chapter
Chile
Pages 11

AD 1460: An Inca army invaded the north of Chile and conquered the indigenous Atacameña population. 1491: The Incas established forts in the Central Valley, but failed to subjugate the region. They met fierce opposition from the indigenous Araucanians, in particular from the Mapuche (‘the people of the land’). 1520: The Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, became the first European to visit Chile when he landed on the southern island of Chiloé. Magellan reported that the region was known as Tchili (the Araucanian word for snow). 1535-38: A Spanish expedition, led by Diego de Almagro, failed to discover gold in Chile and returned to Peru. 1540: Pedro de Valdivia led a second expedition into Chile and subsequently founded Santiago. 1553-58: An Araucanian army destroyed a number of Spanish settlements and killed Valdivia. The uprising led to the establishment of the Bío-Bío river as the de facto frontier between the Spanish and the Mapuche, an arrangement that lasted for a further three centuries. 18th century: The lack of precious metals and constant conflict with the Mapuche meant Chile remained a relatively unimportant part of the Spanish empire. Santiago remained under the control of the colonial authorities in Lima, Peru. 18 September 1810: The Santiago City Council deposed the colonial Governor of Chile, delegating his powers to a Council of Seven. Spain subsequently dispatched loyal troops from Peru to restore order. 12 February 1817: The royalist army was decisively defeated at Chacabuco, ending Spanish control of northern Chile. 1818: One of the leaders of the independence movement, Bernardo O’Higgins, proclaimed Chile’s independence. Royalist forces were not, however, completely expelled from the south of the country until 1826. 1818-23: O’Higgins ruled the country as Director-General of Chile, but opposition to his autocratic style of government eventually forced him to resign. 1823-30: Despite the adoption of a liberal Constitution, there was considerable political instability and no strong government emerged. 1830: Gen. Joaquín Prieto seized control of the Government and, in the following year, was inaugurated as President. 1833: The Government introduced a new Constitution, which granted the majority of power to the executive. 1836: The Peru-Bolivia Confederation was established, with the intention of resisting attempts at expansion by Chile and Argentina, both of which subsequently declared war

1851-61: President Manuel Montt liberalized the Constitution and reduced the privileges of landowners and the Roman Catholic Church. 14 February 1879: Chile invaded Bolivia after the latter had failed to observe the terms of a treaty between the two countries establishing their respective boundaries. 1881: The Chilean army defeated the Mapuche, opening up the south for largescale European immigration. 1883: The War of the Pacific ended after Chile decisively defeated the Bolivian and Peruvian joint forces. Chile gained the northern territory of Antofagasta from Bolivia, as well as the Peruvian territory of Tarapacá. August 1891: Forces loyal to the Roman Catholic Church rebelled against the Liberal Government of President José Manuel Balmaceda and defeated a government army in battle. September 1891: After Valparaíso and Santiago fell to the so-called ‘Congressionalist’ rebels, Balmaceda committed suicide and Montt became President. The following two decades were marked by serious political instability. 1904: Bolivia and Chile signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, by which Bolivia officially ceded its coastal provinces to Chile, thereby losing its access to the Pacific. August 1906: A massive earthquake virtually destroyed Valparaiso and caused extensive damage to Santiago. An estimated 3,000 people died and a further 100,000 were left homeless. 1920: The Liberal candidate, Arturo Alessandri Palma, was elected President. September 1924: Alessandri was overthrown in a coup d’état organized by members of the armed forces, who subsequently established a military dictatorship. 1925: A second military coup restored Alessandri to power. The armed forces introduced a new Constitution, which reformed the electoral system, reduced the power of Congress and disestablished the Catholic Church. 1926: Emiliano Figueroa was elected President. 1927-31: Gen. Carlos Ibáñez del Campo seized power and established a military dictatorship. 1928: Peru agreed to cede the city of Arica permanently to Chile in exchange for possession of the city of Tacna. 1932: Alessandri was re-elected to the presidency. 1938: Pedro Aguirre Cerda, a member of the Partido Radical, was elected President as the candidate of a coalition of democratic groups. 1939: A devastating earthquake killed about 28,000 people, effectively putting an end to Cerda’s ambitious economic recovery plans. 2 April 1942: Cerda died and was replaced as head of state by Juan Antonio Ríos. 27 June 1946: Following a long illness, Ríos died; Alfredo Duhalde became acting President. 3 August 1946: Duhalde resigned as acting President and was replaced by the Minister of the Interior, Vice-Adm. Vicente Merino Bielich. 4 September 1946: The Partido Radical candidate, Gabriel González Videla, won the

solve the country’s ongoing economic crisis. 21-22 October 1947: Chile suspended diplomatic relations with several communist countries after the Government claimed that the Partido Comunista had organized a coalminers’ strike. Around 200 prominent communists were also arrested. 16-17 February 1948: Videla inaugurated two army bases on Greenwich Island in order to substantiate Chile’s claim to several territories in the South American Antarctic. 4 March 1948: The Chilean and Argentine Governments signed an agreement reaffirming their determination to ‘defend their rights in the Antarctic’ against any ‘aggression’ from the United Kingdom. 22 December 1948: Former President Ibáñez was found not guilty of plotting to overthrow the Government and establish a right-wing dictatorship. 6 March 1949: The ruling centrist coalition maintained broadly the same number of seats in Congress at general elections. 16-19 August 1949: The Partido Comunista was banned after the Government claimed it was responsible for serious anti-government rioting in the capital, Santiago. 4 September 1952: Ibáñez was re-elected to the presidency as the candidate of a broad coalition of dissident groups. 1 March 1953: The general election resulted in a ‘hung’ parliament, with proIbáñez candidates winning exactly one-half of the seats available in the House of Representatives. 3 March 1957: The opposition increased its representation at elections to the House of Representatives; the Partido Radical recorded the largest increase in seats. August 1958: The ban on the Partido Comunista was lifted. 4 September 1958: Jorge Alessandri, a prominent industrialist and the son of the former President, won the presidential election as the conservative candidate. Alessandri appointed a Cabinet composed largely of technocrats and businesspeople, with the aim of improving Chile’s poor economic performance. 6 April 1959: Congress approved legislation giving special powers to the Government, to allow it to introduce an economic stabilization programme. 1 January 1960: The Government introduced a new currency, the escudo, to replace the peso, which had depreciated significantly in value. 5 March 1960: The Partido Radical performed well at legislative elections and the proGovernment alliance maintained its majority. May 1960: The south of Chile was devastated by a series of earthquakes, which caused tidal waves and landslides. At least 10,000 people were killed and around 450,000 houses were destroyed. 4 September 1964: The candidate for the centrist Partido Demócrata Cristiano (PDC), Eduardo Frei Montalva, was elected President. 24 November 1964: The Government restored full diplomatic relations with the USSR. 7 March 1965: Following legislative elections, the PDC dramatically increased its representation in Congress. 2 March 1969: The Partido Nacional (an amalgam of the former Liberal and

The socialist candidate, Dr Salvador Allende Gossens, won the largest share of the votes at the presidential election and was subsequently appointed President by Congress. 22 October 1970: Right-wing extremists, supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), assassinated the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Gen. René Schneider, after Schneider had expressed his belief in military neutrality in political affairs. 3 November 1970: Allende was inaugurated as President and appointed a Government, known as the Unión Popular, which included socialists, Communists, radicals and social democrats. 30 December 1970: President Allende introduced legislation that gave the Government the power to nationalize the country’s banking system and coal industry. 4 April 1971: Unión Popular candidates won the majority of the seats contested at local elections. 8 June 1971: The former PDC Minister of the Interior, Edmundo Pérez Zujovic, was assassinated by left-wing extremists. The PDC urged the Government to disarm extremist groups. 11 July 1971: Congress approved legislation to nationalize the copper industry, Chile’s most important source of foreign currency. The bill included compensation to be paid to the mines’ US owners. 11 October 1971: In a reversal of its previous policy, the Government announced it would not compensate US copper companies and instead asked them to return US $378m. in ‘excessive profits’. In response, the US Government threatened to suspend economic assistance to Chile. 10 November-4 December 1971: The Cuban leader, Fidel Castro Ruz, made an official visit to Chile; the visit was fiercely criticized by the centrist and conservative parties. 26 November 1971: Congress rejected a government proposal to merge the two legislative houses into one ‘National Congress’. 7 January 1972: Congress impeached the Minister of the Interior, José Tohá González, on the grounds that he had failed to halt the growth of armed paramilitary groups. 26 July 1973: A strike by transport vehicle owners paralyzed the country and prevented supplies of food and petrol from reaching the general public. 13 August 1973: President Allende warned that the country was on the verge of a civil war after more than 22 bombing and shooting incidents were reported in late July and early August. 22 August 1973: The House of Representatives approved a motion of censure against the Government for its handling of the previous month’s transport strike. 23 August 1973: Gen. Carlos Prats resigned as Minister of Defence and as Commanderin-Chief of the Army. 11 September 1973: The new Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, launched a military revolt against the Government, during which President Allende died. As President of the Military Junta, Pinochet declared a ‘state of internal war’; Congress was dissolved and censorship was introduced.