Chile History  

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CHILE

The Spanish came to the region in the 1530s, but indigenous peoples had long populated the area. For several hundred years, Spanish rule continued but eventually the forces of independence won out in 1818. With independence did not come stability, however, and a decade-and-a-half elapsed until a constitution was promulgated that established the government format for almost the next 60 years when a civil war erupted between presidential forces and the Congress. With the defeat of the presidentialists, the system shifted to one of parliamentary dominance. This led to difficulties in political and social decision-making with the result being strikes and other problems at the turn of the century. The military, responding to the government's inability to arrange for their wages, ousted the parliamentary government in 1925. By 1933, a new constitution had been instituted, which set the tone for government for almost the next four decades. In 1970, Dr. Salvador Allende Gossens became president after an intense Congressional debate. Allende proceeded to nationalize the country's vital copper industry and the international community responded with a boycott that helped cripple the economy, particularly as the government also nationalized the coal and steel industries and much of the banks. Unhappiness in the country reached such levels that the military took action in 1973, taking over the government and killing Allende. General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte became president and the next years saw thousands of Chileans arrested and killed by the junta. Pinochet lasted until 1988 as calls for the end of the Pinochet dictatorship became impossible to resist. He was replaced by a member of the Christian Democratic Party in 1990, bringing to a close 17 years of military rule.

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