carry out some reforms proposed in 1924 imposing itself with a heavy hand. As a result, several political leaders were jailed and others went into exile. The 4 of maypole of 1927 Figueroa presented his resignation, which porvocando the rise to power Ibanez as vice president who called for elections as the only candidate presenting and obtaining 98 percent of the vote.

After several years of political and social unrest, Ibáñez’s main concerns were the reestablishment of order, the restructuring of the public administration and carry out a broad economic reform and for this he adopted harsh restrictive measures and against corruption, purifying the magistracy, the army and the navy. New institutions were created among them, Carabineros de Chile in 1927, product of the merger of several police forces and was created in 1930 the Chilean Air Force, a military branch specialized in aeronautics. Education was made compulsory for children and young people between seven and 15 years old, the law of university autonomy was enacted, which guaranteed the academic and administrative independence of the University of Chile. In 1931, the situation became delicate for the Chilean people, the threat of bankruptcy was presented as a real possibility, discontent was growing and protests were on the rise. Faced with the dilemma of resigning or repressing, Ibáñez opted for the former, and on July 26, 1931 he submitted his resignation.

Government of Pedro Opazo Letelier

With the resignation of Ibáñez, the president of the Senate, Pedro Opazo Letelier, came to power, who appointed radical Juan Esteban Montero as vice president, who ascended to the presidency after the election process carried out on October 4, 1931. The 4 of June of 1932 there was a military uprising led by the Air Force, which led to the resignation of the president and the proclamation of a socialist republic, the power was in charge of a board of integrated government by Arturo Puga, Carlos Dávila and Eugene Matte.

Governing board

The new government captured popular sympathy but within it there was no unity. Dávila resigned from the board and was replaced by Rolando Merino Reyes. Upon separating, he co-formed a new junta led by him, restoring public order, although a regime was established that had no other support than force. A short time later, Dávila dissolved the junta and assumed power with the title of “provisional President”, a power that was later handed over to General Bartolomé Blanche, who had to face strong civic-military pressure clamoring for the return to institutional normality. Blanche resigned on October 2 and handed over power to Chief Justice Abraham Oyanedel, who called for presidential and parliamentary elections for October 30. In these elections, Arturo Alessandri Palma and the parties that supported him triumphed: liberals, democrats and radicals. With these elections anarchy ended and the country was re-directed towards the recovery of institutions.

Three radical governments

Alessandri managed, after a period in which he had to govern with extraordinary powers, to reimpose the constitutional order, and in this he had the collaboration of all political sectors, the same ones that in the last years of his administration, withdrew their support and passed to the opposition. This is how the presidential elections of 1938 were carried out. Pedro Aguirre Cerda was the Popular Front candidate who won the election and his government carried out an ambitious education plan, which led to the creation of more than a thousand primary schools and some 3,000 positions for teachers. However, he did not manage to finish his six-year term, death surprised him, on November 25, 1941.

Two months later, the radical Juan Antonio Ríos was elected as the new ruler, who tried to create a national government that would not bow to the demands of the different political parties. This president, neither could he finish his term, he died on June 27, 1946. In his place, Gabriel González Videla was elected in September 1946, who issued the Law for the Permanent Defense of Democracy, promulgated in 1948. Its application implied that the Communist Party was condemned and that its top leaders were imprisoned in Pisagua while other prominent militants, including the poet Pablo Neruda, had to flee the country. During Videla’s mandate, the Concón Oil Refinery and the Paipote Smelter were built, the latter intended to promote the development of the small and medium-sized mining industry in Norte Chico. It was also promulgated the Law No. 9,292, the 8 as January as 1949, which granted the right to vote to women in presidential elections. In 1952 after elections Carlos Ibañes returned to the presidency.

In the second government of Ibáñez, the merger of different credit and savings institutions in the State Bank was carried out in 1953, the Ministry of Mining was created, due to the economic importance that this activity represented for the country, the Institute of Insurance of the State (ISE), the Housing Corporation (Corvi) and the Superintendency of Education. The Electoral System was reformed, which meant the establishment of a single ballot, printed and distributed by the Electoral Registry.

In the 1958 elections, Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez came to power, his government stood out, mainly, in the construction of houses, which exceeded 150,000 units, covering 80 percent of the population growth; the construction of numerous paved roads, irrigation canals, hospitals and schools. Mining production experienced a notable increase. He promulgated, in 1962, Law 15.020, on Agrarian Reform, but rising inflation was causing social discontent. The 4 as September as 1964 the country re-election and takes office the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva who in 1968, enacted the law of Neighborhood Councils, which also legalized mothers’ centers and other community organizations.

During Frei’s tenure, the unions increased the number of members, from about 270,000 in 1964 to around 500,000 in 1970. He was the promoter of the Chileanization of copper, a process known as one of his great achievements by showing positive results. He also undertook a vast plan in favor of education. In the vicinity of the 1970 presidential election, the left-wing opposition united to form the Popular Unity and appointed Salvador Allende Gossens as its candidate.

He led a campaign founded on a program that promised the nationalization of all grassroots industries, banks, and communications. On September 4, the country returns to the elections, and on October 24 Salvador Allende ascends to the presidency, on November 4, he was sworn in as the first democratically elected Marxist president in the world. He received not only about 37% of the votes, but also the unconditional support of Congress in the face of his right-wing adversary, former President Alessandri. Allende was then the first president elected under a socialist program in a non-communist country.

Government of Salvador Allende

The 3 of November of 1970 Salvador Allende assumed power, at the time of his election represented the Popular (UP) Unit. The new government had a socialist character. Once in office, President Allende soon put into effect the promises made during his campaign, transforming the country into a socialist state.

An important part of the economy passed under state control: mines (July 1971 copper law), foreign banks and monopoly companies were nationalized. The agrarian reform was accelerated and paisano councils were instituted. Consequently, agricultural production rose a lot. Average inflation was falling. Construction was increasing by nine percent. Unemployment fell less than five percent (the lowest in a decade). Consumption of steak and bread increased by 15 percent between 1971 and 1972. In the first year, the Chilean GNP increased by 8.5 percent, the second highest in Latin America. [3] In addition, Allende undertook the redistribution of national income, increased wages, and instituted price controls. However, the opposition was not inactive and, since 1972, it has spread rumors to scare the population. Conditions deteriorated in 1973: rampant inflation, food shortages due both to the restriction of foreign credits and the policy of retail sales and small industrialists that stocked goods, strikes and political violence led to Chile on the brink of chaos. In addition to this internal opposition, the United States, distrustful of the new Chilean power, practiced a financial blockade on the country.

The Allende government invested in health equipment and facilities, readjusted workers’ salaries. It gave each child a free half liter of milk a day, with a coverage of approximately 80 percent. With regard to education, efforts were concentrated on preschool, basic, and industrial education for workers, and the housing construction program begun during the term of President Frei Montalva was almost completely completed. The November of September of 1973, President Allende was killed during the coup led by Augusto Pinochet, who took power by implementing a harsh dictatorship.

Government of Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet Ugarte took the head of the board and adopted, in July 1974, the title of “Supreme Chief of the Nation.” His government under Pinochet was characterized by unleashing a harsh repression against the political opposition, for which he allocated almost all of the powers of the State. In 1977, he created the intelligence services, the DINA and the National Information Center (CNI), who played an important role in the repression and in the authoritarian regime that he established. The persecution of opponents of the regime went beyond national borders, such as the attack on Orlando Letelier in Washington in 1976. Thousands of people were arrested. Many were executed, tortured or had to go into exile, while others were imprisoned for a long time or “disappeared”.

He suspended the Constitution, dissolved Parliament, imposed absolute censorship, and banned all political parties. He launched the country in a campaign of terror against the left and bloody repression. In 1980, he promulgated a new constitution known as the 1980 Constitution, which established a presidential system of government, created a National Security Council, chaired by the President and made up of the Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the President of the Senate and the President of the Supreme Court of Justice. It also recorded the creation of designated senators, the second round of presidential elections and the binomial electoral system, establishing that the current President would remain in power until 1988.

On October 5 of the same year, Pinochet organized a plebiscite with a view to redirecting his mandate, after March 1989, until 1997. While the “no” won with about 55% of the votes, Pinochet announced that he would extend his term until March 1990. However, in December 1989, Chile had the first organized presidential vote in 19 years. The election gave the majority to the Christian Democratic candidate Patricio Aylwin.

While Pinochet remained at the head of the Armed Forces, President Aylwin appointed, in April 1990, a “commission of inquiry for truth and reconciliation” on human rights violations under the preceding regime. His economic reforms tended to maintain a high growth rate and to establish social integration. The country opened up abroad by multiplying exports, particularly to the United States, thanks to a bilateral trade and investment agreement. The municipal elections of June 1992reinforced the victory of the Christian Democrats.

Presence of women during the dictatorship

Since the coup d’état and its multiple consequences in social, economic and cultural terms, driven by the force of life and affections, they would have to develop the best capacities and would make emerge, despite everything, solidarity, creativity and courage in the face of barbarism, becoming the first and most persevering fighters against the dictatorship. [4]

When the Catholic Church implemented the creation of soup kitchens and bags for unemployed in the parishes, women took care of the organization and direction in the collection of food and obtaining donations. They also organized arpilleras workshops, laundries and amasanderías. To face the situation of repression that they suffered directly, the wives, mothers, sisters of detainees who came to COPACHI for legal support, [5] began to meet and coordinate their efforts. From these meetings emerged the Grouping of Relatives of the Disappeared Detainees. The Agrupación’s tireless struggle led to finding the truth in some cases: Lonquén, Laja and Yumbel proved that those detained disappeared had been executed. [6]

In 1975, the military regime made public a draft substitute for the Labor Code where women lost maternal jurisdiction by virtue of paid work or contracts for fixed periods. [7] Some time later, the National Trade Union Coordinator (CNS) was formed and within it a Women’s Department that would be in charge of organizing working women and urging them to fight for their rights.

The women also organized to publicly express their denunciation of the wave of human rights abuses, the atomization of social and political participation, articulating a discourse that would become the expression of a new “feminist awakening” [8] that was it would become a permanent mobilizing agent.

One of the characteristics that express the great call of the women’s movement and feminism in dictatorship, is the use of slogans and creative images with high symbolic content. Several were the slogans that resounded not only in Chile but also at the Latin American level (Gaviola, Largo and Palestro 1992), such as “Democracy in the country, in the house and in the bed” created by Julieta Kirkwood and the team that devised the Fury magazine. Kirkwood re-founded the feminist movement in Chile and was one of the initiators of the Feminist Movement in opposition to the Pinochet dictatorship.

Cristina Moyano in the text NGO in dictatorship: Social knowledge, intellectuals and political opposition in….., highlighted:

… the women’s movement articulated a field of knowledge use and a broad social process…. it gave rise to a social actor from a conflict …. that guided the construction of a project of cultural change.

The closure of the cycle of social mobilization of women during the dictatorship was expressed in commemoration of the 8 of March of 1989 with a rally in the state Santa Laura, to which attended more than 25 000 women from various sectors. This act was visualized as the last International Day of Women in dictatorship, so it symbolized the birth of the new woman and her commitment to democracy. [9]

Registered bulletins and organization or group that prepared it
Organ of diffusion Group or Organization that elaborates it
And what about us Reflection Women’s Workshop of the Santa Cristina parish
Women in the fight Prepared by political prisoners from Nueva Imperial
Hey neighbor Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CODEM), Maipú.
Presence of woman Women’s Department of the Unitary Socialist Movement (MSU)
Little leaf Commission on the Rights of Women
Guacolda Female Action
Woman, voice and people Of female settlers of the Herminia population
Our awakening From the solidarity workshops José María Caro
Ormiga ?
Women’s word Atacama Women’s Union (Udema)
Popcorn Las Domitilas Group
Testimony Chilean Women’s Liberation Front
We Feminist editions Centro Mujer
Sintracap Newsletter Inter-company Union of Private Home Workers (Sintracap)
Come on woman Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CODEM).
Fury Federation of Socialist Women
Circle Newsletter Circle of Women’s Studies
La Morada bimonthly newsletter La Morada Women’s House Corporation
Your voice woman Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CODEM), Concepción.
The Cicada Committee for Women’s Unity
Ridem Newsletter Women’s Information and Dissemination Network (Ridem)

The Mexican researcher Sandra Ivette González Ruiz from the National Autonomous University of Mexico to carry out her research Writing in dictatorship, Chilean feminist poets… traveled to Chile to interview feminists and listen to women, activists, poets, writers and survivors of the Pinochet’s dictatorship in his final reflections he wrote:

During the dictatorship in Chile, poetry written by women flourished, first those who published from the literary field, especially from Cuarto Propio, a feminist publishing house founded still under the dictatorship. Women writers who reflected on what it means to be a woman and to write and on particular violence against women, reflections that reached their climax at the First International Congress of Women’s Literature. Later, the important literary production written in prisons where there were not only poetry workshops, but also presentations of poetry books. This poetry written by the political prisoners is also a way of representing and breaking up captivity. And finally the poetry written by women settlers, also from workshops, political poems that deal with the struggle and social organization. This varied and heterogeneous poetry strains the category of female literature that classifies poetry written by women based on characteristics traditionally associated with the feminine, and at the same time strains the only voice and the silence imposed by the dictatorship disputes the ways of representing violence.

Chile Presidentialism