Chile 2005 CE

Chile is now one of the most prosperous countries in South America.

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What is happening in Chile in 2005CE

In 1964 the reformist Eduardo Frei became president, and introduced a wide range of reforms to tackle the country’s social problems. He nationalised the copper mines, Chiles’ main export-generator, and pursued measures in favour of the dispossessed peasantry. His efforts were only partially successful, and succeeded in radicalising Chilean politics still further. In 1970, Chile elected the communist Salvadore Allende as president. He embarked on an ambitious nationalisation programme, which brought economic chaos to the country. Alarmed by this turn of events, the army intervened, and carried out a bloody purge of Allende’s supporters.

The military dictatorship which followed, under the leadership of General Augusto Pinochet, was an oppressive one. However, it was initially supported by large segments of the population, who had been badly frightened by the economic disaster and social disorder engulfing the country (including an inflation rate of 800%). Military rule lasted until 1988, during which time horrendous abuses of human rights were perpetrated. The Chilean people grew increasingly disenchanted with the military, who gradually arranged for the return to power of elected politicians – though Pinochet remained as commander-in-chief of the army for some years. Since then Chile has been governed by a succession of democratically elected governments. These have largely maintained the free-market economic policies of the Pinochet regime (designed by a group of US-educated economists known as the “Chicago Boys”), and the country has experienced steady economic progress, as well as real social gains. Chile is now one of the most prosperous countries in South America, and its society is significantly less polarised than in the past.

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