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Chile Political Struggles

  • Date Submitted: 01/29/2013 01:55 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 37.5 
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The nation of Chile, just slightly larger than the state of Texas, achieved independence in 1818. Until 1830, the fledgling nation was in a state of chaos when Diego Portales ushered in the period of the autocratic republic. This period, from 1830-1861, was a time of firm-handed rule tempered by moderation. Conservative landowners and merchants were in control of a centralized government, and an 1833 constitution endured until 1925. The Conservatives, though challenged by a strengthening liberal movement begun in the 1840’s, managed to maintain control until 1873.

The Liberals, allied with the Radicals, assumed control from the Conservatives and the period from 1875-1885 witnessed considerable modification of the national political institutions. The church lost many privileges, including power over education, suffrage was extended, and ministers were made responsible to Congress.

During this, Chile’s early nationhood, political change was constitutionally driven and peaceful, and the resulting stability allowed for a steady economic development. Strong political organization was the deciding factor in Chile’s defeat of Bolivia and Peru in the War of the Pacific and subsequent conquest over the indigent Indians in the far reaches of its territory. The war yielded a bounty of an expansion of the northern borders; lands which are rich in nitrate and copper deposits. Chile’s economy was reliant on primary exports of which wheat, copper, and sodium nitrate dominated. The resources from the new lands added to the already strong mining industry to make Chile’s sodium nitrate deposits the largest in the world (Encyclopedia Americana, 2002).

Following civil war in 1886, a parliamentary style government moved toward an unregulated market economy, which prevailed until 1925. Marred by problems of violent labor strikes, the country experienced a rural-to-urban population shift; labor exploitation prospered. Urban industrial expansion followed the new labor force and...

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