History, Civil War and Natural Disaster
Chilean people, executive department, Roman Catholic clergy, Liberal Party leader, democratization
In 1891 political forces closely allied with the Roman Catholic clergy organized a revolt against the administration of President Jose Manuel Balmaceda, a Liberal Party leader. Under the leadership of naval officer Captain Jorge Montt, the rebels, who termed themselves Congressionalists, seized the Chilean fleet and the rich nitrate provinces in the north. In August they defeated a government army near Valparaiso. This city fell to the rebels, as did Santiago, virtually ending the war. More than 10,000 lives had been lost and considerable property destroyed. Balmaceda committed suicide in September. Shortly thereafter Montt became president, and Chile entered an extended period of peaceful reconstruction. As a concession to liberal sentiment in the country, Montt instituted several reforms, notably democratization of the executive department. The following years were marked by increasing participation of the Chilean people in politics and by mounting political turbulence.
In 1906 a disastrous earthquake virtually destroyed Valparaiso and extensively damaged Santiago, killing more than 3,000 people and leaving about 100,000 homeless. The damaged areas were rapidly rebuilt, however.
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