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History, Postwar Governments (1946-1970)

copper industry, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, labor unrest, Communist parties, agrarian reform

The 1946 presidential election was won by Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, the Radical Party leader who was supported by a left-wing coalition consisting mainly of the Radical and Communist parties. Gonzalez Videla appointed three Communists to his cabinet, but the coalition endured for less than six months. The Communists, frequently at loggerheads with others of the government, were removed from the cabinet in 1947. Later in the year Chile severed diplomatic relations with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In 1948 hundreds of Communists were incarcerated under the Law for the Defense of Democracy, which outlawed the Communist Party. A military revolt led by former president Ibanez was suppressed. Manifestations of social and labor unrest were frequent during the following years; in 1951 strikes occurred in almost every sector of the economy.

A popular reaction against the traditional parties resulted in the election of General Ibanez the following year. He restored some order but did not effectively cope with the economic and social problems. In 1958 Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez, a former senator and son of Arturo Alessandri Palma, heading a Conservative-Liberal coalition, was elected to the presidency on a platform favoring free enterprise and the encouragement of foreign investment. In response to strong opposition from the newly legalized Communist Party and the newly formed Christian Democratic Party, he proposed a ten-year plan that included tax reforms, building projects, and agrarian reform. He broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1964 but resumed ties with the USSR. In 1960 a series of tsunamis and earthquakes struck the country, causing widespread damage and killing thousands.

In the presidential election of 1964, former Senate member Eduardo Frei Montalva, candidate of the centrist Christian Democratic Party, defeated a leftist coalition. Freiís major reforms, such as partial government ownership of the copper industry, aroused dissatisfaction in both leftist and conservative elements that resulted in violent political opposition.

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