Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th cent., the Araucanians had long been in control of the land in the southern part of the region; in the north, the inhabitants were ruled by the Inca empire. Diego de Almagro, who was sent by Francisco Pizarro from Peru to explore the southern region, led a party of men through the Andes into the central lowlands of Chile but was unsuccessful (1536) in establishing a foothold there. In 1540, Pedro de Valdivia marched into Chile and, despite stout resistance from the Araucanians, founded Santiago (1541) and later established La Serena, Concepcin, and Valdivia. After an initial period of incessant warfare with the natives, the Spanish succeeded in subjugating the indigenous population.
Although Chile was unattractive to the Spanish because of its isolation from Peru to the north and its lack of precious metals (copper was discovered much later), the Spanish developed a pastoral society there based on large ranches and haciendas worked by indigenous people; the yields were shipped to Peru. During the long colonial era, the mestizos became a tenant farmer class, called inquilinos; although technically free, most were in practice bound to the soil.
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During most of the colonial period Chile was a captaincy general dependent upon the viceroyalty of Peru, but in 1778 it became a separate division virtually independent of Peru. Territorial limits were ill-defined and were the cause, after independence, of long-drawn-out boundary disputes with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. The movement toward independence began in 1810 under the leadership of Juan Martnez de Rozas and Bernardo O’Higgins. The first phase (1810-14) ended in defeat at Rancagua, largely because of the rivalry of O’Higgins with Jos Miguel Carrera and his brothers. In 1817, Jos de San Martn, with incredible hardship, brought an army over the Andes from Argentina to Chile. The following year he won the decisive battle of Maip over the Spaniards.
The New Nation
O’Higgins, who had been chosen supreme director, formally proclaimed Chile’s independence Feb. 12, 1818, at Talca and established a military autocracy that characterized the republic’s politics until 1833; O’Higgins ruled Chile from 1818 until 1823, when strong opposition to his policies forced him to resign. During this time the British expatriot Lord Cochrane, commanding the Chilean navy, cleared (1819-20) the coast of Spanish shipping, and in 1826 the remaining royalists were driven from Chilo island, their last foothold on Chilean soil. The colonial aristocracy and the clergy had been discredited because of royalist leanings. The army, plus a few intellectuals, established a government devoid of democratic forms. Yet with the centralistic constitution of 1833, fashioned largely by Diego Portales on Chile’s particular needs, a foundation was laid for the gradual emergence of parliamentary government and a long period of stability.
During the administrations of Manuel Bulnes (1841-51) and Manuel Montt (1851-61) the country experienced governmental reform and material progress. The war of 1866 between Peru and Spain involved Chile and led the republic to fortify its coast and build a navy. Chileans obtained the right to work the nitrate fields in the Atacama, which then belonged to Bolivia. Trouble over the concessions led in 1879 to open war (see Pacific, War of the). Chile was the victor and added valuable territories taken from Bolivia and Peru; a long-standing quarrel also ensued, the Tacna-Arica Controversy, which was finally settled in 1929. Chile also became involved in serious border troubles with Argentina; it was as a sign and symbol of the end of this trouble that the Christ of the Andes was dedicated in 1904. With the exploitation of nitrate and copper by foreign interests, chiefly the United States, prosperity continued.
The Transandine Railway was completed in 1910, and many more railroads were built. Industrialization, which soon raised Chile to a leading position among South American nations, was begun. Meanwhile, internal struggles between the executive and legislative branches of the government intensified and resulted (1891) in the overthrow of Jos Balmaceda. A congressional dictatorship (with a figurehead president and cabinet ministers appointed by the congress) controlled the government until the constitution of 1925, which provided for a strong president. Former president Arturo Alessandri (who had instituted a program of labor reforms during his tenure from 1920 to 1924, and who commanded widespread popular support) was recalled (1925) as a caretaker until elections were held.
Radicals vs. Conservatives
Although Chile enjoyed economic prosperity between 1926 and 1931, it was very hard hit by the world economic depression, largely because of its dependence on mineral exports and fluctuating world markets. Large-scale unemployment also had occurred after World War I when the nitrate market collapsed. The rise of the laboring classes was marked by unionization, and there were many Marxists who advocated complete social reform. The struggle between radicals and conservatives led to a series of social experiments and to counterattempts to suppress the radicals (especially the Communists) by force. During Arturo Alessandri’s second term (1932-38) a measure of economic stability was restored; however, he turned to repressive measures and alienated the working classes.
A democratic-leftist coalition, the Popular Front, took power after the elections of 1938. Chile broke relations with the Axis (1943) and declared war on Japan in 1945. Economic stability, the improvement of labor conditions, and the control of Communists were the chief aims of the administration of Gabriel Gonzlez Videla, who was elected president in 1946. He ruled with the support of the Communists until 1948, when he gained the support of the Liberal party and outlawed the Communists. His efforts, as well as those of his successors, Carlos Ibez del Campo (1952-58) and Jorge Alessandri (1958-64), were hampered by chronic inflation and repeated labor crises.
In the 1964 presidential election (in which Eduardo Frei Montalva was elected) and in the 1965 congressional elections, the Christian Democratic party won overwhelming victories over the Socialist-Communist coalition. Frei made advances in land reform, education, housing, and labor. Under his so-called Chileanization program, the government assumed a controlling interest in U.S.-owned copper mines while cooperating with U.S. companies in their management and development.
Allende, Pinochet, and Present-Day Chile
In 1970, Salvador Allende Gossens, head of the Popular Unity party, a coalition of leftist political parties, won a plurality of votes in the presidential election and became the first Marxist to be elected president by popular vote in Latin America. Allende, in an attempt to turn Chile into a socialist state, nationalized many private companies, instituted programs of land reform, and, in foreign affairs, sought closer ties with Communist countries.
Widespread domestic problems, including spiraling inflation, lack of food and consumer goods, stringent government controls, and opposition from some sectors to Allende’s programs, led to a series of violent strikes and demonstrations. As the situation worsened, the traditionally neutral Chilean military began to pressure Allende; he yielded to some of their demands and appointed military men to several high cabinet positions.
In Sept., 1973, with covert American support, the armed forces staged a coup that resulted in Allende’s death and in the execution, detention, or expulsion from Chile of thousands of people. Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte took control of the country. The economy continued to deteriorate, even though the government sought to return private enterprise to Chile by denationalizing many industries and by compensating businesses taken over by the Allende government. In 1974, Pinochet became the undisputed leader of Chile, assuming the position of head of state, and in 1977 he abolished all political parties and restricted human and civil rights. Unemployment and labor unrest grew, although the economy improved steadily between 1976 and 1981 with the help of foreign bank loans and an increase in world copper prices. In the early 1980s, the country was plagued by a recession and foreign debt grew significantly, but the economy leveled off late in the decade.
The 1981 constitution guaranteed elections in 1989, and in the 1980s political parties began to re-form despite Pinochet’s opposition. In Oct., 1988, the electorate voted against the extension of Pinochet’s term to 1997. In 1989, Patricio Aylwin Azcar, a member of the Christian Democratic party who headed a coalition of 17 center and left parties, was elected president by popular vote. However, under the military-drafted constitution, Pinochet remained head of the army. Under Aylwin, Chile again turned toward democracy; the country’s economy strengthened, as its exports were increased and its debt lowered.
In 1994 Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of Allende’s predecessor, a Christian Democrat, and the leader of another center-left coalition, became president. Frei’s free-market policies have led to a massive flow of foreign investment. Pinochet stepped down as head of the army in 1998 and was made a senator for life. Later that year, during a visit to London, Pinochet was arrested and held for possible extradition to Spain, on charges stemming from his repressive regime. Falling copper prices, exacerbated by an Asian economic crisis, caused economic and social problems in 1998 and 1999.
Little is known of the earliest inhabitants of the region. Only in NW Argentina was there a native population with a material culture. They were an agricultural people (recalled today by ruins N of Jujuy), but their importance was eclipsed later by the Araucanians from Chile. Europeans probably first arrived in the region in 1502 in the voyage of Amerigo Vespucci. The southern inhabitants at that time primarily hunted and fished, while the northwestern Incas were agricultural and quite advanced, having built a highway before the arrival of the Spanish. The search for a Southwest Passage to Asia and the East Indies brought Juan Daz de Sols to the Ro de la Plata in 1516. Ferdinand Magellan entered (1520) the estuary, and Sebastian Cabot ascended (1536) the Paran and Paraguay rivers. His delight in native ornaments may be responsible for the names Ro de la Plata silver river and Argentina of silver.
Pedro de Mendoza in 1536 founded the first settlement of the present Buenos Aires, but native attacks forced abandonment of the settlement, and Asuncin became the unquestioned leading city of the Ro de la Plata region. Buenos Aires was refounded in 1580 by Juan de Garay. His son-in-law, Hernando Arias de Saavedra (Hernandarias), secured the division of the Ro de la Plata territories, and Buenos Aires achieved (1617) a sort of semi-independence under the viceroyalty of Peru.
The mercantilist system, however, severely hampered the commerce of Buenos Aires, and smuggling, especially with Portuguese traders in Brazil, became an accepted profession. While the cities of present W and NW Argentina grew by supplying the mining towns of the Andes, Buenos Aires was threatened by Portuguese competition. By the 18th cent., cattle (which were introduced to the Pampas in the 1550s) roamed wild throughout the Pampas in large herds and were hunted by gauchos for their skins and fat.
In 1776 the Spanish government made Buenos Aires a free port and the capital of a viceroyalty that included present Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and (briefly) Bolivia. From this combination grew the idea of a Greater Argentina to include all the Ro de la Plata countries, a dream that was to haunt many Argentine politicians after independence was won.
Independence and the Nineteenth Century
A prelude to independence was the British attack on Buenos Aires. Admiral Sir Home Popham and Gen. William Carr Beresford took the city in 1806 after the Spanish viceroy fled. An Argentine militia force under Jacques de Liniers ended the British occupation and beat off a renewed attack under Gen. John Whitelocke in 1807.
On May 25, 1810 (May 25 is the Argentine national holiday), revolutionists, acting nominally in favor of the Bourbons dethroned by Napoleon (see Spain), deposed the viceroy, and the government was controlled by a junta. The result was war against the royalists. The patriots under Manuel Belgrano won (1812) a victory at Tucumn. On July 9, 1816, a congress in Tucumn proclaimed the independence of the United Provinces of the Ro de La Plata. Other patriot generals were Mariano Moreno, Juan Martn de Pueyrredn, and Jos de San Martn.
Uruguay and Paraguay went their own ways despite hopes of reunion. In Argentina, a struggle ensued between those who wanted to unify the country and those who did not want to be dominated by Buenos Aires. Independence was followed by virtually permanent civil war, with many coups by regional, social, or political factions. Rule by the strong man, the caudillo, alternated with periods of democratic rule, too often beset by disorder.
Anarchy was not ended by the election of Bernardino Rivadavia in 1826. The unitarians, who favored a centralized government dominated by Buenos Aires, were opposed to the federalists, who resented the oligarchy of Buenos Aires and were backed by autocratic caudillos with gaucho troops. The unitarians triumphed temporarily when Argentinians combined to help the Uruguayans repel Brazilian conquerors in the battle of Ituzaing (1827), which led to the independence of Uruguay. The internal conflict was, however, soon resumed and was not even quelled when Gen. Juan Manuel de Rosas, the most notorious caudillo, established a dictatorship that lasted from 1835 to 1852. Ironically, this federalist leader, who was nominally only the governor of Buenos Aires, did more than the unitarians to unify the country. Ironically, too, this enemy of intellectuals stimulated his political opponents to write in exile some of the finest works of the Spanish-American romantic period; among the writers were Domingo F. Sarmiento, Bartolom Mitre, Jos Mrmol, and Esteban Echeverra.
Rosas was overthrown (1852) by Gen. Justo Jos de Urquiza, who called a constituent assembly at Santa Fe. A constitution was adopted (1853) based on the principles enunciated by Juan Bautista Alberdi. Mitre, denouncing Urquiza as a caudillo, brought about the temporary secession of Buenos Aires prov. (1861) and the downfall of the Urquiza plans. Under the administrations of Mitre (1862-68), Sarmiento (1868-74), and Nicols Avellaneda (1874-80), schools were built, public works started, and liberal reforms instituted. The War of the Triple Alliance (see Triple Alliance, War of the), 1865-70, brought little advantage to Argentina.
In 1880 federalism triumphed, and Gen. Julio A. Roca became president (1880-1886); Buenos Aires remained the capital, but the federal district was set up, and Buenos Aires prov. was given La Plata as its capital. Argentina flourished during Roca’s administration. The conquest of the indigenous peoples by General Roca (1878-79) had made colonization of the region in the south and the southwest possible. Already the Pampa had begun to undergo its agricultural transformation. The immigration of Europeans helped to fill the land and to make Argentina one of the world’s granaries.
Establishment of refrigerating plants for meat made expansion of commerce possible. The British not only became the prime consumers of Argentine products but also invested substantially in the construction of factories, public utilities, and railroads (which were nationalized in 1948). Efforts to end the power of the great landowners, however, were not genuinely successful, and the military tradition continued to play a part in politics, the army frequently combining with the conservatives and later with the growing ranks of labor to alter the government by coup.
The Early Twentieth Century
The second administration of Roca (1898-1904) was marked by recovery from the crises of the intervening years; a serious boundary dispute with Chile was settled (1902), and perpetual peace between the two nations was symbolized in the Christ of the Andes. Even before World War I, in which Argentina maintained neutrality, the wealthy nation had begun to act as an advocate for the rights and interests of Latin America as a whole, notably through Carlos Calvo, Luis M. Drago, and later Carlos Saavedra Lamas.
Internal problems, however, remained vexing. Electoral reforms introduced by Roque Senz Pea (1910-14) led to the victory of the Radical party under Hiplito Irigoyen (1916-22). He introduced social legislation, but when, after the presidency of Marcelo T. de Alvear, Irigoyen returned to power in 1928, his policies aroused much dissatisfaction even in his own party. In 1930 he was ousted by Gen. Jos F. Uriburu, and the conservative oligarchy-now with Fascist leanings-was again in power.
The administration (1932-38) of Agustn P. Justo was opposed by revolutionary movements, and a coalition of liberals and conservatives won an election victory. Radical leader Roberto M. Ortiz became president (1938), but serious illness caused him to resign (1942), and the conservative Ramn S. Castillo succeeded him. In 1943, Castillo was overthrown by a military coup. After two provisional presidents a palace revolt in 1944 brought to power a group of army colonels, chief among them Juan Pern. After four years of pro-Axis neutrality, Argentina belatedly (Mar., 1945) entered World War II on the side of the Allies and became a member of the United Nations. A return to liberal government momentarily seemed probable, but Pern was overwhelmingly victorious in the election of Feb., 1946.
Pern, an admirer of Mussolini, established a type of popular dictatorship new to Latin America, based initially on support from the army, reactionaries, nationalists, and some clerical groups. His regime was marked by curtailment of freedom of speech, confiscation of liberal newspapers such as La Prensa, imprisonment of political opponents, and transition to a one-party state. His second wife, the popular Eva Duarte de Pern, helped him gain the support of the trade unions, thereafter the main foundation of Pern’s political power. In 1949 the constitution of 1853 was replaced by one that permitted Pern to succeed himself as president; the Peronista political party was established the same year.
To cure Argentina’s serious economic ills, Pern inaugurated a program of industrial development-which advanced rapidly in the 1940s and early 50s, although hampered by the lack of power resources and machine tools-supplemented by social welfare programs. Pern also placed the sale and export of wheat and beef under government control, thus undermining the political and economic power of the rural oligarchs. In the early 1950s, with recurring economic problems and with the death (1952) of his wife, Pern’s popular support began to diminish. Agricultural production, long the chief source of revenue, dropped sharply and the economy faltered. The Roman Catholic church, alienated by the reversal of close church-state relations, excommunicated Pern and, finally, the armed forces became disillusioned with him. In 1955, Pern was ousted by a military coup, and the interim military government of Gen. Pedro Aramburu attempted to rid the country of Justicialismo (Peronism). Pern fled to Paraguay and in 1960 went into exile in Spain.
Argentina During the Exile of Pern
In 1957, Argentina reverted to the constitution of 1853 as modified up to 1898. In 1958, Dr. Arturo Frondizi was elected president. Faced with the economic and fiscal crisis inherited from Pern, Frondizi, with U.S. advice and the promise of financial aid, initiated a program of austerity to stabilize the economy and check inflation. Leftists, as well as Peronistas, who still commanded strong popular support, criticized the plan because the burden lay most heavily on the working and lower middle classes.
Frondizi later fell into disfavor with the military because of his leniency toward the regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba and toward Peronistas at home, who, in the congressional elections of 1962, scored a resounding victory. Frondizi was arrested and Jos Mara Guido assumed the presidency, but the military was in control. The Peronista and Communist parties were banned before presidential elections were held in 1963. Following the election of the moderate liberal Dr. Arturo Illia, many political prisoners were released and relative political stability returned. The new president was faced, however, with serious economic depression and with the difficult problem of reintegrating the Peronist forces into Argentine political life.
In 1964 an attempt by Pern to return from Spain and lead his followers was thwarted when he was turned back at Rio de Janeiro by Brazilian authorities. The Peronists, however, remained the strongest political force in the country; unwilling to tolerate another resurgence of Peronism, a junta of military leaders, supported by business interests, seized power (1966) and placed Gen. Juan Carlos Ongana, a long-time right-wing opponent of Illa, in the presidency. Under Ongana, the new government dissolved the legislature, banned all political parties, and exercised unofficial press censorship; Ongana also placed the national universities under government control.
Widespread opposition to the rigid rule of the Ongana regime grew, and the military deposed him (1970), naming Gen. Roberto M. Levingston president. Economic problems and increased terrorist activities caused Gen. Alejandro Lanusse, the leader of the coup against Ongana, to dismiss (1971) Levingston and initiate an active program for economic growth, distribution of wealth, and political stability. His direct negotiations with Juan Pern and his call for national elections and a civilian government led to the return of Pern to Argentina in 1972.
The Late Twentieth Century
After failing to achieve unity among the various Peronist groups, Pern declined the nomination from his supporters to run for president in the Mar., 1973, elections, which were won by Dr. Hector Cmpora, the Peronist candidate, who subsequently resigned from office to make way for Pern’s return. When new elections were held in Sept., 1973, Pern was elected president and his third wife, Isabel Martnez Pern, vice president. Pern died in July, 1974, and was succeeded by his widow. Her government faced economic troubles, labor unrest, political violence, and deep divisions within the Peronista party.
In 1976, Isabel Pern was deposed by a military junta under the leadership of Jorge Rafael Videla, who served as president until 1981. The government suspended political and trade union activity, dissolved the congress, made alterations to the constitution, and removed most government officals. During the military rule thousands of citizens suspected of undermining the government disappeared in what became known as the Dirty War. In 1981 Argentina petitioned the United Nations for possession of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), which had been occupied and claimed by the British since 1832. Tensions escalated until, on Apr. 2, 1982, Argentina, now under the rule of Lt.-Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, invaded and occupied the islands. British forces responded quickly, forcing a surrender by Argentine forces within 6 weeks. The Argentine defeat led to Galtieri’s resignation and to the end of military rule.
In 1983, Ral Alfonsn won the presidency, but persistent economic problems plagued his tenure in office. Carlos Sal Menem was elected president in 1988, bringing the Peronists back into power. A reform-minded leader, he stimulated economic growth and subdued hyperinflation in the early 1990s by instituting a major program of privatization, encouraging foreign investment, and tying the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar. Constitutional amendments approved in 1994 placed curbs on presidential power and increased opposition power in the senate, while clearing the way for Menem to seek a second successive term as president. He was reelected in 1995. Peronists lost legislative elections to the opposition Alianza coalition in 1997, as the country struggled with recession and continuing high unemployment. In Oct., 1999, Fernando de la Ra Bruno of Alianza was elected president, soundly defeating the Peronist candidate. De la Ra’s victory was in part a rejection of Menem’s perceived flamboyance and tolerance of corruption during his last term. Argentina’s relations with Paraguay soured in 1999 when Menem’s government sheltered Paraguayan Gen. Lino Oviedo for eight months; Oviedo was wanted for the murder of Paraguay’s vice president.
The altiplano was a center of native life even before the days of the Inca; the region was the home of the great Tihuanaco empire. The Aymara had been absorbed into the Inca empire long before Gonzalo Pizarro and Hernando Pizarro began the Spanish conquest of the Inca in 1532. In 1538 the indigenous inhabitants in Bolivia were defeated.
Uninviting though the high, cold country was, it attracted the Spanish because of its rich silver mines, discovered as early as 1545. Exploiters poured in, bent on quick wealth. Forcing the natives to work the mines and the obrajes textile mills under duress, they remained indifferent to all development other than the construction of transportation facilities to remove the unearthed riches. Native laborers were also used on great landholdings. Thus began the system of plunder economy and social inequality that persisted in Bolivia until recent years. Economic development was further retarded by the rugged terrain, and conditions did not change when the region was made (1559) into the audiencia of Charcas, which was attached until 1776 to the viceroyalty of Peru and later to the viceroyalty of La Plata.
Independence and the Nineteenth Century
The revolution against Spanish control came early, with an uprising in Chuquisaca in 1809, but Bolivia remained Spanish until the campaigns of Jos de San Martn and Simn Bolvar. Independence was won with the victory (1824) at Ayacucho of Antonio Jos de Sucre. After the formal proclamation of independence in 1825, Bolvar drew up (1826) a constitution for the new republic. The nation was named Bolivia, and Chuquisaca was renamed Sucre, after the revolutionary hero.
Bolivia inherited ambitions and extensive territorial claims that proved disastrous, leading to warfare and defeat. At the time of independence it had a seacoast, a portion of the Amazon basin, and claims to most of the Chaco; in little more than a century all these were lost. The strife-ridden internal history of Bolivia began when the first president, Sucre, was forced to resign in 1828. A steady stream of egocentric caudillos plagued Bolivia thereafter. Andrs Santa Cruz, desiring to reunite Bolivia and Peru, invaded Peru in 1836 and established a confederation, which three years later was destroyed on the battlefield of Yungay.
Although a few presidents, notably Jos Ballivin, made efforts to reform the administration and improve the economy, the temptation to wholesale corruption was always strong, and honest reform was hard to achieve. The nitrate deposits of Atacama proved valuable, but the mining concessions were given to Chileans. Trouble over them led (1879), during the administration of Hilarin Daza, to the War of the Pacific (see Pacific, War of the). As a result Bolivia lost Atacama to Chile. The next serious loss was the little-known region of the Acre River, which had become valuable because of its wild rubber. After a bitter conflict, Bolivia, under President Jos Manuel Pando, yielded the area to Brazil in 1903 for an indemnity.
Attempts at reorganization and reform, especially by Ismael Montes, were overshadowed in the 20th cent. by military coups, rule of dictators, and bankruptcy. This repeated sequence led to an increase in foreign influence, through loans and interests in mines and oil fields. Attempts to raise Bolivia from its status as an underdeveloped country met with little success, although great personal fortunes were amassed from tin mining by tycoons such as Simn I. Patio.
Conflicting claims to the Chaco, which was thought to be oil-rich, brought on yet another disastrous territorial war, this time with Paraguay (1932-35). The fighting ended in 1935 with both nations exhausted and Bolivia defeated and stripped of most of its claims in that area. Programs for curing the ills of the nation were hampered by military coups and countercoups. World War II proved a boon to the Bolivian economy by increasing demands for tin and wolframite. International pressure over pro-German elements in the government eventually forced Bolivia to break relations with the Axis and declare war (1943).
Rising prices aggravated the restiveness of the miners over miserable working conditions; strikes were brutally suppressed. The crisis reached a peak in Dec., 1943, when the nationalistic, pro-miner National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) engineered a successful revolt. The regime, however, was not recognized by other American nations (except Argentina) until 1944, when pro-Axis elements in the MNR were officially removed. Words
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