Cuba National History

It is thought that humans first came to the Cuban island from South America around 3500 B.C. These people were fishers and hunter-gatherers, and were joined some time later by the agricultural Arawak people. A distinct migration began when pottery-makers traveled down the Orinoco River in present Venezuela and out to the Caribbean islands, populating islands from Trinidad to Puerto
Rico between 500 BC and 200 BC. Islands were not necessarily settled in sequential order. By the time the Spanish arrived in the late 15th century, three-quarters of Cuba’s 100,000 indigenous people were Taino-speaking Arawaks, the rest were Siboneyes and Guanajatabeyes.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba on October 28, 1492, during his initial westward voyage. In honor of the daughter of Ferdinand V and Isabella I of Spain, his benefactors, Columbus named it Juana, the first of several names he successively applied to the island. It eventually became known as Cuba, from its aboriginal name, Cubanascnan.

Up to the moment when the conquest of Cuba began (1510), the island was surrounded by "mysteries", insofar as what lay inside it was truly unknown. The origins of this mystery can be traced back to the impression made on the Spaniards by Columbus’ second voyage, during which they visited the southern coast of Cuba, an apparently inhospitable land, full of swamps and bordered by keys and sand banks that hindered navigation, all this in contrast to the northern coast, which displayed a vigorous nature. There was a contradiction between an apparent richness and a no less apparent’ poverty. On the other hand, we already know that, in his second voyage, Columbus decided to decare that Cuba was not an island. Nonetheless, Juan de la Cosa, in his map of 1500, presented Cuba as an island; but this knowlwdge of the true geographical condition of the country remained partially secret, since the threat of fine and persecution on the Discoverer’s part lay heavy over all. There must have been many secret voyages, carried out against the privileges zealously mantained by Columbus; and one of them, attributed to Alonso de Ojeda or to Vicente Yanez Pinzon along with Juan de la Cosa must have been carried out around 1498, and served to prove that Cuba was an island. Besides this, hardly had the Spaniards settled in the Antilles when numerous clandestine or occasional voyages were undertaken with the purpose of stealing Indians and plundering the riches of the territory. On the other hand, conquerors came to Cuba pursuing runaway natives from Haiti (Hispaniola). Naturally, Cuba became known as far as its coasts were concerned, but no one knew what lay in the interior: whether or not there was any gold, whether or not they had commercially available products in immediate supply. These mysteries had to be solved.

The conquest of Cuba in 1510 was organized by means of three groups. One group, aboard a ship, would follow the coastline on the north, keeping in contact with a second group who would start by land toward the west. A third group and Diego Velázquez himself would sail along the southern coast. The land group was commanded by Panfilo de Narvaez, accompanied by Father Bartolome de las Casas. He started out from Bayamo, where the first massacre of Indians took place. In his advance through the territory, he terrorized the Indians, once again attacking them with ferocious cruelty in the place called Caonao. They learned of the presence of shipwrecked Spaniards and succeeded in finding two of them -women, at that- from whom they learned that the Indians had killed the others and that there remained one survivor among them. While in the zone of Sabaneque (North of Las Villas) they learned of the existence of gold to the south; and leaving a group of men behind, the others went on toward the west until they reached what is now the Province of Pinar del Rio. In Havana they were joined by a shipwrecked Spaniard, Garcia Mexia. When the heads of the expedition met at Jagua, Velazquez ordered that sixty men should remain in Havana and that Narvaez, aboard the brig, should continue to the western end (Guaniguanico and Guanahacabibes), as he eventually did. With this the occupation of the territory was consummated.

Colonization of the island began in 1512, when Diego Velázquez established the town of Baracoa. Velázquez subsequently founded several other settlements, including Santiago de Cuba and Havana in 1514. Havana was one of the most important Spanish cities in the New World. What Spain found in Havana was an easily protected harbor and excellent staging area for the return voyage to Spain. By 1511 Spain had regular settlements with the port town of Havana being established in 1514. The Spanish Silver fleet would start its collection in Venezuela and Peru, making stops in Panama and along the coast of Mexico. As the ships collected their cargo, they would head for the safe harbour of Havana, where they would form a massive Flota before heading back to Spain. It was hard to keep such an operation a secret and just about every pirate and smuggler in the Caribbean saw the waters around the Cuba as the place to go plundering. The islands of the Florida Keys became the staging area for pirates who lay in wait for the Silver Fleet as it approached Havana. Pirates would mingle among the saloons and whore houses in Havana and listen to the idle gossip for any information when the ships would be arriving. It was common knowledge by all seafaring men that Spain sent two fleets a year back to the home land. Typically the fleets came to America in the late summer. They would winter around Cartegena, Vera Cruz, and Acapulco. In the Spring the ships would make their way to Havana, Once assembled, they knew they had just a few short months before the Hurricanes would make safe passage to Spain an impossibility. The Spaniards knew it, the pirates knew it, and the Spaniards knew the pirates knew it.

The pirates had little trouble finding out when and where the the silver fleets would be coming from. Many of the Spanish colonists throughout the "Main" and in Havana were more than willing to tell them anything they wanted to know, for a price. You see, the Spanish royal family controlled the "Casa de Contratación" or House of Trade and stipulated that merchants within the colonies could only trade with specific merchant seamen. In other words they told the Spanish colonists that they were not allowed to trade with other towns in the new world or make trade arrangements with any settlements of foreign governments. The colonists had to buy goods that were brought to the colonies from Spain and could only sell goods to the same ships.

As time passed, the town and it’s harbor became well fortified, with the forts, Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro and Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta protecting the entrance of the harbor. A fleet of Spanish galleons would also patrol the water in search of pirates. And if this were not enough, every night, large chain that was actually drawn across the mouth of the harbor to prevent sabateurs from entering the harbor and sinking ships. The reefs outside the harbor added to the protection as well as added to the loss of many silver ships. All of these measures made Havana one of the best fortified cities in the New World. Despite all of these measures, Havana would repeatedly get invaded and on more than one occasion it was sacked by pirates or foreign nations.

The Spanish transformed Cuba into a supply base for their expeditions to Mexico and Florida. As a result of savage treatment and exploitation, the aborigines became, by the middle of the 16th century, nearly extinct, forcing the colonists to depend on imported black slaves for the operation of the mines and plantations. Despite frequent raids by buccaneers and naval units of rival and enemy powers, the island prospered throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities on commercial activities were generally disregarded by the colonists, who resorted to illicit trade with privateers and neighboring colonies. Although deeply suspicious of England’s expanding commercial interests, Spain at first remained neutral in the Seven Years War. Lured by the promise of Minorca and Gibraltar, however, Charles III of Spain declared war against England in January 1762. England’s naval supremacy had already given her the upper hand in the West Indies, and in June a large British fleet landed an army near Havana. Yellow fever and malaria took a heavy toll on these forces, but reinforcements from North America made it possible to continue the siege of Morro Castle, the key to Havana harbor. The castle fell on July 30, forcing the city to surrender two weeks later, opening the port to international trade and increasing slave trade. Following the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War in 1763 the Spanish government liberalized its Cuban policy, encouraging colonization, expansion of commerce, and development of agriculture. Between 1774 and 1817 the population increased from about 161,000 to more than 550,000. The remaining restrictions on trade were officially eliminated in 1818, further promoting material and cultural advancement.

During the 1830s, however, Spanish rule became increasingly repressive, provoking a widespread movement among the colonists for independence. This movement attained particular momentum between 1834 and 1838, during the despotic governorship of the captain general Miguel de Tacón. Revolts and conspiracies against the Spanish regime dominated Cuban political life throughout the remainder of the century. In 1844 an uprising of black slaves was brutally suppressed. North American agricultural interests in the American South, growing weary of defending their slave-reliant economy to the rest of the nation, had been interested in expanding their slave-based economy into the Caribbean nation of Cuba for years. U.S. President James Polk had tried in vain to purchase the great island from the Spanish. in 1848, a Venezuelan named Narciso López had raised an army of several hundred Americans, mostly adventurous and speculative Southerners, with the intention of invading Cuba. Federal authorities attempted to prevent Lopez from leaving American shores with this force, but he managed to sail out of New Orleans. What followed was remarkably like the Bay of Pigs invasion of a century later, and equally ill-fated. This "filibustering" expedition managed to land in Cuba but it failed to generate a rebellion. A second invasion during the summer of 1851 eluded Fillmore’s attempts to stop it. This time, the invader’s luck ran out completely. Routed on the beaches by the Spanish, the insurgents were either executed—their leader, Narciso López, among them—or enslaved. Offers by the U.S. government to purchase the island were repeatedly rejected by Spain.

On October 10, 1868 revolutionaries under the leadership of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes proclaimed Cuban independence. The ensuing Ten Years’ War, a costly struggle to both Spain and Cuba, as 200.000 lives were lost. In 1876 Spain sent General Arsenio Martínez Campos to crush the revolution . Lacking organization and significant outside support, the rebels agreed to an armistice on February 8, 1878 (Pact of Zanjón), the terms of which promised amnesty and political reform. A second uprising (La Guerra Chiquita, "The Little War"), engineered by Calixto García, began in August 1879 but was quelled by superior Spanish forces in autumn 1880. Spain gave Cuba representation in the Cortes (parliament) and abolished slavery in 1886. Other promised reforms, however, never materialized. Importation of cheap labor from China was ended by 1871. In 1893 the equal civil status of blacks and whites was proclaimed.

Although certain reforms were inaugurated after the successful revolt, the Spanish government continued to oppress the populace. On February 23, 1895, mounting discontent culminated in a resumption of the Cuban revolution, under the leadership of the writer and patriot José Martí and General Máximo Gómez y Báez. The U.S. government intervened on behalf of the revolutionists in April 1898, precipitating the Spanish-American War. Intervention was spurred by the sinking of the battleship U.S.S. Maine in the harbor of Havana of February 15, 1898, for which Spain was blamed. When President McKinley signed the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on April 19, 1898, demanding Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, Spain understood it as a declaration of war. The Spanish fleet was caught wholly unprepared in Manila and was destroyed by Admiral Dewey’s fleet in Cavite on May 1, 1898. Admiral Pascual Cervera sailed towards the Caribbean all the while recognizing that his mission was hopeless. The Spanish government, however, felt that it had to fight a war to protect against a military revolt or a Carlist putsch that would have toppled the royal dynasty and the new constitutional system. General Blanco ordered Cerveras fleet to sail out of Santiago de Cuba, in the mistaken belief that the fleet could perhaps escape having to surrender to the United States without a fight. It was sunk in only a few hours on July 3, 1898. The land battle was not so spectacular and much more difficult. The battles of El Caney and San Juan caused great losses and wounded on both sides. Spanish troops defended Santiago mightily, but since they were cut off from supplies and reinforcements, they decided to capitulate on July 17, 1898 in the belief that further resistance would be useless. By this time, everyone in Spain had to accept defeat. The Conservatives, naturally, were only too glad to have the Liberals sign the
armistice on August 12, 1898, and the Treaty of Peace in Paris, on December 10, 1898, by which Spain relinquished sovereignty over Cuba. Even the Spanish request for a new and impartial investigation of the U.S.S. Maine’s destruction was denied. On January 1, 1899, the Spanish colonial government withdrew and the last captain General, Alfonso Jimenez Castellano, handed over power to the North American Military Governor, General John R. Brook. Spain left behind a devastated country. An American military government ruled the island until May 20, 1902, when the Cuban republic was formally instituted, under the presidency of the former postmaster general Tomás Estrada Palma.

The Cuban constitution, adopted in 1901, incorporated the provisions of the Platt Amendment. It gave the United States Guantánamo Bay as a naval base and allowed the US to enter Cuba if it felt things were out of control. Certain improvements, notably the eradication of yellow fever, had been accomplished in Cuba during the U.S. occupation. Simultaneously, U.S. corporate interests invested heavily in the Cuban economy, acquiring control of many of its resources, especially the sugar-growing industry. Popular dissatisfaction with this state of affairs was aggravated by recurring instances of fraud and corruption in Cuban politics. The first of several serious insurrections against conservative control of the republic occurred in August 1906. In the next month the U.S. government dispatched troops to the island, which remained under U.S. control until 1909. Another uprising took place in
1912 in Oriente Province, resulting again in U.S. intervention. With the election of Mario García Menocal to the presidency later in the same year, the Conservative Party returned to power. On April 7, 1917, Cuba entered World War I on the side of the Allies.

Mounting economic difficulties, caused by complete U.S. domination of Cuban finance, agriculture, and industry, marked the period following World War I. In an atmosphere of crisis, the Liberal Party leader, Gerardo Machado y Morales, campaigned on a reform platform and was elected president in November 1924. Economic conditions deteriorated rapidly during his administration, the chief accomplishment of which, an ambitious public-works program, was achieved by floating huge loans abroad. Before the end of his second term, he succeeded in acquiring dictatorial control of the government. All opposition was brutally suppressed during his administration, which lasted until a general uprising in August 1933, supported by the Cuban army. On September 4, 1933, at an army base in Havana called Campo Columbia, noncommissioned officers  unexpectedly arrested their superiors and took over command of the island’s military forces. The "Sergeants’ Revolt" had been skillfully organized by Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, the son of poor cane cutters from Oriente of mixed racial ancestry, who in time would become the caudillo of all Cuba. He had become acquainted with the civilian opposition during the trials held by Gerardo Machado regime. Sergeant Batista was the best stenographer in the army and had transcribed many of these trials. As soon as the students learned of the revolt, leaders of the Student Directorate (a student-faculty group from the University of Havana that was created to oppose Machado’s reelection) joined the sergeants and suggested a broadening of its base of support, thus turning a military revolt into a full blown revolution.

Machado fled to the United States, and his cabinet was replaced by a provisional government headed by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes de Quesada, the son of the nation’s founding father and a conservative, who had been a diplomat to that date. Batista invited the student leaders to  nominate what was called a pentarchy, or five-man government, and the following day Céspedes was informed of the rebellion and of his removal.

U. S. Ambassador Sumner Welles was surprised by this turn of events. He requested the intervention of United States troops, but to no avail. On September 10, 1933 the pentarchy was dissolved, and one of its members, Ramon Grau San Martin, became the revolutionary provisional president, Grau was popular among the students for his political stance while at the university, where he had defended nationalism, socialism, and anti-imperialism as the basic tenets of the revolutionary program. As provisional president, he abrogated the constitution of 1901 and declared that a social revolution had been launched. Grau enacted a number of labor reforms: he instituted an eight-hour workday; declared illegal the importation of workers from the Caribbean; required that all enterprises employ a work force 50 percent of which were Cuban ; requested that all professionals join their professional organizations; and created a Department of Labor. He also denounced the Platt Amendment, purged Machado’s followers from the government, dissolved the old political party machine, and gave autonomy to the university. In protest, the United States denied recognition to Grau’s government. United States enterprises and their employees in Cuba feared for the future and, though United States warships sent to Cuban waters stayed on alert, they did not intervene. The pentarchy had given Batista the rank of colonel and the position of chief military commander of the Cuban armed forces. As such, he began promoting enlisted men into the officer corps.

A protracted period of violence and unrest followed Machado’s overthrow, with frequent changes of government. During this period the United States instituted various measures, including abrogation of the Platt Amendment, in an effort to quiet popular unrest on the island. A degree of stability was accomplished following the impeachment in 1936 of President Miguel Mariano Gómez by the senate, which was controlled by Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar. With the support of Batista, the head of the Cuban army and unofficial dictator of Cuba, the new president, the former political leader and soldier Federico Laredo Brú, put into operation a program of social and economic reform. At the end of 1939 Batista resigned his post as commander of the armed forces and ran for the presidency, under a coalition supported by the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba-PCC) and the Revolutionary Union Party (Partido Union Revolucionario-PUR); the two were merged to form the Communist Revolutionary Union (Union Revolucionario Communista-URC). In 1944 the party’s name was changed to the Popular Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Popular-PSP). Batista then defeated Ramón Grau San Martin, who ran as the candidate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (commonly known as the Autenticos), in the 1940 elections. The promulgation in 1940 of a new constitution contributed further to the lessening of political tension.

In December 1941 the Cuban government declared war on Germany, Japan, and Italy; consequently it became a charter member of the United Nations (UN) in 1945. The presidential election of 1944 resulted in victory for Grau San Martin, the candidate of a broad coalition of parties. The first year of his administration was one of recurring crises caused by various factors, including widespread food shortages, but he regained popularity the following year by obtaining an agreement with the U.S. government for an increase in the price of sugar. In 1948 Cuba joined the Organization of American States (OAS). Fluctuations in world sugar prices and a continuing inflationary spiral kept the political situation unstable in the postwar era. Carlos Prio Socarrás, a member of the Auténtico Party and a cabinet minister under Grau San Martin, was elected president in June 1948. Shortly after his inauguration a 10 percent reduction in retail prices was decreed in an attempt to offset inflation. Living costs continued to rise, however, leading to unrest and political violence.

In March 1952 former president Batista, supported by the army, seized power. Batista suspended the constitution, dissolved the congress, and instituted a provisional government, promising elections the following year. On July 26, 1953 some 160 revolutionaries under the command of Fidel Castro launched an insurrectionary attack on the Moncada army garrison in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second-largest city, and a simultaneous attack on the garrison in nearby Bayamo. The attacks failed, and more than fifty of the captured revolutionaries were killed. In the wake of the attack on the Moncada garrison, Fidel Castro and twenty-seven other combatants were tried and sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison. Acting as his own defense attorney, Castro gave a courtroom speech that was reconstructed by him in prison, smuggled out, and published as "History Will Absolve Me," which subsequently became the program of the July 26 Movement. The regime seemed secure, and when the political situation had been calmed, the Batista government announced that elections would be held in the fall of 1954. The Moncada prisoners were released in May 1955 after a public defense campaign forced Batista’s regime to issue an amnesty. Batista’s opponent, Grau San Martin, withdrew from the campaign just before the election, charging that his supporters had been terrorized. Batista was thus reelected without opposition, and on his inauguration February 24, 1955, he restored constitutional rule and granted amnesty to political prisoners, including Castro. The latter chose exile in the United States and later in Mexico.

Even for hot-tempered Cuba, 1956 has been a violent year. In October the two top policemen of the country were shot dead (and ten suspects mowed down by the cops). Earlier, a plan to assassinate President Fulgencio Batista was nipped, a provincial garrison was assaulted (eleven dead), an army plot was unmasked and 13 officers jailed. But what was supposed to be the main uprising was still to come. The leader was a well-born, well-to-do daredevil of 29, named Fidel Castro . As chief of a 1953 uprising in eastern Santiago de Cuba, the island’s No. 2 city, Lawyer Castro had been jailed, amnestied, exiled. In Mexico this year he pulled together a ragtag force, dubbed it the July 26 Movement (for the date of the Santiago attack), drilled it at a ranch near Mexico City. Last month Castro, crying "Liberty or death in 1956," called on Batista to step down and form a national unity government or face revolution. In Havana Castro’s followers painted "This is the year" on walls.

On December 2, 1956, however, Castro, with some 80 insurgents, invaded. The revolt got under way–again in Santiago. Machine gunners, in olive-drab uniforms with black-and-red armbands marked "26 de Julio," fired on police headquarters. At the same time they tossed grenades and gasoline bombs on the building from a nearby rooftop and burned it down, while ammunition popped inside. For a time the attackers roamed the area freely, looting a hardware store for weapons. At other towns–Holguin, Guantánamo, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara–other Castro men rebelled. Troops from Santiago’s Moncada barracks quickly regained control of the deserted streets for the government as the rebels melted away without a stand. Next day they were back, sharpshooting from rooftops. Batista sent planes and 400 more troops, and arrested known opponents of his government by the hundreds. By early this week most of the shooting had died down (dead so far: 13). But the government believed that Castro was somewhere on the island, and Mexico City news reports indicated that Castro’s irregulars might be heading for Yucatan, a mere 130 miles from Cuba. Batista declared modified martial law in Pinar del Rio, the indicated beachhead if Castro planned a small-boat invasion. On March 17, 1958, Castro called for a general revolt. His forces made steady gains through the remainder of the year, and on January 1, 1959, Batista resigned and fled the country. A provisional government was established. Castro, although he initially renounced office, became premier in mid-February. In the early weeks of the regime military tribunals tried many former Batista associates, and some 550 were executed.

The Castro regime soon exhibited a leftist tendency that worried U.S. interest in the island. The agrarian reform laws promulgated in its first years mainly affected U.S. sugar interests. The operation of plantations by companies controlled by non-Cuban stockholders was prohibited, and the Castro regime initially de-emphasized sugar production in favor of food crops. When the Castro government expropriated an estimated $1 billion in U.S.-owned properties in 1960, Washington responded by imposing a trade embargo. A complete break in diplomatic relations occurred in January 1961.

When the Central Intelligency Agency decided that it was time to get some foreign bases out of sight of the US public opinion to complete the training of the Brigade 2506’s soldiers and pilots – already training in South Florida-, Guatemala popped up on the maps quickly. With a similar tropical environment as Cuba, and ruled by a government more than friendly, the ‘agency’ soon began to negotiate with the Guatemalan government the establishment of two secret bases, one for training the brigade’s soldiers and the other, a small air base, to complete the training of pilots. The deal also included the total support of the Guatemalan Army in security matters among other things.

The first base to be created was code-named ‘JMTrax’. Located on a coffee plantation called ‘La Helvetia’ in the foothills between Quetzaltenango and Retalhuleu departments, JMTrax served as a training camp for the ground forces of the brigade. Originally, the land on which the base was established, belonged to Roberto Alejos, a wealthy landlord very well connected to the Guatemalan government. In September 1960, the first troops arrived to JMTrax. The Cubans were flown from Florida to San Jose Airbase and then trucked up to the plantation, where they began advanced military training. At first, the Cubans pilots were there too, since their Airbase was under construction yet, but two weeks after the arrival, they were finally moved. The Airbase, code-named ‘JMMadd’ (known to the Cubans as ‘Rayo Base’), was basically a 4800ft long paved runway, coupled with an array of barracks, warehouses and supply shops scattered around a main building that served as administrative and command center. This base was very near to Retalhuleu city, right between the road to Champerico port and the railroad to Mexico.

JMMadd was disguised at all times as a Guatemalan Air Force base, despite the obvious lack of local personnel. Thus many of the CIA planes based there were painted in Guatemalan Air Force Colours. On the other hand, the case of the B-26s was somewhat different: the planes had been delivered officially to the Guatemalan goverment, but right after their arrival all but two were ‘leased’ to the CIA. Thus, the Cubans and CIA pilots involved in the operation trained in aircraft sporting the blue-white-blue colours, while the local Air Force pilots wondered where the new planes were. Most of the Cuban pilots were also checked out in C-46s, but their main task was to become efficient B-26 drivers, which they did and had the chance to prove over the skies of Playa Girón. On their part, a group of North American pilots concentrated their efforts in flying supply missions between JMMadd and JMTide, which was the code-name for the CIA airbase in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. These flights were carried out using the faithful Douglas C-54s. JMMadd was supplied by C-54s flying from Miami and South Florida. In contrast with the flights between the two secrets bases, these flights were carried out by ‘foreign national’ pilots, mainly from Europe and Asia under CIA’s contract. The end of JMMadd as a CIA secret base began in late March when the B-26 crews were transferred to Nicaragua, and came for good on April 10 when the last troops were flown to JMTide together with all the equipment for the invasion. The Air Base was ‘returned’ to the Guatemalan Air Force.

In the early morning of 15 April 1961, eight CIA B-26B, with FAR markings but piloted by cuban exiled crews, took off from Happy Valley in Nicaragua and headed to Cuba. At 6:00 AM, the planes attacked La Libertad airbase where they destroyed a Sea Fury, among other planes. Seven people were killed. Later that same morning, another Sea Fury was destroyed in a hangar of the MOA bay mining company. Shortly after, the San Antonio de los Baños Airbase and the Antonio Maceo Airport were attacked by the B-26Bs. By the end of that day, the FAR was left with less than half of its original air power. There remained only two B-26C, two Sea Furies, and two T-33A at San Antonio de los Baños Airbase, and only one Sea Fury at the Antonio Maceo Airport. On the other hand, two of the attacking B-26 were damaged by ground fire, one of them managed to reach Key West with one engine feathered and low on fuel, and the other landed at Miami IAP in almost the same conditions. 

Around 2:00 AM on 17 April, the CIA/cuban exiled assault force reached the shore at Playa Girón but soon they were discovered by an army patrol. The soldiers alerted the nearing bases and several skirmishes broke up. The two surviving Sea Furies were deployed from the San Antonio airbase, and within fifteen minutes they were over the area, making several low passes and strafing the invading forces. When the FAR B-26Cs arrived and began to attack the invaders, the Sea Furies headed to the sea in search of the mother ships. Soon, they were located and the Sea Furies began to attack them. The Sea Fury FAR 541, damaged with rockets the command and control ship "Marsopa" and later, sunk the main supply ship "Houston". Now the invading forces had no command post and almost all the supplies of ammo, food and communications for the invasion were in the bottom of the sea with the "Houston".

One of the Sea Fury (FAR 542), was lost to AAA fire from an invading ship while he was trying to shot down a Curtiss C-46 of the invading forces. Soon after, the four T-33A arrived and began strafing the ships while they were trying to reach international waters. With the worsening of the situation for the invading forces due to the swampy terrain and the strong defense showed by the Cuban Army, four B-26B were deployed from Nicaragua, but after entering the area, one was shot down by a T-33A and another by the Sea Fury. A third B-26B was badly damaged by a Sea Fury (possibly FAR 543). Both surviving B-26B managed to escape to Miami. Near the end of that day, the Sea Fury FAR 541 strafed the invading ship "Rio Escondido" near international waters. From then on, the two surviving Sea Furies concentrated only on ground attack missions against the invasion forces. Within the next 72 hours, the FAR gained total air superiority over the invading force. By 20 April  two more B-26B were shot down by the FAR’s T-33A, and on 21 April, ten of their twelve B-26B were destroyed. Attempts to escort the bombers with Nicaraguan Mustangs were made by the invading force, but the idea was quickly discarded. The Mustangs could not reach Cuba, engage in combat and then return to Nicaragua. These planes just didn’t had the range to do the job. By Wednesday April 21, the invading troops were pushed back to their landing zone at Playa Girón. Surrounded by the cuban army and constantly hammered by FAR aircraft, some began to surrender while others fled into the hills. In total 114 men were killed and 1189 became Castro’s prisoners during the failed invasion. The captives were ransomed, with the tacit aid of the U.S. government, in 1962, at a cost of about $53 million in food and medicines.

American-Cuban relations grew still more perilous in the fall of 1962, when the United States discovered Soviet-supplied missile installations in Cuba. U.S. President John F. Kennedy then announced a naval blockade of the island
to prevent further Soviet shipments of arms from reaching it. After several days of negotiations during which nuclear war was feared by many to be a possibility, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed, on October 28, to dismantle and remove the weapons, and this was subsequently accomplished. For the rest of the 1960s U.S.-Cuban relations remained hostile, although, through the cooperation of the Swiss embassy in Cuba, the U.S. and Cuban governments in 1965 agreed to permit Cuban nationals who desired to leave the island to emigrate to the United States. More than 260,000 people left before the airlift was officially terminated in April 1973. Despite several efforts by Cuba in the United Nations to oust the United States from its naval base at Guantánamo Bay, leased in 1903, the base continues to be garrisoned by U.S. Marines.

Many of Castro’s policies alienated Cuba from the rest of Latin America. The country was expelled from the OAS in 1962, and through most of the 1960s it was persistently accused of attempting to foment rebellions in Venezuela, Guatemala, and Bolivia. In fact, Che Guevara, a key Castro aide, was captured and summarily executed while leading a guerrilla group in Bolivia in 1967. Meanwhile, Cuba continued to depend heavily on economic aid from the Soviet Union and Soviet-bloc countries. In 1972 it signed several pacts with the USSR covering financial aid, trade, and deferment of Cuban debt payments, and also became a member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).

The first congress of the Cuban Communist Party was held in late 1975. The following year a new national constitution was adopted. Among other provisions, it increased the number of provinces from 6 to 14 and created an indirectly elected National Assembly. The assembly held its first session in December 1976 and chose Castro as head of state and of government.

In the mid-1970s Cuba emerged from diplomatic isolation. At a meeting in San José, Costa Rica, in July 1975, the OAS passed a "freedom of action" resolution that in effect lifted the trade embargo and other sanctions imposed by the organization against Cuba in 1964. Relations with the United States also began to improve; U.S. travel restrictions were lifted, and in September 1977 the two nations opened offices in each other’s capitals. The United States, however, warned Cuba that relations could not be normalized until U.S. claims for nationalized property had been settled and Cuba reduced or terminated its activites in Africa. Cuban presence in Africa had begun inconspicuously in the mid-1960s, when Castro provided personal guards to such figures as President Alphonse Massamba-Débat of the Congo.

In 1966 a United Nations resolution terminated South Africa’s mandate over the former German colony of South West Africa, also known as Namibia. The white-minority government of South Africa, however, refused to give up its administration and domination of the territory. Black nationalist Africans promptly established a guerrilla liberation front, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), and began to harass the whites. SWAPO was weak and ineffective at first. However, when the Portuguese were driven out of neighboring Angola, the guerrillas were offered aid and bases there, as well as training by Cuban soldiers. The guerrilla war for independence escalated sharply. South African government troops began raiding guerrilla bases in Angola, while SWAPO forces hit back in Namibia. In 1976, the UN condemned South Africa for "illegal occupation" of the territory, and the following year the UN General Assembly recognized SWAPO as the sole legitimate representative of Namibia. In 1978, the UN called an international conference to resolve the conflict; South Africa’s Prime Minister John Vorster (1915-83) agreed to free elections to be supervised by the UN to determine the fate of Namibia; he then reneged.

In 1979, Vorster, now president, again rejected a UN proposal to settle the dispute. Two years later a peace conference in Geneva also failed to win concessions from the South African government; control of Walvis Bay, Namibia’s only deep-water port, was a major point of contention. The United States supported South Africa’s refusal to withdraw from Namibia unless Cuban troops pulled out of Angola. A commission was set up to monitor a cease-fire agreement in 1984. A new, multiracial government was installed in Namibia by South Africa in 1985, but SWAPO’s armed struggle continued because of lack of progress toward implementing UN Resolution 435 on independence for Namibia and  the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. In December 1988, a US-mediated peace agreement was signed by South Africa, Cuba, and Angola, setting a timetable for Namibian independence. At the same time Cuba and Angola agreed to a phased withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. The United Nations General Assembly in 1966 voted to revoke South Africa’s mandate and to place the territory under direct UN administration. South Africa refused to recognize this UN resolution until 1985, when President Botha ceded administrative control to the territory’s interim government. South Africa allowed a UN peacekeeping force and an administrator to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 435 (1978), establishing the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia. Finally, on December 22, 1988, South Africa signed an agreement linking its withdrawal from the disputed territory to an end to Soviet and Cuban involvement in the long civil war in neighboring Angola.

The Soviet Union engaged in a massive airlift of Cuban forces into Angola in 1975 to help the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola–MPLA) defeat rival groups attempting to achieve power after the Portuguese colonial administration ended. When the MPLA gained control of Angola’s central government in 1976, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola–UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola“–FNLA), two separate factions fighting for ascendancy, refused to recognize the new marxist-oriented government. In 1977, the MPLA captured the last major stronghold of the UNITA, whose leaders then fled to neighboring Zaire and Zambia, where they regrouped and revived their guerrilla war fare against the MPLA. White mercenaries, South Africans, and Portuguese frequently aided UNITA militarily, and covert American arms and assistance were reportedly received as well. In 1977, UNITA initiated a series of guerrilla raids on urban areas in Angola. A rebellion that UNITA supported was crushed.

The following year a government offensive against the guerrillas failed to dislodge them from the large areas they controlled in southern Angola. Being sympathetic to South Africa, UNITA let South African forces maintain bases in its territory for raids into Namibia, or South West Africa. In the early 1980s, UNITA guerrillas had extended their control to central and southeast Angola. They won the support of Great Britain, France, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and a number of African nations, while the MPLA was backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba.

The Angolan armed forces were equipped, trained, and supported almost exclusively by communist countries. The Soviet Union provided the bulk of FAPLA’s armaments and some advisers, whereas Cuba furnished most of the technical assistance, combat support, and training advisory services. Cubans also participated to a limited extent in ground and air combat. Other communist countries, particularly Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Poland, and Yugoslavia, also furnished arms and related aid. In the 1980s, Angola also obtained limited amounts of matériel, military assistance, and training from countries such as Belgium, Brazil, Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), France, Spain, and Switzerland. Broadly speaking, there was an international division of labor in which the Soviet Union supplied large quantities of heavy weapons and equipment, other communist states furnished small arms, and the noncommunist suppliers provided mostly nonlethal items. Subsequently, Moscow and Havana remained the mainstays of the regime as far as its military needs were concerned. From 1982 to 1986, the Soviet Union delivered military equipment valued at US$4.9 billion, which represented more than 90 percent of Angola’s arms imports and one-fourth of all Soviet arms deliveries to Africa. Poland and Czechoslovakia transferred arms valued at US$10 million and US$5 million, respectively, over the same five-year period. During 1987 and 1988, Moscow more than compensated for FAPLA losses with accelerated shipments of heavy armaments. In addition to the tanks noted earlier, dozens of aircraft, heavy weapons, and air defense systems were delivered.

Beyond matériel deliveries, Moscow and its allies continued to provide extensive technical aid. Soviet military, security, and intelligence personnel and advisers helped establish the defense and security forces and served as advisers at all levels, from ministries in Luanda to major field commands. The Soviet Union’s civilian and military intelligence services, in coordination with their counterpart organizations from other communist countries, particularly East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Cuba, assisted in the creation and development of the Angolan state security and intelligence services.

Cuba was the main provider of combat troops, pilots, advisers, engineers, and technicians. As the insurgency war expanded, so did Cuba’s military presence. By 1982 there were 35,000 Cubans in Angola, of which about 27,000 were combat troops and the remainder advisers, instructors, and technicians. In 1985 their strength increased to 40,000, in 1986 to 45,000, and in 1988 to nearly 50,000. All told, more than 300,000 Cuban soldiers had served in Angola since 1975. Angola paid for the services of the Cubans at an estimated rate of US$300 million to US$600 million annually.

The Cuban forces, despite their numbers, generally did not engage directly in combat after 1976. Most of the Cubans were organized and deployed in motorized infantry, air defense, and artillery units. Their main missions were to deter and defend against attacks beyond the southern combat zone, protect strategic and economically critical sites and facilities, and provide combat support, such as rear-area security, logistic coordination, air defense, and security for major military installations and Luanda itself. At least 2,000 Cuban troops were stationed in oil-producing Cabinda Province. Cubans also trained Angolan pilots, and flew some combat missions against UNITA and the SADF. In addition, Cuban military personnel provided technical and operational support to SWAPO and the ANC within Angola. In mid-1988 Cuba substantially reinforced its military presence in Angola and deployed about one-fifth of its total forces toward the front lines in the south for the first time. This cohort was reported to include commando and SAM units, which raised concerns about direct clashes with South African forces. The move was apparently made to keep UNITA and the SADF at bay and to strengthen the negotiating position of Luanda and Havana in the United States brokered peace talks.

The continual war fare disrupted Angola’s economy and displaced one-sixth of its people, many of whom were forced to become refugees in Zaire, Zambia, and the Congo. The United States refused to recognize Angola’s government as long as Cuban troops were in the country. In late 1988 US-mediated talks led to a signed peace accord, after which South Africa removed its troops, but the fighting continued between the marxist MPLA government and the UNITA rebels. Another truce in June 1989, signed by Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimibi, also failed to end hostilities. Cuba removed its troops in May 1991. After a year of negotiations, led by the Soviet Union and the US, Santos and Savimbi signed a peace treaty in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 31, 1991, officially ending the 16-year civil war.

Cuba intervened in Ethiopia after the invading forces from Somalia threatened to destroy the country. Chaos spread throughout Ethiopia after Haile Selassie’s downfall, Somalia increased its support to several pro-Somali liberation groups in the Ogaden, the strongest of which was the WSLF (Western Somali Liberation Front). By late 1975, the WSLF had attacked many Ethiopian outposts in the Ogaden. In May 1977, a small group of some 50 Cuban military personnel were providing advice to the newly formed Marxist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam on the country’s defense organization and in the use of Soviet-supplied equipment. In July the Ethiopian leader was faced with separatist activities led by rebels seeking to force the secession of the eastern Ogaden desert to Somalia and requested that Cuba send at least 300 tank specialists.

In June 1977, Addis Ababa accused Mogadishu of committing SNA (Somali National Army) units to the fighting. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, Somalia denied this charge and insisted that only "volunteers" had been given leave from the SNA to fight with the WSLF. By late 1977, the combined WSLF-SNA strength in the Ogaden probably approached 50,000, of which 15,000
appeared to be irregulars.

Before the Ogaden War, the most striking feature of the 23,000-man SNA had been its large armored force, which was equipped with about 250 T-34 and T-54/T-55 Soviet-built medium tanks and more than 300 armored personnel carriers. This equipment gave the SNA a tank force more than three times as large as Ethiopia’s. The prewar SAF (Somali Air Force) also was larger than Ethiopia’s air force. In 1976 the SAF had fifty-two combat aircraft, twenty-four of which were Soviet-built supersonic MiG21s . Facing them was an Ethiopian Air Force (EAF) of thirty-five to forty aircraft. Ethiopia also was in the process of acquiring several United States-built Northrop F-5 fighters from Iran. At the outbreak of fighting, Ethiopia had approximately sixteen F5A/Es.

After the Somali government committed the SNA to the Ogaden, the conflict ceased to be a guerrilla action and assumed the form of a conventional war in which armor, mechanized infantry, and air power played decisive roles. The SNA quickly adapted its organization to battlefield realities. The centralized Somali logistics system controlled supplies at battalion level (600- to 1,000-man units) from Mogadishu, an unwieldy arrangement given Somalia’s limited transportation and communications network. To facilitate operations, the logistics center and headquarters for forces fighting in the northern Ogaden moved to Hargeysa, the SNA’s northern sector headquarters. Before the war, all Somali ground forces had been organized into battalions. After the conflict started, however, the standard infantry and mechanized infantry unit became the brigade, composed of two to four battalions and having a total strength of 1,200 to 2,000 personnel.

During the summer of 1977, the SNA-WSLF force achieved several victories but also endured some significant defeats. In July 1977, it captured Gode, on the Shabeelle River about 550 kilometers inside Ethiopia, and won control of 60 percent of the Ogaden. By mid-September 1977, Ethiopia conceded that 90 percent of the Ogaden was in Somali hands. The SNA suffered two setbacks in August when it tried to capture Dire Dawa and Jijiga. The Ethiopian army inflicted heavy losses on the SNA at Dire Dawa after a Somali attack by one tank battalion and a mechanized infantry brigade supported by artillery units. At Jijiga the Somalis lost more than half of their attacking force of three tank battalions, each of which included more than thirty tanks.

Somalia’s greatest victory occurred in mid-September 1977 in the second attempt to take Jijiga, when three tank battalions overwhelmed the Ethiopian garrison. After inflicting some heavy losses on Somali armor, Ethiopian troops mutinied and withdrew from the town, leaving its defense to the militia, which was incapable of slowing the Somali advance. The Ethiopians retreated beyond the strategic Marda Pass, the strongest defensive position between Jijiga and Harer, leaving the SNA in a commanding position within the region. Despite this success, several factors prevented a Somali victory. Somali tank losses had been heavy in the battles around Dire Dawa and Jijiga. Moreover, because the EAF had established air superiority over the SAF, it could harass overextended Somali supply lines with impunity. The onset of the rainy season hampered such air attacks; however, the bad weather also bogged down Somali reinforcements on the dirt roads.

The Soviet Union’s decision to abandon Somalia in favor of Ethiopia eventually turned the tide of battle in the Ogaden. From October 1977 through January 1978, about 20,000 WSLF guerrillas and SNA forces pressed attacks on Harer, where nearly 50,000 Ethiopians had regrouped, backed by Soviet-supplied armor and artillery and gradually reinforced by 11,000 Cuban’s and 1,500 Soviet advisers. Although it fought its way into Harer in November 1977, the SNA lacked the supplies and manpower to capture the city. Subsequently, the Somalis regrouped outside Harer and awaited an Ethiopian counterattack.

As expected, in early February 1978 Ethiopian and Cuban forces launched a two-stage counterattack toward Jijiga. Unexpectedly, however, a column of Cubans and Ethiopians moving north and east crossed the highlands between Jijiga and the Somali border, bypassing Somali troops dug in around the Marda Pass. Thus, the attacking force was able to assault the Somalis from two sides and recapture Jijiga after two days of fighting in which 3,000 Somali troops lost their lives. Within a week, Ethiopia had retaken all of the Ogaden’s major towns. On March 9, 1978, Siad Barre recalled the SNA from Ethiopia. After the SNA withdrawal, the WSLF reverted to guerrilla tactics. By May 1980, the rebels had established control over a significant portion of the Ogaden. Eventually, Ethiopia defeated the WSLF and the few small SNA units that remained in the region after the Somali pullout. In late 1981, however, reports indicated that the WSLF continued to conduct occasional hit-and- run attacks against Ethiopian targets.

A large Cuban contingent, believed to number about 12,000, remained in Ethiopia after the Ogaden War. However, by mid 1984 Havana had reduced its troop strength in Ethiopia to approximately 3,000. In 1988 a Cuban brigade, equipped with tanks and APCs, was stationed in Dire Dawa to guard the road and railroad between Ethiopia and Djibouti, following attacks by Somali-supported rebels. A mobile battalion of various military advisers and an unknown number of Cuban instructors who were on the Harer Military Academy faculty also remained in Ethiopia. After Ethiopia and Somalia signed an April 1988 joint communiqué intended to reduce tensions, Cuba decided to end its military presence in Ethiopia. The last Cuban troops left on September 17, 1989,
thus terminating twelve years of military cooperation

By 1980 Cuban activities had expanded into the Middle East (Southern Yemen). In both regions the Cuban presence was generally seen by the West as the spearhead of a growing Soviet thrust. In return, the Cuban economy continued to be supplemented by some $3 million in daily Soviet aid. Despite its relationship with the USSR, Cuba in 1979 played host to a meeting of the so-called nonaligned nations, at which Castro was chosen the group’s leader for the following three years.

In 1980, when Castro temporarily lifted exit restrictions, some 125,000 refugees fled to the United States before the outflow was again halted. The U.S. government accused Cuba of aiding leftist rebels in El Salvador; another sore point in U.S.-Cuban relations was the aid given by Cuban advisers to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Several hundred Cuban construction workers and military personnel were forced to leave Grenada as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of that island in October 1983.

The invasion of Grenada in late 1983 can be seen as a small part of the rivalry between the U.S. and Cuba during the Reagan years. A bloody coup in Grenada, along with a perceived threat to American students on the island provided the U.S. with an excellent excuse to eliminate a Marxist regime allied to Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The U.S. invasion of Grenada and the toppling of it’s Marxist government can be seen as part of a greater regional conflict. This conflict involved the U.S. and it’s Central American and Caribbean allies on one side and Fidel Castro ‘s Cuba, the Sandinista government of Nicaragua and various Marxist guerrilla armies on the other. President Reagan and his administration were concerned that the Marxist government of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was allowing Cuba to gain undue influence in Grenada, specifically by constructing a military-grade airport with Cuban military engineers. On October 13, 1983, the Grenadian Army, controlled by former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, seized power in a bloody coup. The severity of the violence, coupled with Coard’s hard-line Marxism, caused deep concern among neighboring Caribbean nations, as well as in Washington, D.C. Also, the presence of nearly 1,000 American medical students in Grenada caused added concern.

In the early morning of October 25, 1983, the United States invaded the island of Grenada. The initial assault consisted of some 1,200 troops, and they were met by stiff resistance from the Grenadian army and Cuban military units on the island. Heavy fighting continued for several days, but as the invasion force grew to more than 7,000, the defenders either surrendered or fled into the mountains. Scattered fighting continued as U.S. troops hunted down stragglers, but for the most part, the island quickly fell under American control. By mid-December, U.S. combat forces went home and a pro-American government took power.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited Havana in April 1989, when the USSR and Cuba signed a 25-year friendship treaty, but Castro explicitly rejected the applicability of Soviet-style political and economic reforms to his country. In July four army officers were executed and ten others sentenced to prison for smuggling and drug trafficking, in the worst scandal since Castro came to power.

With the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s, Soviet-bloc aid and trade subsidies to Cuba were ended, and Soviet military forces were gradually withdrawn. After the United States tightened its sanctions against trade with Cuba, the UN General Assembly in November 1992 approved a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. embargo. By 1993 all of the Soviet troops sent to Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis had been withdrawn. Cuba’s sugarcane production dropped to a 30-year low in 1993 and worsened in 1994, precipitating an economic emergency. As the effects of this poor yield filtered down through the population, greater numbers of Cubans attempted to flee the country for economic reasons. One such group hijacked a ferry and and attempted to escape, only to be challenged and sunk by the Cuban Coast Guard. The sinking sparked violent antigovernment demonstrations, to which Castro responded by removing exit restrictions from those who wished to leave for the United States. Already facing an influx of refugees from Haiti, the United States countered by ending automatic asylum to fleeing Cubans because the United States considered that they were fleeing economic rather than political conditions. More than 30,000 people were picked up at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and taken to the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base or to refugee camps in Panama. The crisis came to an end when the United States agreed to issue 20,000 entry visas each year to Cubans wishing to enter the country.

In February 1996 Cuban authorities arrested or detained at least 150 dissidents, marking the most widespread crackdown on opposition groups in the country since the early 1960s. Many were members of the Concilio Cubano, a fledgling coalition of more than 100 organizations dedicated to political reform.

Later that month, Cuban jet fighters shot down two civilian planes that Cuba claimed had violated Cuban airspace. The planes belonged to Brothers to the Rescue, a U.S.-based group headed by Cuban exiles dedicated to helping Cuban refugees. The group used small planes to spot refugees fleeing the island nation and then reported their positions to the U.S. Coast Guard. The United States condemned the shootings as a flagrant violation of international law; the United Nations also criticized the downing of the planes. Cuba said that planes from the same group had previously flown into Cuban airspace and
dropped antigovernment leaflets, but Cuba’s repeated diplomatic complaints to the United States about the incidents had gone unheeded. Castro said he did not directly order the shootings, but acknowledged that in the weeks prior to the incident he had given the Cuban Air Force the authorization to shoot down civilian planes violating Cuba’s airspace.

As a result of this incident, U.S. President Bill Clinton abandoned his previous resistance to stricter sanctions against Cuba and in March 1996 signed into law the Helms-Burton Act. The legislation aimed to tighten the U.S. embargo by making it more difficult for foreign investors and businesses to operate in Cuba. It made permanent the economic embargo, which
previously had to be renewed each year, and threatened foreign companies with lawsuits if they were deemed to be "deriving benefit" from property worth more than $50,000 that had been confiscated from U.S. citizens during the Cuban revolution. Canada, Mexico, and the European Union complained about the U.S. law, claiming that the United States was trying to export its laws and principles to other countries.

Later that month, the Central Committee of Cuba’s Communist Party held a rare full session and endorsed a harder stance against dissidents, as well as against Cuban businesses that had been allowed to engage in free-market joint ventures with foreign companies. The committee had met only five times since Communists took over the Cuban government in 1959. Cuban officials said that dissidents, self-employed workers, and Cuban intellectuals were being manipulated by Cuba’s foreign enemies to undermine the authority of the Communist Party. Castro vowed to step up the government’s efforts to silence opposition groups and enforce compliance with the party’s economic and ideological beliefs.

On March 16, 2003 Castro threatens to shut down U.S. Interests Section in Havana, calling it a breeding ground for dissidents.Castro launches biggest political crackdown in decades, jailing 75 dissidents for terms of up to 28 years for collaborating with Washington to undermine his one-party state. Cuba executes three men who hijacked a commuter ferry in a failed bid to reach Florida on April 11, 2003. U.S.A. expels 14 Cuban diplomats May 13, 2003.

References:

Costa Rica National History

Costa Rica shows proof of people 12000 B.C. Initially, early man in Costa Rica was a hunter and a gatherer, but later, between 8000 and 4000 years B.C. nomadic groups started settling down and domesticating crops. The period between 4000 and 1000 B.C. was extremely important for the development of the indigenous people. Since Costa Rica was located in a strategic position, in a land mass that served as a bridge between North and South America, it was influenced by different customs.

The political hierarchy was headed by the "cacique", a chief that made use of supernatural beliefs to justify his almost unlimited power. Underneath him were various members of the religious and military nobility, then the common workers and finally the slaves. War became an important element of life, and was usually justified by territory expansion or defense and the acquisition of slaves.

When Columbus arrived near Lim¢n on September 18, 1502 on his last voyage to the Americas, there were probably no more than 20,000 indigenous inhabitants. They lived in four major indigenous tribes living in Costa Rica. The east coast was the realm of the Caribs, while the Borucas, Chibchas, and Diquis resided in the southwest. As he was setting anchor off shore, a crowd of local Carib Indians paddled out in canoes and greeted his crew warmly. Later, the golden bands that the region’s inhabitants wore in their noses and ears would inspire the Spaniard Gil Gonzalez Davila to name the country Costa Rica, or Rich Coast.

The Indians gave Columbus gold and he returned to Europe with reports of a plentiful supply of the yellow metal. But the adventurers who arrived to cash in found only hostile Indians, swamps and disease for their trouble. Several early attempts to colonize the Atlantic coast failed for the same reasons and for almost half a century Costa Rica was passed over while colonization gathered pace in countries to the north and south. In 1562, the Spanish main’s administrative center in Guatemala sent Juan Vasquez de Coronado to Costa Rica as governor and Cartago was established as the capital the following year. With no Indian slaves to work the land, the colonists were forced to work the land themselves, scratching out a meagre subsistence by tilling small plots. The impoverished colony grew slowly and was virtually ignored by the Spanish rulers in Guatemala. In 1723 an eruption of the Irazú volcano destroyed the small town of Cartago, but during this same century cities like San José, Heredia and Alajuela, started growing in population and infrastructure. The towns always revolved around the church and plaza. By the late 18th century, the settlements that would buela had been founded and exports of wheat and tobacco were making economic conditions somewhat better.

Central America gained independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. The news reached Costa Rica a month after the event. The question of whether Costa Rica should join newly independent Mexico or join a new confederation of Central American states resulted in a bitter quarrel between the leaders of San Jose and their counterparts in Cartago and Heredia. A brief civil war in 1823 was won by San Jose and Costa Rica joined the confederation.

Juan Mora Fernandez was elected the country’s first head of state in 1824. His progressive administration expanded public education and encouraged the cultivation of coffee with land grants for growers. This quickly led to the establishment of a new Costa Rican elite, the coffee barons, who quickly put their power to use by overthrowing the first Costa Rican president, Jose Maria Castro. His successor, Juan Rafael Mora, is remembered as the man who mobilized a force of Costa Rican volunteers and defeated William Walker in 1856, ending the persistent North American adventurer’s ambitions to turn Central America into a slave state and annex it to the United States.

The evolution from a militaristic and coup-ridden nation to a more stable and democratic one, took place through Tomás Guardia´s rule. Ironically, Tomás Guardia came into power and remained there by military force. However, his reforms were the seeds of a much needed democracy. In twelve years he succeeded in controlling the use of the military, revising the Constitution, building several roads and declaring education for both sexes obligatory and free (1869 reform). It was Guardia who contracted Minor Keith to build the Atlantic railroad from San Jose to the Caribbean. These amazing events marked the path for a new democratic era.

The official onset for Costa Rican democracy dates to 1889 after the rule of President Bernardo Soto. Many historians consider this to be the first true election, devoid of fraud and corruption. In this election, Jose Joaquin Rodriguez, and not Soto won, but the latter’s government refused to accept these results. The people however, organized into mobs, supported their chosen candidate, so Soto had to withdraw from power. This incident marked if not the definitiveness of democracy, the desire by the people for its country to head in this direction.

The twenty years between Guardia’s rule (1870-1882) and his predecessor, Soto (1882-1889) mark the liberalist era or of the "Olimpo" (Olympus). The Olimpo consisted in a group of rather arrogant people who intended to reform the government and to "civilize" the populace. The members of the group, who were intellectuals, scientists and political leaders, encouraged agrarian reform, capitalism, bureaucracy and free and obligatory primary education. This group favored science and attacked religion and the Church as an institution, thus provoking a growing tension between government followers and religious supporters. While the liberals promoted the heroic nature of the Battle of 1856 (where Costa Rica defeated an American filibuster) and its hero, Juan Santamaria, the church advocated for the people’s cult of the Virgin of the Angels. Therefore, each band had its symbol which they promoted in order to awaken people’s solidarity and loyalty as well as their resistance against the other group’s power. As far as the populace went, the Church won.

The last decade of the nineteenth century marked the beginning of capitalist investments that would lead to an imperialist hold of the United States over Costa Rica and other Latin American countries. In 1884, the Costa Rican government finally signed a contract with American entrepeneur, Minor C. Keith, in which the businessman agreed to finish the railroad to the Atlantic and to lessen the British debt, in exchange for a 99 year concession of the railroad and huge amounts of land in the Atlantic. His participation in this business culminated with the founding of the United Fruit Company in Boston, in the year of 1899.

Costa Rica, which had defended its sovereignty in the 1856 war against American filibuster, William Walker, was facing the imperialist threat but much stronger this time. The ironic part of this story is that Costa Rica had caused this situation by welcoming unleashed foreign investment. The country was completely surrounded by the American influence: on the North, the marines had invaded and occupied Nicaragua (1912-1934); on the South, Panama had been chosen for its canal; on the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, the United Fruit Company had basically taken over the region. Even after the two world wars, the United States influenced economic and political decisions of the Costa Rican government.

Up until the founding of the United Fruit Company, Costa Rican exports were limited to coffee. However, in 1910, the export of bananas equaled that of coffee, and in 1911 the country became the world’s largest producer of this crop. Between 1914 and 1930, world prices for bananas fell or rose dramatically. By 1930, the company decided to desert the Atlantic region and to move to the Pacific. This change, which was due to the deterioration of the land, also caused great social chaos, since the inhabitants of the region had become completely dependent of the company, and the government had never encouraged any diversification.

The hunger for earnings from foreign and national businessmen, usually meant a lack of concern for society in general. There were several strikes that denoted the poor conditions of the common workers: the Chinese, Jamaican and Italian strikes (1879-1888) during the railroad construction; the banana plantation strikes (1910-1921); the miner’s strikes in Guanacaste (1906-1922). Thanks to these social pressures, the Costa Rican government was forced to allow the formation of non-traditional parties, such as the Reform Party (1923) and the Communist Party (1931). Within these parties, common workers, peasants and other poor people rose to power in the party and in the government itself.

Rafael Angel Calder¢n Guardia was the President of Costa Rica from 1940 to 1944. Among his various achievements is included the founding of the University of Costa Rica (1940), which is still a landmark in the progress of public, higher education. Calderon Guardia also established the country’s social security system, called the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (1941), which is still functioning. He also passed extremely important bodies of law that guaranteed basic rights for workers and for all citizens alike. But when Calder¢n’s United Social Christian Party refused to step down after losing the 1948 election against to Otilio Ulate, civil war erupted. The anti-Calder¢n forces were led by Jose Mar¡a (Don Pepe) Figueres Ferrer who had been exiled to Mexico in 1942. Supported by the governments of Guatemala and Cuba, he won the war which lasted 40 days and cost 2,000 lives.

Figueres became head of the Founding Junta of the Second Republic of Costa Rica. He consolidated the reforms introduced by Calder¢n and introduced many of his own: He banned the Communist Party, gave women the vote and granted full citizenship to blacks, abolished the armed forces, established a term limit for presidents and nationalized the banks and insurance companies. He also founded the Partido de Liberacion Nacional. (The PLN won last year’s presidential election behind Don Pepe’s son, now President Jose Mar¡a Figueres Olsen). Costa Rica was fortunate to suffer a civil war that would last only five weeks, and that would eventually return power to the people’s choice as president. Costa Rica would later reward Jose Figueres by electing him to two terms of office (1953-1957 and 1970-1974).

In February 1982, Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez was elected president. He originally tried to keep his country neutral. In the face of the Sandinistas radical shift to the left, however, Monge found himself hostage to US and domestic right-wing pressure to support the contras. As his economic crisis deepened. He was forced to bow to US demands in exchange for foreign aid. The Nicaraguan counterstrikes in the border began so the Costa Rican Civil Guard was being trained in Honduras by US military advisors, and roads and airstrips were being built throughout the northern provinces.

Don Pepe died in 1990 a national hero, his deeds having set the scene for the social and economic progress that would earn Costa Rica the reputation as a peaceful and stable island of democracy in one of the world’s most politically unstable, and often war-torn regions. When civil war broke out in neighboring Nicaragua, Costa Rica was drawn reluctantly into the conflict, its northern zone being used as a base first for Sandinista and later for “contra” forces. In 1986, a young lawyer called Oscar Arias Sanchez was elected president (1986-1990) on the platform of peace. Arias’ tireless efforts to promote peace in the region were rewarded when the five Central American presidents signed his peace plan in Guatamala City in 1987, an achievement that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

After President Arias, three other presidents have been elected. An interesting fact about the elections that followed that of Arias, is that two of the candidates were sons of the main rivals during the Civil War of 1948. Calderon’s son, Rafael Angel Calderon, candidate of the rival Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) was president from 1990-1994, while Figueres’ son ruled the country from 1994-1998. This illustrates the flexibility of the Costa Rican democracy, which allows the election of candidates that represent generations of rivalry, one after the other. The next president is Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who belongs to the Social Christian party, which has its origins with Calderon’s followers, after the 1948 Civil War. In 2002 – the electorate has returned a PUSC majority in both presidential and National Assembly elections. Abel Pacheco de la Espriella is the new President.

References:

Colombia National History

Long before the arrival of the first Spanish explorers, Indian groups had settled in the area of present-day Colombia. The Mesoamericans (Indians originally inhabiting Central America), who arrived in approximately 1200 B.C., introduced the cultivation of corn. They were followed by a second wave of Mesoamericans in 500 B.C. Artifacts from a number of distinct cultures, such as those in the areas around San Agustín (in present-day Huila Department), Tierra Dentro (Cauca Department), and Tumaco (Nariño Department), are believed to date from this period. Between 400 and 300 B.C., the Chibchas traveled from Nicaragua and Honduras and reached Colombia, shortly before the Arawaks arrived from other parts of South America, such as Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Near the end of the first millennium A.D., the Caribs migrated from the Caribbean islands. These warlike newcomers supplanted the Chibchas in the lowlands and forced them to move to higher elevations.

By the 1500s, the most advanced of the indigenous peoples were the Chibchas, who were divided into two principal tribes: the Muisca, located in the plateaus of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, and the Tairona, who settled along the northern spur of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (in present-day La Guajira Department). The Muisca were the more prominent of the two groups and based their economy on agriculture, especially the cultivation of corn and potatoes. The Muisca centered their social organization on the cacicazgo, a hereditary form of leadership following matrilineal succession. Two large Muisca confederations existed at the time of the Spanish conquest: Bacatá/Bogotá and Hunsa/Tunja. A chieftain known as a zipa headed Bacatá/Bogotá, whereas a zaque governed Hunsa/Tunja.

The Tairona formed two groups, one in the Caribbean lowlands and the other in the Andean highlands. The lowlands Tairona fished and produced salt, which they traded for cotton cloth and blankets with their counterparts in the highlands. The Tairona of both groups lived in numerous, well-organized towns connected by stone roads.

The group of Spaniards that first came to the New World consisted of conquistadors, administrators, and Roman Catholic clergy. The adventurous conquistadors were risk-taking entrepreneurs, financing their own expeditions in the expectation of being able to get rich quick. The administrators were appointed by and represented the crown in the colonies and sought to maintain the New World colonies as a source of wealth and prestige for the Spanish Empire. The clergy sought to save the souls of the native Indians, and in the process they acquired land and wealth for the church. The conquistadors, who felt they owed nothing to the crown, often came into conflict with the latter’s attempts to centralize and strengthen its authority over the colonies.

In what became present-day Colombia, the conquistadors explored and began to settle the coastal areas. The first explorers to round the coast of the Guajira Peninsula and enter Colombian territory were Alonso de Ojeda in 1499 and Rodrigo de Bastidas in 1500. In 1510 Ojeda founded Santa María la Antigua de Darién (present-day Acandí) on the western side of the Golfo de Urabá. Bastidas established Santa Marta in 1525. In 1533 another explorer, Pedro de Heredia, organized Cartagena after pacifying the Indians in the area. These coastal cities served as havens from Indian attacks and as bases for exploratory expeditions into the interior. In addition, Cartagena linked the colonies with the motherland and became a focal point of intercontinental travel.

Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, Nikolaus Federmann, and Sebastián de Belalcázar figured prominently in the exploration of the interior. In 1536 Jiménez de Quesada set out in search of a path to Peru. During the course of his journey, he encountered the Muisca in the Sabana de Bogotá and in 1538 founded the city of Santa Fe de Bogotá (present-day Bogotá)–the eventual power center for the colony of New Granada. Federmann explored the eastern plains, crossed the Cordillera Oriental, and arrived at Bogotá in 1539. Traveling northward from Peru, Belalcázar established the cities of Popayán and Santiago de Cali
(present-day Cali). Other members of his group traveled northward and founded Cartago and Anserma. In 1539 Belalcázar arrived in Bogotá, where the three conquistadors negotiated the division of the newly explored territory.

The expeditions that these men led provided the basis for the settlement of the highlands interior that played a significant role in the future life of the colony. To an even greater extent than in Peru and New Spain (present-day Mexico), many of the population centers established during the conquest were located in remote intermontane valleys and plateaus. This contributed to New Granada’s becoming one of the most isolated of all the colonies of the Spanish Empire in the New World.

Colonial society relied on "purity of blood" as a basis for stratification. The elites at the top of the social pyramid were peninsulares, persons of Spanish descent born in Spain. Peninsulares held political power and social prestige in the society. Below them were the criollos, those of Spanish descent born in the colonies. This group had limited access to the higher circles of power and status. For generations the criollos accepted a position of inferiority to the peninsulares, but in the late eighteenth century their acquiescence was transformed into a resentment that ultimately led to their fight for independence. Next in importance and the most numerous were the mestizos, persons of mixed Spanish and Indian descent who were free but relegated to positions of low prestige. Most Indians gradually became absorbed linguistically or lost their identity through mixture with other peoples; by the late 1980s, Indians constituted only 1 percent of the Colombian population. Black African slaves and zambos, persons of mixed African and Indian descent, were at the bottom of the social
scale and were important only as a source of labor.

The administrative structure paralleled the social pyramid in that peninsulares appointed by the crown generally controlled the higher jurisdictional levels, and criollos could compete only for the lower posts. Two councils in Spain presided over the colonies. The House of Trade (Casa de Contratación) controlled all overseas trade. The Supreme Council of the Indies (Consejo Supremo de las Indias) centralized the administration of the colonies and had legislative, executive, and judicial functions. As the king delegated increasingly more authority to this council, it effectively became the ruler of the colonies.

The viceroyalty, headed by a viceroy, was the highest authority in the colonies. The next level of jurisdiction was the audiencia, a regional court consisting of various judges and a president. The Real Audiencia de Santa Fe, which presided over present-day Colombia, was instituted in 1550. The audiencia had jurisdiction over the governorships, which in turn controlled the cities. Governors, appointed by the crown, had administrative and judicial functions and, in areas considered dangerous, military duties. Cities, the lowest jurisdictional level, were run by city councils, or cabildos.
Cabildos initially were elected by popular vote, but later seats were sold by the crown, and positions on the council thus lost their democratic character. Despite their low position on the administrative pyramid, cabildos had the greatest impact on the day-to-day lives of citizens in the local municipalities.

The cabildos became the first effective agency of civil government, regularizing the processes of government and tempering the authority of the governor, even though their membership was composed of his subordinates. They included a varying number of magistrates or aldermen, depending on the size of the community, and two mayors. The mayors on the cabildo were elected annually and initially acted as judges in courts of first instance with criminal and civil jurisdiction. Appeals from their decisions could be taken to the local governor or to a person functioning as his deputy and finally to the royal court of jurisdiction. During times of crisis, the town citizens of importance might be invited to sit with the cabildo in what was called the open council. By increasing criollo participation in government, the open council contributed to the movement leading to the war for independence.

The royal courts in the colonies, unlike their counterparts in Spain, performed administrative and political as well as judicial functions. The courts were empowered to limit the arbitrary use of power by the viceroy or any subordinate official in the New World. Major courts existed in the higher jurisdictions, such as the viceroyalty; subordinate courts existed at lesser administrative levels. Under the Supreme Council of the Indies, the viceroys, as the direct representatives of the sovereign, exercised royal authority in all civil and military affairs, in the secular aspects of church affairs, and in the supervision of the administration of justice. Subject to the overall supervision of peninsular authorities, the executive officers also exercised a degree of legislative power.

Two additional governmental practices designed to oversee the colonial authorities were the residencia (public judicial inquiry) and the visita (secret investigation). The residencia was performed at the end of an official’s term of office by a judge who went to the chief seat of the jurisdiction of the official in question to hear anyone who wished to make charges or to offer testimony concerning the official’s performance in office. The visita could take place at any time without warning during an official’s tenure and was performed by an inspector who might, in the performance of his task, sit with a court in public hearings.

The Spanish system encompassing the audiencia was extractive and exploitative, relying heavily on cheap native labor. Domestic industry was constrained during the colonial period because the audiencia was bound to Spain as part of a mercantile system. Under this arrangement, the colony functioned as the source of primary materials and the consumer of manufactured goods, a trade pattern that tended to enrich the metropolitan power at the expense of the colony.

Because Spaniards came to the New World in search of quick riches in the form of precious metals and jewels, mining for these items became the pillar of the economy for much of the colonial period. Indeed, the extraction of precious metals–such as gold and copper–in the American colonies formed the basis of the crown’s economy.

Spain monopolized trade with the colonies. The crown limited authorization for intercontinental trade to Veracruz (in presentday Mexico), Nombre de Dios (in present-day Panama), and Cartagena. Direct trade with other colonies was prohibited; as a result, items from one colony had to be sent to Spain for reshipment to another colony. The crown also established the routes of transport and the number of ships allowed to trade in the colonies. Merchants involved in intercontinental trade had to be Spanish nationals. Finally, the crown circumscribed the type of merchandise that could be traded. The colony could export to Spain only precious metals, gold in particular, and some agricultural products. In return, Spain exported to the colonies most of the agricultural and manufactured goods that the colonies needed for survival. Domestic products supplemented these items only to a minor degree.

Agriculture, which was limited in the 1500s to providing subsistence for colonial settlements and immediate consumption for workers in the mines, became a dynamic enterprise in the 1600s and replaced mining as the core of the Colombian economy by the 1700s. By the end of the 1700s, sugar and tobacco had become important export commodities. The growth in agriculture resulted in part from the increasing exhaustion of mineral and metal resources in the seventeenth century, which caused the crown to reorient its economic policy to stimulate the agricultural sector.

As commercial agriculture became the foundation of the Colombian economy, two dominant forms of agricultural landholdings emerged–the encomienda and the hacienda. These landholdings were distinguishable by the manner in which the landholders obtained labor. The encomienda was a grant of the right to receive the tribute of Indians within a certain boundary. In contrast, the hacienda functioned through a contract arrangement involving the owner–the hacendado–and Indian laborers. Under a typical arrangement, Indians tilled the land a specified number of days per week or per year in exchange for small plots of land.

The encomendero, or recipient of the encomienda, extended privileges to de facto control of the land designated in his grant. In effect, the encomendero was a deputy charged by the crown with responsibility for the support of the Indians and their moral and religious welfare. Assuming that the land and its inhabitants were entirely at its disposal, the monarchy envisioned the encomiendas as a means of administering humane and constructive policies of the government of Spain and protecting the welfare of the Indians. The encomenderos, however, sought to employ the Indians
for their own purposes and to maintain their land as hereditary property to be held in perpetuity. Most encomenderos were private adventurers rather than agents of the empire. The remoteness of the encomiendas from the center of government made it possible for the encomenderos to do as they pleased.

Under the influence of church figures such as Bartolomé de las Casas, the crown promulgated the New Laws in 1542 for the administration of the Spanish Empire in America. Designed to remove the abuses connected with encomiendas and to improve the general treatment of Indians, the laws called for strict enforcement of the existing regulations and freedom for the enslaved Indians, who were placed in the category of free subjects of the crown. They further provided that encomiendas would be forfeited if the Indians concerned were mistreated; that the tribute paid by Indians being instructed in religion should be fixed and in no case required in the form of personal service; and that public officials, congregations, hospitals, and monasteries could not hold encomiendas. Additional provisions– especially resented by the encomenderos–prohibited the employment of Indians in the mines, prevented
encomenderos from requiring Indians to carry heavy loads, forbade the granting of any future encomiendas, ordered a reduction in size of existing encomiendas, and terminated the rights of wives and children to inherit encomiendas.

Encomenderos opposed the royal government’s attempts to enforce these regulations. A formula was adopted according to which the laws would be "obeyed but not executed." The encomenderos also had the opportunity to send representatives to Spain to seek modifications of the laws– modifications that the crown eventually granted. The tensions between the royal authority and the colonists in the new empire were never entirely removed.

The institution of the hacienda with its associated mita (ancient tribute) system of labor began in the late sixteenth century. After 1590 the crown started to grant titles of landownership to colonists who paid the crown for the land and reserved the right to use Indian labor on their haciendas. Under an agrarian reform in 1592, the crown established resguardos, or reservations, for the Indians to provide for their subsistence; the resulting concentration of Indians freed up land to be sold to hacendados. The purchase of land as private real estate from the crown led to the development of
latifundios
.

The new hacendados soon came into conflict with the encomenderos because of the ability of the latter to monopolize Indian labor. The Spanish authorities instituted the mita to resolve this conflict. After 1595 the crown obliged resguardo Indians to contract themselves to neighboring hacendados for a maximum of fifteen days per year. The mitayos (Indians contracted to work) also were contracted for labor as miners in Antioquia, as navigational aides on the Río Magdalena, and as industrial workers in a few rare cases. Although the mitayos were considered free because they were paid a nominal salary, the landowners and other employers overworked them to such an extent that many became seriously ill or died.

Because the mitayos could not survive their working conditions, the crown sought an alternate source of cheap labor through the African slave trade. The crown sold licenses to individuals allowing them to import slaves, primarily through the port at Cartagena. Although the crown initially restricted licenses to Spanish merchants, it eventually opened up the slave trade to foreigners as demand outstripped supply. The mining industry was the first to rely on black slaves, who by the seventeenth century had replaced mitayos in the mines. The mining industry continued to depend on slave labor into the
eighteenth century. Despite the decline of the mining industry, slavery remained the key form of labor; from the second half of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, plantation-style agriculture rose in prominence and raised the demand for slave labor on sugar plantations and ranches. Minor segments of the economy also supported slavery and used slaves as artisans, domestic servants, and navigational aides.

Slaves had no legal rights in the colonial system. The crown enacted laws to separate the slaves from the Indians so that the two groups would not join against the Spanish and criollo ruling classes. Slaves, however, often revolted against their subhuman living conditions, and many escaped to form palenques (towns) high in the mountains where they could maintain their African customs. These palenques separated themselves from colonial society and thus were among the first towns in Spanish America to be free of Spanish authority. The palenque movement was strongest in the eighteenth century. At this time, there was a crisis in the institution of slavery as it existed in the Spanish colonies. By the end of the 1700s, the high price of slaves along with increasing antislavery sentiment in the colony caused many to view the system as anachronistic; nonetheless, it was not abolished until after independence was achieved.

The Roman Catholic Church served as both agent and opponent of the colonial government. The church desired a system, supported by the state, within which it might proselytize; at the same time, it opposed many of the secular aims of
government that appeared to be in conflict with Christian morality. The church acted to restrain secular excesses and despotism, particularly those of the early conquistadors.

From the outset, the clergy became a vital element of colonial life. Missionaries and conquistadors arrived simultaneously in the New World during the late 1400s. From 1520 to 1550, the church began methodical evangelization among the Indians. The Franciscans, Dominicans, Capuchins (members of the Order of Mercy), and later the Jesuits and Augustinians were all important in the country’s colonial history. The first two orders arrived in Bogotá with the first judges: the Franciscans established monasteries in Vélez and Cartagena, and the Dominicans established them in Bogotá, Pamplona, and Popayán. In 1534 the church established the dioceses of Santa Marta and Cartagena, and in 1546 it established the diocese of Popayán–the first such dioceses in the New World. The church organized further between 1550 and 1620, creating the diocese of Bogotá in 1562. The Tribunal of the Inquisition, installed in Cartagena in 1611, sought to ensure that African culture did not contaminate Spanish culture in the colonies as a result of the importation of African slaves. The Jesuits, who formally were allowed to enter the colonies in 1604, sought to improve the economic standing of the Indians with whom they worked and established self-sufficient villages for Indians in the eastern plains.

In addition to bringing the Christian religion to the Indians, the church spread the ideas and institutions of Western civilization and had responsibility for establishing and maintaining almost all of the schools of the colonial period. In 1580 a monastery founded the University of General Studies, the first in the territory. The Jesuits established two additional universities in 1622 and 1653.

In its role as the patron of education, the church made an unintended but significant contribution to developing a local spirit of independence among the colonists. Church and state attempted to control the intellectual life of the New World. Throughout the eighteenth century, the church engaged in controversy with the country’s leading intellectuals, who were influenced by the political ideas of the Enlightenment in Europe and by the concepts of positivism and empirical scientific investigation. The education system also fostered opposition to Spain’s sovereignty over its American empire and provided the groundwork for the intellectuals whose activities the church opposed.

Although the Roman Catholic Church influenced educational and intellectual development in the colonies, the crown ensured its own influence over the colonial church. Several papal bulls in the 1490s and in the first decade of the 1500s strengthened the ability of the Spanish kings to influence church affairs in the New World. In addition, the Holy See granted to the Spanish state the papal rights governing the administration and the personnel of the church and of bishoprics being created in the New World. In addition to common economic interests, this closely bound the church to the state during the colonial period.

Throughout the colonial period, events in Spain affected the political, economic, and intellectual state of the colonies. One such event was the ascension of the Bourbons to the Spanish throne in 1700. Upon the death of Charles II–the last in the line of the Spanish Hapsburgs–the Austrian Hapsburgs and Charles’s nephew Philip of Anjou, a Bourbon and the grandson of French king Louis XIV as well the designated heir to the Spanish throne, contended for the Spanish throne. The War of the Spanish Succession (1702-14) ended in the triumph of the Bourbons over the Austrians, and the Treaty of Utrecht recognized the Bourbon succession in Spain on the condition that Spain and France would never be united under one crown.

Beginning with Philip of Anjou, now known as King Philip V (reigned 1700-46), the Bourbon kings placed themselves in more direct control of their colonies, reducing the power of the Supreme Council of the Indies and abolishing the House of Trade. In 1717 Philip V established the Viceroyalty of New Granada (present-day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador), and in 1739 Bogotá became its capital. Other Bourbon kings, particularly Charles III (reigned 1759-88), tried to improve the profitability of the American colonies by removing restrictions that had hindered Spain’s economic development in the 1500s and 1600s. Such measures included the liberalization of commerce with the colonies and the establishment of additional authorized ports. In 1774 the crown allowed free exchange among the colonies of Peru, New Spain, New Granada, and Guatemala. These reforms allowed the crown control over the de facto trade among the colonies that previously had been illicit. When Charles III declared war on Britain in 1778, he levied taxes on the colonies to fund the war. These fiscal decrees affected imports and exports, the sale of general items–especially tobacco and alcohol–and the production of silver and gold. The crown demanded tribute from Indians and the church and expected the general population to fund the naval fleet that patrolled the Spanish American coast. Excessive and increasing taxation in the late 1700s contributed to the discontent of the criollos with the Spanish administration, which manifested itself in the Comunero Revolt of 1781, the most serious revolt against Spanish authority before the war for independence. The rebellion was a spontaneous but diffuse movement involving many towns. The most important uprising began among artisans and peasants in Socorro (in presentday Santander Department). The imposition of new taxes by the viceroy stimulated the revolt further.

Almost without exception, the rebels expressed their loyalty to the king and the church while calling for a repeal of new taxes and a modification of government monopolies. The rebels succeeded in getting government representatives to abolish the war tax, taxes for the maintenance of the fleet, customhouse permits, and tobacco and playing-card monopolies; to reduce the tribute paid by the Indians and the taxes on liquor, commercial transactions, and salt; and to give preference to those born in the New World for appointments to certain posts. Later, however, government negotiators declared that they had acted under duress and that the viceroy would not honor the agreements. The leaders of the rebellion were subjected to severe punishments, including death for the more prominent among them. The rebels had not sought independence from Spain, but their revolt against the king’s administration and administrators, despite protestations of loyalty to the king himself, was not far removed from a fight for independence. In this light, the rebellion was a prelude to the struggle for freedom.

In the late 1700s, the Enlightenment served as a second major influence in the struggle for independence. After the Comunero Revolt, the outlook of the local upper-class and middle-class criollos changed as the ideas of the Enlightenment strengthened their desire to control their own destiny. This movement criticized the traditional patterns of political, economic, and religious institutions and as such was a threat to both the central state and the religious authorities. The North American and French revolutions also contributed intellectual foundations for a new society, as well as examples of the possibilities for change.

A third major event of the late colonial period that may have led to the struggle for independence was the Napoleonic invasion of the early 1800s. In 1807 Napoleon Bonaparte made his brother Joseph the king of Spain, forcing Charles IV to abdicate and his son Ferdinand VII to renounce the throne. In exile, Ferdinand VII organized royalist supporters under the Central Council Junta Central) of Seville, later called the Council of the Regency (Consejo de Regencia). This council constituted a provisional government for Spain and the colonies.

Both Napoleon and the royalists competed for support of Spain’s colonists in the New World. Napoleon wrote a liberal constitution for Spain in which he recognized the colonies as having rights equal to those of Spain. In competition for the colonies’ loyalties, the Central Council offered them certain privileges, such as participation in Spanish courts. Colonists, however, were not satisfied with the council’s measure because of the larger representation accorded the representatives from Spain. Despite conflict with the peninsulares holding colonial authority in the viceroyalty, additional concessions to criollos to win their support resulted in the creation of a criollo governing council in Bogotá on July 20, 1810. The new local government passed reforms favoring power-sharing by the criollos and peninsulares and loosened the economic restrictions previously placed on the colony. Most of the old Spanish laws remained in effect, however. The establishment of other criollo governing councils laid the basis for the first attempts at independence from Spain.

Even with the initial steps to unify against Spanish authority, the colonial elites argued among themselves. Both before and after the granting of independence, elites disagreed as to whether the national structure should be federalist or centralist. This crucial disagreement, exacerbated by Colombia’s extreme regional differences, was the first to separate the political elites into rival groups. The differing opinions of these groups concerning the appropriate relationship between the church and state further emphasized the disagreement. The separate groups followed leaders representing their views and identified with the individuals as much as with the ideologies. By the time of the new nation’s foundation, these two groups had become clearly divided and dominated the political scene, excluding others from their competition for control of the country. The force of their ideals carried the nation back and forth between political extremes– absolute liberty and repression.

Leaders in the various localities that had formed criollo councils sought to unite the colony of New Granada. From the beginning of their attempts, however, conflict emerged over the form the new government should take. The provincial councils did not want the centralist, authoritarian type of government advocated by the Bogotá council, preferring a federal type of government more in keeping with the liberal principles of the Enlightenment and the example of the North American revolution. This represented the first ideological split between groups of leading criollos. Federalists rallied behind Camilo Torres; Centralists rallied behind Antonio Nariño. To avoid a civil war between the two factions, the provincial councils sent representatives to Bogotá in 1811 to draft a constitution for the territory. In November 1811, a congress was installed, and the provinces formed the United Provinces of New Granada. The federal union consisted of autonomous provinces joined only in common interest; the national army was subordinate to Bogotá.

Starting in 1812, individual provinces began declaring absolute independence from Spain. That year, Simón Bolívar Palacio, considered the liberator of South America, tried for the first time to gain independence for New Granada. The absence of united support from the various provinces, however, frustrated him. Bolívar left New Granada in 1815 and went to Jamaica. The continuing tension between federalist and centralist forces led to a conflict that left New Granada weak and vulnerable to Spain’s attempts to reconquer the provinces.

At the time of Bolívar’s departure, the independence cause in New Granada was desperate. Ferdinand VII had been restored to the Spanish throne, and Napoleon’s forces had withdrawn from Spain. A pacification expedition led by Pablo Morillo on behalf of the king proceeded from present-day Venezuela to Bogotá, and those who laid down their arms and reaffirmed their loyalty to the Spanish crown were pardoned. Morillo also granted freedom to slaves who helped in the reconquest of the colonies. Because of dissension between the upper class and the masses and inept military leadership, Cartagena fell to the royalists by the end of 1815.

In early 1816, Morillo moved to reconquer New Granada and changed his tactics from pardons to terror; Bogotá fell within a few months. Morillo repressed antiroyalists (including executing leaders such as Torres) and installed the Tribunal of Purification, responsible for exiles and prisoners, and the Board of Confiscations. The Ecclesiastical Tribunal, in charge of government relations with the church, imposed military law on priests who were implicated in the subversion. The Spanish reconquest installed a military regime that ruled with violent repression. Rising discontent contributed to a greater radicalization of the independence movement, spreading to sectors of the society, such as the lower classes and slaves, that had not supported the previous attempt at independence. Thus the ground was laid for Bolívar’s return and ultimate triumph.

At the end of 1816, Bolívar returned to New Granada, convinced that the war for independence was winnable only with the support of the masses. In the earlier attempt at independence, large segments of the population had been lured to the royalist side by promises such as repartition of land and abolition of slavery. When the masses saw that the promises were unfulfilled, however, they changed their allegiance from Spain to the independence movement.

Two significant military encounters led to the movement’s success. After having won a number of victories in a drive from the present-day Venezuelan coast to present-day eastern Colombia via the Río Orinoco, Bolívar gave Francisco de Paula Santander the mission of liberating the Casanare region, where he defeated royalist forces in April 1819. After the decisive defeat of royalist forces at the Battle of Boyacá in August 1819, independence forces entered Bogotá without resistance.

The merchants and landowners who fought against Spain now held political, economic, and social control over the new country that encompompassed present-day Venezuelan, Colombia, and Panana. The first economic reforms that they passed consolidated their position by liberalizing trade, thereby allowing merchandise from Britain (New Granada’s major trading partner after Spain) freer entry into the area. As a result, the artisan class and the emerging manufactguring sector, who previously had held only slight economic and political power, now lost stature.

As victory over Spain became increasingly apparent, leaders from present-day Venezuela, Colombia, and Panana convened a congress in February 1819 in Angostura (present-day Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela) and agreed to unite in a republic to be known as Gran Colombia. After Bolívar was ratified as president in August 1819, he left Santander, his vice president, in charge of Gran Colombia and traveled south to liberate present-day Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. When present-day Ecuador was liberated in 1822, it also joined Gran Colombia. In 1821 the Cúcuta Congress wrote a constitution for the new republic. The Cúcuta political arrangement was highly centralized and provided for a government based on popular representation with a bicameral Congress, a president, and a Supreme Court consisting of five magistrates. The constitution also guaranteed freedom for the children of slaves; freedom of the press; the inviolability of homes, persons, and correspondence; the codification of taxes; protectionist policies toward industry and agriculture; and the abolition of the mita system of labor.

Nonetheless, political rivalries and regional jealousies progressively weakened the authority of the new central state. Venezuelan leaders especially were resentful of being ruled by Santander, a native of present-day Colombia, in the absence of their president and fellow Venezuelan, Bolívar. In 1826 General José Antonio Páez led a Venezuelan revolt against Gran Colombia. Outbreaks and disturbances also occurred elsewhere.

On his return from Peru in 1827, Bolívar was barely able to maintain his personal authority. In April 1828, a general convention was convened in Ocaña to reform the constitution of Cúcuta, but the convention broke up as a result of conflicting positions taken by the followers of Santander and Bolívar. Those backing Santander believed in a liberal, federalist form of government. Bolívar’s followers supported a more authoritarian and centralized government, and many, especially those in Bogotá, called on Bolívar to assume national authority until he deemed it wise to convoke a new legislative body to replace Congress.

In August 1828, Bolívar assumed dictatorial powers and attempted to install a constitution that he had developed for Bolivia and Peru. Unpopular with a large portion of the New Grenadine populace, this constitution called for increased central authority and a president-for-life who could also name his own successor. During a constitutional convention held in January 1830, Bolívar resigned as president, naming José Domingo Caicedo as his successor. That same year, the divisive forces at work within the republic achieved a major triumph as the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian portions of the republic seceded.

New Granada lay in a depressed state after the dissolution of Gran Colombia. None of the country’s three principal economic bases–agriculture, ranching, and mining–was healthy. The import trade was limited to a small group, the banking industry was inadequate, and craftsmen and small manufacturers could supply only enough for local consumption. Despite the desire and need for change, New Granada retained slavery, the sales tax, and a state monopoly on the production and trade of tobacco and alcohol. The problems facing the country, the discontent of liberal groups who saw the constitution as being monarchical, and the military’s desire for power culminated in the fall of the constitutional order and the installation in 1830 of the eight-month dictatorship of General Rafael Urdaneta. After Bolívar’s death in December 1830, however, civilian and military leaders called for the restoration of legitimate authority. Urdaneta was forced to cede power to Caicedo as the legitimate president.

In October 1831, Caicedo convened a commission to write a new constitution for New Granada. Finished in 1832, the new constitution restricted the power of the presidency and expanded the autonomy of the regional administrative subdivisions known as departments (departamentos). Santander assumed the presidency in 1832 and was succeeded in 1837 by his vice president, José Ignacio de Márquez. Personalism and regionalism remained key elements in national politics in a country with small cities, a weak state, and a semifeudal population that was bound to the large landowners in patron-client relationships.

During the Márquez administration, the political divisions in the country reached a breaking point. In 1840 the political ambitions of some department governors, the constitutional weakness of the president, and the suppression of some Roman Catholic monasteries in Pasto combined to ignite a civil war that ended with the victory of the government forces led by General Pedro Alcántara Herrán. This triumph brought Herrán to the presidency with the next election in 1841. In 1843 his administration instituted a new constitution, which stipulated a greater centralization of power.

In 1845 Tomás Ciprianode Mosquera succeeded Herrán. Personalism as an important element in politics abated during his administration. The Mosquera government also saw the economic and political ascendancy of merchants, artisans, and small property owners. Mosquera liberalized trade and set New Granada on the path of exporting primary goods.

The election of General José Hilario López as president in 1849 marked a turning point for Colombia both economically and politically. Capitalism began to replace the old colonial structure, and the ideological differences between the established political parties overshadowed the previous emphasis on personalism. In 1850 the López administration instituted a socalled agrarian reform program and abolished slavery. In order to allow landowners access to more land, the agrarian reform program lifted the restrictions on the sale of resguardo lands; as a result, Indians became displaced from the
countryside and moved to the cities, where they provided excess labor. In 1851 the government ended the state monopoly on tobacco cultivation and trade and declared an official separation of church and state. In addition, López took the education system from the hands of the church and subjected parish priests to popular elections.

The ideological split dividing the political elite began in 1810 and became solidified by 1850 after the official establishment of the Liberal Party (Partido Liberal–PL) and the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador–PC), the two parties that continued to dominate Colombian politics in the 1980s. The Liberals were anticolonial and wanted to transform New Granada into a modern nation. Those joining the PL primarily came from the more recently created and ascending classes and included merchants advocating free trade, manufacturers and artisans anxious to increase demand for their products, some small landowners and agriculturists endorsing a liberalization of state monopolies on crops such as tobacco, and slaves seeking their freedom. The Liberals also sought lessened executive power; separation of church and state; freedom of press, education, religion, and business; and elimination of the death penalty.

The Conservatives wanted to preserve the Spanish colonial legacy of Roman Catholicism and authoritarianism. They favored prolonging colonial structures and institutions, upholding the alliance between church and state, continuing slavery, and defending the authoritarian form of government that would eliminate what they saw as excesses of freedom. The PC grouped together slave owners, the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and large landholders. Campesinos were divided between the two parties, their loyalties following those of their employers or patrons–often the PC.

In contrast to the unity demonstrated by the PC, the PL developed factions from the start. Although they had most interests in common, the merchants differed from the artisans and manufacturers on the question of trade. Merchants favored free trade of imports and were called golgotas, whereas artisans and manufacturers demanded protectionism to support domestic industry and were known as draconianos.

Although divided, the PL soon achieved electoral victories. In the election of 1853, General José María Obando, who had led the revolutionary forces in the 1840 civil war and who was supported by the draconianos and the army, was elected and inaugurated as president. Congress remained in the hands of the golgotas. In May of the same year, Congress adopted the constitution of 1853, which had been written under López. A liberal document, it had significant provisions defining the separation of church and state and freedom of worship and establishing male suffrage. The new constitution also mandated the direct election of the president, members of Congress, magistrates, and governors, and it granted extensive autonomy to the departments.

Despite the victory that the constitution represented for the Liberals, tensions grew between golgota and draconiano forces. When the draconianos found Obando to be compromising with the golgotas,
General José María Melo led a coup d’état in April 1854, declared himself dictator, and dissolved Congress. Melo’s rule, the only military dictatorship in the nineteenth century, lasted only eight months because he proved unable to consolidate the interests of the draconianos; he was deposed by an alliance of golgotas and Conservatives.

In 1857 PC candidate Mariano Ospina Rodríguez was elected president. The next year, his administration adopted a new constitution, which renamed the country the Grenadine Confederation, replaced the vice president with three designates elected by Congress, and set the presidential term at four years. With the draconiano faction disappearing as a political force, the golgotas took over the PL in opposition to the Conservative Ospina. General Mosquera, the former president and the governor of the department of Cauca, emerged as the most important Liberal figure. A strong advocate of federalism, Mosquera threatened the secession of Cauca in the face of the centralization undertaken by the Conservatives. Mosquera, the golgotas, and their supporters declared a civil war in 1860, resulting in an almost complete obstruction of government.

Because civil disorder prevented elections from being held as scheduled in 1861, Bartolomé Calvo, a Conservative in line for the presidency, assumed the office. In July 1861, Mosquera captured Bogotá, deposed Calvo, and took the title of provisional president of the United States of New Granada and supreme commander of war. A congress of plenipotentiaries chosen by the civil and military leaders of each department met in the capital in September 1861 in response to a call by the provisional government. Meanwhile, the war continued until Mosquera defeated the Conservatives and finally subdued the opposition in Antioquia in October 1862.

Shortly after taking power, Mosquera put the church under secular control and expropriated church lands. The property was not redistributed to the landless, however, but was sold to merchants and landholders in an effort to improve the national fiscal situation, which had been ruined by the war. As a result, the amount of land held under latifundios increased.

In February 1863, a Liberal-only government convention met in Rionegro and enacted the constitution of 1863, which was to last until 1886. The Rionegro constitution renamed the nation the United States of Colombia. All powers not given to the central government were reserved for the states, including the right to engage in the commerce of arms and ammunition. The constitution contained fully defined individual liberties and guarantees as nearly absolute as possible, leaving the federal authority with little room to regulate society. The constitution also guaranteed Colombians the right to profess any religion.

The Rionegro constitution brought little peace to the country. After its enactment and before the next constitutional change, Liberals and Conservatives engaged in some forty local conflicts and several major military struggles. Contention persisted, moreover, between the moderate Liberals in the executive branch and the radical Liberals in the legislature; the latter went so far as to enact a measure prohibiting the central authority from suppressing a revolt against the government of any state or in any way interfering in state affairs. In 1867 the radical Liberals also executed a coup against Mosquera, leading to his imprisonment, trial before the Senate, and exile from the country.

With the fall of Mosquera and the entrenchment of radical Liberals in power, Conservatives found it increasingly difficult to accept the Rionegro constitution. Eventually Conservatives in Tolima and Antioquia took up arms, initiating another civil conflict in 1876. The Liberal national government put down the rebellion, but only with difficulty.

Golgotas controlled the presidency until 1884 and defended the Rionegro constitution’s provisions for federalism, absolute liberties, separation of church and state, and the nonintervention of the state in the economy. Their economic policies emphasized the construction of lines of communication, especially railroads and improved roads. These projects did not unify the country and increase internal trade but instead linked the interior with export centers, connecting important cities with river and maritime ports. By allowing easier access to imports, the projects thus favored the merchant class over the national industrialists.

Under the golgota policy of completely free trade, exports became a major element of the country’s economy. Three main agricultural exports–tobacco, quinine, and coffee–developed, especially after 1850 when international markets were more favorable and accessible. Nonetheless, all three crops suffered from cyclical periods of high and low demand. By the 1880s, it was clear that tobacco and quinine would not be reliable exports in the long term because of stiff international competition. Coffee also faced competition but nevertheless succeeded in dominating the economy after the 1870s. The coffee merchants used their profits as middlemen to invest in domestic industries, producing goods such as textiles for domestic consumption, particularly in the Medellín area. The emergence of coffee as an important export crop and the investment of profits from the coffee trade into domestic industry were significant steps in the economic development of the country.

It became obvious to many Liberals and Conservatives that the lack of governmental authority stipulated in the Rionegro constitution was allowing the country to run a chaotic course and that the situation needed to be corrected. The Regeneration movement sought a basic shift in Colombia’s direction. A key leader of the movement was Rafael Núñez, who was elected president in 1879 and held the office until 1882. Liberals and Conservatives who were disenchanted with the golgota governments joined to form the National Party, a coalition that in February 1884 brought Núñez to the presidency for a second term. The Nationalists authorized Núñez to take steps urgently required to improve economic conditions. As leader of the Regeneration movement, he attempted to reform the constitution with the agreement of all groups. The golgotas, however, were afraid that constitutional change would favor the Conservatives and dissident Liberals at their expense. In 1884 the golgotas in Santander started an armed rebellion, which spread throughout the country. Nationalist forces suppressed the revolution by August 1885, at which time Núñez also declared that the Rionegro constitution had expired.

The most important result of the conflict was the adoption of the Constitution of 1886 by a national council made up of two delegates from each state. The Nationalist leaders believed that ultraliberalism as practiced under the Rionegro constitution was not appropriate to the needs of the country and that a balance was needed between individual liberties and national order. Based on this philosophy, the Constitution of 1886 reversed the federalist trend and brought the country under strong centralist control. The Constitution renamed the country the Republic of Colombia and, with amendments, remained in effect in the late 1980s. The Constitution provides for a national rather than confederate system of government in which the president has more power than the governors, who head departments or two types of national territories known as intendencies (intendencias) and commissaryships (comisarias).

In 1887 Núñez consolidated the position of the church in the country by signing the Concordat of 1887 with the Holy See. Through the concordat, the church regained its autonomy and its previous preferential relationship with the republic. The agreement stipulated the obligatory teaching of Roman Catholicism as part of a child’s education and recognized Roman Catholic marriages as the only valid marriages in the country. It also acknowledged Colombia’s debt to the Holy See brought on by the uncompensated confiscation of church assets under Mosquera in the 1860s.

Political disorder did not cease with the adoption of the Constitution of 1886. The Nationalists, who had become an extremist branch of the PC after Núñez was elected, were opposed by the Historical Conservatives, the moderate faction of the PC that did not agree with the extent of antiliberalism taken by the new government. The bipartisan opposition of Liberals and Historical Conservatives sought to reform Nationalist economic and political policies through peaceful means. The Nationalists, however, denied the civil rights and political representation of the Liberals because differences of opinion concerning trade policy and the role of the state in society created a gulf between the Nationalists and their opponents. The PL split into Peace and War factions, the former seeking peaceful reform of economic policies and the latter advocating revolution as the only way to win political rights. The Peace faction controlled the party in the capital, whereas the War faction dominated the party in the departments–a response to the violent political exclusion that was characteristic of rural areas and small towns. The War faction staged unsuccessful revolts in 1893 and 1895.

In 1898 Nationalist candidate Manuel Antonio Sanclemente was elected president. In ill health, Sanclemente left much of the governing to his vice president, José Manuel Marroquín. The Sanclemente/Marroquín presidency faced increasing problems as the world price of coffee fell, which, because of reduced customs revenues, left the government bankrupt. The fiscal policy of issuing nonredeemable paper money, which had replaced the gold standard under Núñez, added to the increasing lack of confidence in the government.

In July 1899, in Santander, Liberals again attempted a revolution, known as the War of a Thousand Days. Historical Conservatives eventually cast their allegiance with the Nationalists, whereas the Peace and War factions of the PL remained split, thereby weakening the rebellion. Despite an initial victory in December 1899, the Liberal forces were outnumbered at Palonegro five months later. The defeat left the Liberal army decimated and demoralized and with little chance to succeed. The Liberal army changed its strategy from conventional tactics to guerrilla warfare, thus transforming the war into a desperate struggle that lasted for two more years.

In July 1900, Historical Conservatives, seeking a political solution to the war, supported Marroquín in a coup against Sanclemente. Contrary to what his supporters had expected, Marroquín adopted a hard line against the rebels and refused to negotiate a settlement. In November 1902, the defeated Liberal army negotiated a peace agreement with the government. The war took more than 100,000 lives and left the country devastated.

The War of a Thousand Days left the country too weak to prevent Panama’s secession from the republic in 1903. The events leading up to Panama’s secession were as much international as domestic. At the turn of the century, the United States recognized the strategic need to have access to a naval route connecting the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, such as a canal in the isthmus. The Hay Herrán Treaty of January 1903, which was to have been the basis for allowing the United States canal project to proceed, was rejected by the Colombian Congress. Because the proposed Panamanian route was preferred over the Nicaraguan alternative, the United States encouraged the Panamanian separatist movement, militarily assisted Panama in its movement for independence, and immediately recognized the independent Republic of Panama.

The devastation that resulted from the War of a Thousand Days discredited the factions of each party that had instigated the conflict. The moderates who assumed power in each party had similar economic interests; they recognized the need for the two parties to reconcile their differences and rule together in peaceful coexistence to ensure the survival of the country and the economy. For the first time in Colombian history, the Liberals and the Conservatives sought to share power rather than exclude the opposition party from it. Although Conservatives were nominally in control during this period, they formed coalition governments incorporating minority Liberals into the cabinet and other important political bodies. Rejecting the practice of excluding the Liberals from political participation, as had been done by the Nationalists, the moderate Conservatives removed the key element that had prompted so much political violence in the past and laid the foundation for economic progress in the country.

At the end of the civil war, the country needed a leader who was strong enough to rebuild the nation after the loss of Panama and the ravages of civil strife. General Rafael Reyes, elected president in 1904 with the support of moderate Conservatives, showed a determination to unify the republic, renew the nation’s economy, and prevent any obstacle–constitutional or otherwise– from standing in his way. Reyes’s policies were a contradictory combination of political reconciliation and authoritarianism, which forced minority Liberal representation in government on the elected Conservative majority in Congress. His economic programs included a protectionist trade policy, which represented a major intervention of the state into economic activity. This trade policy encouraged domestic industrial growth, which in turn led to the growth of cities and the need to develop an urban infrastructure.

To ensure the passage of his economic reforms, Reyes greatly strengthened the executive and thereby centralized power. He abolished Congress and replaced it with a National Assembly composed of three representatives from each department, selected by department officials appointed by Reyes. This action ensured the adequate representation of the Liberal support he needed in the legislative branch. This extraconstitutional body was designed to approve his decrees and to pass constitutional amendments. The National Assembly allowed Reyes to implement policies that sometimes were at odds with orthodox economic theory and therefore would not have been tolerated by a Conservative Congress. Through these measures, Reyes established a sound fiscal administration, stabilized the monetary system, initiated a return to the gold standard, restored Colombian credit abroad, attracted foreign capital, improved transportation, encouraged export agriculture, and aided domestic industry. At the same time, however, he aroused a great deal of political opposition.

Reyes realized that the soundest path to economic development– based on trade and foreign investment–required normalized relations with the United States, an unpopular idea at that time. In 1909 Reyes unsuccessfully tried to force legislative approval of the Thompson-Urrutia Treaty with the United States, which was to reestablish relations with that country and recognize the independence of Panama. The issue of the treaty’s ratification, however, provided a focal point for opposition against Reyes, even though the treaty was ratified under a subsequent administration. In June 1909, the Republican Union, a bipartisan group of Liberals and Historical Conservatives who opposed Reyes, won a majority in the congressional elections held to reestablish the Colombian Cngress. In acknowledgment of the political current against him, Reyes secretly resigned later that month and left the country.

Carlos E. Restrepo, a Conservative who had been instrumental in founding the Republican Union, assumed the presidency after Reyes. The Republican Union represented a transformation in Colombian politics. The Liberal merchants and Conservative agriculturists found a common interest in coffee exports, which was quickly beginning to dominate the Colombian economy. Their mutual economic interest allowed the moderate factions of each party to join in a bipartisan coalition that gained political control at the end of the civil war. Although Conservatives retained nominal control of political institutions until 1930, they accepted and applied the principle of Liberal representation and participation in government. Conservative presidents appointed Liberals to their bipartisan cabinets and thus included them in political decision making. Although party conflict and rural unrest remained, the coalitions that the two parties formed provided a basis for political stability.

As a result of domestic policies and the international situation, the Colombian economy diversified and developed at the turn of the century. In the early 1900s, the industrial sector became an increasingly important part of the economy. Between 1900 and 1910, textile industries developed in Bello and Medellín, pottery plants in Caldas, and breweries in Itagüi and Bogotá. New economic groups emerged with the development of import substitution industrialization and of a larger financial sector.

During the 1910s and 1920s, the Colombian economy became more integrated into the global financial and commercial markets. Renewed relations with the United States during the administration of Marco Fidel Suárez (1918-21) opened the door for foreign exchange and investment. The United States replaced Britain as Colombia’s key financial and commercial partner. Most of the foreign exchange came from the coffee trade, which at this time represented nearly 80 percent of exports. Foreign exchange also came in the form of loans and an indemnity paid by the United States for Colombia’s loss of Panama. Money coming into the country was invested in industry, consumption goods, and public works and enterprises. Public works, such as building communication networks, accelerated under the Conservative Pedro Nel Ospina administration (1922-26). Investment in industry came primarily from the private sector, including foreign interests. By 1929 private foreign investment totaled US$400 million, with some US$45 million having been invested by oil companies. The Nel Ospina administration also oversaw the reorganization of the banking and financial sectors, creating the Bank of the Republic (Banco de la República).

The growth in industry and construction, supported by both public and private funds, led to the emergence of a genuine working class that soon learned to unionize. In 1918 Colombia experienced its first major strikes. The union movement also came to be influenced by European syndicalism and socialism; in 1919 the first workers’ conference, which was fostered by socialist ideas, was held. These activities were a backdrop to the launching of the Colombian Socialist Party. During the 1920s, the union movement expanded and stimulated the growth of socialist-oriented groups. In 1928 a strike against the United Fruit Company was put down violently by armed forces. In the following year, Congressman Jorge Eliécer Gaitán criticized the rough handling of the strike and became a prominent speaker for the working class.

Growing popular discontent with the Conservative governments and divisions within Conservative ranks eventually resulted in the rise of the PL to power. The growth in the industrial and construction sectors that fueled the union movement also drained the countryside of agricultural workers, encouraging rural workers to petition for higher wages. In 1928 the government began importing food and as a result drew protests from agriculturists. Workers and artisans protested the rise in inflation that resulted from the influx of foreign loans and protectionist trade policies. Social tensions increased throughout the Conservative administration of Abadia Méndez (1926-30) and ultimately led to the fall of the PC after its forty-five years in power. The Liberals gained the upper hand in the political arena and retained it during the fifteen years (1930-45) of global crisis.

The economic modernization of the early 1900s unleashed social forces that resulted in the emergence of new urban classes. As the traditional elites failed to address the demands made by the new groups, tension was generated. The growing urban electorate tended to favor those politicians who advocated social reforms. The Liberals were better able than the Conservatives to benefit from this development, especially during the first administration of Alfonso López Pumarejo (1934-38). The populist movement of the 1940s, represented by the progressive faction of the PL, attracted the most support, however, and represented a threat to the more conservative traditional elites. For the first time, nonelites had a voice with which to express their interests.

Although a split in the PC over candidates for the 1930 presidential election aided in the ascension of the PL to power, both parties were divided into factions. The PC consisted of moderates (led by Mariano Ospina Pérez and known as ospinistas) who wanted to maintain the status quo and reactionary conservatives (led by Laureano Gómez Castro and known as laureanistas) who favored a restructuring of the state along corporatist lines. The PL also had its moderates who supported the status quo. The second faction of the PL consisted of reformists, who favored controlled social change. These factions represented different socioeconomic groups. In general, reformists included the new financial and capitalist groups. Reactionaries primarily were traditional latifundistas (owners of latifundios). Moderates of both parties tended to have interests that incorporated several economic activities and included groups such as export-oriented latifundistas.

As a result of the Liberal victory, many of the privileges that had been afforded to Conservatives through patronage politics were now denied. Because the president appointed the governors, who in turn appointed the municipal mayors, the transfer of power from the PC to the PL at the presidential level was felt at the municipal level. Because of the change in the political affiliation of the police force, the stricter application of the law was transferred to members of the opposition party. Clashes resulted between partisan groups among the lower classes, who sought either to gain or to maintain their privileges. One such clash involved the peasants, who, amidst the confusion, tried to attain greater control over small plots of land at the expense of members of the opposing party.

The first Liberal president of the twentieth century, Enrique Olaya Herrera (1930-34), was elected at a time when the price of coffee had dropped to about one-third of the 1928 price, loans from United States banks had stopped, and the country was gripped by an economic depression. Olaya endeavored to hold together the moderate Liberals and the moderate Conservatives, some of whom had worked for his election. Although Conservative control of the legislature and concern over the economy constrained Olaya’s ability to enact a comprehensive Liberal agenda, he succeeded in carrying out some reforms, notably in education. Nonetheless, some Liberals, disappointed by their party’s failure to carry out a "revolution," in 1932 organized a movement called the Revolutionary Leftist National Union (Unión Nacional Izquierdista Revolucionaria–UNIR). The movement came to an end after Gaitán, its leader, returned to the PL in 1935 when the party adopted many of his proposed reforms and offered him a congressional seat.

International disputes also confronted the Olaya administration, one of the most prominent being a boundary conflict with Peru. In 1932 Peruvians occupied Leticia, a Colombian outpost on the Amazon, and hand-to-hand combat ensued between small Colombian and Peruvian forces. The dispute was settled by direct negotiation in 1934, when Peru recognized Colombian sovereignty over the port.

The most important president in the reformist period was Olaya’s successor, López Pumarejo. Believing that the reformist faction of the PL had become strong enough to carry out its program, the López Pumarejo administration implemented extensive reforms, principally in agriculture, education, and the tax system. Known as the "Revolution on the March," these reforms included constitutional amendments that guaranteed the state’s role in developing the economy of the country and diversifying its exports, authorized the national government to expropriate property for the common good, provided special state protection for labor and the right for labor unions to strike, and stipulated that public assistance was a function of the state. Additional reforms included the strict enforcement of progressive income and inheritance taxes, the guarantee of rights granted to squatters on public and private lands, the reinforcement of credit institutions, and the renewed separation of church and state.

The reforms put in place by the López Pumarejo administration, combined with import substitution policies, helped to accelerate the capitalist development of Colombia. During the López Pumarejo administration, coffee prices and the volume of exports increased. Protectionist measures helped to increase domestic production and enlarge the domestic market. A surge in industrialization began in the 1930s, aided by various external and internal factors. The key external factor was the world economic crisis of the 1930s, which limited the availability of goods to be imported and limited markets for exports. Internal factors included domestic capital accumulation via the tobacco, gold, and coffee trade; the increased buying power of large groups, especially coffee growers; the construction of transportation and communication facilities that unified the internal market; and a continuation of protectionist policies begun by President Reyes in 1904. The increasing emphasis on growing and exporting coffee fostered industrial development and allowed a more equitable distribution of income because more skilled laborers were employed and received higher wages. As a result, the demand for domestically produced consumer goods increased further.

Reforms instituted under López Pumarejo reflected a variety of influences: the Mexican Constitution of 1917, which had set forth provisions relating to social welfare, labor, and government responsibility in education and economics; ideas of change favored by the Peruvian apristas–members of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana–APRA); and the New Deal policies of United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45). Some Colombian intellectuals had become interested in socialist thought, and the establishment of a liberal republic in Spain during the early 1930s inspired Colombian Liberals.

The Liberals, recognizing the social changes that were under way, identified themselves with the growing demands of the masses. In contrast, the Conservatives favored a minimum of concessions, the greatest possible influence of the church, and continued control of the country by a small upper class; they saw López Pumarejo’s policies as communistic. Meanwhile, disagreement over the extent to which Liberal ideology should be applied led to a split between the pro-reform supporters of López Pumarejo and the pro-status quo followers of fellow Liberal Eduardo Santos, owner of the national daily El Tiempo.

In 1938 Santos became president with the support of moderate Liberals and of Conservatives opposed to López Pumarejo’s Revolution on the March. Santos retained some of his predecessor’s policies, such as protectionism, and oriented his policies toward capitalist industrial and agricultural development. The Santos administration improved the economic capabilities of the country to invest in industry. It also stimulated capital-intensive agriculture to convert traditional latifundios, which relied on cheap labor, into capitalist haciendas, which used advanced technology. The reduced demand for manual labor in the countryside caused many campesinos to migrate to the cities. This urban growth increased both the supply of labor and the demand for consumer goods, further contributing to industrial expansion. Santos also reduced taxes on machinery imports that were needed for industry.

In the later years of his administration, Santos turned his attention to relations with the church and the United States. In 1942 Santos reformed education by removing it from the control of the church. In the same year, he concluded a new agreement with the Vatican, requiring that bishops be Colombian citizens. During World War II, he cooperated with the United States in the defense of the Panama Canal, ousted German nationals from control of Colombia’s national airline, and broke diplomatic relations with the Axis governments. His administration also strengthened economic, commercial, and cultural relations with the United States.

Despite opposition from Conservatives, moderate Liberals, and a more progressive Liberal group led by Gaitán, López Pumarejo was elected president for a second term in 1942. He was not as successful in the second term in implementing reform, however, because of strong Conservative opposition and a split in the Liberal organization in Congress. Laureano Gómez exploited the Liberal division by attacking López Pumarejo’s foreign policy, including the declaration of war on the Axis Powers in 1943. Other effects of World War II were being felt at this time, including an unbalanced budget, unstable foreign trade, a decline in coffee prices, and an increase in import prices.

Discontent with López Pumarejo increased. Gómez made personal attacks on López Pumarejo and his family that were so inflammatory that Gómez was imprisoned in 1944. This triggered demonstrations and street fighting in Bogotá. In July 1944, during army maneuvers, López Pumarejo and some of his cabinet members were held prisoner for a few days by officers staging an abortive military coup in Pasto. Although most of the military supported the constitutional order, López Pumarejo lost prestige and power. In July 1945, he resigned in favor of his first presidential designate, Alberto Lleras Camargo, a Liberal who had distinguished himself as a writer and government official.

López Pumarejo’s resignation resulted in part from pressure by the political and economic forces that he had helped to strengthen through the reforms of his first term. By 1942 a new group of industrialists wished to perpetuate their gains and believed that reform should cease. During López Pumarejo’s first term, the interests of industrialists and those of other urban elements frequently coincided–for example, in reducing the power of the church and large landowners and in stimulating economic growth. In his second term, however, critics contended that the social reforms and development policies of the first term no longer were appropriate. Thus, the industrialists, looking for favorable tax policies and protection against the demands of labor, joined with the landowners in resisting reforms. Both groups helped block important portions of López Pumarejo’s legislative program, and the reformist trend of the PL was negated by more moderate elements within the party.

Lleras Camargo, who served as provisional president until August 1946, appointed representatives of all parties to his cabinet in an effort to establish a "national union." Nonetheless, his coalition policy was attacked by Gaitán, who had gained considerable support among the masses and among some intellectuals and industrialists. When Gabriel Turbay, a moderate Liberal, won the party’s nomination for the 1946 presidential election, Gaitán decided to run independently, and his forces shifted to a more militant stance. This serious split among Liberals resulted in the election of the Conservative candidate, Mariano Ospina Pérez, by a plurality of 42 percent of the electorate.

The transfer of power in 1946 ignited tensions between the two parties, resulting in violent political conflict, particularly in rural areas. The loss of peace foreboded the return to competitive and exclusionary politics, similar to the situation preceding the War of a Thousand Days. In the 1940s and 1950s, however, violence and exclusion more than threatened the political system; they ruptured it. A democratically elected administration became repressive and dictatorial, which led to its overthrow by the sole military coup in the twentieth century. Only by having the reins of power taken from both of their hands did the traditional elites recognize that the most effective way to avoid interparty civil wars and possible military dictatorships was to join forces and restrain their competitive tendencies.

In 1946 Ospina assumed office and was faced with the difficult task of ruling from a minority position, as Liberals had received the majority of all presidential votes and continued to control Congress. Ospina tried to confront this situation by incorporating Liberals into a coalition government. Meanwhile, the level of political rivalry intensified in the countryside, where Conservatives pursued a course of violence in an attempt to consolidate power after sixteen years out of office. Liberals retaliated and, under Gaitán’s leadership, became highly mobilized in their demands that the Ospina government confront the social needs of the modernizing and urbanizing nation.

Gaitanism, the populist social movement led by Gaitán as a faction of the PL, increased dramatically between 1946 and 1948. Gaitán supported the democratic rather than the revolutionary path to reforms. By advocating the passage of more socially liberal policies, he appealed to the masses and he united urban workers and campesinos. As the movement grew, observers believed that Gaitán would be elected president, which may have happened had he lived to see the next election.

Liberal victories in the 1947 congressional elections demonstrated the party’s strength among the electorate. Ospina became increasingly concerned with retaining Conservative control and provoked Liberals further by resorting frequently to police enforcement of Conservative privileges in the rural areas. The Liberal appointees in his government resigned in protest in March 1948.

The following month, the inevitable explosion occurred in the form of the most violent and destructive riot in the country’s long history of conflict. On April 9, Gaitán was assassinated at midday in the heart of Bogotá. An angry mob immediately seized and killed the assassin. In the ensuing riot, some 2,000 people were killed, and a large portion of downtown Bogotá was destroyed. The Bogotazo, as the episode came to be called, was an expression of mass social frustration and grief by a people who had lost the man who represented their only potential link to the decision-making process.

Although order was restored in Bogotá and Ospina remained in control, the tempo of rural violence quickened to a state of undeclared civil war known as la violencia. La violencia claimed over 200,000 lives during the next eighteen years, with the bloodiest period occurring between 1948 and 1958. La violencia spread throughout the country, especially in the Andes and the llanos (plains), sparing only the southernmost portion of Nariño and parts of the Caribbean coastal area. An extremely complex phenomenon, la violencia was characterized by both partisan political rivalry and sheer rural banditry. The basic cause of this protracted period of internal disorder, however, was the refusal of successive governments to accede to the people’s demands for socioeconomic change.

After the Bogotazo, the Ospina government became more repressive. Ospina banned public meetings in March 1949 and fired all Liberal governors in May. In November of that year, Ospina ordered the army to forcibly close Congress. Rural police forces heightened the effort against belligerents and Liberals, and eventually all Liberals, from the ministerial to the local level, resigned their posts in protest.

In the 1949 presidential election, the Liberals refused to present a candidate; as a result, Gómez, the only Conservative candidate, took office in 1950. Gómez, who had opposed the Ospina administration for its initial complicity with the Liberals, was firmly in control of the party. As leader of the reactionary faction, he preferred authority, hierarchy, and order and was contemptuous of universal suffrage and majority rule. Gómez offered a program that combined traditional Conservative republicanism with the European corporatism of the time. A neofascist constitution drafted under his guidance in 1953 would have enhanced the autonomy of the presidency, expanded the powers of departmental governors, and strengthened the official role of the church in the political system.

Gómez acquired broad powers and curtailed civil liberties in an attempt to confront the mounting violence and the possibility that the Liberals might regain power. Pro-labor laws passed in the 1930s were canceled by executive decree, independent labor unions were struck down, congressional elections were held without opposition, the press was censored, courts were controlled by the executive, and freedom of worship was challenged as mobs attacked Protestant chapels. Gómez directed his repression in particular against the Liberal opposition, which he branded as communist. At the height of the violence, the number of deaths reportedly reached 1,000 per month.

Despite the relative prosperity of the economy–owing largely to expansion of the country’s export markets and increased levels of foreign investment–Gómez lost support because of protracted violence and his attacks on moderate Conservatives and on the military establishment. Because of illness, in November 1951 Gómez allowed his first presidential designate, Roberto Urdaneta Arbeláez, to become acting president until Gómez could reassume the presidency. Although Urdaneta followed Gómez’s policies, he refused to dismiss General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, whom Gómez suspected of conspiring against the government. When Gómez tried to return to office in June 1953, a coalition consisting of moderate Conservatives who supported Ospina, the PL, and the armed forces deposed him and installed a military government. They viewed such action as the only way to end the violence. Rojas Pinilla, who had led the coup d’état, assumed the presidency.

Initial response to the coup was enthusiastic and widespread; only the elements at the two extremes of the political spectrum protested the action. Rojas Pinilla’s first goal was to end the violence, and to that end he offered amnesty and government aid to those belligerents who would lay down their arms. Thousands complied with the offer, and there was relative calm for several months after the coup. Other immediate steps taken by Rojas Pinilla included the transfer of the National Police to the armed forces in an effort to depoliticize the police, relaxation of press censorship, and release of political prisoners.

The government also started an extensive series of public works projects to construct transportation networks and hospitals and improved the system of credit for small farmers. Rojas Pinilla attempted to respond to demands for social reform through populist measures patterned after the policies of General Juan Domingo Perón (1946-55) in Argentina. The National Social Welfare Service, under the direction of his daughter María Eugenia Rojas de Moreno Díaz, was created to meet the most pressing needs of the poor, and the public works projects began to provide jobs for the masses of urban unemployed. The tax system was restructured to place more of the burden on the elite. Poorly administered, however, these reform programs met with little success. Rojas Pinilla was unable to restructure Colombian society.

Rojas Pinilla attempted to recruit political support from nontraditional sources. He courted the military by raising salaries and constructing lavish officers’ clubs, and he counted the church by espousing a "Christian" doctrine as the foundation of his government. Through the creation of a "third force," Rojas Pinilla attempted to fuse the masses of peasants and urban workers into a movement that would counter the elite’s traditional domination of the country’s politics; however, this served more to anger the elite than to create a populist political base.

Support for the Rojas Pinilla regime faded within the first year. Toward the end of 1953, rural violence was renewed, and Rojas Pinilla undertook strict measures to counter it. Following a substantial increase in police and military budgets, the government assumed a dictatorial and demagogic character. The government reversed its initial social reform measures and relied instead on repression. It tightened press censorship and closed a number of the country’s leading newspapers, both Liberal and Conservative. Under a new law, anyone who spoke disrespectfully of the president could be jailed or fined. Many were killed or wounded at the socalled Bull Ring Massacre in February 1956 for failing to cheer Rojas Pinilla sufficiently. The administration became increasingly corrupt, and graft in government circles was rampant. In addition, economic deterioration, triggered by a drop in coffee prices and exacerbated by inflationary government policies, seriously threatened the gains made since
World War II. Efforts of government troops to suppress the widespread violence degenerated into an enforcement of the president’s tenuous hold on power, and their methods became more brutal. Scorched-earth policies were introduced to confront the 20,000 belligerents estimated to be active in rural areas.

Rojas Pinilla tried to provide a legal facade for his dictatorship. A new constitution (the Constitution of 1886 was abolished in 1954) created a Legislative Assembly composed of fifty-nine Conservatives and thirty-three Liberals, twenty of whom were nominated by the president. The assembly elected Rojas Pinilla to the presidency in 1954 for four years; in 1957 it confirmed him as president until 1962, an action that consolidated mounting opposition to Rojas Pinilla and precipitated his subsequent fall from power.

By early 1957, most organized groups opposed Rojas Pinilla. Liberal and Conservative elites, to whom the populist and demagogic Rojas Pinilla had become a greater threat than their traditional party adversaries, decided to stop feuding and to join forces against the president under the banner of the National Front. Conservative and Liberal leaders had been negotiating an alliance since early 1956. In July 1956, Gómez–in exile in Spain–and Lleras Camargo signed the Declaration of Benidorm, a document that laid the foundation for the future institutionalization of a coalition government. The moderate Conservatives, supporting Rojas Pinilla until 1957, did not join in negotiations with the Liberals until that time.

Although factionalism between moderates and reactionaries slowed the process, all concerned parties signed a final agreement in San Carlos in 1957. Based on the Sitges Agreement signed between the reactionaries and the Liberals in Sitges, Spain, in 1957, the San Carlos Agreement stipulated that a Conservative, either moderate or reactionary, would be the first president under a National Front and that he would be elected by a National Congress previously elected by popular vote. The Sitges and San Carlos agreements, which sought to reduce interparty tensions and provide a basis for power-sharing between the parties, also called for the following: restoration of the Constitution of 1886, which had been abolished by Rojas Pinilla; the alternation of the presidency between the two parties every four years; parity between parties in all legislative bodies; a required two-thirds majority vote for the passage of legislation; the establishment of an administrative career service of neutral parties not subject to partisan appointment; women’s suffrage and equal political rights for women; and the devotion of at least 10 percent of the national budget to education.

As the party leaders laid the basis for a coalition government, the tides of discontent turned against Rojas Pinilla. When Rojas Pinilla ordered the arrest of Guillermo León Valencia, a Conservative leader involved in the formation of
the National Front, Rojas Pinilla was confronted with student demonstrations, massive strikes, riots, and finally the declared opposition of the church and the defection of top-ranking military officers. In May 1957, faced with a multitude of protesters and top military leaders requesting his resignation, Rojas Pinilla resigned and went into temporary exile in Spain. Power reverted to a five-man junta led by General Gabriel París, who promised the free election of a civilian president in August 1958.

In December 1957, Colombians voted overwhelmingly in a national plebiscite to approve the Sitges and San Carlos agreements as amendments to the Constitution of 1886. Congressional elections were held soon thereafter, with the result that the reactionary Conservatives emerged as the largest faction of the Conservative half of Congress. Gómez vetoed the proposed presidential candidacy of Valencia, who until then had been the strongest Conservative candidate. As a result of this division within the PC, faction leaders agreed to allow a Liberal to be the first president under the National Front and to extend the provision of the coalition government from twelve to sixteen years. These agreements were ratified by Congress as constitutional amendments in 1958. In August of that year, Lleras Camargo, a Liberal, was elected as the first president under the National Front.

The National Front agreement to share power between Liberals and Conservatives was a constructive effort to assuage the interparty strife and distrust that had contributed to both the violence and the collapse of the democratic system. Its inauguration marked the beginning of a gradual decline in the level of confrontation. Nevertheless, the necessity of securing bipartisan support for any policy or action produced several difficulties–most notably, stalemate and inaction in the governmental process, voter apathy, and the exacerbation of factionalism within the two parties–that were to plague National Front administrations.

When Lleras Camargo took office in August 1958, he faced not only the problems of rivalry between Liberals and Conservatives but also factional controversies within the two parties. He succeeded, however, in demonstrating that the National Front program could point the way to a restoration of constitutional government. His administration adopted vigorous measures to reduce banditry and rural violence.

Lleras Camargo introduced an austerity program to improve economic conditions, with the result that in 1958 Colombia recorded its most favorable balance of trade in twenty years. The government cut imports, stabilized the peso, and established the National Planning Department. It handled labor troubles with firmness. The Lleras Camargo government also instituted a series of programs to improve the living conditions of the masses, including expansion of the water supply, sewers, housing, and education. An agrarian reform law passed in 1961 provided for a new agency, the Colombian Institute of Agrarian Reform (Instituto Colombiano de Reforma Agraria–Incora). Lleras Camargo’s government made only limited progress in land reform, however, in the face of opposition from Liberals, who denounced the plan as inadequate, and from Conservatives, who called it communistic and revolutionary. Nevertheless, at the end of his term in 1962, despite a difficult political situation, Lleras Camargo had done much to stabilize the economy, stimulate increased output of industrial and agricultural products, and bring the people a renewed confidence in the future.

Although he was strongly opposed by Gómez and his supporters among the reactionary Conservatives, Valencia became the next official Conservative candidate of the National Front and was elected for the 1962-66 presidential term. Only half the eligible citizens voted, but Valencia received more than 62 percent of the votes, which perhaps confirmed the voters’ belief in the principle of alternating the presidency between the two leading parties. Valencia took only modest steps to continue the programs initiated by his predecessor. He ignored, for example, the National Planning Department and failed to fill vacancies as they occurred. Incora’s land reform program also ran into opposition from large landholders. In addition, Valencia’s finance minister, Carlos Sanz, devalued the peso and proposed new taxes, thereby arousing the hostility of Congress.

Declining economic conditions contributed to growing social unrest. Increasing prices, the printing of growing quantities of paper money, and a drop in the price of coffee affected the economy adversely and contributed to increased inflation. Drains on the economy were generated by contraband trade with neighboring countries. The equivalent of some US$64 million in foreign loans promised in 1964 had been withheld, and the government was faced with a serious deficit. Rumors of plots against the government circulated, students protesting high prices rioted in Bogotá, and kidnappings occurred frequently. Valencia declared a state of siege in May 1965 and, having lost additional congressional support, was forced to rule by decree. The war minister, General Alberto Ruiz Novoa, succeeded in reducing civil disorders; Ruiz was dismissed in January 1965, however, after he openly criticized the president and made it known that he considered himself a leader who might bring order out of the confusion that plagued the nation.

In mid-1965 the state of siege enabled Valencia and his new finance minister, Joaquín Vallejo, to enact reforms by decree. They raised taxes, collected delinquent taxes, limited imports, and applied other austerity measures. The United States and international lending agencies then agreed to make loans to Colombia with the understanding that the government would take vigorous action to improve its financial situation. Inflation leveled off, and rumors of plots to remove the president died down.

Despite the constitutional amendment stipulating that only the PL and PC were authorized to participate in elections, dissident groups opposing the National Front arrangement formed "movements" to challenge the establishment by presenting candidates under the Liberal and Conservative labels. In 1959 Liberal dissidents formed the Liberal Recovery Movement (Movimiento de Recuperación Liberal)- -subsequently renamed the Liberal Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Liberal–MRL)–under the leadership of Alfonso López Michelsen, son of ex-President López Pumarejo. The more serious challenge to the National Front arrangement came from the populist National Popular Alliance (Alianza Nacional Popular– Anapo), which was founded in 1961 by Rojas Pinilla after his return from exile. The potential popular support for these dissident movements was manifest in the congressional elections of 1964, when 70 percent of the voters failed to cast ballots and 10 percent voted against Valencia’s candidates. Congressional victories by Anapo and MRL reduced Valencia’s support in the legislature to a narrow majority.

During the mid-1960s, the embers of la violencia were dying out, but guerrilla activity was increasing. In 1964 the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional–ELN) was formed by students who were disenchanted with the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Colombia (Partido Comunista de Colombia–PCC) and inspired by the Cuban Revolution. The ELN gained
its greatest notoriety when Father Camilo Torres, a Roman Catholic priest, joined the guerrilla group in 1966 and was killed in an armed conflict with government forces shortly thereafter. In 1966 another guerrilla movement–the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia–FARC)–began operating and was officially designated as a branch of the PCC.

Carlos Lleras Restrepo, the third president under the National Front, proved to be an effective leader. He was opposed in the 1966 election by the Liberal Anapo candidate, who won almost 30 percent of the vote. Aided by an especially competent group of cabinet members, Lleras Restrepo enacted a number of reforms during his tenure in office. He swiftly announced the creation of a series of presidential task forces to draw up national development plans, which included the establishment of exchange controls to combat the mounting foreign exchange difficulties; an increased state role in economic development; and funding for new housing, infrastructure, and industrial development projects. These proposals drew support from international lending agencies, which helped ease the fiscal problems that had beset the Valencia administration.

The effectiveness of the government was increased by the sweeping constitutional reforms of December 1968, which abolished the requirement of a two-thirds majority for Congress to pass major bills and gave greater authority to the executive in economic decision making. In addition, the reforms provided for the gradual phasing out of the National Front arrangement during the coming decade. Having discarded major obstacles that had stalemated previous National Front administrations, Lleras Restrepo built on the efforts of Lleras Camargo in economic and social reform. The government revised tax laws and rationalized tax collection through more rigid enforcement. Wage and price controls helped stabilize the currency, and inflation was held to a moderate 7 percent per year. The Lleras Restrepo administration improved the balance of payments situation through a program of export diversification, through which exports other than coffee more than doubled between 1966 and 1970. The government reorganized the Ministry of Agriculture and gave it increased resources to finance investments in the agricultural sector. Incora intensified
agrarian reform efforts and issued more than 60,000 land titles to tenants and sharecroppers in 1968 and 1969 alone. The creation of the Andean Common Market in 1969 further stimulated economic expansion through the integration of the economies of Colombia and its neighbors.

The policies of the Lleras Restrepo administration resulted in an increased rate of economic growth. Nevertheless, an explosive population increase continued to add some 200,000 young Colombians to the labor force each year, and the problems of poverty and unemployment persisted. A system of family planning was launched, in spite of considerable church opposition, in an attempt to slow the population growth that was largely nullifying the economic gains.

Unrest in the late 1960s assumed a more urban and more nearly class-oriented base as rural and interparty violence receded. Rural disorders declined markedly as a consequence of optimism on the economic front and the capture of some of the most prominent guerrilla leaders. In 1968, however, a new guerrilla group–the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación–EPL)–was formed as the armed branch of the Communist Party of Colombia– Marxist-Leninist (Partido Comunista de Colombia–MarxistaLeninista –PCC-ML), a pro-Chinese group. In December 1968 Lleras Restrepo lifted the state of siege that had been imposed under Valencia in 1965. Sporadic incidents of violence occurred, however, especially among dissident students and labor union members, and the government reinstated its emergency powers on several occasions.

Dissidence within the PL was lessened through the reintegration of the MRL and its leader, López Michelsen, who came to play a valuable role in the Lleras Restrepo government. In the 1968, congressional elections, those elements of both the PL and PC that supported the National Front arrangement gained a strong majority in the legislature. Voter apathy persisted, however, and less than 40 percent of eligible voters participated.

Under the banner of Anapo, Rojas Pinilla continued his appeal to the urban masses and the peasantry, promising solutions to the problems of unemployment and inflation and advocating free education and health care for the poor. Anapo challenged the National Front by presenting Rojas Pinilla as a Conservative candidate for the presidency in 1970. The election took place in an atmosphere of escalating violence, and the public received with widespread skepticism the official announcement that the Conservative candidate of the National Front, Misael Pastrana Borrero, had won by a narrow margin of 65,000 votes. The outpouring of support for Rojas Pinilla indicated significant voter dissatisfaction with the National Front’s response to Colombia’s persistent social and economic problems.

Pastrana was the last president to be elected under the provisions of the National Front. In 1970 the government began to dismantle the structure of the National Front in accordance with the 1968 constitutional amendments. The parity provision for elective legislative bodies and the exclusion of nontraditional parties from participation in elections no longer applied on the local level. These changes also went into effect on the national level in 1974, in time for the election of Pastrana’s successor.

The liberalization of the political system in effect undercut support for the bipartisan movements that had challenged the traditional parties during the National Front. Although Anapo declared itself an official party in 1971, it declined in popularity and electoral strength. María Eugenia Rojas–the Anapo candidate in the 1974 presidential election–received less than 10 percent of the vote. After General Rojas Pinilla’s death in 1975, the party continued to lose strength, eventually allying itself with other marginal movements that, by themselves, drew insignificant results at the polls.

Pastrana termed his administration the "Social Front" and followed most of the policies of his predecessor. In two areas of economic policy, however, he differed: land reform and the status of the construction sector. Pastrana’s proposals for land reform included promises of redistribution; however, the large landowners objected to the government’s proposal to base taxation on potential rather than actual income from the land. In the course of negotiations between the agricultural interests and the different party factions, productivity replaced redistribution as a priority. The government granted major concessions to the large agriculturists concerning the bases for assessing income and real estate taxes. It also guaranteed that new sources of credit be made available for modernizing the agricultural sector along capitalintensive lines.

In industrial policy, Pastrana selected construction as the "leading sector." The administration advocated public investment in construction projects as the engine of growth for the economy because it created employment and increased income and, by extension, increased demand for domestically produced items. Pastrana also encouraged private investment in the leading sector through the establishment of the Units of Constant Purchasing Power (Unidades de Poder Adquisitivo Constante–UPAC), a system by which an investment not only accrued interest but also was adjusted for inflation. The UPAC system of adjusting for inflation extended to many elements of the economy, including life insurance, wages, and prices. The combination of the UPAC system and the huge investment in construction overstimulated the economy and fueled inflation, which reached 27 percent by 1974.

Guerrilla activity continued during the Pastrana administration. In 1972 another guerrilla group–the 19th of April Movement (Movimiento 19 de Abril–M-19)–emerged. The M-19 took its name from the date on which Rojas Pinilla was narrowly and, in their minds, fraudulently, defeated by Pastrana. Although the M-19 claimed to be the armed branch of Anapo, the Rojas Pinilla organization disavowed any connection to the guerrilla group.

The PL and PC were weak, divided into factions, and inadequately organized at the end of the existence of the National Front. Because the political parties were not eager to engage in intense competition, Colombia achieved a peaceful transition to an open system. The principle of power-sharing was retained, although a president was allowed to select appointees from whatever sources he chose if the opposition refused to participate in his government.

The experience of the National Front, the lack of organizational efforts by the parties, and the massive migrations from rural to urban areas weakened party affiliations, which also decreased the likelihood of interparty violence. This
weakening of party identification emerged as an unforeseen consequence of the nonpartisan structure of the National Front, in which party loyalty was less important than support for a particular faction. In addition, rapid urbanization and industrialization eroded the traditional bases of partisan support because Liberal supporters were transplanted to Conservative communities. The period after the National Front also reflected a growing gap between the issues and agendas of the political elite and the demands, concerns, and expectations of the populace.

The erosion of the bond between the elites and the masses also was manifested in the high rates of electoral abstentionism, rising levels of mass political apathy and cynicism, the emergence of an urban swing vote, and widespread distrust of the nation’s political institutions and leadership. The image the masses held of the elite was tarnished by the failure of the elite as a whole to institute promised reforms and by suspected links between some leaders and the drug trade. The traditional mechanisms of political control, such as inherited party affiliation, patrimonialism, and clientelism, lost their effectiveness,
especially in the growing urban areas.

The government’s failure to accommodate the new social groups and classes that had emerged during Colombia’s modernization generated the increasing alienation of the masses from the political leadership and caused some elements among the masses to resort to militancy. Thus, Colombia experienced a radicalization of peasant movements, an increase in urban protests, a growing restlessness within the urban labor movement, and a surge in rural and urban guerrilla activity.

Popular discontent with the government’s management of the economy continued despite steady economic growth and high primary export revenues in the mid-1970s. The post-National Front period began in the midst of inflation and unemployment that fueled social unrest and prompted the government to institute unpopular antiinflationary austerity measures. Subsequent moves to increase employment by raising public spending on construction and infrastructure projects did more to augment the national debt than to alleviate the unemployment problem. As the coffee boom receded, growth rates declined steadily through the 1978-82 period. The massive underground economy, fueled by drug trafficking and marijuana cultivation, undermined the government’s efforts to control inflation and contributed to the rise of a parallel financial market, placing a large part of the national economy beyond the control of legitimate authority.

The first president elected in the post-National Front period, López Michelsen (1974-78), faced difficult situations in three areas: the economy, the guerrilla movement, and the drug trade. Subsequent governments inherited these same problems. The influx of foreign exchange from the coffee boom and the illicit drug trade created a glut of money in the financial sector that increased the rate of inflation. To counteract this, López Michelsen immediately instituted a stabilization program that included austere measures, such as cutting back on public investment and social welfare programs and tightening credit and raising the interest rate. By declaring a state of economic emergency, López Michelsen was able to pass unpopular yet necessary economic measures without legislative action.

Another key component of López Michelsen’s economic policy was designed to improve income distribution. The cornerstone of this effort was the "To Close the Gap" program. This program addressed the rural sector by proposing to increase productivity and employment in the countryside and integrate the rural sector into the monetary market with the support of the Integrated Rural Development program.

The "To Close the Gap" plan had its greatest impact, however temporary, in the tax reform of 1974. The tax reform, instituted two months after López Michelsen took office, made changes in the sales tax, export taxes and incentives, import surcharges, the tax treatment of government agencies, and personal and corporate income taxes. The reform had four general goals: to make the tax system more progressive, to reduce the distorting effects of the tax system on resource allocation, to promote economic stability by increasing revenues on a one-time basis and by enhancing the built- in response of the tax system to growth in the national income, and to simplify tax administration and compliance and thereby reduce evasion and increase yields. The government recorded a short-term fiscal improvement; nevertheless, inflation and a failure to improve administrative procedures allowed for continued large-scale tax evasion and an ultimate drop in revenues.

The austerity that the López Michelsen administration forced on the country had unpopular consequences. Inflation outstripped wage increases, nontraditional exports faced unfavorable trade conditions, and the industrial sector entered into a slump. Students and labor groups engaged in periodic protests and strikes. In October 1976, López Michelsen imposed a state of siege following two months of strikes by social security employees. The continuing discontent with the government erupted again in September 1977 when the four major labor unions joined in a strike to protest the high cost of living. Under the state of siege measures still in effect, the administration declared the strike illegal. Riots following the government’s attempt to suppress the strike resulted in twenty deaths. Several cabinet ministers resigned in protest over the way the strike had been handled.

Guerrilla activity resurged during the López Michelsen administration, although some groups actually became less active. The FARC was the most active, operating in rural areas in the departments of Antioquia, Tolima, Magdalena, Boyacá, Caquetá, and Meta. The M-19 kidnapped and held more than 400 people for ransom. The ELN, especially active in southern Bolívar Department, kidnapped several prominent people and ambushed army patrols. The EPL, however, declined in importance after the death of its founder, Pedro León Arboleda, in 1975.

Although López Michelsen did not view drug trafficking as a serious threat at the beginning of his administration, by 1978 he recognized the ruinous impact that the drug industry was having on the political and economic structure of Colombian society. Corruption financed by the drug rings permeated all levels of the political system. Those in office or campaigning for office who spoke out against the major drug traffickers rightfully feared for their lives. In some areas, prominent drug traffickers were so powerful that they were able to get themselves elected to local or state offices.

Although the narcotics industry contributed to a foreign exchange surplus and generated employment, its overall impact was detrimental to the national economy. The influx of dollars contributed to the increase in the money supply and the creation of a parallel economy that competed with the official economy for financial resources. The industry created "boom towns" in rural Colombia that rose and fell within short periods of time. The income provided by the drug industry was used primarily for conspicuous consumption rather than for productive investment. The slash-and-burn method of cultivating marijuana
destroyed fertile land that could have been used for legal food production, resulting in both a damaged environment and a national need to import food. The parallel economy contaminated the official economy through the laundering of narcodollars, often through the "side windows" of government banks and the real estate industry. Drug traffickers also purchased legitimate businesses, such as banks, textile mills, and sports teams. The drug traffickers’ control over a large portion of the illicit economy and a significant amount of the official economy undercut government efforts at national economic planning. In addition, government efforts to combat drug trafficking drained funds that could have been used more productively elsewhere.

In late 1977, observers mistakenly predicted that the Conservative Belisario Betancur Cuartas would win the 1978 presidential election because of the division of the PL into rival factions that supported Lleras Restrepo and Julio César Turbay Ayala. Turbay became the nominee of the PL after his faction won the most seats in the February 1978 congressional elections. The presidential campaign was largely personalistic in that neither candidate took specific positions on major issues. The candidates differed, however, in their reliance on partisan machinery. Turbay stressed the party connection, whereas Betancur, representing the minority party, claimed to be a candidate of its National Movement (Movimiento Nacional), which joined together Conservatives, dissident Liberals, remnants of Anapo, and members of the Christian Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrática Cristiano– PSDC). Turbay won the presidential election by a narrow margin; approximately 60 percent of all voters abstained.

The Turbay administration (1978-82) inherited a slightly improved financial situation because the austerity measures instituted under López Michelsen and declining coffee revenues had produced a lower rate of inflation by 1978. Turbay focused his economic policy on reducing unemployment and avoiding an impending recession. A main goal was the decentralization of
fiscal resources and the promotion of regional autonomy, which made public investment in infrastructure a priority. His National Integration Plan (Plan de Integración Nacional–PIN) of 1979-82 foresaw growth in public investment to reach 19 percent in real terms. Because government revenues from coffee exports were declining at this time, Turbay had to finance the growth in public spending by turning to foreign loans. The increased public spending thus contributed both to a renewed rise in inflation and to a massive increase in foreign debt. Attempting to avoid a recession, Turbay also encouraged foreign investment in Colombia and promoted domestic investment in labor-intensive industries to reduce high urban unemployment. In spite of increased government spending, Colombia experienced a recession caused by tight credit and high interest rates, a reduction in protectionist tariffs, grants of import licenses for industrial goods, smuggled imports, and a decreased world demand for industrial goods produced in Colombia.

Shortly after taking office, Turbay gave top priority to combating guerrilla activity and narcotics trafficking. Although designed ostensibly to counteract drug trafficking, the institution of a state of siege and the National Security Statute of 1978 substantially enhanced the government’s ability to act against guerrillas.

Critics charged that the military and police forces used the security statute to detain indiscriminately "cultural subversives"- -including prominent journalists, artists, and scholars–who were suspected of being associated with left-wing elements. Threats to invoke the security statute in nonpolitical cases, such as protests for a better water supply, suppressed popular unrest. Persons arrested on political charges alleged that the armed forces had resorted to torture during interrogation. Although the government claimed that tough measures were needed to counter leftist subversion, critics asserted that
repression resulted from the worsening economic situation. The deteriorating human rights situation drew criticism from leaders of both parties and from international organizations such as Amnesty International. Turbay lifted the state of siege and nullified the security statute in June 1982, shortly before leaving office.

Despite the severe measures taken against leftist subversion, guerrilla activity increased and reached a peak during the Turbay administration. Although the ELN was less active than during the López Michelsen administration, the FARC expanded its operations, especially in Cauca and Caldas departments.

The M-19 emerged as the most active guerrilla group during this period. In January 1979, members of the M-19 tunneled into a military arsenal in Bogotá and took 5,000 guns. Within a few weeks, however, most of the weapons were recovered, and many of the participants were arrested. In October 1979, more than 200 accused M-19 members were brought to trial in Bogotá. The delay of other military trials of M-19 members probably led to the movement’s takeover of the embassy of the Dominican Republic in February 1980, in which fourteen diplomats, including the ambassador of the United States, were held hostage. The seizure ended peacefully when the kidnappers received safe conduct out of the city and a promise that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission would be permitted to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. By the end of 1981, the M-19 had shifted from purely urban to mostly rural operations and had formed a tenuous union with the other three guerrilla groups. In March of that year, Turbay proposed–and the Senate approved–a limited four-month amnesty for those guerrillas already detained if a sufficient number in the field were to lay down their arms. A second limited amnesty for those guerrillas who surrendered peacefully was approved for the period from February to June 1982.

Turbay also took a strong stance against drug traffickers. In 1978 the president gave the army a key role in the main operation to control drug trafficking and marijuana cultivation in the department of La Guajira, including allowing a military occupation of the region. Two years later, the government transferred responsibility for the antidrug campaign in La Guajira to units of the National Police. Combined efforts with the United States produced some success; for example, the joint Operation Tiburón, which began in December 1980, resulted in the seizure of more than 2,700 tons of marijuana. Despite some impressive victories, however, the drug traffickers continued to wield increasing economic and political power in the country.

In the early 1980s, evidence came to the fore linking some Colombian drug traffickers with both Cuba and the M-19. In 1982 a federal grand jury in Miami indicted four close aides of Cuban president Fidel Castro Ruz on charges of smuggling narcotics into the United States. According to the indictment, the aides assisted the operations of Colombia drug trafficker Jaime Guillot Lara, who, in turn, funneled arms and money on Cuba’s behalf to the M-19.

A contradictory episode in the relationship between the guerrillas and the drug trade was the December 1981 founding of the right-wing "paramilitary" group Death to Kidnappers (Muerte a Secuestradores–MAS) by prominent drug lords Carlos Ledher Rivas and Jorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez. MAS apparently was established to intimidate and punish those guerrilla groups, especially the M-19, that had engaged in the ransom of key members of the drug community in order to finance their operations. MAS subsequently became a death squad, targeting left-wing politicians, students, and party members.

The post-National Front Liberal presidencies proved unable to stem the growth in guerrilla activity and narcotics trafficking. A divided PL thus lost support and the presidency to the PC, effecting a peaceful alternation of power between the two parties. In 1982 the PL presented López Michelsen for reelection, supported by the Turbay faction of the party. Opposing him from the LP was Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, a member of the Lleras Restrepo faction. In 1979 Galán had formed the New Liberalism Movement (Movimiento Nuevo Liberalismo–MNL) and accused the Turbay-López Michelsen forces of opportunism, clientelism, and corruption. The PC coalesced again behind Betancur and his National Movement. López Michelsen employed the partisan campaign style that Turbay had used in the previous election, counting on the Liberal majority to remain loyal to the party. Betancur retained his minority strategy of stressing coalition over party affiliation and received endorsements from Gloria Eliécer Gaitán, daughter of Jorge Gaitán, and from María Eugenia Rojas. With the voter abstention rate reduced to 54 percent, Betancur won a decisive victory, receiving support from some traditionally Liberal areas. The election represented the first peaceful exchange of power between the two parties since the end of the National Front.

Upon taking office, Betancur confronted the economic and social conditions bequeathed by his predecessors: economic recession, fiscal deficit, foreign debt, inflation, and unemployment. The parallel economy remained a major concern, as did the growing strength of drug traffickers. On the social front, Betancur sought to negotiate a peace with the guerrillas, offering them unconditional amnesty and legitimate participation in the political system.

By 1998, the country was in the grip of the struggle between the government, traffickers, right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas. Leftist guerrillas created ‘liberated areas’, within which government forces were unable or unwilling to operate. The US administration became infuriated and, in 2000, the US Clinton administration unveiled ‘Plan Colombia’, a massive military support programme for the Colombian armed forces.

Although portrayed as the latest phase of the ‘war on drugs’, it is clear that the programme is essentially political and strategic – the objective is to destroy FARC and its allies. The Bush administration inherited ‘Plan Colombia’ and endorsed the plan with some modifications. Its first effects became apparent the following year, when military forces retook part of the former ‘liberated zone’. The new hard line adopted by the government was confirmed in May 2002, when the right-winger Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who favours all-out war against the left-wing guerrillas, won a comfortable victory at the presidential election. Uribe immediately declared a partial state of emergency, allowing him to impose security measures by decree. In early 2003, American special forces troops became directly engaged for the first time in the eastern province of Arauca. The ELN has reportedly sent a note to the FARC proposing a union, following the death of FARC leader and ideological guru Manuel Marulanda on March 26,2008, Colombian newspaper Emol reported June 6, 2008.

References:

Chile National History

At the time the Spanish arrived, a variety of Amerindian societies inhabited what is now Chile. No elaborate, centralized, sedentary civilization reigned supreme, even though the Inca Empire had penetrated the northern land of the future state. As the Spaniards would after them, the Incas encountered fierce resistance from the indigenous Araucanians, particularly the Mapuche tribe, and so did not exert control in the south. During their attempts at conquest in 1460 and 1491, the Incas established forts in the Central Valley of Chile, but they could not colonize the region. In the north, the Incas were able to collect tribute from small groups of fishermen and oasis farmers but were not able to establish a strong cultural presence.

The Araucanians, a fragmented society of hunters, gatherers, and farmers, constituted the largest native American group in Chile. A mobile people who engaged in trade and warfare with other indigenous groups, they lived in scattered family clusters and small villages. Although the Araucanians had no written language, they did use a common language. Those in what became central Chile were more settled and more likely to use irrigation. Those in the south combined slash-and-burn agriculture with hunting.

The Araucanians, especially those in the south, became famous for their staunch resistance to the seizure of their territory. Scholars speculate that their total population may have numbered 1 million at most when the Spaniards arrived in the 1530s; a century of European conquest and disease reduced that number by at least half. During the conquest, the Araucanians quickly added horses and European weaponry to their arsenal of clubs and bows and arrows. They became adept at raiding Spanish settlements and, albeit in declining numbers, managed to hold off the Spaniards and their descendants until the late nineteenth century.

The Araucanians’ valor inspired the Chileans to mythologize them as the nation’s first national heroes, a status that did nothing, however, to elevate the wretched living standard of their descendants. Of the three Araucanian groups, the one that mounted the most resistance to the Spanish was the Mapuche, meaning "people of the land."

Chile’s first known European discoverer, Ferdinand Magellan, stopped there during his voyage on October 21, 1520. A concerted attempt at colonization began when Diego de Almagro, a companion of conqueror Francisco Pizarro, headed south from Peru in 1535. Disappointed at the dearth of mineral wealth and deterred by the pugnacity of the native population in Chile, Almagro returned to Peru in 1537, where he died in the civil wars that took place among the conquistadors.

The second Spanish expedition from Peru to Chile was begun by Pedro de Valdivia in 1540. Proving more persistent than Almagro, he founded the capital city of Santiago on February 12, 1541. Valdivia managed to subdue many northern Amerindians, forcing them to work in mines and fields. He had far less success with the Araucanians of the south, however.

Valdivia (1541-53) became the first governor of the captaincy general of Chile, which was the colonial name until 1609. In that post, he obeyed the viceroy of Peru and, through him, the king of Spain and his bureaucracy. Responsible to the governor, town councils known as cabildos administered local municipalities, the most important of which was Santiago,
which was the seat of a royal audiencia from 1609 until the end of colonial rule.

Seeking more precious metals and slave labor, Valdivia established fortresses farther south. Being so scattered and small, however, they proved difficult to defend against Araucanian attack. Although Valdivia found small amounts of gold in the south, he realized that Chile would have to be primarily an agricultural colony.

In December 1553, an Araucanian army of warriors, organized by the legendary Mapuche chief Lautaro (Valdivia’s former servant), assaulted and destroyed the fort of Tucapel. Accompanied by only fifty soldiers, Valdivia rushed to the aid of the fort, but all his men perished at the hands of the Mapuche in the Battle of Tucapel. Valdivia himself fled but was later tracked down, tortured, and killed by Lautaro. Although Lautaro was killed by Spaniards in the Battle of Mataquito in 1557, his chief, Caupolicán, continued the fight until his capture by treachery and his subsequent execution by the Spaniards in 1558. The uprising of 1553-58 became the most famous instance of Araucanian resistance; Lautaro in later centuries became a revered figure among Chilean nationalists. It took several more years to suppress the rebellion. Thereafter, the Araucanians no longer threatened to drive the Spanish out, but they did destroy small settlements from time to time. Most important, the Mapuche held on to their remaining territory for another three centuries.

Despite inefficiency and corruption in the political system, Chileans, like most Spanish Americans, exhibited remarkable loyalty to crown authority throughout nearly three centuries of colonial rule. Chileans complained about certain policies or officials but never challenged the regime. It was only when the king of Spain was overthrown at the beginning of the nineteenth century that Chileans began to consider self-government.

Chileans resented their reliance on Peru for governance, trade, and subsidies, but not enough to defy crown authority. Many Chilean criollos (creoles, or Spaniards born in the New World) also resented domination by the peninsulares (Spaniards, usually officials, born in the Old World and residing in an overseas colony), especially in the sinecures of royal administration. However, local Chilean elites, especially landowners, asserted themselves in politics well before any movement for independence. Over time, these elites captured numerous positions in the local governing apparatus, bought favors from the bureaucracy, co-opted administrators from Spain, and came to exercise informal authority in the countryside.

Society in Chile was sharply divided along ethnic, racial, and class lines.Peninsulares and criollos dominated the tiny upper class. Miscegenation between Europeans and the indigenous people produced a mestizo population that quickly outnumbered the Spaniards. Farther down the social ladder were a few African slaves and large numbers of native Americans.

The Roman Catholic Church served as the main buttress of the government and the primary instrument of social control. Compared with its counterparts in Peru and Mexico, the church in Chile was not very rich or powerful. On the frontier, missionaries were more important than the Catholic hierarchy. Although usually it supported the status quo, the church produced the most important defenders of the indigenous population against Spanish atrocities. The most famous advocate of human rights for the native Americans was a Jesuit, Luis de Valdivia (no relation to Pedro de Valdivia), who struggled, mostly in vain, to improve their
lot in the period 1593-1619.

Cut off to the north by desert, to the south by the Araucanians, to the east by the Andes Mountains, and to the west by the ocean, Chile became one of the most centralized, homogeneous colonies in Spanish America. Serving as a sort of frontier garrison, the colony found itself with the mission of forestalling encroachment by Araucanians and by Spain’s European enemies, especially the British and the Dutch. In addition to the Araucanians, buccaneers and English adventurers menaced the colony, as was shown by Sir Francis Drake’s 1578 raid on Valparaíso, the principal port. Because Chile hosted one of the largest standing armies in the Americas, it was one of the most militarized of the Spanish possessions, as well as a drain on the treasury of Peru.

Throughout the colonial period, the Spaniards engaged in frontier combat with the Araucanians, who controlled the territory south of the Río Bío-Bío (about 500 kilometers south of Santiago) and waged guerrilla warfare against the invaders. During many of those years, the entire southern region was impenetrable by Europeans. In the skirmishes, the Spaniards took many of their defeated foes as slaves. Missionary expeditions to Christianize the Araucanians proved risky and often fruitless.

Most European relations with the native Americans were hostile, resembling those later existing with nomadic tribes in the United States. The Spaniards generally treated the Mapuche as an enemy nation to be subjugated and even exterminated, in contrast to the way the Aztecs and the Incas treated the Mapuche, as a pool of subservient laborers. Nevertheless, the Spaniards did have some positive interaction with the Mapuche. Along with warfare, there also occurred some miscegenation, intermarriage, and acculturation between the colonists and the indigenous people.

The government played a significant role in the colonial economy. It regulated and allocated labor, distributed land, granted monopolies, set prices, licensed industries, conceded mining rights, created public enterprises, authorized guilds, channeled exports, collected taxes, and provided subsidies. Outside the capital city, however, colonists often ignored or circumvented royal laws. In the countryside and on the frontier, local landowners and military officers frequently established and enforced their own rules.

The economy expanded under Spanish rule, but some criollos complained about royal taxes and limitations on trade and production. Although the crown required that most Chilean commerce be with Peru, smugglers managed to sustain some illegal trade with other American colonies and with Spain itself. Chile exported to Lima small amounts of gold, silver, copper, wheat, tallow, hides, flour, wine, clothing, tools, ships, and furniture. Merchants, manufacturers, and artisans became increasingly important to the Chilean economy.

Mining was significant, although the volume of gold and silver extracted in Chile was far less than the output of Peru or Mexico. The conquerors appropriated mines and washings from the native people and coerced them into extracting the precious metal for the new owners. The crown claimed one-fifth of all the gold produced, but the miners frequently cheated the treasury. By the seventeenth century, depleted supplies and the conflict with the Araucanians reduced the quantity of gold mined in Chile.

Because precious metals were scarce, most Chileans worked in agriculture. Large landowners became the local elite, often maintaining a second residence in the capital city. Traditionally, most historians have considered these great estates (called haciendas or fundos) inefficient and exploitive, but some scholars have claimed that they were more productive and less cruel than is conventionally depicted.

The haciendas initially depended for their existence on the land and labor of the indigenous people. As in the rest of Spanish America, crown officials rewarded many conquerors according to the encomienda system, by which a group of native Americans would be commended or consigned temporarily to their care. The grantees, calledencomenderos, were supposed to Christianize their wards in return for small tribute payments and service, but they usually took advantage of their charges as laborers and servants. Many encomenderos also appropriated native lands. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the encomenderos fended off attempts by the crown and the church to interfere with their exploitation of the indigenous people.

The Chilean colony depended heavily on coerced labor, whether it was legally slave labor or, like the wards of the encomenderos, nominally free. Wage labor initially was rare in the colonial period; it became much more common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Because few native Americans or Africans were available, the mestizo population became the main source of workers for the growing number of latifundios, which were basically synonymous with haciendas.

Those workers attached to the estates as tenant farmers became known as inquilinos. Many of them worked outside the cash economy, dealing in land, labor, and barter. The countryside was also populated by small landholders(minifundistas), migrant workers (afuerinos), and a few Mapuche holding communal lands (usually under legal title).

The Habsburg dynasty’s rule over Spain ended in 1700. The Habsburgs’ successors, the French Bourbon monarchs, reigned for the rest of the colonial period. In the second half of the eighteenth century, they tried to restructure the empire to improve its productivity and defense. The main period of Bourbon reforms in Chile lasted from the coronation of Charles III (1759-88) in Spain to the end of Governor Ambrosio O’Higgins y Ballenary’s tenure in Chile (1788-96).

The Bourbon rulers gave the audiencia of Chile (Santiago) greater independence from the Viceroyalty of Peru. One of the most successful governors of the Bourbon era was the Irish-born O’Higgins, whose son Bernardo would lead the Chilean independence movement. Ambrosio O’Higgins promoted greater self-sufficiency of both economic production and public administration, and he enlarged and strengthened the military. In 1791 he also outlawed encomiendas and forced labor.

The Bourbons allowed Chile to trade more freely with other colonies, as well as with independent states. Exchange increased with Argentina after it became the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776. Ships from the United States and Europe were engaging in direct commerce with Chile by the end of the eighteenth century. However, the total volume of Chilean trade remained small because the colony produced few items of high unit value to outsiders.

Freer trade brought with it greater knowledge of politics abroad, especially the spread of liberalism in Europe and the creation of the United States. Although a few members of the Chilean elite flirted with ideals of the Enlightenment, most of them held fast to the traditional ideology of the Spanish crown and its partner, the Roman Catholic Church. Notions of democracy and independence, let alone Protestantism, never reached the vast majority of mestizos and native Americans, who remained illiterate and subordinate.

Aristocratic Chileans began considering independence only when the authority and legitimacy of the crown were cast in doubt by Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Spain in 1807. Napoleon replaced the Spanish king with his brother, Joseph Bonaparte. On the peninsula, Spanish loyalists formed juntas that claimed they would govern both the motherland and the colonies until the rightful king was restored. Thus, Chileans, like other Spanish Americans, had to confront the dilemma of who was in charge in the absence of the divine monarch: the French pretender to the throne, the Spanish rebels, or local leaders. The latter option was tried on September 18, 1810, a date whose anniversary is celebrated as Chile’s independence day. On that day, the criollo leaders of Santiago, employing the town council as a junta, announced their intention to govern the colony until the king was reinstated. They swore loyalty to the ousted monarch, Ferdinand VII, but insisted that they had as much right to rule in the meantime as did subjects of the crown in Spain itself. They immediately opened the ports to all traders.

Chile’s first experiment with self-government, the Old Fatherland (Patria Vieja, 1810-14), was led by José Miguel Carrera Verdugo (president, 1812-13), an aristocrat in his mid-twenties. The military-educated Carrera was a heavy-handed
ruler who aroused widespread opposition. One of the earliest advocates of full independence, Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme, captained a rival faction that plunged the criollos into civil war. For him and for certain other members of the Chilean elite, the initiative for temporary self-rule quickly escalated into a campaign for permanent independence, although other criollos remained loyal to Spain. Among those favoring independence, conservatives fought with liberals over the degree to which French revolutionary ideas would be incorporated into the movement. After several efforts, Spanish troops from Peru took advantage of the internecine strife to reconquer Chile in 1814, when they reasserted control by winning the Battle of Rancagua on October 12. O’Higgins and many of the Chilean rebels escaped to Argentina.

During the Reconquest (La Reconquista) of 1814-17, the harsh rule of the Spanish loyalists, who punished suspected rebels, drove more Chileans into the insurrectionary camp. More and more members of the Chilean elite were becoming convinced of the necessity of full independence, regardless of who sat on the throne of Spain. As the leader of guerrilla raids against the Spaniards, Manuel Rodríguez became a national symbol of resistance.

When criollos sang the praises of equality and freedom, however, they meant equal treatment for themselves in relation to the peninsulares and liberation from Spanish rule, not equality or freedom for the masses of Chileans. The criollos wanted to assume leadership positions previously controlled by peninsulares without upsetting the existing social and economic order. In that sense, the struggle for independence was a war within the upper class, although the majority of troops on both sides consisted of conscripted mestizos and native Americans.

In exile in Argentina, O’Higgins joined forces with José de San Martín, whose army freed Chile with a daring assault over the Andes in 1817, defeating the Spaniards at the Battle of Chacabuco on February 12. San Martín considered the liberation of Chile a strategic stepping-stone to the emancipation of Peru, which he saw as the key to hemispheric victory over the
Spanish. Chile won its formal independence when San Martín defeated the last large Spanish force on Chilean soil at the Battle of Maipú on April 5, 1818. San Martín then led his Argentine and Chilean followers north to liberate Peru; and fighting continued in Chile’s southern provinces, the bastion of the royalists, until 1826.

From 1817 to 1823, Bernardo O’Higgins ruled Chile as supreme director (president). He won plaudits for defeating royalists and founding schools, but civil strife continued. O’Higgins alienated liberals and provincials with his authoritarianism, conservatives and the church with his anticlericalism, and landowners with his proposed reforms of the land tenure system. His attempt to devise a constitution in 1818 that would legitimize his government failed, as did his effort to generate stable funding for the new administration. O’Higgins’s dictatorial behavior aroused resistance in the provinces. This growing discontent was reflected in the continuing opposition of partisans of Carrera, who was executed by the Argentine regime in Mendoza in 1821, like his two brothers were three years earlier.

Although opposed by many liberals, O’Higgins angered the Roman Catholic Church with his liberal beliefs. He maintained Catholicism’s status as the official state religion but tried to curb the church’s political powers and to encourage religious tolerance as a means of attracting Protestant immigrants and traders. Like the church, the landed aristocracy felt threatened by O’Higgins, resenting his attempts to eliminate noble titles and, more important, to eliminate entailed estates.

O’Higgins’s opponents also disapproved of his diversion of Chilean resources to aid San Martín’s liberation of Peru. O’Higgins insisted on supporting that campaign because he realized that Chilean independence would not be secure until the Spaniards were routed from the Andean core of the empire. However, amid mounting discontent, troops from the northern and southern provinces forced O’Higgins to resign. Embittered, O’Higgins departed for Peru, where he died in 1842.

After O’Higgins went into exile in 1823, civil conflict continued, focusing mainly on the issues of anticlericalism and regionalism. Presidents and constitutions rose and fell quickly in the 1820s. The civil struggle’s harmful effects on the economy, and particularly on exports, prompted conservatives to seize national control in 1830.

In the minds of most members of the Chilean elite, the bloodshed and chaos of the late 1820s were attributable to the shortcomings of liberalism and federalism, which had been dominant over conservatism for most of the period. The abolition of slavery in 1823–long before most other countries in the Americas–was considered one of the liberals’ few lasting achievements. One liberal leader from the south, Ramón Freire Serrano, rode in and out of the presidency several times (1823-27, 1828, 1829, 1830) but could not sustain his authority. From May 1827 to September 1831, with the exception of brief interventions by Freire, the presidency was occupied by Francisco Antonio Pinto Díaz, Freire’s former vice president. In August 1828, Pinto’s first year in
office, Chile abandoned its short-lived federalist system for a unitary form of government, with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. By adopting a moderately liberal constitution in 1828, Pinto alienated both the federalists and the liberal factions. He also angered the old aristocracy by abolishing estates inherited by primogeniture ( mayorazgo and caused a public uproar with his anticlericalism. After the defeat of his liberal army at the Battle of Lircay on April 17, 1830, Freire, like O’Higgins, went into exile in Peru.

Scholars have long pondered why Chile was the first country in Latin America to achieve stable civilian rule in a constitutional, electoral, representative republic. They have also asked why Chile was more successful at constitutional government thereafter than its neighbors. One part of the answer is that Chile had fewer obstacles to overcome because it was less disturbed by regional, church-state, and ethnic conflicts. The geographically compact and relatively homogeneous population was easier to manage than the far-flung groups residing in many of the other new states of the hemisphere. As the nineteenth century
wore on, slow settlement of the frontiers to the north and south provided a safety valve without creating a challenge to the dominance of the Central Valley.

As with regionalism, the church issue that rent many of the new republics was also muted in Chile, where the Catholic Church had never been very wealthy or powerful. Some historians would also argue that Chilean criollos, because they lived on the fringe of the empire, had more experience at self-government during the colonial period. In addition, the Chilean elite was less fearful than many other Spanish Americans that limited democracy would open the door to uprisings by massive native or black subject classes. At the same time, the ruling class was cohesive and confident, its members connected by familial and business networks. The elite was powerful partly because it controlled the main exports, until foreigners took over trade late in the nineteenth century. The rapid recovery of the export economy from the devastation of the wars of independence also helped, as economic and political success and stability became mutually reinforcing. Capitalizing on these advantages, however, would require shrewd and ruthless political engineers, victory in a war against Chile’s neighbors, continued economic growth, and some luck in the design, timing, and sequence of political change.

Members of the first political parties, the Conservatives (pelucones, or bigwigs) and the Liberals (pipiolos, or novices), began to coalesce around the church-state issue. Not only more favorably inclined toward the church, the Conservatives were also more sympathetic than the Liberals toward the colonial legacy, authoritarian government, the supremacy of executive powers, and a unitary state. After their victory at the Battle of Lircay, the Conservatives took charge, spearheaded by a Valparaíso merchant, Diego Portales Palazuelos.

Although never president, Portales dominated Chilean politics from the cabinet and behind the scenes from 1830 to 1837. He installed the "autocratic republic," which centralized authority in the national government. His political program enjoyed support from merchants, large landowners, foreign capitalists, the church, and the military. Political and economic stability reinforced each other, as Portales encouraged economic growth through free trade and put government finances in order.

Portales was an agnostic who said that he believed in the clergy but not in God. He realized the importance of the Roman Catholic Church as a bastion of loyalty, legitimacy, social control, and stability, as had been the case in the colonial period. He repealed Liberal reforms that had threatened church privileges and properties.

Portales brought the military under civilian control by rewarding loyal generals, cashiering troublemakers, and promoting a victorious war against the Peru-Bolivia Confederation (1836-39). After defeating Peru and Bolivia, Chile dominated the Pacific Coast of South America. The victory over its neighbors gave Chile and its new political system a psychological boost. Chileans experienced a surge of national enthusiasm and cohesion behind a regime accepted as legitimate and efficacious.

Portales also achieved his objectives by wielding dictatorial powers, censoring the press, and manipulating elections. For the next forty years, Chile’s armed forces would be distracted from meddling in politics by skirmishes and defensive operations on the southern frontier, although some units got embroiled in domestic conflicts in 1851 and 1859. In later years, conservative Chileans canonized Portales as a symbol of order and progress, exaggerating the importance of one man in that achievement.

The "Portalian State" was institutionalized by the 1833 constitution. One of the most durable charters ever devised in Latin America, the Portalian constitution lasted until 1925. The constitution concentrated authority in the national government, more precisely, in the hands of the president, who was elected by a tiny minority. The chief executive could serve two consecutive five-year terms and then pick a successor. Although the Congress had significant budgetary powers, it was overshadowed by the president, who appointed provincial officials. The constitution also created an independent judiciary, guaranteed inheritance of estates by primogeniture, and installed Catholicism as the state religion. In short, it established an autocratic system under a republican veneer.

The first Portalian president was General Joaquín Prieto Vial, who served two terms (1831-36, 1836-41). President Prieto had four main accomplishments: implementation of the 1833 constitution, stabilization of government finances, defeat of provincial challenges to central authority, and victory over the Peru-Bolivia Confederation. During the presidencies of Prieto and his two successors, Chile modernized through the construction of ports, railroads, and telegraph lines, some built by United States entrepreneur William Wheelwright. These innovations facilitated the export-import trade as well as domestic commerce.

Prieto and his adviser, Portales, feared the efforts of Bolivian general Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana to unite with Peru against Chile. These qualms exacerbated animosities toward Peru dating from the colonial period, now intensified by disputes over customs duties and loans. Chile also wanted to become the dominant South American military and commercial power along the Pacific. Portales got Congress to declare war on Peru in 1836. When a Chilean colonel who opposed the war killed Portales in 1837, this act and the suspicion that Peruvians were involved in the assassination plot inspired an even greater war effort by the government.

Chile defeated the Peruvian fleet at Casma on January 12, 1839, and the Bolivian army at Yungay, Peru, on January 20. These Chilean victories destroyed the Peru-Bolivia Confederation, made Chile lord of the west coast, brought unity and patriotism to the Chilean elites, and gave Chile’s armed forces pride and purpose as a military with an external mission. The successful war also helped convince the European powers and the United States to respect Chile’s coastal sphere of influence. Subsequently, the country won additional respect from the European powers and the United States by giving them economic access and
concessions, by treating their citizens well, and by generally playing them off against each other.

Since its inception, the Portalian State has been criticized for its authoritarianism. But it has also been praised for the stability, prosperity, and international victories it brought to Chile, as well as the gradual opening to increased democracy that it provided. At least in comparison with most other regimes of the era, the Portalian State was noteworthy for being dominated by constitutional civilian authorities. Although Portales deserves some credit for launching the system, his successors were the ones who truly implemented, institutionalized, legitimized, and consolidated it. From 1831 to 1861, no other country in Spanish America had such a regular and constitutional succession of chief executives.

Manuel Bulnes Prieto (president, 1841-51), hero of the victories over the Chilean Liberals at the Battle of Lircay in 1830, and over the Bolivian army at Yungay in 1839, became president in 1841. As a decorated general, he was the ideal choice to consolidate the Portalian State and establish presidential control over the armed forces. He reduced the size of the military and solidified its loyalty to the central government in the face of provincial uprisings. As a southerner, he was able to defuse regional resentment of the dominant Santiago area. Although Bulnes staffed his two administrations mainly with Conservatives, he conciliated his opponents by including a few Liberals. He strengthened the new political institutions, especially Congress and the judiciary, and gave legitimacy to the constitution by stepping down at the end of his second term in office. Placing the national interest above regional or military loyalties, he also helped snuff out a southern rebellion against his successor.

Intellectual life blossomed under Bulnes, thanks in part to the many exiles who came to Chile from less stable Spanish American republics. They clustered around the University of Chile (founded in 1842), which developed into one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Latin America. Both foreigners and nationals formed the "Generation of 1842," led mainly by liberal intellectuals and politicians such as Francisco Bilbao Barguin and José Victorino Lastarria Santander. Through the Society of Equality, members of the group called for expanded democracy and reduced church prerogatives. In particular, they defended civil liberties and freedom of the press, seeking to constrain the government’s authoritarian powers.

Bulnes presided over continued prosperity, as production from the farms and mines increased, both for external and for internal consumption. In response to foreign demand, especially for wheat during the California and Australia gold rushes, agricultural exports increased. Instead of importing scarce and expensive modern capital and technology, landowners expanded production. They did this primarily by enlarging their estates and absorbing more peasants into their work forces, especially in the central provinces, where the vast majority of Chileans toiled in agriculture. This expansion fortified the hacienda system and increased the numbers of people attached to it. The growth of the great estates also increased the political power of the landed elites, who succeeded in exercising a veto over agrarian reform for a century.

In the mid-1800s, the rural labor force, mainly mestizos, was a cheap and expanding source of labor. More and more of these laborers became tenant farmers (inquilinos). For a century thereafter, many workers would remain bound to the haciendas through tradition, lack of alternatives, and landowner collusion and coercion. Itinerant rural workers and even small landowners became increasingly dependent on the great estates, whether through part-time or full-time work. The landed elites also inhibited industrialization by their preference for free trade and the low wages they paid their workers, which hindered rural consumers from accumulating disposable income. For a century, the lack of any significant challenge to this exploitive system was one of the pillars of the social and political hierarchy.

Liberals and regionalists unsuccessfully took up arms against Bulnes’s conservative successor, Manuel Montt Torres (president, 1851-61). Thousands died in one of the few large civil wars in nineteenth-century Chile. The rebels of 1851 denounced Montt’s election as a fraud perpetrated by the centralist forces in and around Santiago. Some entrepreneurs in the outlying provinces also backed the rebellion out of anger at the government’s neglect of economic interests outside the sphere of the central landowning elites. Montt put down the uprising with help from British commercial ships.

From 1851 to 1861, Montt completed the construction of the durable constitutional order begun by Portales and Bulnes. By reducing church prerogatives, Montt eased the transition from a sequence of Conservative chief executives to a series of Liberals. As a civilian head of state, he was less harsh with his liberal adversaries. He also promoted conciliation by including
many northerners as well as southerners in the government.

Benefiting from the sharp growth in exports and customs revenues in the 1850s, Montt demonstrated the efficacy of the central government by supporting the establishment of railroads, a telegraph system, and banks. He created the first government-run railroad company in South America, despite his belief in laissezfaire . He also initiated the extension of government credit to propertied groups. Under President Montt, school construction accelerated, laying the groundwork for Chile to become one of the most literate nations in the hemisphere. Expanding on the initiative started by Bulnes, Montt also pushed back the southern frontier, in part by encouraging German immigration.

As the next presidential succession approached, a second rebellion ensued in 1859. The rebels represented a diverse alliance, including Liberals who opposed the right-wing government and its encroachments on civil liberties, Conservatives who believed the president was insufficiently proclerical, politicians who feared the selection of a strongman as Montt’s successor, and regionalists who chafed at the concentration of power in Santiago. Once again, Montt prevailed in a test of arms, but thereafter he conciliated his opponents by nominating a successor acceptable to all sides, José Joaquín Pérez Mascayano (president, 1861-71).

Under Bulnes and Montt, economic elites had resisted paying direct taxes, so the national government had become heavily dependent on customs duties, particularly on mineral exports. Imports were also taxed at a low level. The most important exports in the early years of independence had been silver and copper, mined mainly in the northern provinces, along with wheat, tallow, and other farm produce. The Chilean elites eagerly welcomed European and North American ships and merchants. Although these elites debated the issue of protectionism, they settled on low tariffs for revenue. Despite some dissent and deviations, the dominant policy in the nineteenth century was free trade–the exchange of raw materials for manufactured items, although a few local industries took root. Britain quickly became Chile’s primary trading partner. The British also invested, both directly and indirectly, in the Chilean economy.

Following Pérez’s peaceful ten-year administration, Chilean presidents were prohibited from running for election to a second consecutive term by an 1871 amendment to the constitution. Pérez was succeeded as president by Federico Errázuriz Zañartu (1871-76), Aníbal Pinto Garmendia (1876-81), and Domingo Santa María González (1881-86), the latter two serving during the War of the Pacific (1879-83). All formed coalition governments in which the president juggled a complicated array of party components.

The Liberal Party (Partido Liberal–PL), the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador–PC), and the National Party (Partido Nacional–PN) were formed in 1857. Once the Liberal Party replaced the Conservative Party as the dominant party, the Liberal Party was in turn challenged from the left by the more fervent reformists of the Radical Party (Partido Radical–PR). A spin-off from the Liberal Party, the Radical Party was founded in 1861. Reformists of the Democrat Party (Partido Demócrata), which in turn splintered from the Radical Party in 1887, also challenged the Liberal Party. The National Party also vied with the Conservatives and Liberals to represent upper-class interests. Derived from the Montt presidency, the National Party took a less proclerical, more centrist position than that of the Conservatives. Party competition escalated after the electoral reform of 1874 extended the franchise to all literate adult males, effectively removing property qualifications.

Like Montt, most Liberal chief executives were centrists who introduced change gradually. Their administrations continued to make incremental cuts in church privileges but tried not to inflame that issue. Secularization gradually gained ground in education, and Santa María transferred from the church to the state the management birth, marriage, and death records.

Even during internal and external conflicts, Chile continued to prosper. When Spain attempted to reconquer Peru, Chile engaged in a coastal war (1864-66) with the Spaniards, whose warships shelled Valparaíso. Once again, Chile asserted its sway over the west coast of South America. Farming, mining, and commerce grew steadily until the world depression of the 1870s, when Chile again turned to a war against its Andean neighbors.

Chile’s borders were a matter of contention throughout the nineteenth century. The War of the Pacific began on the heels of an international economic recession that focused attention on resources in outlying zones. Under an 1866 treaty, Chile and Bolivia divided the disputed area encompassing the Atacama Desert at 24° south latitude (located just south of the port of Antofagasta) in the understanding that the nationals of both nations could freely exploit mineral deposits in the region. Both nations, however, would share equally all the revenue generated by mining activities in the region. But Bolivia soon repudiated the treaty, and its subsequent levying of taxes on a Chilean company operating in the area led to an arms race between Chile and its northern neighbors of Bolivia and Peru.

Fighting broke out when Chilean entrepreneurs and mine-owners in present-day Tarapacá Region and Antofagasta Region, then belonging to Peru and Bolivia, respectively, resisted new taxes, the formation of monopoly companies, and other impositions. In those provinces, most of the deposits of nitrate–a valuable ingredient in fertilizers and explosives–were owned and mined by Chileans and Europeans, in particular the British. Chile wanted not only to acquire the nitrate fields but also to weaken Peru and Bolivia in order to strengthen its own strategic preeminence on the Pacific Coast. Hostilities were exacerbated because of disagreements over boundary lines, which in the desert had always been vague. Chile and Bolivia accused each other of violating the 1866 treaty. Although Chile expanded northward as a result of the War of the Pacific, its rights to the conquered territory continued to be questioned by Peru, and especially by Bolivia, throughout the twentieth century.

War began when Chilean troops crossed the northern frontier in 1879. Although a mutual defense pact had allied Peru and Bolivia since 1873, Chile’s more professional, less politicized military overwhelmed the two weaker countries on land and sea. The turning point of the war was the occupation of Lima on January 17, 1881, a humiliation the Peruvians never forgave. Chile sealed its victory with the 1883 Treaty of Ancón, which also ended the Chilean occupation of Lima.

As a result of the war and the Treaty of Ancón, Chile acquired two northern provinces–Tarapacá from Peru and Antofagasta from Bolivia. These territories encompassed most of the Atacama Desert and blocked off Bolivia’s outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The war gave Chile control over nitrate exports, which would dominate the national economy until the 1920s, possession of copper deposits that would eclipse nitrate exports by the 1930s, greatpower status along the entire Pacific Coast of South America, and an enduring symbol of patriotic pride in the person of naval hero Arturo Prat Chacón. The War of the Pacific also bestowed on the Chilean armed forces enhanced respect, the prospect of steadily increasing force levels, and a long-term external mission guarding the borders with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. In 1885 a German military officer, Emil Körner, was contracted to upgrade and professionalize the armed forces along Prussian lines. In subsequent years, better education produced not only a more modern officer corps but also a military leadership capable of questioning civilian management of national development.

After battling the Peruvians and Bolivians in the north, the military turned to engaging the Araucanians in the south. The final defeat of the Mapuche in 1882 opened up the southern third of the national territory to wealthy Chileans who quickly carved out immense estates. No homestead act or legion of family farmers stood in their way, although a few middle-class and immigrant agriculturalists moved in. Some Mapuche fled over the border to Argentina. The army herded those who remained onto tribal reservations in 1884, where they would remain mired in poverty for generations. Like the far north, these southern provinces would become stalwarts of national reform movements, critical of the excessive concentration of power and wealth in and around Santiago.

Soon controlled by British and then by United States investors, the nitrate fields became a classic monocultural boom and bust. The boom lasted four decades. Export taxes on nitrates often furnished over 50 percent of all state revenues, relieving the upper class of tax burdens. The income of the Chilean treasury nearly quadrupled in the decade after the war. The government used the funds to expand education and transportation. The mining bonanza generated demand for agricultural goods from the center and south and even for locally manufactured items, spawning a new plutocracy. Even more notable was the emergence of a class-conscious, nationalistic, ideological labor movement in the northern mining camps and elsewhere.

Prosperity also attracted settlers from abroad. Although small in number compared with those arriving in Argentina, European immigrants became an important element of the new middle class; their numbers included several future manufacturing tycoons. These arrivals came from both northern and southern Europe. People also emigrated from the Middle East, Peru, and Bolivia. Although most immigrants ended up in the cities of Chile, a minority succeeded at farming, especially in the south. In the early twentieth century, a few members of the Chilean elite tried to blame the rise of leftist unions and parties on
foreign agitators, but the charge rang hollow in a country where less than 5 percent of the population had been born abroad.

The controversial downfall of President José Manuel Balmaceda Fernández (1886-91) represented the only occasion when power was transferred by force between 1830 and 1924. This event resulted in the most important alteration in the constitutional system between 1833 and 1925. In many respects, the Balmaceda episode was the culmination of two trends: the growing strength of Congress in relation to the president, and the expanding influence of foreign capital in the mining zone. In essence, the rebels opposed Balmaceda’s plans to expand the role of the executive branch in the political and economic systems.

Although scholars have debated whether the uprising against Balmaceda was mainly a fight over political or economic privileges, the bulk of research has supported the primacy of political over economic issues. From the 1830s to the 1880s, Congress had gradually asserted more and more authority over the budget and over cabinet ministers. Balmaceda tried to circumvent that budgetary power and break the hold of congressmen and local bosses on congressional elections.

Complaining about the heavy-handed rule of the president, and in particular his interference in congressional elections, Congress led a revolt against Balmaceda in 1891. Conservatives generally supported the rebels; Liberals and Democrats backed the president. Along with some renegade Liberals, the newly emergent Radical Party aligned with the so-called congressionalists, not wishing to see legislative prerogatives curtailed just as the party was gaining clients and strength. Those provincials resentful of the growing centralization of political and economic power in and around Santiago also backed the rebellion, especially in the north. Initially, the navy, the armed service that included the highest percentage of aristocrats, sided with the rebels; the army sided with the president.

The rebellion also attracted British entrepreneurs worried by Balmaceda’s threat to encroach on the independence and revenues of the foreign-owned nitrate mines. Although not opposed to foreign investment, Balmaceda had proposed a greater role for the state and higher taxes in the mining sector. Tension mounted because nitrate sales were in a slump, a recurring problem because of the volatility of that commodity’s price on international markets. The most famous British mine owner was John North, the "nitrate king," who was angry that his nitrate railroad monopoly had been terminated by Balmaceda. Although not directly involved, the United States supported Balmaceda as the legal president.

The insurgents won the bloody but brief Civil War of 1891, when the army decided not to fight the navy. As a result of the rebel victory, Congress became dominant over the chief executive and the nitrate mines increasingly fell into British and North American hands. Having gained asylum in the Argentine embassy, Balmaceda waited until the end of his legal presidential term and then committed suicide. As Portales became a legendary hero to the right, so Balmaceda was later anointed by the left as an economic nationalist who sacrificed his life in the struggle for Chilean liberation.

Already tense as a result of the civil war over Balmaceda, United States-Chilean relations deteriorated further as a result of the Baltimore incident. In late 1891, sailors from the U.S.S. Baltimore brawled with Chileans during shore leave in Valparaíso. To avert a war with an angry United States, the Chilean government apologized and paid reparations.

The so-called Parliamentary Republic was not a true parliamentary system, in which the chief executive is elected by the legislature. It was, however, an unusual regime in presidentialist Latin America, for Congress really did overshadow the rather ceremonial office of the president and exerted authority over the chief executive’s cabinet appointees. In turn, Congress was dominated by the landed elites. This was the heyday of classic political and economic liberalism.

For many decades thereafter, historians derided the Parliamentary Republic as a quarrel-prone system that merely distributed spoils and clung to its laissez-faire policy while national problems mounted. The characterization is epitomized by an observation made by President Ramón Barros Luco (1910-15), reputedly made in reference to labor unrest: "There are only two kinds of problems: those that solve themselves and those that can’t be solved." At the mercy of Congress, cabinets came and went frequently, although there was more stability and continuity in public administration than some historians have suggested.

Political authority ran from local electoral bosses in the provinces through the congressional and executive branches, which reciprocated with payoffs from taxes on nitrate sales. Congressmen often won election by bribing voters in this clientelistic and corrupt system. Many politicians relied on intimidated or loyal peasant voters in the countryside, even though the population was becoming increasingly urban.

The lackluster presidents and ineffectual administrations of the period did little to respond to the country’s dependence on volatile nitrate exports, spiraling inflation, and massive urbanization. They also ignored what was called "the social question." This euphemism referred mainly to the rise of the labor movement and its demands for better treatment of the working class. Critics complained that the upper class, which had given Chile such dynamic leadership previously, had grown smug and lethargic thanks to the windfall of nitrate wealth.

In recent years, however, particularly when the authoritarian regime of Augusto Pinochet is taken into consideration, some scholars have reevaluated the Parliamentary Republic of 1891-1925. Without denying its shortcomings, they have lauded its democratic stability. They have also hailed its control of the armed forces, it respect for civil liberties, its expansion of suffrage and participation, and its gradual admission of new contenders, especially reformers, to the political arena.

In particular, two young parties grew in importance–the Democrat Party, with roots among artisans and urban workers, and the Radical Party, representing urban middle sectors and provincial elites. By the early twentieth century, both parties were winning increasing numbers of seats in Congress. The more leftist members of the Democrat Party became involved in the leadership of labor unions and broke off to launch the Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Obrero Socialista–POS) in 1912. The founder of the POS and its best-known leader, Luis Emilio Recabarren Serrano, also founded the Communist Party of Chile (Partido Communista de Chile– PCCh), which was formed in 1922.

Beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, Chile’s cities grew rapidly. They absorbed a trickle of immigrants from abroad and then vast numbers of migrants from the Chilean countryside. Improved transportation and communications in the second half of the nineteenth century facilitated these population movements. Although Santiago led the way, smaller cities such as Valparaíso and Concepción also swelled in size.

The founding of the Industrial Development Association (Sociedad de Fomento Fabril–Sofofa) in 1883 was another indication of urbanization. It promoted industrialization long before the intense efforts of the 1930s to the 1960s. Manufacturing grew in importance in the latter decades of the nineteenth century and the opening decades of the twentieth. Most industry remained small scale, with most of the labor performed by artisans. Protected industrialization did not become the vanguard of economic development until the period between the world wars.

The urban middle class also grew in size and became more politically assertive by the turn of the century. Whereas the economy and the society became more urban and diversified, the political system lagged behind, remaining mainly in the hands of the upper class. Nevertheless, more members of the middle class began appearing in party leadership positions, especially among the Democrats and Radicals. They were also prominent in the Chilean Student Federation (Federación de Estudiantes de Chile–FECh), based at the University of Chile. Equally important was their presence among the top commanders in the armed forces, who increasingly identified primarily with middle-class interests.

In the closing years of the nineteenth century, labor organizations gathered force, first as mutual aid societies and then increasingly as trade unions. In the opening decades of the twentieth century, labor organizing, unrest, and strikes reached new levels of intensity. In the northern nitrate and copper mines, as well as in the ports and cities, workers came together to press demands for better wages and working conditions. Attracted strongly to anarchist, anarcho-syndicalist, and socialist ideologies, they were harshly repressed during the Parliamentary Republic. The government carried out several massacres of miners in the nitrate camps; the most notorious took place in Iquique in 1907. Thus, a pattern of violent clashes between soldiers and workers took shape.

Organizational efforts in the mines and cities culminated in the creation of the first national labor confederation, the Workers’ Federation of Chile (Federación Obrera de Chile–FOCh) in 1909. The organization became more radical as it grew and affiliated with the PCCh in 1922, under the leadership of Recabarren. Its greatest strength was among miners, whereas urban workers were more attracted to independent socialism or to anarchosyndicalism . The latter movement grew out of resistance societies and evolved into the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Unlike the FOCh, the IWW spurned ties with political parties.

The emergence of working-class demands and movements spawned the so-called social question. Intellectuals and writers began criticizing the ruling class and the Parliamentary Republic for their neglect of workers and of social ills. New census data and other studies at the beginning of the twentieth century shocked the proud Chilean elite with revelations about the extent of poverty, illiteracy, and poor health among the vast majority of the population. Especially alarming were infant mortality figures that far exceeded those of Western Europe. Realization of the squalor and anger of the working class inspired new reform efforts.

President Arturo Alessandri Palma (1920-24, March-October 1925, 1932-38) appealed to those who believed the social question should be addressed, to those worried by the decline in nitrate exports during World War I, and to those weary of presidents dominated by Congress. Promising "evolution to avoid revolution," he pioneered a new campaign style of appealing directly to the masses with florid oratory and charisma. After winning a seat in the Senate representing the mining north in 1915, he earned the sobriquet "Lion of Tarapacá." As a dissident Liberal running for the presidency, Alessandri attracted support from the more reformist Radicals and Democrats and formed the so-called Liberal Alliance. He received strong backing from the middle and working classes as well as from the provincial elites. Students and intellectuals also rallied to his banner. At the same time, he reassured the landowners that social reforms would be limited to the cities.

Alessandri also spoke to discontent stemming from World War I. Although Chile had been neutral, the war had disrupted the international commerce that drove the economy. German development of artificial nitrates was especially damaging, and thereafter copper would gradually surpass nitrates as the leading export, taking over conclusively in the 1930s. Inflation and currency depreciation compounded the country’s economic woes.

During and after the war, the United States displaced Britain as Chile’s most important external economic partner, first in trade and then in investments. American companies, led by Kennecott and Braden, took control of the production of copper and nitrates. As corporate investors, bankers, salesmen, advisers, and even entertainers, such as actor and humorist Will Rogers, came to Chile, a few Chileans began to worry about the extent of United States penetration.

As the candidate of the Liberal Alliance coalition, Alessandri barely won the presidency in 1920 in what was dubbed "the revolt of the electorate." Chilean historians consider the 1920 vote a benchmark or watershed election, along with the contests of 1938, 1970, and 1988. Like other reformers elected president in the twentieth century–Pedro Aguirre Cerda (1938-41), Gabriel González Videla (1946-52), and Salvador Allende Gossens (1970-73)– Alessandri had to navigate skillfully through treacherous waters from the day he was elected until his inauguration, warding off attempts to deny him the fruits of victory. Mass street demonstrations by his middle- and working-class supporters convinced the conservative political elite in Congress to ratify his narrow win.

After donning the presidential sash, Alessandri discovered that his efforts to lead would be blocked by the conservative Congress. Like Balmaceda, he infuriated the legislators by going over their heads to appeal to the voters in the congressional elections of 1924. His reform legislation was finally rammed through Congress under pressure from younger military officers, who were sick of the neglect of the armed forces, political infighting, social unrest, and galloping inflation.

In a double coup, first military right-wingers opposing Alessandri seized power in September 1924, and then reformers in favor of the ousted president took charge in January 1925. The latter group was led by two colonels, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Marmaduke Grove Vallejo. They returned Alessandri to the presidency that March and enacted his promised reforms by decree. Many of these reforms were encapsulated in the new constitution of 1925, which was ratified in a plebiscite.

As in 1891 and 1973, the military intervened in national politics in the 1920s partly because of economic distress, partly to break a stalemate between the legislative and executive branches, and, above all, to change the political system. Colonel Ibáñez (president, 1927-31, 1952-58), quickly promoted to general, became the dominant power. He ruled, either behind or on the seat of power, until the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression in 1931 prompted his resignation.

The 1925 constitution was the second major charter in Chilean history, lasting until 1973. It codified significant changes, including the official separation of church and state, which culminated a century of gradual erosion of the political and economic power of the Roman Catholic Church. The constitution also provided legal recognition of workers’ right to organize, a promise to care for the social welfare of all citizens, an assertion of the right of the state to infringe on private property for the public good, and increased powers for the now directly elected president in relation to the bicameral Congress, in
particular concerning the removal of cabinet ministers, which heretofore had often been removed at the whim of the legislature.

Presidential and congressional elections were staggered so that a chief executive could not bring a legislature in on his coattails. The new constitution extended presidential terms from five to six years, with immediate reelection prohibited. It established a system of proportional representation for parties putting candidates up for Congress. The government was divided into four branches, in descending order of power: the president, the legislature, the judiciary, and the comptroller general, the latter authorized to judge the constitutionality of all laws requiring fiscal expenditures.

The Office of Comptroller General of the Republic (Oficina de la Contraloría General de la República) was designed by a United States economic adviser, Edwin Walter Kemmerer. In 1925 he also created the Central Bank of Chile and the position of superintendent of banks, while putting the country on the gold standard. His reforms helped attract massive foreign investments from the United States, especially loans to the government.

Although a labor code was not finalized until 1931, several labor and social security laws enacted in 1924 would govern industrial relations from the 1930s to the 1970s. The legislation legalized unions and strikes but imposed government controls over unions. Union finances and elections were subjected to government inspection. The laws also restricted union activities and disallowed national confederations, which therefore subsequently arose outside the legal framework. Only factories with at least twenty-five workers could have an industrial union, even though approximately two-thirds of the industrial enterprises employed four or fewer workers, in effect artisans. Workers in smaller shops could form professional unions with workers of the same skill employed nearby. Agricultural unions remained virtually outlawed or extremely difficult to organize until the 1960s. The code left unions disadvantaged in their bargaining with employers and therefore reliant on political parties as allies. Those allies were crucial because the new code made the state the mediator in labormanagement disputes.

After a weak successor served in the wake of Alessandri’s resignation in 1925, Ibáñez made himself president in a rigged election in 1927. He based his reign on military support (especially from the army), on repression (especially of labor unions, leftists, and political parties), and on a flood of loans from private lenders (especially from New York). He also created the national police, known as the Carabineros. His expansion of the central government found favor with the middle class. While Ibáñez promoted industry and public works, the economy fared well until torpedoed by the Great Depression.

According to the League of Nations, no other nation’s trade suffered more than Chile’s from the economic collapse. Unemployment approached 300,000, almost 25 percent of the work force. As government revenues plummeted, deficits grew. Chile suspended payments on its foreign debt in 1931 and took its currency off the gold standard in 1932. Expansion of the money supply and increased government spending thereafter generated inflation and rapid recovery. Also helpful was an emphasis on
import-substitution industrialization and the revival of exports, especially copper.

Rather than run the risk of civil war, Ibáñez went into exile in Argentina in July 1931 to avert clashes with demonstrators protesting his orthodox economic response to the depression and generally oppressive rule. His regime was followed by a kaleidoscope of governments, made and unmade through elections and military coups. The most notable short-lived administration was the twelve-day Socialist Republic of 1932, led by an air force commander, Marmaduke Grove, who would establish the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista–PS) in 1933. Exasperated by depression and instability, Chileans finally restored civilian rule by reelecting Alessandri to the presidency in 1932. Although the depression capsized civilian governments in most of Latin America, it discredited military rule in Chile. Now the 1925 constitution took full effect; it would remain in force until the overthrow of Salvador Allende Gossens in 1973.

From 1932 to 1973, Chile was the only country in Latin America to sustain electoral democracy at a time when major Marxist parties led the workers. Its stable multiparty political system bore more resemblance to West European than to Latin American models. Chileans took great pride in their representative democracy, and many looked with contempt on their more tumultuous neighbors.

Out of the turmoil of the depression, new political forces arose that shifted the political spectrum to the left. The Conservatives and the Liberals grew closer together as the combined forces on the right, now more fearful of socialism than of their traditional enemies in the anticlerical camp. The Radicals replaced the Liberals as the swing party in the center, now that they were outflanked on the left by the growing PCCh and the Socialist Party. A small group of Catholics known as the Falange broke away from the Conservative Party in 1938 to form a new party, the National Falange (Falange Nacional). It offered
a non-Marxist, centrist vision of dramatic reform, a vision that would take wing in the 1950s under the name of Christian Democracy.

Under the steady hand of the veteran Alessandri, reelected in December 1932 with 55 percent of the vote, Chile rapidly reinstated its interrupted democracy and revived its shattered economy. Although still a centrist reformer at heart, Alessandri now became the paladin of the right because the new socialist left had outflanked him. He put into practice both the 1925 constitution and the 1931 labor code; reshuffled military commands; supported a 50,000-member civilian paramilitary force, the Republican Militia (Milicia Republicana) during 1932-36 to keep the armed forces in the barracks and to threaten leftists; and cut
unemployment by promoting industry and public works.

In accordance with long-standing Chilean foreign policy principles, Alessandri sought to avoid entanglement in European conflicts. He cultivated good relations with both Britain and Germany, while remaining friendly with the United States. He declared neutrality in the Spanish Civil War, as the Chilean government had done during World War I.

The Socialists, Communists, and Radicals denounced Alessandri for insufficient economic nationalism and inadequate attention to the needs of working people. Heeding the new policy of the Comintern, adopted in 1935, the Chilean Communists backed away from proletarian revolution, which they had advocated obediently from 1928 to 1934. Now they promoted broad, reformist electoral coalitions in the name of antifascism. With slight deviations and emendations, the PCCh sustained this
accommodative approach from 1935 until 1980.

Prodded by the Communists, the Radicals and Socialists aligned in 1936 with the Confederation of Chilean Workers (Confederación de Trabajadores de Chile–CTCh), a by-product of union growth and solidarity, to forge the Popular Front. The Popular Front was given impetus by Alessandri’s crushing of a railroad strike that year. The coalition also included the old Democrat Party, which was gradually supplanted by the Socialist Party until the former disappeared in the early 1940s. Similar to multiparty alliances in Europe and to populist coalitions in Latin America, the Popular Front galvanized the middle and working classes on behalf of democracy, social welfare, and industrialization. Its redistributive, populist slogan was "Bread, Roof, and Overcoat," coined by the 1932 Socialist Republic.

The Popular Front barely beat Alessandri’s would-be rightist successor in the presidential contest of 1938 with 50.3 percent of the vote. One key to the Popular Front’s victory was its nomination of a mild-mannered Radical, Pedro Aguirre Cerda, rather than the inflammatory Socialist, Marmaduke Grove. The other key was a bizarre sequence of events in which a group of Chilean fascists (members of the National Socialist Movement), backing Ibáñez’s independent bid for the presidency, staged an unsuccessful putsch on the eve of the election. The slaughter of the putschists by forces of the Alessandri government prompted the fascists to throw their votes to the Popular Front. Although not numerous, those ballots put the Popular Front over the top.

The incongruous alignment of Nazis behind the antifascist Popular Front showed how far Chilean politicians would go to subordinate ideology to electoral considerations. Thus, a coalition that included Socialists and Communists captured the presidency quite early in twentieth-century Chile. Future president Salvador Allende served briefly as minister of health in this period.

Running under the slogan "To Govern Is to Educate," Aguirre Cerda (president, 1938-41) won an electoral majority in 1938. However, less than 5 percent of the national population actually voted for him. Until the rapid expansion of the electorate in the 1950s, less than 10 percent of the national population voted for presidential candidates. Only literate males over the age of twenty-one could vote in most elections until the 1950s; of those eligible to vote, approximately 50 percent usually registered, and the vast majority of those registered cast ballots. Women were allowed to exercise the franchise in
installments, first for municipal elections in 1935, then for congressional contests in 1951, and finally for presidential races in 1952.

As had been the case with other Chilean electoral victories by left-wing candidates, tense days passed between the counting of the ballots and the ratification of the results by Congress. Opponents of the left schemed to prevent the takeover by their nemeses or to extract concessions before accepting defeat. Aguirre Cerda assured rightists of his moderate intentions, and the Alessandri government presided over his peaceful inauguration. The military quashed a single coup attempt in 1939.

Led by the centrist Radical Party, the administration of the Popular Front assimilated the Socialists and Communists into the established bargaining system, making potentially revolutionary forces into relatively moderate participants in legal institutions. Although the official Popular Front ended in 1941, that bargaining system, with Marxist parties usually backing reformist Radical presidents, lasted until 1952.

Aguirre Cerda, like all Chilean presidents in the 1930s and 1940s, essentially pursued a model of state capitalism in which government collaborated with private enterprise in the construction of a mixed economy. The Popular Front promoted simultaneous importsubstitution industrialization and welfare measures for the urban middle and working classes. As in the rest of Latin America, the Great Depression and then the onset of World War II accelerated domestic production of manufactured consumer items, widened the role of the state, and augmented dependence on the United States. All these trends dissuaded Marxists from demanding bold redistributive measures at the expense of domestic and foreign capitalists.

Aiming to catch up with the more affluent West, Chile’s Popular Front mobilized the labor movement behind national industrial development more than working-class social advances. Although workers received few material benefits from the Popular Front, the number of legal unions more than quadrupled from the early 1930s to the early 1940s. Still, unions represented only about 10 percent of the work force.

Prior to his illness and death in November 1941, President Aguirre Cerda labored to hold his coalition together, to overcome the implacable opposition of the right-wing parties, and to fulfill his promises of industrialization and urban social reform. The Socialists and Communists quarreled incessantly, especially over the PCCh’s support of the 1939 German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact between Hitler and Stalin. Early in 1941, the Socialist Party withdrew from the Popular Front coalition because of its animosity toward the PCCh, its rival claimant to worker loyalty and Marxist inspiration. Because the Conservatives and Liberals blocked nearly all legislation in Congress, little social reform was accomplished, except for improvements in housing and education. To appease rightwingers, the president clamped down on rural unionization.

From the 1920s into the 1960s, this modus vivendi between urban reformers and rural conservatives held fast. Progressives carried out reforms in the cities for the middle and working classes, while denying peasants union rights. Thus were preserved the availability of low-cost foodstuffs for urban consumers, control of the countryside for latifundistas (large landowners), and domination of the rural vote by right-wing politicians. From time to time, Marxist organizers threatened to mobilize the rural work force, and time and again they were restrained by their centrist political allies, who needed to reassure the economic and political right-wingers. When peasants protested this exploitation, they were repressed by landowners or government troops.

The greatest achievement of the Popular Front was the creation in 1939 of the state Production Development Corporation (Corporación de Fomento de la Producción–Corfo) to supply credit to new enterprises, especially in manufacturing. Partly with loans from the United States Export-Import Bank, Corfo contributed greatly to import-substitution industrialization, mainly for consumer items. The economically active population working in industry grew from 15 percent in 1930 to 20 percent in 1952, where it hovered for two decades. From the end of the 1930s to the start of the 1950s, Corfo supplied almost one-fourth of total domestic investments.

A Radical even more conservative than Aguirre Cerda, Juan Antonio Ríos Morales (president, 1942-46), won the 1942 presidential election with 56 percent of the vote. Although the formal Popular Front had been terminated, the Socialists and Communists still gave their votes to Ríos to avoid a return of Ibáñez as the candidate of the Conservatives and Liberals. Under the
stringencies of wartime, the new president further soft-pedaled social reform and emphasized industrial growth, under the slogan, "To Govern Is to Produce." Although he made some improvements in housing and health care, Ríos concentrated on promoting urban enterprises.

Ríos continued his predecessor’s policy of neutrality in World War II. Although sympathetic to the Allies, many Chileans worried about the vulnerability of their Pacific Coast. Because of a desire for closer economic and security ties with the United States, Ríos finally bowed to pressure from Socialists, Communists, and other staunch antifascists, severing relations with
the Axis in January 1943.

Even after breaking relations, Chile was never satisfied with the amount of aid and Lend-Lease military equipment it received from the United States. The United States, in turn, was equally discontent with languid Chilean action against Axis agents and firms. Nevertheless, Chile subsidized the Allied cause by accepting an artificially low price for its copper exports to the United States while paying increasingly higher prices for its imports. The war boosted Chile’s mineral exports and foreign-exchange accumulation. At the same time, United States trade, credits, and advisers facilitated state support for new enterprises, including steel, oil, and fishing.

Not unlike Ibáñez in the 1920s, Ríos hoped to develop the national economy through external alignment with the "Colossus of the North." After displacing Britain as Chile’s most important economic partner in the 1920s, the United States faced a period of German competition in the 1930s and then reasserted its economic dominance in the 1940s. That economic domination would last until the 1980s.

As Ríos’s health deteriorated in 1945, another Radical, Alfredo Duhalde Vásquez (president, June-August 1946), took over as interim chief executive. Reacting against Ríos’s conservatism and Duhalde’s antilabor policies, progressive factions of the Radical Party joined with the Communists to field a left-wing Radical, Gabriel González Videla, for president in the 1946 election. González Videla also received the backing of most Socialists.

Trying to revive the reformist spirit of 1938, González Videla eked out a plurality of 40 percent against a field of rightist contenders. Once again, the candidate of the left had to walk a tightrope from election to inauguration because Congress had the right to pick either of the two front-runners when no one polled an absolute majority. González Videla ensured his congressional approval by granting landowners new legal restrictions on peasant unionization, restrictions that lasted from 1947 until 1967. He also appeased the right by including Liberals in his cabinet along with Radicals and Communists, the most exotic ministerial concoction Chileans had ever seen, again demonstrating the politician’s ability to cut deals transcending ideology.

Chile quickly became enmeshed in the cold war, as Moscow and especially Washington meddled in its affairs. That friction resulted in the splitting of the CTCh in 1946 into Communist and Socialist branches and then the outlawing of the PCCh. The Socialists were now opposed to the Communists and aligned with the (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the AFL-CIO), having grown closer to United States labor interests during World War II.

Once in office, González Videla (president, 1946-52) rapidly turned against his Communist allies. He expelled them from his cabinet and then banned them completely under the 1948 Law for the Defense of Democracy. The PCCh remained illegal until 1958. He also severed relations with the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.

Controversy still swirls around the reasons for this aboutface . According to González Videla and his sympathizers, the repression of the Communists was necessary to thwart their plots against his government, although no evidence has been found to substantiate that claim. According to the Communists and other critics of González Videla, he acted under pressure from the United States and out of a desire to forge closer economic and military bonds with the dominant superpower. Historians have established that the president wanted to appease the United States, that the United States encouraged a crackdown on Chilean
Communists, and that the United States government appreciated González Videla’s actions and thereafter expanded the scope of its loans, investments, and technical missions to Chile. The United States and Chile also agreed to a military assistance pact while González Videla was president. However, no conclusive evidence has come to light that the United States directly pushed him to act.

Although González Videla feared Communist intentions and respected the wishes of the United States government, he also turned against the PCCh for other reasons. He hoped to mollify right-wing critics of his government, especially landowners, to whom he guaranteed a continuing moratorium on peasant unionization. He sought to remove any ideological justification for a military coup. He also wanted to weaken the labor movement in a time of economic uncertainties, slow growth, and rising inflation, when the PCCh was promoting strikes. González Videla’s banning of the Communists coincided with his movement away from social reform in favor of the promotion of industrial growth.

As the Radical years (1938-52) drew to a close, Popular Frontstyle coalition politics reached a dead end. The Radicals had swerved to the right, the Socialists had splintered and lost votes, and the Communists had been forced underground. Although the middle and upper classes had registered some gains in those fourteen years, most workers had seen their real income stagnate or decline. Often a problem in the past, inflation had become a permanent feature of the Chilean economy, fueled by the deficit spending of a government that had grown enormously under the Radical presidents. Progress had been made in industrialization, but with little benefit to the majority of the population. Promoting urban industries did not generate the growth, efficiency, employment, or independence promised by the policy’s advocates. World War II had left the country more dependent than ever on the United States, which by then had become the dominant economic power in Latin America.

Populist development strategies had proved viable during the 1930s and 1940s. The protection and credit that went along with import-substitution industrialization had kept manufacturers satisfied. Although penalized and forced to accept low prices for their foods, agriculturalists welcomed expanding urban markets, low taxes, and controls over rural workers. The middle class and the armed forces had applauded state growth and moderate nationalism. The more skilled and organized urban workers had received consumer, welfare, and union benefits superior to those offered to other lower-class groups.

These allocations postponed any showdown over limited resources, thus enabling right and left to compromise. Political institutionalization and accommodation prevailed, partly because the unorganized urban poor and especially the rural poor suffered, in effect, frommarginality. Starting in the 1950s, however, social demands outpaced slow economic growth, and the political arena became increasingly crowded and heated. In addition, accelerated mobilization, polarization, and radicalization by ideologically competing parties placed more and more stress on the "compromise state" to reconcile incompatible demands and projects.

By 1952 Chileans were alienated by multiparty politics that produced reformist governments, which would veer to the right once in office. Chileans were tired of politiquería (petty politics, political chicanery, and pork-barrel politics). Citizens were also dismayed by slow growth and spiraling inflation. They showed their displeasure by turning to two symbols of the past, the 1920s dictator Ibáñez and the son of former president Alessandri.

In an effort to "sweep the rascals out," the voters elected the politically unaffiliated Ibáñez back to the presidency in 1952. Brandishing his broom as a symbol, the "General of Victory" ran against all the major parties and their clientelistic system of government. He made his strongest attacks on the Radicals, accusing them of mismanagement of the economy and subservience to the United States.

Along with the short-lived Agrarian Labor Party (1945-58), a few Communists backed Ibáñez in hopes of relegalizing the PCCh; a few Socialists also supported him in hopes of spawning a workers’ movement similar to Peronism in Argentina. Other leftists, however, endorsed the first token presidential campaign of Salvador Allende in order to stake out an independent Marxist strategy for future runs at the presidency. Allende received only 5 percent of the vote, while Ibáñez won with a plurality of 47 percent. As it always did when no candidate captured an absolute majority, Congress ratified the top vote-getter as president.

Like the Radicals before him, Ibáñez entered office as a reformer governing with a center-left coalition and ended his term as a conservative surrounded by rightists. Along the way, he discarded his promises of economic nationalism and social justice. Also like the Radicals, he left festering problems for subsequent administrations.

Early in his administration, Ibáñez tried to live up to his billing as a nationalistic reformer. He rewarded those who had voted for him in the countryside by setting a minimum wage for rural laborers, although real wages for farm workers continued to fall throughout the decade. He also postured as a Latin American spokesman, hailing Juan Domingo Perón when the Argentine leader visited Chile.

After two years of expansionary fiscal policies in league with reformers and a few leftists, Ibáñez converted to a conservative program to stem inflation and to improve relations with the United States copper companies. As the effort to move import-substitution industrialization beyond the stage of replacing foreign consumer goods bogged down, the economy became mired in stagflation. The rates of industrialization, investment, and growth all slowed. Monetarist policies proposed by a team of United States experts, known as the Klein-Saks Mission, failed to bring inflation under control. Price increases averaged 38 percent per year during the 1950s.

Persistent inflation stoked a debate among economists over causes and cures. Emphasizing deep-rooted causes and long-term solutions, advocates of structuralism blamed chronic inflation primarily on foreign trade dependency, insufficient local production (especially in agriculture), and political struggles over government spoils among entrenched vested interests. Their opponents, avocates of monetarism, attributed rising prices principally to classic financial causes such as currency expansion and deficit spending. Like the Klein-Saks Mission, the monetarists recommended austerity measures to curb inflation. The structuralists denounced such belt-tightening as recessionary, inimical to growth, and socially regressive. The monetarists replied that economic development would be delayed and distorted until expansionary monetary and financial policies were corrected.

Adopting a monetarist approach, in 1955 Ibáñez made concessions to the United States copper companies, chiefly Anaconda and Kennecott, in an effort to elicit more investment. These measure reduced the firms’ taxes and raised their profits but failed to attract much capital. Discontent with this experience underlay subsequent campaigns to nationalize the mines.

Ibáñez also enacted reforms to increase the integrity of the electoral system. Under the new plan, the secret ballot system was improved in 1958, and stiff fines for fraud were established. These reforms reduced the sway of landowners and facilitated the growth of the Christian Democrat and Marxist political movements among peasants.

Ibáñez’s middle- and working-class support flowed over to the Christian Democrats and the Marxists. The Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano–PDC) was founded in 1957 with the merger of three conservative elements: the National Falange, founded in 1938; the Social Christian Conservative Party; and the remnants of the Agrarian Labor Party that had backed Ibáñez. The Christian Democrats espoused reformist Catholic doctrines that promised a society based on communitarianism. The new party appealed strongly to the middle class, women, peasants, and ruralurban migrants. Its displacement of the Radicals as the preeminent centrist party meant that a pragmatic organization was replaced by an ideological group less amenable to coalition and compromise. At the same time that the center was hardening its position, the right and the left were also becoming more dogmatic and sectarian.

Relegalized by Ibáñez in 1958, the PCCh formed an enduring electoral alliance with the Socialists known as the Popular Action Front (Frente de Acción Popular–FRAP). The Marxist parties embraced more militant projects for the construction of socialism and disdained alliances behind centrist parties. They replaced Popular Front politics with "workers front" politics. The PCCh and the Socialist Party became more exclusive and radical in their ideological commitments and in their dedication to the proletariat. Of the two parties, the Socialist Party posed as more revolutionary, especially after the 1959 Cuban
Revolution.

As they had in the 1930s, the Marxist parties experienced success in the 1950s in tandem with a unified national trade union movement. Dismayed by runaway inflation, the major labor unions replaced the fractionalized CTCh with the United Federation of Chilean Workers (Central Única de Trabajadores de Chile–CUTCh) in 1953. The Communists and Socialists, with their enduring strength in older unions in mining, construction, and manufacturing, took command of the new confederation.

As the 1958 election approached, the electorate divided into three camps well-defined by their predominant class and ideology. The right represented mainly Conservatives and Liberals, the upper class, rural dwellers, the defenders of capitalism, and the status quo. In the center, the Christian Democrats and Radicals spoke largely for the middle class and the proponents of moderate social reforms to avoid socialism. On the left, the Socialists and Communists championed the working class, advocating a peaceful transition to socialism. Rural-urban migrants and women had gained social and political importance. The percentage of the population registered to vote in presidential contests had risen from about 11 percent in the 1940s to 17.5 percent in 1952 and then to 21 percent in 1958. In the 1958 election, the right–Conservatives and Liberals–hoped to return to power for the first time since 1938. Their standard-bearer was Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, an engineering professor and the son of Chile’s most recent rightist president. He posed as an independent who was above party politics, offering technocratic solutions to the nation’s problems. In the center, the Radicals, with candidate Luis Bossay Leyva, and the Christian Democrats, who nominated Eduardo Frei Montalva, vied for moderate votes. On the left, the reunited Socialists and Communists backed Salvador Allende.

In a preview of the 1970 election, the 1958 vote split three ways: 31 percent for Alessandri, 29 percent for Allende, and 40 percent for the rest, including a strong third-place showing by Frei with 21 percent. If it had not been for the 3
percent of the votes snared by a populist defrocked priest, the 15 percent won by the Radicals, and the low percentage (22 percent) of women casting ballots for Allende, the Marxists could easily have captured the presidency in 1958, several months before the Cuban Revolution. As it was, they and the Christian Democrats were highly encouraged to build their electoral forces toward another
face-off in 1964. An especially noteworthy shift was the transfer of many peasant votes from the right to the columns of Christian Democrat and Marxist politicians promising agrarian reform.

Once again, Congress approved the front-runner as president. Alessandri promised to restrain government intervention in the economy and to promote the private sector, although he did not envision reliance on the market to the extent that later would occur under Pinochet. With a slender mandate, the opposition in control of the legislature, and a modest program, the president accomplished little of great note.

Alessandri did, however, maintain political and economic stability. He temporarily dampened inflation, mainly by placing a ceiling on wages. This measure sparked mounting labor protests in the early 1960s. The economy grew and unemployment shrank. He also passed mild land-reform legislation, which would be implemented mostly by his successors. His action was partly the result of prodding by the United States government, which backed agrarian reform under the auspices of the Alliance for Progress in hopes of blunting the appeal of the Cuban Revolution. At the same time, Alessandri tried to attract foreign investment, although he had no intention of throwing open the economy, as would be done under Pinochet. By the end of Alessandri’s term, the country was burdened with a rising foreign debt.

In the 1964 presidential contest, the right abandoned its standard-bearers and gave its support to Frei in order to avert an Allende victory in the face of rising electoral support for the leftists. The center-right alliance defeated the left, 56 percent to 39 percent. The reformist Frei enjoyed strong United States support, both during and after the campaign. He also had the backing of the Roman Catholic Church and European Christian Democrats. Frei ran particularly well among women, the middle class, peasants, and residents of the shantytowns (callampas or poblaciones). Allende was most popular with men and bluecollar workers.

Although Frei and Allende were foes on the campaign trail, they agreed on major national issues that needed to be addressed: greater Chilean control over the United States-owned copper mines, agrarian reform, better housing for the residents of the sprawling shantytowns, more equitable income distribution, expanded educational opportunities, and a more independent foreign policy. They both criticized capitalism as a cause of underdevelopment and of the poverty that afflicted the majority of Chile’s population. To distinguish his more moderate program from Allende’s Marxism, Frei promised a "Revolution in Liberty."

After the 1965 elections gave them a majority of deputies in Congress, the Christian Democrats enacted ambitious reforms on many fronts. However, as a single-party government, they were often loath to enter into bargains, compromises, or coalitions. Consequently, rightists and leftists often opposed their congressional initiatives, especially in the Senate.

One of the major achievements of Eduardo Frei Montalva (president, 1964-70) was the "Chileanization" of copper. The government took 51 percent ownership of the mines controlled by United States companies, principally those of Anaconda and Kennecott. Critics complained that the companies received overly generous terms, invested too little in Chile, and retained too much ownership. Nevertheless, copper production rose, and Chile received a higher return from the enterprises.

Frei believed that agrarian reform was necessary to raise the standard of living of rural workers, to boost agricultural production, to expand his party’s electoral base, and to defuse revolutionary potential in the countryside. Consequently, in 1967 his government promoted the right of peasants to unionize and strike. The administration also expropriated land with the intention of dividing it between collective and family farms. However, actual redistribution of land fell far short of promises and expectations. Conflict arose in the countryside between peasants eager for land and landowners frightened of losing
their rights and their property.

During the tenure of the Christian Democrats, economic growth remained sluggish and inflation stayed high. Nevertheless, Frei’s government improved income distribution and access to education, as enrollments rose at all levels of schooling. Under the aegis of "Popular Promotion," the Frei government organized many squatter communities and helped them build houses. This aided the PDC in its competition with the Marxists for political support in the burgeoning callampas. At the same time, Frei enacted tax reforms that made tax collection more efficient than ever before. The Christian Democrats also pushed through constitutional changes to strengthen the presidency; these changes later would be used to advantage by Allende. The PDC also revised electoral regulations, lowering the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen and giving the franchise to people who could not read (about 10 percent of the population was illiterate).

Although friendly to United States investors and government officials, the Frei administration took an independent stance in foreign affairs–more collegial with the developing nations and less hostile to the Communist bloc nations. For instance, Frei restored diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and most of its allies. Chile also gave strong backing to multilateral organizations, including the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA), the Andean Group, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the United Nations. Meanwhile, aid and investment from the United States multiplied. Under Frei, Chile received more aid per capita from the United States than did any other country in Latin America.

After the two governments that followed the Christian Democrats, Chileans would look back with nostalgia on the Frei administration and its accomplishments. At the time, however, it was hounded by the right for being too reformist and by the left for being too conservative. While some on the right began forming paramilitary units to defend their property, some on the left began encouraging illegal seizures of farms, housing plots, and factories. Among the masses, the Christian Democrats raised expectations higher than they intended.

As the next presidential election approached, Frei remained personally popular, but his party’s strength ebbed. With no clear winner apparent, the 1970 campaign shaped up as a rerun of 1958, with the right, center, and left all fielding their own candidates. The right hoped to recapture power and brake the pace of reform with former president Jorge Alessandri as the candidate of the National Party (Partido Nacional–PN), established in 1965 by Conservatives and Liberals. In the center, the Christian Democrats promised to accelerate reform with a progressive candidate, Radomiro Tomic Romero. The left vowed to head down
the road toward socialism with Salvador Allende as its nominee for the fourth time.

Under the leadership of the Socialist Party and the PCCh, the leftist coalition of 1970 called itself Popular Unity (Unidad Popular–UP). Joining the alliance were four minor parties, including the shrunken Radical Party and defectors from the Christian Democrats, most notably the United Popular Action Movement (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitario–MAPU). The coalition was reminiscent of the Popular Front of 1936-41, except that it was led by the Marxist parties and a Marxist candidate. Further to the left, the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria–MIR), a small organization headed by radicalized students, scoffed at the electoral route, called for armed struggle, and undertook direct assaults on the system, such as bank robberies.

To the surprise of most pollsters and prognosticators, Allende nosed out Alessandri 36.2 percent to 35 percent in the September 4, 1970, elections; Tomic trailed with 27.8 percent of the vote. In the cold war context of the times, the democratic election of a Marxist president sent a shock wave around the globe. The seven weeks between the counting of the ballots and the certification of the winner by Congress crackled with tension. Attempts by the United States and by right-wing groups in Chile to convince Congress to choose the runner-up Alessandri or to coax the military into staging a coup d’état failed. A botched kidnapping planned by right-wing military officers resulted in the assassination of the army commander in chief, General René Schneider Chereau, on October 22, 1970, the first major political killing in Chile since the death of Portales in 1837. That plot backfired by ensuring the armed forces’ support of a constitutional assumption of power by Allende.

After extracting guarantees of adherence to democratic procedures from Allende, the Christian Democrats in Congress followed tradition and provided the votes to make the front-runner Chile’s new president. Although a minority president was not unusual, one with such a drastic plan to revolutionize the nation was unique. Allende was inaugurated on November 3, 1970.

The Allende experiment enjoyed a triumphant first year, followed by two disastrous final years. According to the UP, Chile was being exploited by parasitic foreign and domestic capitalists. The government therefore moved quickly to socialize the economy, taking over the copper mines, other foreign firms, oligopolistic industries, banks, and large estates. By a unanimous vote of Congress in 1971, the government totally nationalized the foreign copper firms, which were mainly owned by two United States companies, Kennecott and Anaconda. The nationalization measure was one of the few bills Allende ever got through the opposition- controlled legislature, where the Christian Democrats constituted the largest single party.

Socialization of the means of production spread rapidly and widely. The government took over virtually all the great estates. It turned the lands over to the resident workers, who benefited far more than the owners of tiny plots or the numerous migrant laborers. By 1972 food production had fallen and food imports had risen. Also during 1971-72, the government dusted off emergency legislation from the 1932 Socialist Republic to allow it to expropriate industries without congressional approval. It turned many factories over to management by the workers and the state.

In his first year, Allende also employed Keynesian measures to hike salaries and wages, thus pumping up the purchasing power of the middle and working classes. This "consumer revolution" benefited 95 percent of the population in the short run because prices were held down and employment went up. Producers responded to rising demand by employing previously underused capacity.

Politically, Allende faced problems holding his Popular Unity coalition together, pacifying the more leftist elements inside and outside Popular Unity and, above all, coping with the increasingly implacable opposition. Within Popular Unity, the largest party was the Socialist Party. Although composed of multiple factions, the Socialist Party mainly pressed Allende to accelerate the transition toward socialism. The second most important element was the PCCh, which favored a more gradual, legalistic approach. Outside the Popular Unity, the most significant left-wing organization was the MIR, a tiny but provocative group that admired the Cuban Revolution and encouraged peasants and workers to take property and the revolutionary process into their own hands, much faster than Allende preferred.

The most important opposition party was the PDC. As it and the middle sectors gradually shifted to the right, they came to form an anti-Allende bloc in combination with the Natinal Party and the propertied class. Even farther to the right were minuscule, paramilitary, quasi-fascist groups like Fatherland and Liberty (Patria y Libertad), determined to sabotage Popular Unity.

The Popular Unity government tried to maintain cordial relations with the United States, even while staking out an independent position as a champion of developing nations and socialist causes. It opened diplomatic relations with Cuba, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), and Albania. It befriended the Soviet Union, which sent aid to the Allende administration, although far less than Cuba received or than Popular Unity had hoped for.

Meanwhile, the United States pursued a two-track policy toward Allende’s Chile. At the overt level, Washington was frosty, especially after the nationalization of the copper mines; official relations were unfriendly but not openly hostile. The government of President Richard M. Nixon squeezed the Chilean economy by terminating financial assistance and blocking loans from multilateral organizations, although it increased aid to the military, a sector unenthusiastic toward the Allende government. It was widely reported that at the covert level the United States worked to destabilize Allende’s Chile by funding opposition political groups and media and by encouraging a military coup d’état. Most scholars have concluded that these United States actions contributed to the downfall of Allende, although no one has established direct United States participation in the coup d’état and very few would assign the United States the primary role in the destruction of that government.

During the second and third years of the UP, demand outstripped supply, the economy shrank, deficit spending snowballed, new investments and foreign exchange became scarce, the value of copper sales dropped, shortages appeared, and inflation skyrocketed, eroding the previous gains for the working class. A thriving black market sprang up. The government responded with direct distribution systems in working-class neighborhoods. Worker participation in the management of enterprises reached unprecedented proportions. The strapped government could not keep the economy from going into free fall because it could not impose austerity measures on its supporters in the working class, get new taxes approved by Congress, or borrow enough money abroad to cover the deficit.

Although the right was on the defensive in Allende’s first year, it moved on the offensive and forged an alliance with the center in the next two years. In Congress this center-right coalition erected a blockade against all Popular
Unity initiatives, harassed Popular Unity cabinet ministers, and denounced the administration as illegitimate and unconstitutional, thus setting the stage for a military takeover. The most acrimonious battle raged over the boundaries of Popular Unity’s "social property area" (área de propriedad social), which would incorporate private holdings through government intervention, requisition, or expropriation. The Supreme Court and the comptroller general of the republic joined Congress in criticizing the executive branch for overstepping its constitutional bounds.

Allende tried to stabilize the situation by organizing a succession of cabinets, but none of them guaranteed order. His appointment of military officers to cabinet posts in 1972 and 1973 also failed to stifle the opposition. Instead, it helped politicize the armed services. Outside the government, Allende’s supporters continued direct takeovers of land and businesses, further disrupting the economy and frightening the propertied class.

The two sides reached a showdown in the March 1973 congressional elections. The opposition expected the Allende coalition to suffer the typical losses of Chilean governments in midterm elections, especially with the economy in a tailspin. The National Party and PDC hoped to win two-thirds of the seats, enough to impeach Allende. They netted 55 percent of the votes, not enough of a majority to end the stalemate. Moreover, the Popular Unity’s 43 percent share represented an increase over the presidential tally of 36.2 percent and gave Allende’s coalition six additional congressional seats; therefore, many of his adherents were encouraged to forge ahead.

In the aftermath of the indecisive 1973 congressional elections, both sides escalated the confrontation and hurled threats of insurgency. Street demonstrations became almost daily events and increasingly violent. Right-wing groups, such as Fatherland and Liberty, and left-wing groups, such as the MIR, brandished arms and called for a cataclysmic solution. The most militant workers formed committees in their neighborhoods and workplaces to press for accelerated social change and to defend their gains. The opposition began openly knocking on the doors of the barracks in hopes that the military would provide a solution.

The regular armed forces halted an attempted coup by tank commanders in June 1973, but that incident warned the nation that the military was getting restless. Thereafter, the armed forces prepared for a massive coup by stepping up raids to search for arms among Popular Unity’s supporters. Conditions worsened in June, July, and August, as middle- and upper-class business proprietors and professionals launched another wave of workplace shutdowns and lockouts, as they had in late 1972. Their 1973 protests against the government coincided with strikes by the trucking industry and by the left’s erstwhile allies among the copper workers. The Nationalists, the Christian Democrats, and conservative students backed the increasingly subversive strikers. They called for Allende’s resignation or military intervention. Attempts by the Catholic Church to get the PDC and Popular Unity to negotiate a compromise came to naught. Meanwhile, inflation reached an annual rate of more than 500 percent. By mid-1973 the economy and the government were paralyzed.

In August 1973, the rightist and centrist representatives in the Chamber of Deputies undermined the president’s legitimacy by accusing him of systematically violating the constitution and by urging the armed forces to intervene. In early September, Allende was preparing to call for a rare national plebiscite to resolve the impasse between Popular Unity and the opposition. The military obviated that strategy by launching its attack on civilian authority on the morning of September 11. Just prior to the assault, the commanders in chief, headed by the newly appointed army commander, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, had purged officers sympathetic to the president or the constitution.

Allende committed suicide while defending (with an assault rifle) his socialist government against the coup d’état. Although sporadic resistance to the coup erupted, the military consolidated control much more quickly than it had believed possible. Many Chileans had predicted that a coup would unleash a civil war, but instead it ushered in a long period of repression.

Debate continues over the reasons for Allende’s downfall. Why did he fail to preserve democracy or achieve socialism? Critics of the left blamed Allende for going to extremes, destroying the economy, violating the constitution, and undermining the spirit if not the letter of democracy. Right-wing critics in particular accused the left of even plotting an armed takeover, a charge that was never proved. Critics also assailed the UP for being unclear about the limits of its reforms and thus frightening the middle class into the arms of the opposition. Critics of the right accused Popular Unity, in conjunction with the
United States, of ruining the economy and of calling out the armed forces to protect its property and privileges. Observers in general scolded the far left for its adventurous excesses. The far left retorted that Popular Unity failed because it was too timid to arm the masses. Critics of the Christian Democrats chastised them for refusing to compromise, locking arms with the rightist opposition, and failing to defend democracy.

Many analysts would concur that there was ample blame to go around. In the view of many Chileans, groups at all points on the political spectrum helped destroy the democratic order by being too ideological and too intransigent. Many observers agree that a minority president facing adamant domestic and foreign opposition was extremely unlikely to be able to uphold democracy and create socialism at the same time. In the late 1980s, polls also showed that most Chileans did not want to try the Popular Unity experiment again, especially in light of its aftermath.

The armed forces justified the coup as necessary to stamp out Marxism, avert class warfare, restore order, and salvage the economy. They enshrined the National Security Doctrine, which defined their primary task as the defeat of domestic enemies who had infiltrated national institutions, including schools, churches, political parties, unions, and the media. Although civilians filled prominent economic posts, military officers took most government positions at the national and local levels. Immediately on seizing power, the military junta–composed of the commanders in chief of the army, navy, air force, and national police–issued a barrage of decrees to restore order on its own terms.

The first phase of the dictatorship (1973-75) was mainly destructive, aimed at rapid demobilization, depoliticization, and stabilization. The armed forces treated the members of the UP as an enemy to be obliterated, not just as an errant political movement to be booted from office. The military commanders closed Congress, censored the media, purged the universities, burned books, declared political parties outlawed if Marxist or in recess otherwise, and banned union activities.

The worst human rights abuses occurred in the first four years of the junta, when thousands of civilians were murdered, jailed, tortured, brutalized, or exiled, especially those linked with the Popular Unity parties. The secret police, reporting to Pinochet through the National Intelligence Directorate (Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia–DINA), replaced in 1977 by the National Information Center (Centro Nacional de Información–CNI), kept dissidents living in fear of arrest, torture, murder, or "disappearance."

Throughout the second half of the 1970s, the Roman Catholic Church and international organizations concerned with human rights denounced the widespread violations of decency in Chile. Although officially neutral, the Roman Catholic Church became the primary sanctuary for the persecuted in Chile from 1975 to 1985 and so came into increasing conflict with the junta.

The former members of Popular Unity went underground or into exile. In the early years of the dictatorship, their main goal was simply to survive. Although the Communists suffered brutal persecution, they managed to preserve their organization fairly intact. The Socialists splintered so badly that their party nearly disappeared by the end of the 1970s. Draconian repression left the Marxists with no capacity to resist or counterattack. They did, however, manage to rally world opinion against the regime and keep it diplomatically isolated. By the end of the 1970s, most Christian Democrats, after initially cooperating with the junta, had also joined the opposition, although not in any formal coalition with any coherent strategy for restoring democracy.

Pinochet soon emerged as the dominant figure and very shortly afterward as president. After a brief flirtation with corporatist ideas, the government evolved into a one-man dictatorship, with the rest of the junta acting as a sort of legislature. In 1977 Pinochet dashed the hopes of those Chileans still dreaming of an early return to democracy when he announced his intention to institutionalize an authoritarian regime to preside over a protracted return to civilian rule in a "protected" democracy.

Pinochet established iron control over the armed forces as well as the government, although insisting that they were separate entities. He made himself not only the chief executive of the state but also the commander in chief of the military. He shuffled commands to ensure that loyalists controlled all the key posts. He appointed many new generals and had others retire, so that by the 1980s all active-duty generals owed their rank to Pinochet. He also improved the pay and benefits of the services. The isolation of the armed forces from civil society had been a virtue under the democracy, inhibiting their involvement in political disputes; now that erstwhile virtue became an impediment to redemocratization, as the military remained loyal to Pinochet and resisted politicization by civilians.

Although aid and loans from the United States increased spectacularly during the first three years of the regime, while presidents Nixon and Gerald R. Ford were in office, relations soured after Jimmy Carter was elected president in
1976 on a platform promising vigorous pursuit of human rights as a major component of his foreign policy. During the Carter administration, a significant source of contention was the 1976 assassination in Washington of the former Chilean ambassador to the United States by agents of Pinochet’s secret police. The victim, Orlando Letelier, had served under Allende. In response to United
States criticism, General Pinochet held his first national plebiscite in 1978, calling for a yes or no vote on his defense of Chile’s sovereignty and the institutionalization of his regime. The government claimed that more than 75 percent of the voters in the tightly controlled referendum endorsed Pinochet’s rule.

By the mid-1970s, the dictatorship switched from destroying the old order to constructing its version of a new Chile. The junta not only overturned decades of democratic government but also decades of statist economic policies, which had mainly protected industrialists and organized workers. The new economic program was designed by civilian technocrats known as the "Chicago boys" because many of them had been trained or influenced by University of Chicago professors. The government instituted a dramatic conversion to free-market economics in 1975.

After curbing inflation and returning a significant amount of property to its former owners, the administration embarked on a radical program of liberalization and privatization, slashing tariffs as well as government welfare programs and deficits. As a result, the economy grew rapidly from 1976 to 1981, a feat heralded as the "Chilean miracle." That growth was fueled by the influx of private foreign loans until the debt crisis of the early 1980s. Financial conglomerates became the major beneficiaries of the open economy and the flood of foreign bank loans. Exports of nontraditional commodities, especially fruit, timber, and fish products, also grew impressively; the value of new exportables came to equal that of copper sales. Despite high growth in the late 1970s, income distribution became more regressive and unemployment stayed in double digits. The underemployed informal sector also mushroomed in size. The regime responded with a "minimum employment" public works program.

In conjunction with the liberalization of the economy, the junta implemented a series of social reforms to reduce the role of the central government in social security, labor disputes, health care, and education. These reforms fit with the desire to shrink the central government, decentralize administration, and privatize previous state functions. Critics charged that the welfare state was being dismantled to leave citizens at the mercy of the marketplace. The regime retorted that it was focusing its social assistance on the poorest of the poor to meet basic needs, and it pointed with pride to improvement in such indicators as infant mortality.

The most important of the government’s so-called modernizations in social policy was the 1979 Labor Plan. The regime had already outlawed the CUTCh, Marxist union leaders, several Marxist unions, union elections, strikes, and collective bargaining. Nevertheless, after bearing the brunt of repression in 1973-74, unions gradually revived in the late 1970s. Little by little, cooperation increased between Marxist and Christian Democrat union leaders, the latter making gains because the former were outlawed. Although a few unions supported the government, most firmly opposed the regime and its economic program. The Labor Plan sought to codify the dictatorship’s antilabor policies. It placed stringent limits on collective bargaining, strikes, and other union activities, especially any participation in politics. Almost all labor unions rejected the Labor Plan and aligned with the opposition.

At the height of the economic boom, the regime moved to legitimize and regularize its reforms and its tenure. Its new "constitution of liberty" was approved in a controlled plebiscite in 1980, in which the government claimed to have received 67 percent of the vote. Both leftists and Christian Democrats had called for a no vote. Because there were no safeguards for the opposition or for the balloting, most analysts expressed doubts about the government’s percentage and assumed that the constitution may have won by a lesser margin. According to the new constitution, Pinochet would remain president through 1989; a plebiscite in 1988 would determine if he would have an additional eight years in office. The document provided for military domination of the government both before and after the 1988 plebiscite.

The constitution’s approval marked the institutionalization of Pinochet’s political system. In the eyes of the military, a dictatorship had now been transformed into an authoritarian regime, rule by exception having been replaced by the rule of law. When the new charter took effect in 1981, the dictatorship was at the peak of its powers, politically untouchable and economically successful. At that moment, few would have predicted that the dispirited and fragmented opposition would take power by the end of the decade.

The imposition of the authoritarian constitution cast further gloom on the divided and dejected opposition. The PCCh now made a historic reversal, claiming that all forms of struggle, including armed insurrection, were justified against the dictatorship. Most political parties on the left or in the center, however, continued searching for a peaceful path to redemocratization

From 1982 to 1990, Chile underwent a prolonged journey back to democracy. During that process, the country experienced five crucial changes. First, the economic collapse in 1982 provoked some adjustments to the neoliberal model and sparked widespread protests against the regime. That recession was compounded by the international debt crisis.

Second, although most of the regime’s supporters in the business community and the armed forces held fast, the 1980s witnessed a weakening of their attachment to authoritarianism and a few defections from their ranks. Third, civil society became emboldened. A series of demonstrations against Pinochet during 1983-85 spread from organized labor to the middle class and finally ended up concentrated among the residents of the urban shantytowns. Fourth, the previously repressed and dormant political parties came back to life. They took charge during the 1988 plebiscite that effectively ended the Pinochet regime and the subsequent 1989 elections for president and Congress. Fifth, after being surrounded by like-minded dictators in South America, Pinochet became isolated as a tide of democratization swept the continent, and the United States and Europe began applying pressure for Chile to join the trend.

In sum, from its apogee in the 1980 plebiscite to its exit in 1990, the authoritarian regime lost support and saw its opponents gain momentum and eventually power. During its first decade, however, the dictatorship had brought about profound and seemingly durable changes. Politically, it had pulverized the revolutionary Marxist left. Economically, it had moved Chile’s focus from the state to the market. Socially, it had fostered a new emphasis on individualism and consumerism, widening the gap between rich and poor, even while helping some of the most destitute. What it had failed to do was to extirpate the preference
of most Chileans for democracy.

In December 1989, since the 1970 election won by Salvador Allende. Patricio Aylwin Azocár had gathered around him 3,850,023 votes (55.17%), while the center-right supermarket tycoon Francisco Javier Errázuriz, who represented the UCCP party, managed to take 15.05% of the vote, which had as main effects to lower right-wing candidate Hernán Büchi’s score to 29.40% (approximately 2 million votes, almost half of Patricio Aylwin).

The Concertación coalition would dominate Chilean politics for the next two decades, with its most recent victory being the 2006 election of Socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet. It established in February 1991 the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, which released in February 1991 the Rettig Report on human rights violations during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. This report, contested by human rights NGOs and associations of political prisoners, counted 2,279 cases of "disappearances" which could be proved and registered. Of course, the very nature of "disappearances" made such investigations very difficult, while many victims were still intimidated by the authorities, and did not dare go to the local
police center register themselves on lists, since the police officers were the same as during the dictatorship. The same problem arose, several years later, for the Valech Report, released in 2004 and which counted almost 30,000 victims of torture, among testimonies from 35,000 persons. However, the Rettig Report did list important detention and torture centers, such as the Esmeralda ship, the Víctor Jara Stadium, Villa Grimaldi, etc. The registering of victims of the dictatorship, and then, in the 2000s, trials of militaries guilty of human right violations, would dominate the next few years.

In the 1993 election, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle of the Christian Democratic Party was elected president for a 6-year term leading the Concertacion coalition, and took office in March 1994. Following an agreement between Pinochet and Andrés Zaldívar Larraín, president of the Senate, the latter voted to abolish the date of 11 September as a National Holiday which celebrated the 1973 coup. Supporters of Pinochet had blocked until then any such attempt. The same year, Pinochet traveled to London for an operation. But under orders of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, he was arrested there, lifting world-wide attention, not only because of the past history of Chile and South America, but also because this was one of the first arrest of a dictator based on the universal juridiction principle. Pinochet tried to defend himself by referring to the State Immunity Act of 1978, an argument rejected by the British justice. However, UK Home Secretary Jack Straw took the responsibility to release him on medical grounds, and refused to extradite him to Spain. Thereafter, Pinochet returned to Chile in March 2000. Upon descending the plane on his wheelchair, he stood up and saluted the cheering crowd of supporters, including an army band playing his favorite military march tunes, which was awaiting him at the airport in Santiago. President Ricardo Lagos, who had just sworn in on March 11, said the retired general’s televised arrival had damaged the image of Chile, while thousands demonstrated against him.

Representing the Concertación coalition for democracy, Ricardo Lagos had won the election just a few months before, by a very tight score of less than 200,000 votes (51,32%) against Joaquín Lavín (less than 49%), who represented the right-wing Alliance for Chile. None of the six candidates had obtained an absolute majority on the first turn held on December 12, 1999. Lagos was sworn in March 11, 2000, for a 6-year term.

In 2002 Chile signed an association agreement with the European Union (comprising FTA, political and cultural agreements), in 2003, an extensive free trade agreement with the United States, and in 2004 with South Korea, expecting a boom in import and export of local produce and becoming a regional trade-hub.

Meanwhile, the trials concerning human rights violations during the dictatorship continued. Pinochet was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in August 2000 by the Supreme Court, and indicted by judge Juan Guzmán Tapia. Guzmán had ordered in 1999 the arrest of five militaries, including General Pedro Espinoza Bravo of the DINA, for their role in the Caravan of Death following the 11 September coup. Arguing that the bodies of the "disappeared" were still missing, he made
jurisprudence which had as effect to lift any prescription on the crimes committed by the militaries. Pinochet’s trial continued until his death on December 10, 2006, with an alternance of indictments for specific cases, lifting of immunities by the Supreme Court or to the contrary immunity from prosecution, with his health a main argument for, or against, his prosecution. The Supreme Court affirmed in March 2005 Pinochet’s immunity concerning the 1974 assassination of General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires, which had taken place in the frame of Operation Condor. However, he was deemed fit to stand trial for Operation Colombo, during which 119 political opponents were "disappeared" in Argentina. The Chilean justice also lifted his immunity on the Villa Grimaldi case, a detention and torture center in the outskirts of Santiago. Pinochet, who still benefited from a reputation of righteousness from his supporters, lost legitimacy when he was put under house arrest on tax fraud and passport forgery, following the publication by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of a report concerning the Riggs Bank in July 2004. The report was a consequence of investigations on financial funding of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. The bank controlled between USD $4 million and $8 million of Pinochet’s assets, who lived in Santiago in a modest house, dissimulating his wealth. According to the report, Riggs participated in money laundering for Pinochet, setting up offshore shell corporations (referring to Pinochet as only "a former public official"), and hiding his accounts from regulatory agencies. Related to Pinochet’s and his family secret bank accounts in United States and in Caraïbs islands, this tax fraud filing for an amount of 27 million dollars shocked the conservative sectors who still supported him. Ninety percent of these funds would have been raised between 1990 and 1998, when Pinochet was chief of the Chilean armies, and would essentially have come from weapons traffic (when purchasing Belgian ‘Mirage’ air-fighters in 1994, Dutch ‘Léopard’ tanks, Swiss ‘Mowag’ tanks or by illegal sales of weapons to Croatia, in the middle of the Balkans war.) His wife, Lucía Hiriart, and his son, Marco Antonio Pinochet, were also sued for complicity. For the fourth time in seven years, Pinochet was indicted by the Chilean justice.

The Chilean authorities took control in August 2005 of the Colonia Dignidad "community", directed by
ex-Nazi Paul Schäfer.

The Concertación again won the 2006 presidential election. Michelle Bachelet, first woman president, won against Sebastián Piñera (Alliance for Chile), with more than 53% of the votes.

References:

Canada National History

The present territory of Canada was initially colonized by British and French emigrants from 1608. Britain gained full control in 1759. The Dominion of Canada was created on 2 July 1867, as a confederation of the four eastern provinces, with a Federal government in Ottawa.

By 1905 Canadian territory had expanded westwards to comprise 9 provinces and two territories. Canadians made a great contribution during the First World War, fighting in many famous actions and losing more men than the much larger United States. After the war, a developing ‘Canada first’ attitude led to an increasing distance between Canada and Britain.

In 1931, Canada was established as a sovereign state within the Commonwealth. Britain formally relinquished control of defence and foreign policy. During the Second World War, Canadians again fought with great distinction, particularly at Dieppe and the Normandy landings. Canada was a founder member of NATO on 4 April 1949. A tenth province, Newfoundland, also joined Canada in 1949.

Postwar, Canadians fought in the Korean War and provided peace-keeping forces for Cyprus, Suez and Indo-China. In 1965, the Maple-leaf flag was adopted as the national flag.

Since the 1960s, French Canadian separatism has become a prominent issue. Some 30 per cent of the population are of French descent, most living in the Province of Quebec. However, successive referendums and constitutional inquires have not resulted in any realistic moves towards independence.

A Free Trade Agreement was signed with the USA in 1988, and extended to include Mexico in 1992. Canada contributed air and naval forces to the Allied Coalition in the 1991 Gulf War.

Brazil National History


Brazil was first visited by Portuguese explorers in 1500 and part of the Portuguese Empire until 1822, when the country became independent. In 1889 Brazil was declared a Republic. During World War One fought with the Allies against Germany. After the 1930 revolution Getulio Vargas became President and ruled as dictator. Brazil entered World War Two aside the Allied Forces and fought with bravery in Italy. President Vargas was forced to resign in 1945. In 1964 the Armed Forces seized power and remained there until 1985.

Bolivia National History

The Bolivian highlands, permanently settled for at least 21,000 years, were part of the culture of Andean South America before the arrival of the Spaniards. The records are fragmentary but suggest that agriculture started about 3000 B.C. and that the production of metal, especially copper, began 1,500 years later.

By 600 B.C., the first great Andean empire had emerged on the high plateau between the mountains known as the Altiplano. This empire, the Tiahuanacan, was centered near the southeastern side of Lake Titicaca and included urban centers around the lake, as well as enclaves in different ecological zones from the eastern valleys to the Pacific Coast. Tiahuanaco was a great center of trade and religion, and the impact of its culture spread far beyond the boundaries of present-day Bolivia. Apparently, the Tiahuanacan Empire was established through colonization rather than through conquest. Its rapid expansion after 1000 and sudden collapse around 1200 are still poorly understood.

The collapse of Tiahuanacan influence resulted in the rise of seven regional kingdoms of the Aymara, the most powerful states located in the densely populated area around Lake Titicaca. The Aymara, a belligerent people who lived in fortified hilltop towns, had an extraordinary ability to adapt to the unique climatic conditions of the region and increased their food supply through irrigation and the process of freezing and drying crops. By maintaining colonists in the semitropical valleys on the eastern slopes of the Andes and on the Pacific Coast, they were able to produce both tropical and highland crops. Their basic social unit was the ayllu, a kinship group or clan that organized work and distributed land among its members. The Aymara completely dominated the Uru, another major ethnic group in the pre-Columbian southern Andes. Although the Uru might have preceded the Aymara in the region, by the twelfth century they were poor fishermen and landless workers.

The Aymara, however, were not able to contain the expansion of the Quechua, the third major ethnic group. After the collapse of the Tiahuanacan Empire, a Quechua-speaking state emerged in the area around Cuzco (in present-day Peru). In the early fifteenth century, the Quechua, who became known as the Incas when they adopted the name of their rulers, were the most powerful group in the northern highlands. As the Aymara kingdoms in the south became weaker in the second half of the fifteenth century, the Incas began to conquer them.

The Bolivian highlands became known as the Kollasuyo, a densely populated area with great economic and mineral wealth that constituted one of the four administrative units of the Inca Empire. The highest official of the Kollasuyo was responsible only to the Inca (the emperor) and supervised a group of provincial governors, who in turn controlled members of the Aymara nobility. Under a draft system called the mita, the Incas forced local Indians in the Kollasuyo to work in the mines or on construction projects or to serve in the armies, compensating them fully for their labor. Despite their goal of extreme centralization, the Incas did not fundamentally change the organization of the Aymara kingdoms, which remained relatively autonomous. Many local chiefs kept many of their former powers and were, in general, reinforced by Inca authority. They were also able to retain their culture, their local religion, and their language. The regional nobility, although forced to send their children to Cuzco for education, continued to hold private property. Moreover, the system of sending colonists to the eastern valleys and the coast was tolerated under Inca rule.

In 1470, however, several Aymara kingdoms rebelled against Inca rule. The Incas completely defeated two states and pacified the region by sending mitimas, Quechua-speaking colonists, to Aymara territory, especially to the southern valleys and to the more central valley regions where Cochabamba and Sucre were later founded. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Incas had fully established their rule over the Kollasuyo. The Incas failed, however, to conquer the nomadic tribes in the eastern Bolivian lowlands. The remains of Incan fortresses there are evidence of this failure and suggest that the Incas could subdue only those cultures that were primarily based on agriculture. Thus, the Indian groups of the eastern two-thirds of Bolivia preserved their ways of life to a great extent, even after the Spanish conquest.

Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro, and Hernando de Luque led the Spanish discovery and conquest of the Inca Empire. They first sailed south in 1524 along the Pacific Coast from Panama to confirm the legendary existence of a land of gold called "Biru." Because the rapidly expanding Inca Empire was internally weak, the conquest was remarkably easy. After the Inca Huayna Capac died in 1527, his sons Huascar and Atahualpa fought over the succession. Although Atahualpa defeated his brother, he had not yet consolidated his power when the Spaniards arrived in 1532, and he seriously misjudged their strength. Atahualpa did not attempt to defeat Pizarro when he arrived on the coast in 1532 because the Incan ruler was convinced that those who commanded the mountains also controlled the coast. When Pizarro formed alliances with Indians who resented Inca rule, Atahualpa did not modify the Inca ceremonial approach to warfare, which included launching attacks by the light of the full moon. On November 16, 1532, Pizarro took Atahualpa prisoner during their first encounter and later executed him, even after payment of a ransom equivalent to half a century of European production of gold and silver. One year later, Cuzco fell.

Despite Pizarro’s quick victory, Indian rebellions soon began and continued periodically throughout the colonial period. In 1537 Manco Inca, whom the Spanish had established as a puppet emperor, rebelled against the new rulers and restored a "neoInca " state. This state continued to challenge Spanish authority even after the Spanish suppressed the revolt and beheaded Túpac Amaru in the public square of Cuzco in 1572. Later revolts in the Bolivian highlands were usually organized by the elders of the community and remained local in nature, the exception being the great rebellion of Túpac Amaru II in the eighteenth century.

During the first two decades of Spanish rule, the settlement of the Bolivian highlands–now known as Upper (Alto) Peru or Charcas–was delayed by a civil war between the forces of Pizarro and those of Almagro. The two conquistadors had divided the Incan territory, with the north under the control of Pizarro and the south under that of Almagro. Fighting broke out in 1537, however, when Almagro seized Cuzco after suppressing the Manco Inca rebellion. Pizarro defeated and executed Almagro in 1538 but was himself assassinated three years later by former supporters of Almagro. Pizarro’s brother Gonzalo assumed control of Upper
Peru but soon became embroiled in a rebellion against the Spanish crown. Only with the execution of Gonzalo Pizarro in 1548 did Spain succeed in reasserting its authority; later that year, colonial authorities established the city of La Paz, which soon became an important commercial and transshipment center.

Indian resistance delayed the conquest and settlement of the Bolivian lowlands. The Spanish established Santa Cruz de la Sierra (hereafter, Santa Cruz) in 1561, but the Gran Chaco, the colonial name for the arid Chaco region, remained a violent frontier throughout colonial rule. In the Chaco, the Indians, mostly Chiriguano, carried out unrelenting attacks against colonial settlements and remained independent of direct Spanish control. Spain immediately recognized the enormous economic potential of Upper Peru. The highlands were rich in minerals, and Potosí had the Western world’s largest concentration of silver. The area was heavily populated and hence could supply workers for the silver mines. In addition, Upper Peru could provide food for the miners on the Altiplano.

Despite these conditions, silver production fluctuated dramatically during the colonial period. After an initial fifteen-year surge in production, output began to fall in 1560 as a result of a severe labor shortage caused by the Indian population’s inability to resist European diseases. Around the same time, Potosí’s rich surface deposits became depleted, which meant that even more labor would be required to extract silver. The labor shortage was addressed by Francisco de Toledo, the energetic viceroy (the king’s personal representative) of Peru, during a visit to Upper Peru in the 1570s. Toledo used the preColumbian mita to extract forced labor for the mines at Potosí from some sixteen districts in the highlands, which were designated as supplying mita. Adult males could be required to spend every sixth year working in the mines. Henceforth, Potosí mining depended on the mita as well as on a labor system in which relatively free men worked alongside those who were coerced. Toledo also regulated the mining laws, established a mint at Potosí, and introduced the mercury amalgam process.

The second problem, the exhaustion of the high-content surface ores, required technological innovations. Hydraulic power took on increased importance because of the construction of large refining centers. By 1621 a system of artificial lakes with a storage capacity of several million tons provided a steady supply of water for refineries. With the labor and technological problems resolved, silver mining flourished. By the middle of the seventeenth century, silver mining at Potosí had become so important that the city had the largest population in the Western Hemisphere, approximately 160,000 inhabitants. The end of the seventeenth-century boom, however, was followed by a major decline in the mining industry. The exhaustion of the first rich veins required deeper and more expensive shafts. The rapid decrease of the Indian population as a result of disease and exploitation by the mita also contributed to the reduction in silver output. After 1700 only small amounts of bullion from Upper Peru were shipped to Spain.

Kings from the Bourbon Dynasty in Spain tried to reform the colonial economy in the mid-eighteenth century by reviving mining. The Spanish crown provided the financial support necessary to develop deeper shafts, and in 1736 it agreed to lower the tax rate from 20 to 10 percent of the total output. The crown also helped create a minerals purchasing bank, the Banco de San Carlos, in 1751 and subsidized the price of mercury to local mines. The foundation of an academy of metallurgy in Potosí indicated the crown’s concern with technical improvements in silver production. The attempts to revive the mining sector in Upper Peru were only partially successful, however, and could not halt the economic collapse of Potosí at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, mining remained critical to the economy of Upper Peru because food supplies sent from the valleys to mining centers on the Altiplano influenced agricultural production.

Farming at first took place on encomiendas. The crown granted a small number of conquistadors the right to the labor and produce of Indians living on the encomienda, and by the 1650s there were some eighty-two encomiendas in Upper Peru. Encomenderos tended to monopolize agricultural production, control the cheap Indian labor, and collect the tribute that the Indians had to pay to the crown. Because encomenderos were difficult to control and abused their laborers, however, the crown tried repeatedly to bring Indians under its direct jurisdiction and control. In the second half of the sixteenth century, agricultural production shifted from encomiendas to large estates, on which Indians worked in exchange for the use of land. Cochabamba became a major producer of corn and wheat, and the valleys produced coca leaves in increasing amounts during colonial rule.

In addition to mining and agricultural production, Indian tribute (alcabala) became an increasingly important source of income for the crown despite Indian migration to avoid payment. An early effort to collect tribute from Indians by moving them into villages or indigenous communities (comunidades indígenas) was unsuccessful because of resistance from both encomenderos and Indians. But by the late eighteenth century, an increase in the Indian population, the extension of tribute payments to all Indian males (including those who owned land), and a relative decline in income from the mines combined to make alcabala the second largest source of income in Upper Peru. Tribute payments also increased because Spanish absolutism made no concessions to human misfortune, such as natural disasters. The Indian tribute was increased by 1 million pesos annually.

The longevity of Spain’s empire in South America can be explained partly by the successful administration of the colonies. Spain was at first primarily interested in controlling the independent-minded conquerors, but its main goal soon became maintaining the flow of revenue to the crown and collecting the tribute of goods and labor from the Indian population. To this end, Spain soon created an elaborate bureaucracy in the New World in which various institutions served as watchdogs over each other and local officials had considerable autonomy.

Upper Peru, at first a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, joined the new Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata (whose capital was Buenos Aires) when it was created in 1776. The viceroy was aided by the audiencia (council), which was simultaneously the highest court of appeal in the jurisdiction and, in the absence of the viceroy, also had administrative and executive powers. The wealth of Upper Peru and its remoteness from Lima convinced the authorities in Lima to create an audiencia in the city of Chuquisaca (present-day Sucre) in 1558. Chuquisaca had become particularly important as Potosí’s administrative and agricultural supply center. The jurisdiction of the audiencia, known as Charcas, initially covered a radius of 100 "leagues" (179,600 hectares) around Chuquisaca, but it soon included Santa Cruz and territory belonging to present-day Paraguay and, until 1568, also the entire district of Cuzco. The president of the audiencia had judicial authority as well as administrative and executive powers in the region, but only in routine matters; more important decisions were made in Lima. This situation led to a competitive attitude and the reputation of Upper Peru for assertiveness, a condition reinforced by the economic importance of the region.

Spain exercised its control of smaller administrative units in the colonies through royal officials, such as the
corregidor, who represented the king in the municipal governments that were elected by their citizens. By the early seventeenth century, there were four corregidores in Upper Peru.

In the late eighteenth century, Spain undertook an administrative reform to increase revenues of the crown and to eliminate a number of abuses. It created an intendancy system, giving extensive powers to highly qualified officials who were directly responsible to the king. In 1784 Spain established four intendancy districts in Upper Peru, covering the present-day departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Potosí, and Chuquisaca. The Spanish crown at first controlled the local governments indirectly but centralized procedures as time went on. At first, Viceroy Francisco de Toledo confirmed the rights of local nobles and guaranteed them local autonomy. But the crown eventually came to employ Spanish officials, corregidores de indios, to collect tribute and taxes from the Indians. Corregidores de indios also imported goods and forced the Indians to buy them, a widely abused practice that proved to be an enormous source of wealth for these officials but caused much resentment among the Indian population.

With the first settlers in Upper Peru came the secular and regular clergy to begin the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. In 1552 the first bishopric in Upper Peru was established in La Plata; in 1605 La Paz and Santa Cruz also became bishoprics. In 1623 the Jesuits established the Royal and Pontifical Higher University of San Francisco Xavier of Chuquisaca, Upper Peru’s first university. Indian reaction to colonial rule and conversion to Christianity varied. Many Indians adapted to Spanish ways by breaking with their traditions and actively attempting to enter the market economy. They also used the courts to protect their interests, especially against new tribute assessments. Others, however, clung to their customs as much as possible, and some rebelled against the white rulers. Local, mostly uncoordinated, rebellions occurred throughout colonial rule. More than 100 revolts occurred in the eighteenth century alone in Bolivia and Peru.

Although the official Incan religion disappeared rapidly, the Indians continued their local worship under the protection of local Indian rulers. But as Christianity influenced the Indians, a new folk-Catholicism developed, incorporating symbols of the indigenous religion. Whereas early Indian rebellions were anti-Christian, the revolts at the end of the sixteenth century were based in messianic Christian symbolism that was Roman Catholic and anti-Spanish. The church was tolerant of local Indian religions. In 1582, for example, the bishop of La Plata permitted the Indians to build a sanctuary for the dark Virgen de Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Copacabana has been a traditional Aymara religious center ever since). The conquest and colonial rule were traumatic experiences for the Indians. Easily susceptible to European diseases, the native population decreased
rapidly. The situation of the Indians worsened in the eighteenth century when Spain demanded higher tribute payments and increased mita obligations in an attempt to improve the mining output.

Increasing Indian discontent with colonial rule sparked the great rebellion of Túpac Amaru II. Born José Gabriel Condorcanqui, this educated, Spanish-speaking Indian took the name of his ancestor, Túpac Amaru. During the 1770s, he became embittered over the harsh treatment of the Indians by the corregidores de indios. In November 1780, Túpac Amaru II and his followers seized and executed a particularly cruel corregidor de indios. Although Túpac Amaru II insisted that his movement was reformist and did not seek to overthrow Spanish rule, his demands included an autonomous region. The uprising quickly became a full-scale revolt. Approximately 60,000 Indians in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes rallied to the cause. After scoring some initial victories, including defeating a Spanish army of 1,200 men, Túpac Amaru II was captured and killed in May 1781; nonetheless, the revolt continued, primarily in Upper Peru. There, a supporter of Túpac Amaru II, the Indian chief Tomás Catari, had led an uprising in Potosí during the early months of 1780. Catari was killed by the Spaniards a month before Túpac Amaru II. Another major revolt was led by Julián Apaza, a sexton who took the names of the two rebel martyrs by calling himself Túpac Catari (also spelled Katari). He besieged La Paz for more than 100 days. Spain did not succeed in putting down all of the revolts until 1783 and then
proceeded to execute thousands of Indians.

In the late eighteenth century, a growing discontent with Spanish rule developed among the criollos (persons of pure Spanish descent born in the New World). Criollos began to assume active roles in the economy, especially in mining and agricultural production, and thus resented the trade barriers established by the mercantilist policies of the Spanish crown. In addition, criollos were incensed that Spain reserved all upperlevel administrative positions for peninsulares (Spanish-born persons residing in the New World).

The invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807-08 by Napoleón’s forces proved critical to the independence struggle in South America. The overthrow of the Bourbon Dynasty and the placement of Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne tested the loyalty of the local elites in Upper Peru, who were suddenly confronted with several conflicting authorities. Most remained loyal to Spain. Taking a wait-and-see attitude, they supported the Junta Central (Central Junta) in Spain, a government in the name of the abdicated Ferdinand VII. Some liberals eagerly welcomed the reforms of colonial rule promised by Joseph Bonaparte. Others supported the claims of Carlota, Ferdinand’s sister, who governed Brazil with her husband, Prince Regent John of Portugal. Finally, a number of radical criollos wanted independence for Upper Peru.

This conflict of authority resulted in a local power struggle in Upper Peru between 1808 and 1810 and constituted the first phase of the efforts to achieve independence. In 1808 the president of the audiencia, Ramón García León de Pizarro, demanded affiliation with the Junta Central. The conservative judges of the audiencia were influenced, however, by their autocratic royalist philosophy and refused to recognize the authority of the junta because they saw it as a product of a popular rebellion. On May 25, 1809, tensions grew when radical criollos, also refusing to recognize the junta because they wanted independence, took to the streets. This revolt, one of the first in Latin America, was soon put down by the authorities.

On July 16, 1809, Pedro Domingo Murillo led another revolt by criollos and mestizos (those of mixed European and Indian ancestry) in La Paz and proclaimed an independent state in Upper Peru in the name of Ferdinand VII. The loyalty to Ferdinand was a pretense used to legitimize the independence movement. By November 1809, Cochabamba, Oruro, and Potosí had joined Murillo. Although the revolt was put down by royalist forces sent to La Paz by the viceroy of Peru and to Chuquisaca by the viceroy of Río de La Plata, Upper Peru was never again completely controlled by Spain.

During the following seven years, Upper Peru became the battleground for forces of the independent Argentine Republic and royalist troops from Peru. Although the royalists repulsed four Argentine invasions, guerrillas controlled most of the countryside, where they formed six major republiquetas, or zones of insurrection. In these zones, local patriotism would eventually develop into the fight for independence. By 1817 Upper Peru was relatively quiet and under the control of Lima. After 1820 the Conservative Party criollos supported General Pedro Antonio de Olañeta, a Charcas native, who refused to accept the measures by the Spanish Cortes (legislature) to conciliate the colonies after the Liberal Party revolution in Spain. Olañeta, convinced that these measures threatened royal authority, refused to join the royalist forces or the rebel armies under the command of Simón Bolívar Palacio and Antonio José de Sucre Alcalá. Olañeta did not relinquish his command even after the Peruvian royalists included him and his forces in the capitulation agreement following their defeat in the Battle of Ayacucho in 1824, the final battle of the wars of independence in Latin America. Olañeta continued a quixotic war until Sucre’s forces defeated his forces, and he was killed by his own men on April 1, 1825, in a battle that effectively ended Spanish rule in Upper Peru.

In 1825 Bolívar, first president of what became known as Bolivia, transferred authority over Upper Peru to his lieutenant, Sucre (1825-28), who called a constituent assembly in Chuquisaca to determine the future of the region. Almost all delegates wanted an independent Upper Peru and rejected attachment to Argentina or Peru. On August 6, 1825, the assembly adopted a declaration of independence. Five days later, the assembly, hoping to placate Bolívar’s reservations about the independence of Upper Peru, resolved to name the new nation after him.

The new Republic of Bolivia, created in the territory that had formed the audiencia of Charcas, faced profound problems. The wars of independence had disrupted the economy. The entire mining industry was in decline because of destruction, flooding, and abandonment of mines. Lack of investment and scarcity of labor contributed to a sharp drop in silver production. Agricultural production was low, and Bolivia had to import food, even staples consumed by the Indian population. The government had serious financial difficulties because of the huge military expenditures and debt payments to Peru as compensation for the army of liberation. All these problems were aggravated by the isolation of the new republic from the outside world and the difficulties of securing its borders.

Bolívar entered La Paz triumphantly on August 8, 1825. During his brief rule of less than five months, he issued a flood of decrees, resolutions, and orders reflecting his ideas about government. He declared the equality of all citizens and abolished the tribute payments, replacing them with a "direct contribution" (contribución directa) that amounted to less than half of the previous payments. Bolívar also decreed a land reform to distribute land, preferably to Indians, and tried to reduce the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in politics. Most of his decrees could not be implemented during his short tenure, but they were included in the constitution he wrote for Bolivia after his departure in January 1826. Despite his efforts at reform, Bolívar was outspoken about his doubts as to the ability of Bolivians to govern themselves. He was careful to avoid recognizing Bolivia’s independence, always referring to the country as Upper Peru and signing his decrees as dictator of Peru. Only in January 1826, when he turned the country over to Sucre, did he promise that the Peruvian legislature would approve Bolivia’s independence.

Sucre succeeded Bolívar in January 1826 and continued to rule by decree. He was formally installed as Bolivia’s first elected president after the General Constituent Assembly convened in May and elected him. During his three-year rule, the government tried to solve its grave financial problems, which were aggravated by the lack of foreign credit. Sucre reformed the existing tax structure in an effort to finance public expenditures and tried to revive silver mining by attracting foreign capital and technology. In one of the most radical attacks on the church anywhere in Latin America, he confiscated church wealth in Bolivia and closed down many monasteries. The Roman Catholic Church in Bolivia never recovered the powerful role that it had held. Import duties and taxes on the internal movement of goods were also important sources of state revenue. In addition, Sucre reestablished tribute payments in an attempt to solve the country’s financial crisis.

Sucre’s attempts at reform were only partially successful because Bolivia lacked the administration to carry them out. Many Conservative Party criollos turned away when his reforms threatened to challenge the economic and social patterns of the colonial past. As opposition increased, the local nationalist elite came to resent the leadership of their Venezuelan-born president. The invasion of Bolivia by the Peruvian general Agustín Gamarra and an assassination attempt in April 1827 led to Sucre’s resignation in 1828. Sucre left the country for voluntary exile, convinced that "the solution was impossible." Given troop command by Bolívar, however, Sucre routed General Gamarra’s much larger force (8,000) in a decisive battle at Tarqui on February 27, 1829.

Despite the fall of his government, Sucre’s policies formed the basis for the ten-year rule of Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana (1829-39), the first native-born president, who was sworn into office in May 1829 after a series of short-term rulers. Santa Cruz, a mestizo, had a brilliant military career fighting for independence in the armies of Bolívar. His close connection with Bolívar had led to a short interlude as the president of Peru in 1826. It also made him a strong candidate to become Bolivia’s new president after Sucre’s resignation.

Santa Cruz created a relatively stable economic, social, and political order in Bolivia. In an attempt to overcome Bolivia’s isolation, Santa Cruz opened the port of Cobija on the Pacific Coast. He also devalued the silver currency to finance government activities, instituted protective tariffs in support of the local cotton cloth (tucuyo) industry, and reduced the mining tax, thereby increasing mining output. In addition, Santa Cruz codified the country’s laws and enacted Latin America’s first civil and commercial codes. The Higher University of San Andrés in La Paz was also founded during his rule. Although Santa Cruz approved a democratic constitution, he ruled virtually as a dictator and did not tolerate opposition.

Santa Cruz continued his political ambitions in Peru while president of Bolivia. He established the Peru-Bolivia Confederation in 1836, justifying his act with the threat of Chile’s expansion to the north. This threat, together with the constant turmoil in Peru and repeated attempts by Gamarra to invade Bolivia, had made Sucre’s military intervention in a Peruvian civil war in 1835 a matter of life and death for Bolivia. After winning a number of battles in Peru, Santa Cruz reorganized that country into two autonomous states–Northern Peru and Southern Peru–and joined them with Bolivia in the Peru-Bolivia Confederation with himself as protector. The potential power of this confederation aroused the opposition of Argentina and, above all, Chile; both nations declared war on the confederation. Although Santa Cruz repelled an attack by Argentina, he failed to stop the Chilean expansion into the disputed territories on its northern frontier. His decisive defeat by Chilean forces in the Battle of Yungay in January 1839 resulted in the breakup of the confederation and ended the career of Bolivia’s ablest nineteenth-century president. Santa Cruz went into exile in Ecuador.

Bolivia was characterized for the forty years after 1839 by a chaotic political situation and a declining economy. The country relied on taxes paid by the Indians as its main source of income. Although some of the government’s leaders during this period tried to reform the country, most fit the description of caudillos bárbaros (barbaric caudillos), a term used by Bolivian writer Alcides Arguedas for inept and corrupt rulers.

Santa Cruz was succeeded in June 1839 by General José Miguel de Velasco Franco (1828, 1829, and 1839-41), who tried to control the political intrigues and maneuvering between the supporters and opponents of Santa Cruz. After failing to repel yet another invasion by Gamarra, Velasco was overthrown. Gamarra was killed in November 1841 near La Paz in the Battle of Ingavi, in which General José Ballivián y Segurola defeated the Peruvian forces and ended Peruvian expansionism.

Ballivián y Segurola (1841-47) is remembered for restoring relative calm to the nation between 1842 and 1847. Reversing Santa Cruz’s protectionist policies, Ballivián y Segurola encouraged free trade. He also promoted the colonization of the Beni. Nonetheless, the main income continued to come from the taxes paid by rural Indians. These included not only a head tax but also a tax on coca leaves, which were consumed almost exclusively by the Indian population. Although nearly 90 percent of all Bolivians lived in rural areas according to the 1846 census, agriculture generated little revenue. Most haciendas stagnated, and only the collection of chinchona bark (for the production of quinine) and coca leaves increased in the valleys.

After the overthrow of Ballivián y Segurola in 1847, Manuel Isidoro Belzú Humérez (1848-55) emerged as the most powerful figure in Bolivia. Unlike his predecessors, Belzú sought the support of the masses. In order to gain the backing of the Indians, he started a campaign against the aristocratic landowners, seized their land, and incited the Indians to destroy the homes of the landowners. He also hoped to get the support of the artisans who had been hurt by the free-trade policies of Ballivián y Segurola by restricting the role of foreign merchants in Bolivia and limiting imports.

Belzú’s effort succeeded in one sense because he fended off forty-two coup attempts during his rule. "Tata" Belzú, as he was called by the Indians (like the head of the ayllu in preColumbian times), has been seen as the precursor of Andean populism. Attempting to stir the masses in demagogic speeches, Belzú completely alienated the Bolivian establishment with his reign of terror. As efforts to overthrow him increased, he resigned in 1855 and left for Europe.

José María Linares Lizarazu (1857-61), a member of the elite that had opposed Belzú, overthrew Belzú’s son-in-law, General Jorge Córdova (1855-57), and became the first civilian president. Linares reversed Belzú’s protective policies and encouraged free trade and foreign investment, mainly from Britain and Chile. During his presidency, mining output increased because of technological innovations, such as the steam engine, and the discovery of huge nitrate deposits in the Atacama Desert (in present-day Chile). Although the mining sector improved, it failed to stimulate agricultural production, and most haciendas continued in a relative state of stagnation. This malaise contributed to the survival of campesino communities during the nineteenth century, despite repeated assaults on their common landholdings by various governments. But the tax burden on the Indians resulted in campesino revolts in Copacabana.

The overthrow of Linares by a military coup in 1861 initiated one of the most violent periods in Bolivian history, under General José María Achá Valiente (1861-64). Achá is remembered for the "murders of Yáñez," the massacre of
seventy-one Belzú supporters (Belcistas), including General Córdova, ordered by Colonel Plácido Yáñez, the military commander in La Paz, in 1861. In late 1864, General Mariano Melgarejo Valencia (1864-71) seized the presidency and became the most notorious of Bolivia’s caudillos. Relying primarily on the military, he remained in power for more than six years despite his mismanagement, drunkenness, and corruption, as well as constant intrigues against him. Hoping to improve the economy by opening up the country to
foreigners, Melgarejo signed a series of treaties with Chile and Peru for free trade. In an 1867 treaty with Brazil to secure water rights to the Atlantic Ocean, he ceded 102,400 square kilometers of territory, hoping to break Bolivia’s isolation.

Melgarejo started a formidable assault on Indian communal land, ostensibly in order to improve agricultural production. He decreed that the Indians were the owners of their parcels only if they paid a large fee within sixty days. If they failed to do so, their land would be auctioned off. The resulting sales increased the size of the haciendas, and massive Indian uprisings against his rule became more violent. Opposition against Melgarejo mounted in all sectors of society as the term melgarejismo came to signify amoral militarism; in 1871 he was overthrown and later murdered in Lima.

Agustín Morales Hernández (1871-72) continued Melgarejo’s ruling style, despite his promise of "more liberty and less government." Morales was assassinated, however, by a nephew in 1873. Two presidents with high integrity, Tomás Frías Ametller (1872-73) and General Adolfo Ballivián (1873-74), did not last long because of constant intrigues. Under their rule, Bolivia opened the port of Mollendo in Peru, which reduced the country’s isolation by connecting the Altiplano by train and steamship on Lake Titicaca to the Pacific Coast. But in 1876 Hilarión Daza Groselle (1876-79) seized power and became another
military caudillo, as brutal and incompetent as Melgarejo. He faced many insurrections, a massive demonstration by artisans in Sucre, and widespread opposition. Hoping to gather the support of nationalist Bolivians to strengthen his internal position, Daza involved his country in the disastrous War of the Pacific.

The War of the Pacific resulted from a dispute between Bolivia and Chile over sovereignty of the mineral-rich coastal area of the Atacama Desert. In the mid-1860s, the two nations had come to the brink of war because of disagreement over their boundaries. In 1874 Chile agreed to fix the border at 24° south latitude in return for Bolivia’s promise not to increase taxes on Chilean nitrate enterprises for twenty-five years. But in 1878, Daza imposed a slight increase on export taxes. Chile immediately objected, and when Daza refused to revoke the tax hike, Chile landed troops on February 14, 1879. Bolivia, in alliance with Peru, declared war on Chile on March 1, but Bolivia’s troops in the coastal territory were easily defeated, in part because of Daza’s military incompetence. Driven from office by a popular revolt, Daza fled to Europe with a sizable portion of Bolivia’s treasury. The attempt of General Narciso Campero Leyes (1880-84) to come to the aid of Peru, Bolivia’s ally in the war, was unsuccessful, and the combined armies were defeated by Chile in 1880. Having lost its entire coastal territory, Bolivia withdrew from the war. It ceded the territory officially to Chile twentyfour years later, in 1904, under the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

The War of the Pacific was a turning point in Bolivian history. Bolivian politicians were able to rally Bolivians by blaming the war on Chilean aggression. Bolivian writers were convinced that Chile’s victory would help Bolivia to overcome its backwardness because the defeat strengthened the "national soul." Even today, Bolivia has not relinquished the hope of regaining an outlet to the Pacific Ocean.

After the war, a vigorous debate among civilian elites spawned the development of new political parties. Mining entrepreneurs, who had become the most important economic group in the country because of increasing production, created the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador). Conservatives favored reaching a quick peace settlement with Chile that would include indemnification for lost territories and enable Bolivia to construct a railroad for mining exports. The Liberal Party (Partido Liberal) denounced the pacifism of the Conservatives. It also resented the economic dependence of the mining sector on Chilean and British capital and hoped to attract United States investment. Despite these differences, both parties were primarily interested in political and economic modernization, and their ideological outlooks were similar. Civilian politicians reorganized, reequipped, and professionalized the discredited armed forces and tried to subject them to civilian control. Still, both Conservatives and Liberals initially supported military candidates for the presidency. The governments in power from 1880 to 1920–elected by a small, literate, and Spanish-speaking electorate–brought Bolivia its first relative political stability and prosperity.

The Conservatives ruled Bolivia from 1880 until 1899. General Campero completed his legal term in office and presided over free elections in 1884 that brought to power Gregorio Pacheco Leyes (1884-88), one of Bolivia’s most important mine owners. After Pachecho’s term, however, fraudulent elections resulted repeatedly in Liberal revolts. Although the Liberal Party was allowed to participate in the National Congress (hereafter, Congress), it had no chance to win a presidential election. Under the Conservatives, the high world price of silver and increased production of copper, lead, zinc, and tin combined to create a period of relative prosperity. The Conservative governments encouraged the mining industry through the development of a rail network to the Chilean coast. The growth of commercial agriculture, such as the development of Bolivia’s natural rubber resources, also contributed to an apparently stronger economy. Agricultural production in the highlands increased as the haciendas expanded in some regions.

Aniceto Arce Ruíz (1888-92), although elected legally, was an autocrat who managed to stay in power only through repression. His main economic accomplishment was to extend the Antofagasta-Calama Railroad to Oruro. The extension of the railroad drastically reduced the cost of transporting minerals to the Pacific Coast. Economic growth was skewed, however, as railroads that were built to export minerals started to bring imported wheat from Chile; in 1890 Chilean wheat was cheaper in La Paz than wheat from Cochabamba. The open economy also hurt local industry. The expansion of the haciendas at the expense of the free Indian communities resulted in numerous uprisings and forced many Indians to work for their landlords or to migrate to the cities. As a result of this migration, the census of 1900 noted an increase of the mestizo population, but Bolivia remained a predominantly Indian and rural nation, in which the Spanishspeaking minority continued to exclude the Indians.

In 1899 the Liberal Party overthrew the Conservatives in the "Federal Revolution." Although the Liberals resented the long rule of the Conservatives, the main reasons for the revolt were regionalism and federalism. The Liberal Party drew most of its support from the tin-mining entrepreneurs in and around La Paz, whereas Conservative governments had ruled with an eye on the interests of the silver mine owners and great landowners in Potosí and Sucre. The immediate cause of the conflict was the Liberal demand to move the capital from Sucre to the more developed La Paz. The Federal Revolution differed from previous revolts in Bolivia in that Indian peasants actively participated in the fighting. Indian discontent had increased because of the massive assault on their communal landholdings. The campesinos supported the Liberal leader, José Manuel Pando, when he promised to improve their situation.

Pando, however, reneged on his promises and allowed the assault on Indian land to continue. The government suppressed a series of campesino uprisings and executed the leaders. One of these revolts, led by Pablo Zárate Willka, was one of the largest Indian rebellions in the history of the republic. It frightened whites and mestizos, who once again successfully isolated the Indians from national life. Like their Conservative predecessors, the Liberals controlled the presidential elections but left the elections for the Congress relatively free. They also continued to professionalize the Bolivian military, with the aid of a German military mission. President Ismael Montes Gamboa (1904-09 and 1913-17) dominated the Liberal era.

Liberal administrations gave priority to the settlement of border disputes. Bolivia’s inability to protect and integrate the frontier with Brazil had led to the encroachment of Brazilian rubber gatherers. In 1900 they began an active secessionist movement in the eastern province of Acre and after three years of small-scale fighting won annexation by Brazil. In the Treaty of Petropolis in 1903, Bolivia relinquished its claims to 191,000 square kilometers of Acre territory in return for two areas on the Madeira and the Paraguay rivers totaling 5,200 square kilometers, the equivalent of US$10 million, and the use of a railroad to be constructed around the rapids of the Madeira in Brazilian territory. In 1904 Bolivia finally concluded a peace treaty with Chile under which it officially ceded Bolivia’s former territory on the coast in return for indemnification of US$8.5 million, less the value of the Bolivian section of a new railroad that Chile would construct from La Paz to the Pacific Coast at
Arica. The payment was used to expand the transportation system in Bolivia. By 1920 most major Bolivian cities were connected by rail.

Liberal governments also changed the seat of government and the nature of church-state relations. The presidency and the Congress were moved to La Paz, which became the de facto capital, but the Supreme Court of Justice remained in Sucre. Liberal presidents canceled the special privileges officially granted to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1905 they legalized public worship by other faiths, and in 1911 they made civil marriage a requirement. Perhaps the most significant development of the Liberal era was the dramatic rise of Bolivian tin production. Since the colonial period, tin had been mined in the Potosí region; nonetheless, Bolivia historically lacked the transportation system necessary to ship large quantities of tin to European markets. The extension of the rail link to Oruro in the 1890s, however, made tin mining a highly profitable business. The decline in European tin production also contributed to the Bolivian tin boom at the beginning of the twentieth century. With the development of huge mines in southern Oruro and northern Potosí, La Paz eclipsed Potosí as the mining industry’s financial and service center.

Tin production in Bolivia came to be concentrated in the hands of Bolivian nationals, although the regimes encouraged foreign investment. At first, foreign interests and Bolivians with foreign associations took the major share. This changed, however, when Bolivian tin-mining entrepreneurs realized that smelters in competing countries depended on Bolivian tin. Simón Patiño was the most successful of these tin magnates. Of poor mestizo background, he started as a mining apprentice. By 1924 he owned 50 percent of the national production and controlled the European refining of Bolivian tin. Although Patiño lived permanently abroad by the early 1920s, the two other leading tin-mining entrepreneurs, Carlos Aramayo and Mauricio Hochschild, resided primarily in Bolivia.

Because taxes and fees from tin production were critically important to national revenues, Patiño, Aramayo, and Hochschild exercised considerable influence over government policy. Unlike the silver-mining entrepreneurs of the Conservative period, the tin-mining magnates did not directly intervene in politics but employed politicians and lawyers–known as the rosca–to represent their interests. The tin boom also contributed to increased social tensions. Indian peasants, who provided most of the labor for the mines, moved from their rural communities to the rapidly growing mining towns, where they lived and worked in precarious situations. Bolivia’s First National Congress of Workers met in La Paz in 1912, and in the following years the mining centers witnessed an increasing number of strikes.

Liberal governments at first did not face any serious opposition because the Conservative Party remained weak after its overthrow in 1899. By 1914, however, opposition to political abuses and the loss of national territory led to the formation of the Republican Party (Partido Republicano). Republican support increased when mineral exports declined because of the crisis in international trade before World War I, and agricultural production decreased because of severe droughts. In 1917 the Republicans were defeated at the polls when José Gutiérrez Guerra (1917-20), the last Liberal president, was elected. But the long rule of the Liberals, one of the most stable periods in Bolivian history, ended when the Republicans seized the presidency in a bloodless coup in 1920.

The advent of the Republican Party did not at first indicate any profound change in Bolivian politics. Fernando Díez de Medina, a Bolivian writer, commented on the change: "Twenty years of privilege for one group ends, and ten years of privilege for another begins." The 1920s, however, was also a period of political change. New parties emerged as the Republican Party split into several factions. One major opposing branch was led by Bautista Saavedra Mallea, who had the support of the urban middle class, and the other was led by the more conservative Daniel Salamanca Urey (1931-34). A number of minor political
parties influenced by socialist or Marxist thought also emerged.

During Republican rule, the Bolivian economy underwent a profound change. Tin prices started to decline in the 1920s. After peaking in 1929, tin production declined dramatically as the Great Depression nearly destroyed the international tin market. This decline was also caused by the decrease in the tin content of ore and the end of new investment in the mines in Bolivia. As economic growth slowed, Republican presidents relied on foreign loans. Saavedra (1920-25) and Hernando Siles Reyes (1926-30) borrowed heavily in the United States to finance major development projects, despite opposition by Bolivian nationalists to the favorable terms for the lender. The so-called Nicolaus loan aroused national indignation because it gave the United States control over Bolivia’s tax collections in return for a private banking loan of US$33 million.

During the 1920s, Bolivia faced growing social turmoil. Labor unrest, such as the miners’ strike in Uncia in 1923, was brutally suppressed. But the unrest reached new heights of violence after the drastic reduction of the work force during the Great Depression. Indian peasants continued to rebel in the countryside, although they had been disarmed and their leaders had been executed after participating in the overthrow of the Conservative Party in 1899. Now, for the first time, the Indians found support for their cause among the elite. Gustavo Navarro, who took the name Tristan Marof, was Bolivia’s most important Indianist. He saw in the Inca past the first successful socialism and the model to solve rural problems. As Indian uprisings continued during Liberal rule, Siles Reyes promised to improve their situation and organized the National Crusade in Favor of Indians.

The social legislation of the Republican governments was weak, however, because neither Saavedra nor Siles Reyes wanted to challenge the rosca. Siles Reyes’s four years of inconsistent rule and unfulfilled promises of radical changes frustrated workers and students. In 1930 he was overthrown when he tried to bypass the constitutional provision forbidding reelection by resigning in order to run again. A military junta ruled until March 1931, when Salamanca (1931-34) was elected as a coalition candidate. Although he was an esteemed economist before taking office, Salamanca was unable to suppress social unrest and to solve the severe economic problems caused by the Great Depression. Criticism of his administration mounted in all sectors of Bolivian society. Initially reluctant to enter into an armed conflict with Paraguay, he nevertheless led Bolivia into war, a move supported by the military and traditional groups.

The origin of the war was a border dispute between Bolivia and Paraguay over the Chaco. This vast area was largely undeveloped except for some minor oil discoveries by Standard Oil in Bolivia and Royal Dutch Shell in Paraguay. The Chaco, which Bolivia traditionally regarded as a province (Gran Chaco), became more significant to Bolivia after the latter lost its Pacific Ocean outlet to Chile. Bolivia hoped to gain access to the Atlantic Ocean with an oil pipeline across the Chaco to the Paraguay River. Despite mediation attempts by various countries, the increased number of border incidents led the military high commands of Bolivia and Paraguay to believe in the inevitability of war. Salamanca used one of the border incidents to break diplomatic relations with Paraguay and increase Bolivia’s military budget, even though the country had severe economic problems. Convinced that Bolivia’s better-equipped, German-trained troops, which outnumbered the Paraguayan army, could win the war, Salamanca went to war in 1932.

The war raged for the next three years. The Bolivians were defeated in all major battles, and by the end of 1934 they had been driven back 482 kilometers from their original positions deep in the Chaco to the foothills of the Andes. Serious strategic errors, poor intelligence, and logistical problems in reaching the distant battle lines contributed to the losses. In addition, the morale of the Bolivian troops was low, and the highland Indians could not adapt to the extreme climate in the low-lying Chaco. Despite the high command’s decision to end the war, Salamanca was determined to continue at all costs. In 1934, when he traveled to the Chaco to take command of the war, Salamanca was arrested by the high command and forced to resign. His vice-president, José Luis Tejada Sorzano, who was known to favor peace, was accepted as president (1934-36).

Salamanca’s overthrow was a turning point in the Chaco War. The Paraguayan troops were stopped by new, more capable Bolivian officers, who fought closer to Bolivian supply lines. On June 14, 1935, a commission of neutral nations (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and the United States) declared an armistice; a definite settlement was finally reached in 1938. Bolivia lost the Chaco but retained the petroleum fields, which Paraguay had failed to reach. Both countries suffered heavy losses in the war. In Bolivia alone, an estimated 65,000 people were killed and 35,000 wounded or captured out of a population of just under 3 million. The humiliating disaster of the Chaco War had a profound impact in Bolivia, where it was seen as dividing the history of the twentieth century "like a knife." The traditional oligarchy was discredited because of its inept civilian and military leadership in the war. Unable to deal with growing criticism, its members blamed the loss of the war on the low potential of the Bolivians and saw the earlier pessimistic assessment in Arguedas’s famous novel Pueblo Enfermo (A Sick People) confirmed.

After the war, a group of middle-class professionals, writers, and young officers questioned the traditional leadership. This group, which came to be known as the "Chaco Generation," searched for new ways to deal with the nation’s problems. It resented the service of the rosca on behalf of the tin-mining entrepreneurs and criticized Standard Oil, which had delivered oil to Paraguay clandestinely through Argentine intermediaries during the war. The Chaco Generation was convinced of the need for social change. Gustavo Navarro, now more radical than during the 1920s, raised the famous slogan "land to the Indians, mines to the state." The military, which came to power in 1936, tried to bring about change with popular support.

On May 17, 1936, Colonel David Toro Ruilova (1936-37) overthrew Tejada in a military coup. Because the officer corps wanted to avoid a civilian investigation of the military’s wartime leadership, military backing for the coup came from all ranks. The main backers, however, were a group of younger officers who wanted to bring profound change to Bolivia. Toro, the leader of this group, hoped to reform the country from the top down. His program of "military socialism" included social and economic justice and government control over natural resources. He also planned to set up a corporate-style political system to replace the democratic system established in 1825.

Toro attempted to get civilian support with far-reaching social legislation and nominated a print worker as the first labor secretary in Bolivia. He also nationalized the holdings of Standard Oil without compensation and called for the convening of a constitutional congress that would include the traditional parties, as well as new reformist groups and the labor movement. Toro was unable, however, to enlist lasting popular support. A group of more radical officers resented his reluctance to challenge the rosca, and they supported a coup by Colonel Germán Busch Becerra (1937-39) in 1937. A new constitution, promulgated in 1938, stressed the primacy of the common good over private property and favored government intervention in social and economic
relations. It also legally recognized the Indian communities and included a labor code. In 1939 Busch challenged the interests of the mine owners for the first time by issuing a decree that would prevent the mining companies from removing capital from the country. None of his policies, however, resulted in significant popular and military support, and they completely alienated the conservative forces. Frustrated by his inability to bring about change, Busch committed suicide in 1939.

Despite the weakness of the Toro and Busch regimes, their policies had a profound impact on Bolivia. Reformist decrees raised expectations among the middle class, but when they failed to be implemented, they contributed to the growth of the left. The constitutional convention gave the new forces for the first time a nationwide platform and the possibility of forming alliances. The military socialist regimes also prompted the conservatives to join forces to stem the growth of the left.

After a few months under the provisional presidency of General Carlos Quintanilla Quiroga (1939-40), the chief of staff during the Busch regime, the government changed hands again. General Enrique Peñaranda Castillo (1940-43) was elected president in the spring of 1940. Peñaranda’s support came from the traditional parties, the Liberals, and the two wings of the Republicans, who had formed a concordancia to stem the growth of the movement toward reform. The trend toward reform, however, could not be halted, and a number of new groups gained control of the Congress during Peñaranda’s presidency. These groups, although very different in their ideological outlooks, agreed on the need to change the status quo. They included the Trotskyite Revolutionary Workers Party (Partido Obrero Revolucionario–POR), which had already been formed in 1934, as well as the Bolivian Socialist Falange (Falange Socialista Boliviana–FSB), founded in 1937 and patterned on the Spanish model. The Leftist Revolutionary Party (Partido de Izquierda Revolucionaria–PIR) was founded in 1940 by a coalition of radical Marxist groups.

The most important opposition to the concordancia came from the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario–MNR). The first party with widespread support in Bolivian history, the MNR had a membership that included intellectuals and both white-collar and blue-collar workers. It was founded in 1941 by a small group of intellectual dissidents from the middle and upper classes and represented persons from a wide range of political persuasions who were united by their discontent with the status quo. Among its leaders were Víctor Paz Estenssoro, a professor of economics; Hernán Siles Zuazo, the son of former President Siles Reyes; and several influential writers. The party’s program included nationalization of all of Bolivia’s natural resources and far-reaching social reforms. Its antiSemitic statements resulted not only in the imprisonment of MNR leaders but also in charges by the United States government that MNR was under the influence of Nazi fascism.

As the leader of the congressional opposition, the MNR denounced Peñaranda’s close cooperation with the United States and was especially critical of his agreement to compensate Standard Oil for its nationalized holdings. The MNR members of the Congress also began an investigation of the massacre of striking miners and their families by government troops at one of the Patiño mines in Catavi in 1942. MNR influence with the miners increased when Paz Estenssoro led the congressional interrogation of government ministers. The MNR had contacts with reformist military officers, who were organized in a secret military lodge named the Fatherland’s Cause (Razón de Patria–Radepa). Radepa was founded in 1934 by Bolivian prisoners of war in Paraguay. It sought
mass support, backed military intervention in politics, and hoped to prevent excessive foreign control over Bolivia’s natural resources.

In December 1943, the Radepa-MNR alliance overthrew the Peñaranda regime. Major Gualberto Villarroel López (1943-46) became president, and three MNR members, including Paz Estenssoro, joined his cabinet. The MNR ministers resigned, however, when the United States refused recognition, repeating its charge of ties between the MNR and Nazi Germany. The ministers returned to their posts in 1944, after the party had won a majority in the election and the United States had recognized the government. Villarroel’s government emphasized continuity with the reformist regimes of Toro and Busch. Paz Estenssoro, who served as minister of finance, hoped to get popular support with a budget that emphasized social spending over economic development. But the salary increase for miners did not bring about their consistent backing of the government and only managed to strengthen the ties between the MNR and miners. The Villarroel government also tried for the first time to get the support of the campesinos. In 1945 it created the National Indigenous Congress to discuss the problems in the countryside and to improve the situation of the peasants. However, most of the social legislation, such as the abolition of the labor obligation of the campesinos to their landlords, was never put in effect.

Villarroel was overthrown in 1946. He had been unable to organize popular support and faced opposition from conservative groups and increasing political terrorism that included murders of the government’s opponents. Rivalry between the MNR and the military in the governing coalition also contributed to his downfall. In 1946 mobs of students, teachers, and workers seized arms from the arsenal and moved to the presidential palace. They captured and shot Villarroel and suspended his body from a lamppost in the main square, while the army remained aloof in the barracks. The six years preceding the 1952 Revolution are known as the sexenio. During this period, members of the Conservative Party tried to stem the growth of the left, but they ultimately failed because they could not halt the economic decline and control the growing social unrest. Enrique Hertzog Garaizabal (1947-49), who was elected president in 1947 after the interim rule of a provisional junta, formed a coalition cabinet that included not only the concordancia but also the PIR. He hoped to retain the backing of the Conservative Party forces by not increasing taxes, but he tried also to gain labor support, relying on the PIR to mobilize the workers.

The labor sector did not cooperate with the government, however, and the PIR became discredited because of its alliance with the conservative forces. In 1946 the workers endorsed the Thesis of Pulacayo, in which the miners called for permanent revolution and violent armed struggle for the working class. As the labor sector became more radical, the government resorted more and more to oppression, and confrontations increased. The dismissal of 7,000 miners and the brutal suppression of yet another uprising in Catavi in 1949 made any cooperation between the government and the workers impossible. The MNR emerged as the dominant opposition group. Although most of its leaders, including Paz Estenssoro, were in exile in Argentina, the party continued to be represented in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. During the sexenio, the party, despite its predominantly middle-class background, repeatedly took the side of the workers and adopted their ideology. The MNR also came to support the defense of Indian rights, as violence in the countryside increased when the promises given at the National Indigenous Congress were not fulfilled.

The MNR’s attempts to gain power during the sexenio were unsuccessful. Its 1949 coup attempt failed, although with the support of the workers and some military officers it succeeded in gaining control of most major cities except La Paz. The MNR’s attempt to gain power by legal means in 1951 also failed. In the presidential election of May 1951, the MNR’s Paz Estenssoro, who remained in exile in Argentina, ran for president and Siles Zuazo ran for vice president, both on a platform of nationalization and land reform. With the support of the POR and the newly formed Bolivian Communist Party (Partido Comunista de Bolivia — PCB), the MNR won with a clear plurality. The outgoing president, however, persuaded the military to step in and prevent the MNR from taking power. Mamerto Urriolagoitia Harriague (1949-51), who had succeeded the ailing Hertzog in 1949, backed a military junta under General Hugo Ballivián Rojas (1951-52). Under Ballivián, the government made a last futile attempt to suppress the growing unrest throughout the country.

By 1952 the Bolivian economy had deteriorated even further. The governments of the sexenio had been reluctant to increase taxes for the upper class and to reduce social spending, resulting in high inflation. The tin industry had stagnated since the Great Depression, despite short revivals during World War II. Ore content had declined, and the richer veins were depleted, increasing tin production costs; at the same time, tin prices on the international market fell. A disagreement with the United States over tin prices halted exports temporarily and caused a decline in income that further hurt the economy. The agricultural sector lacked capital, and food imports had increased, reaching 19 percent of total imports in 1950. Land was unequally distributed–92 percent of the cultivable land was held by estates of 1,000 hectares or more.

The social unrest that resulted from this economic decline increased during the last weeks before the 1952 Revolution, when a hunger march through La Paz attracted most sectors of society. The military was severely demoralized, and the high command called unsuccessfully for unity in the armed forces; many officers assigned themselves abroad, charged each other with coup attempts, or deserted. By the beginning of 1952, the MNR again tried to gain power by force, plotting with General Antonio Seleme, the junta member in control of internal administration and the National Police (Policía Nacional). On April 9, the MNR launched the rebellion in La Paz by seizing arsenals and distributing arms to civilians. Armed miners marched on La Paz and blocked troops on their way to reinforce the city. After three days of fighting, the desertion of Seleme, and the loss of 600 lives, the army completely surrendered; Paz Estenssoro assumed the presidency on April 16, 1952.

The "reluctant revolutionaries," as the leaders of the multiclass MNR were called by some, looked more to Mexico than to the Soviet Union for a model. But during the first year of Paz Estenssoro’s presidency, the radical faction in the party, which had gained strength during the sexenio when the party embraced the workers and their ideology, forced the MNR leaders to act quickly. In July 1952, the government established universal suffrage, with neither literacy nor property requirements. In the first postrevolutionary elections in 1956, the population of eligible voters increased from approximately 200,000 to nearly 1 million voters. The government also moved quickly to control the armed forces, purging many officers associated with past Conservative Party regimes and drastically reducing the forces’ size and budget. The government also closed the Military Academy (Colegio Militar) and required that officers take an oath to the MNR.

The government then began the process of nationalizing all mines of the three great tin companies. First, it made the export and sale of all minerals a state monopoly to be administered by the state-owned Mining Bank of Bolivia (Banco Minero de Bolivia — Bamin). Then it set up the Mining Corporation of Bolivia (Corporación Minera de Bolivia — Comibol) as a semiautonomous enterprise to run state-owned mines. On October 31, 1952, the government nationalized the three big tin companies, leaving the medium-sized mines untouched, and promising compensation. In this process, two-thirds of Bolivia’s mining industry was
turned over to Comibol.

A far-reaching agrarian reform was the final important step taken by the revolutionary government. In January 1953, the government established the Agrarian Reform Commission, using advisers from Mexico, and decreed the Agrarian Reform Law the following August. The law abolished forced labor and established a program of expropriation and distribution of the rural property of the traditional landlords to the Indian peasants. Only estates with low productivity were completely distributed. More productive small and medium-sized farms were allowed to keep part of their land and were encouraged to invest new capital to increase agricultural production. The Agrarian Reform Law also provided for compensation for landlords to be paid in the form of twenty-five-year government bonds. The amount of compensation was based on the value of the property declared for taxes.

During the first years of the revolution, miners wielded extraordinary influence within the government. In part, this influence was based on the miners’ decisive role in the fighting of April 1952. In addition, however, armed militias of miners formed by the government to counterbalance the military had become a powerful force in their own right. Miners immediately organized the Bolivian Labor Federation (Central Obrera Boliviana–COB), which demanded radical change as well as participation in the government and benefits for its members. As a result, the government included three pro-COB ministers in the cabinet and accepted the demand for fuero sindical, the legally autonomous status that granted the COB semisovereign control over the workers of Bolivia. The MNR regime gave worker representatives veto power in all Comibol decisions and allowed for a cogovernment in mine administration. The government also established special stores for the miners, increased their salaries, and rehired fired workers.

The peasants also exerted a powerful influence. At first, the government was unable to control the occupation of land by the peasants. As a result, it could not enforce the provisions of the land reform decree to keep medium-sized productive estates intact. But the MNR eventually gained the support of the campesinos when the Ministry of Peasant Affairs was created and when peasants were organized into syndicates. Peasants were not only granted land but their militias also were given large supplies of arms. The peasants remained a powerful political force in Bolivia during all subsequent governments. Although these major steps were never reversed, observers have regarded the revolution as unfinished because it lost momentum after the first years. The divisions within the MNR seriously weakened its attempt to incorporate the support of the Indian peasants, the workers, and the middle class for the government. In 1952 the MNR was a broad coalition of groups with different interests. Juan Oquendo Lechín led the left wing of the party and had the support of the labor sector. Siles Zuazo represented the right wing and had the backing of the middle class. Paz Estenssoro was initially the neutral leader. Because the majority of the MNR elite wanted a moderate course and the left wing demanded radical change, the polarization increased and led eventually to the destruction of the MNR in 1964.

The country faced severe economic problems as a result of the changes enacted by the government. The nationalization of the mines had a negative effect on the economy. The mines of Comibol produced at a loss because of the lack of technical expertise and capital to modernize the aging plants and nearly depleted deposits of low-grade ore. Declining tin prices on the world market contributed to the economic problems in the mining sector. Nevertheless, workers in the management of Comibol increased salaries and the work force by nearly 50 percent. The decline of agricultural production contributed to the rapidly deteriorating economy during the first years of the revolution. Although anarchy in the countryside was the main reason for the decrease in production, the peasants’ inability to produce for a market economy and the lack of transport facilities contributed to the problem. The attempt to increase agricultural production by colonizing the less densely populated valleys was not successful at first. As a result, the food supply for the urban population decreased, and Bolivia had to import food.

High inflation, primarily caused by social spending, also hurt the economy. The value of the peso, Bolivia’s former currency, fell from 60 to 12,000 to the United States dollar between 1952 and 1956, affecting primarily the urban middle class, which began to support the opposition. The bankrupt economy increased the factionalism within the MNR. Whereas the left wing demanded more government control over the economy, the right wing hoped to solve the nation’s problems with aid from the United States. The government had sought cooperation with the United States as early as 1953, a move that had given the United States influence over Bolivia’s economy. Because of United States pressure, the Bolivian government promised to compensate the owners of nationalized tin mines and drew up a new petroleum code, which again allowed United States investments in Bolivian oil.

During the presidency of Siles Zuazo (1956-60 and 1982-85), who won the election with 84 percent of the vote, United States aid reached its highest level. In 1957 the United States subsidized more than 30 percent of the Bolivian government’s central budget. Advised by the United States government and the IMF, the Siles Zuazo regime then in power reduced inflation with a number of politically dangerous measures, such as the freezing of wages and the ending of the government-subsidized miners’ stores. Siles Zuazo’s stabilization plan seriously damaged the coalition between the MNR and the COB. The COB called immediately for a general strike, which threatened to destroy an already disrupted economy; the strike was called off only after impassioned appeals by the president. But the conflict between the government and the miners’ militias continued as the militias constantly challenged the government’s authority. Siles Zuazo faced not only labor unrest in the mines but also discontent in the countryside, where peasant leaders were competing for power. In an effort to quell the unrest, he decided to rebuild the armed forces.

During the Siles Zuazo administration, the strength of the armed forces grew as a result of a new concern for professionalism and training, technical assistance from the United States, and an increase in the size and budget of the military. In addition, the military’s role in containing unrest gave it increasing influence within the MNR government. Although the stabilization plan and the strengthening of the armed forces were resented by Lechín’s faction of the party, the first formal dissent came from Walter Guevara Arze and the MNR right wing. Guevara Arze, who had been foreign minister and then minister of government in the first Paz Estenssoro government, split from the MNR to form the Authentic Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario Auténtico–MNRA) in 1960, when his presidential hopes were destroyed by Paz Estenssoro’s candidacy. Guevara Arze charged that the MNR had betrayed the revolution, and he posed a formidable opposition in the presidential election of 1960.

Conflicts within the MNR increased during Paz Estenssoro’s second term (1960-64). Together with the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Paz Estenssoro endorsed the "Triangular Plan," which called for a restructuring of the tin-mining industry. The plan demanded the end of the workers’ control over Comibol operations, the firing of workers, and a reduction in their salaries and benefits; it was strongly opposed by the COB and Lechín’s MNR faction. In 1964 Paz Estenssoro decided to run again for president, using a revision of the 1961 Constitution that would allow for a consecutive term, and he forced his nomination at a party convention. Lechín, who had hoped to become the presidential candidate, broke away to form the National Leftist Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario de la Izquierda Nacional–PRIN). With his support in the MNR dwindling and opposition from the labor sector mounting, Paz Estenssoro accepted General René Barrientos Ortuño as vice presidential candidate. Because most opposition groups abstained, Paz Estenssoro was reelected with the support of the military and the peasants. Paz Estenssoro had come to rely increasingly on the military, whose role as a peacekeeper had made it an arbiter in politics. But this support was to prove unreliable; the military was already planning to overthrow him. Moreover, rivalry among peasant groups often resulted in bloody feuds that further weakened the Paz Estenssoro government.

During its twelve-year rule, the MNR had failed to build a firm basis for democratic, civilian government. Increasing factionalism, open dissent, ideological differences, policy errors, and corruption weakened the party and made it impossible to establish an institutional framework for the reforms. Not even the peasants, who were the main beneficiaries of the revolution, consistently supported the MNR. On November 4, 1964, Barrientos (president, 1964-65; copresident, May 1965-January 1966; and president, 1966-69) and General Alfredo Ovando Candia occupied the presidential palace and declared themselves copresidents. But as the crowd, which had gathered outside the palace, persisted in shouting its preference for the more charismatic Barrientos, Ovando allowed Barrientos to assume the formal title alone, while he occupied the post of commander in chief of the armed forces.

Barrientos insisted that his assumption of power was not a counterrevolutionary move and promised to restore the revolution to its "true path," from which the MNR had deviated during its twelve-year rule. Nevertheless, his government continued many of the policies of the second Paz Estenssoro administration, including the IMF stabilization plan and the Triangular Plan. The emphasis on reducing social costs remained in effect. In May 1965, the army forced Barrientos to accept Ovando as his copresident as a sort of reward for suppressing an uprising by miners and factory workers. The economy improved during the Barrientos regime at a growth rate averaging 6.5 percent per year. The rise of tin prices resulted in the first profit for Comibol in 1966 and contributed to increased production in the medium-sized mines that had remained in private hands. Barrientos encouraged the private sector and foreign investment and gave Gulf Oil Company permission to export petroleum and natural gas from Bolivia.

In 1966 Barrientos legitimized his rule by winning the presidential election. He formed the Popular Christian Movement (Movimiento Popular Cristiano–MPC) as his base of support. Although the MPC was not very successful, he won the election with a coalition of conservative politicians, the business community, and the peasants. Barrientos’s efforts to build support in the countryside succeeded at first with the signing in February 1964 of the Military-Peasant Pact (Pacto Militar-Campesino). Under the agreement, the campesino militias agreed to adopt an antileftist stance and to subordinate themselves to the army. But his attempt to impose taxes on peasants resulted in a violent response and loss of support in rural areas.

Determined to keep the labor sector under control, Barrientos took away most of the gains it had achieved during the MNR’s rule. He placed Comibol under the control of a military director and abolished the veto power of union leaders in management decisions. The president also cut the pay of the miners to the equivalent of US$0.80 a day and reduced the mining work force and the enormous Comibol bureaucracy by 10 percent. Finally, he destroyed the COB and the mine workers’ union, suppressed all strike activity, disarmed the miners’ militias, and exiled union leaders. Military troops again occupied the mines, and in 1967 they massacred miners and their families at the Catavi-Siglo XX mines.

But Barrientos could not completely silence the labor sector; miners led the growing opposition to his rule. The various groups opposing his rule joined in denouncing Barrientos’s selling of natural resources to the United States under favorable terms. They resented his invitation to United States private investment in Bolivia because he offered greater privileges to foreign investors. The defection of Barrientos’s close friend and minister of interior, Colonel Antonio Arguedas, to Cuba after his announcement that he had been an agent for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aroused national indignation. The military also resented the key role of United States officers in the capture and killing of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1967 in Bolivia, where he had tried to start a guerrilla movement. The death of Barrientos in a helicopter crash on April 27, 1969, initially left control in the hands of his vice president, Luís Adolfo Siles Salinas (1969). Real power, however, remained with the armed forces under its commander in chief, General Ovando, who took power on September 26, 1969, in a coup that was supported by reformist officers.

Ovando (copresident, May 1965-January 1966, and president, January-August 1966 and 1969-70) annulled the elections scheduled for 1970, dismissed the Congress, and appointed a cabinet that included independent reformist civilians who had opposed the policies of Barrientos. Ovando hoped to gain civilian and military support with a program of "revolutionary nationalism," which he had outlined in the "Revolutionary Mandate of the Armed Forces." Revolutionary nationalism reflected the heritage and rhetoric of the military reformist regimes of the past, as well as the spirit of the 1952 Revolution. It also showed the influence of the Peruvian government of General Juan Velasco Alvarado. Many Bolivian officers believed that the military had to intervene in politics to lead the country toward reform because civilian governments had failed in that undertaking. They were convinced that it was in the main interest of the armed forces to end underdevelopment, which they saw as the cause of insurgency. The military would therefore fight on the internal frontiers against social injustice and economic dependence.

Despite highly popular measures, such as the nationalization of the holdings of the North American-owned Gulf Oil Company, Ovando failed to gain popular support. Popular enthusiasm over the nationalization was short lived. Disagreement over compensation, a boycott of Bolivian crude oil on the international market, and a general downturn in the economy became divisive factors. Even though Ovando legalized the COB and withdrew troops from the mining camps, lasting worker support for the regime was not ensured. Frustrated expectations, broken promises, and the massacre of miners by the military in Catavi in 1967 had radicalized the workers, who now refused to cooperate with the military government. While the left became radicalized, the right became weary of Ovando’s vacillating statements, which included the suggestion that private property be abolished. Even when Ovando moved right during the last months of his regime, he was unable to enlist the support of the conservative groups in the country because this move only emphasized his weakness.

Ovando’s reform program also polarized the military. Reformist officers, concerned about the decline in popular support for the military since the Barrientos regime, shifted their support to the more radical General Juan José Torres González (1970-71), whom Ovando had dismissed as his commander in chief; the right backed General Rogelio Miranda. The chaos surrounding the overthrow of Ovando highlighted the division in the armed forces. Military officers demanded the resignation of Ovando and Miranda after a failed coup attempt by the latter on October 5, 1970. A triumvirate, formed on October 6, failed to consolidate support. On October 7, as the country moved toward civil war after the COB had declared a general strike, General Torres emerged as the compromise candidate and became president of Bolivia. The main feature of Torres’s presidency was a lack of authority. Rather than taking the initiative on policies, Torres primarily reacted to pressure from different groups. His minister of interior, Jorge Gallardo Lozada, labeled the Torres government the "ten months of emergency."

Torres hoped to retain civilian support by moving to the left. He nationalized some United States property, such as the wasteprocessing operation of the Catavi tin mines and the Matilde zinc mine, and he ordered the Peace Corps, a United States program, out of Bolivia. While limiting United States influence in Bolivia, Torres increased cooperation with the Soviet Union and its allies in the economic and technical sectors. Because of his lack of a clear strategy and political experience, however, Torres soon succeeded in alienating all sectors of Bolivian society. He found it very difficult to organize groups on the left because they confronted him with demands that he could not meet, such as giving them half of all cabinet seats. The workers, students, and parties of the left wanted a socialist state and saw the Torres government only as a step in that direction. In June 1970, the Torres regime established the Popular Assembly (Asamblea Popular) in an attempt to form an alternative popular government. Consisting mainly of representatives of workers’ and peasants’ organizations, the Popular Assembly was intended to serve as a base for the radical transformation of society. However, the left remained divided by ideological differences and rivalry for leadership. They could not agree on controversial issues dealing with full worker participation in state and private enterprises, the creation of armed militias, and the establishment of popular tribunals having legal jurisdiction over crimes against the working class. No consensus was achieved, and many delegates, resenting the lack of power to enforce the resolutions and running short of funds, returned home prematurely. The Popular Assembly did, however, succeed in weakening the government by creating a climate in which popular organizations acted independently from the state.

Torres’s hope of placating conservative opposition by avoiding radical change did not win him the support of the right, especially of the powerful business community. Conservative groups unified in their opposition because they saw a chance for a political comeback in alliance with rightist officers. The military, in turn, became increasingly polarized because of their discontent with Torres’s chaotic leadership. Torres had cut the defense budget to free money for education and allowed civilian interference in strictly military matters. He often premitted military disobedience to go unpunished. The last step of institutional decay was a manifesto written during the last weeks of the Torres regime by a group of junior officers who questioned military authority. It resulted in widespread military support for the coup on August 21, 1971, by Colonel Hugo Banzer Suárez, the former Military Academy commander whom Torres had exiled.

Colonel Hugo Banzer (1971-78), a highly respected officer who had repeatedly attempted to overthrow the Torres regime, ruled for six years, the longest continuous presidential term in recent Bolivian history. Banzer’s presidency was characterized by relative political stability and unprecedented economic growth. At first he was supported by the Nationalist Popular Front (Frente Popular Nacionalista–FPN), an alliance between the MNR under Paz Estenssoro, who was allowed to return from exile in Lima, and the FSB under Mario Gutiérrez. Both parties had been enemies until the chaos of the Torres regime gave them a chance for a political comeback in league with conservative elements in the armed forces. During the first years of the Banzer presidency, the economy improved rapidly. Exports tripled between 1970 and 1974 because of increased production of petroleum, natural gas, and tin, which was then refined in Bolivian smelters. The production of cotton in the Santa Cruz area in eastern Bolivia also tripled between 1970 and 1975.

Despite this economic growth, Bolivia reverted to the repression of earlier regimes. The new minister of interior, Colonel Andrés Sélich, ordered a massive crackdown on the left, abolishing labor unions and closing the universities. The government brutally suppressed a general strike against the devaluation of the Bolivian peso in 1972. In 1974 price increases for basic goods and control of food prices resulted in roadblocks by peasants in the Cochabamba Valley and their subsequent massacre by the military. The governing alliance disintegrated almost immediately when the MNR and the FSB split. They proved an unreliable support for Banzer because only small factions remained in the FPN. The armed forces were also divided, and various factions tried to overthrow the regime. On June 5, 1974, younger officers belonging to the Generational Group (Grupo Generacional) and led by General Gary Prado Salmón attempted a coup, demanding that Banzer legitimize his rule. It failed, however, as did another on November 7 that was supported by military, MNR, and FSB elements in Santa Cruz.

The November 7, 1974, coup has been called an auto-golpe (selfmade coup) because it gave Banzer a reason to rule without civilian interference. Influenced by the Brazilian model, he announced the complete reorganization of the Bolivian political system and the formation of a "new Bolivia" under military rule. Banzer hoped to keep the support of the business community, the mine owners, the agricultural entrepreneurs in Santa Cruz, and the growing number of loyal bureaucrats. The government, however, soon began to face serious problems. The "economic miracle" turned out to be a myth, the production of petroleum declined sharply, and Comibol produced at a loss, despite high mineral prices, because it was subsidizing other state agencies. Cotton production also declined when world prices fell. The stability of the Banzer regime was superficial because the military remained divided by personal rivalry, ideological differences, and a generational gap. Growing civilian opposition was centered in the labor sector, despite the renewed military occupation of the mines. Radical students and the progressive sector of the Roman Catholic Church became spokespersons for the oppressed groups; the peasants also criticized the government.

External factions contributed to the weakening of the Banzer regime as well. The negotiation with Chile for an outlet to the sea had raised hopes in 1974. When an agreement between Banzer and General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte failed because of the opposition of Chilean nationalists, Banzer’s position was weakened. After Jimmy Carter assumed the United States presidency in 1976, the United States pressured Banzer to hold elections. In 1977, with opposition from civilian groups and the military mounting and pressure from the United States increasing, Banzer announced a presidential election for 1980, hoping to remain in control, but labor unrest and hostility to his regime forced him to set the date for 1978. However, General Juan Pereda Asbún, Banzer’s handpicked candidate, carried out a coup in July 1978 after the National Electoral Court annulled the elections because of widespread fraud by Pereda’s supporters. Although Bolivia continued under military rule, the 1978 election marked the beginning of Bolivia’s traumatic transition to democracy during the following four years.

Between 1978 and 1980, Bolivia was constantly in a state of crisis. The fragmentation of political forces made it impossible for any party to dominate. In the three elections held during this period, no party achieved a majority, and alliances of various groups could not break the deadlock. Social unrest increased as peasants began to agitate again on a large scale for the first time since their rebellion in the late colonial period. The Bolivian workers were more radical than ever, and in 1979, during the COB’s first congress since 1970, they vehemently protested the economic austerity measures dictated by the IMF. The division in the armed forces and the increasing visibility of paramilitary groups reflected the institutional decay of the military. A civilian investigation into human rights violations committed during the Banzer regime further demoralized the officer corps. General Pereda did not call for elections, despite his promise to do so, and he was overthrown in a bloodless coup in November 1978 by General David Padilla Arancibia (1978-79), who was supported by the younger institutionalist faction of the military. He saw the main role of the military as the defense of the country rather than political intervention and announced elections for 1979 without naming an official government candidate. Electoral reforms simplified voter registration, and 90 percent of the electorate chose among eight presidential candidates in honest elections.

When none of the main candidates gained a majority, the Congress appointed former MNRA head Guevara Arze as interim president on August 8, 1979. This first civilian regime since the brief term of Siles Salinas in 1969 was overthrown, however, by a bloody coup under Colonel Alberto Natusch Busch in November. When Natusch stepped down after two weeks because of intense civilian opposition and only limited military support, as well as United States diplomatic action to prevent recognition of the Natusch government, another interim president was appointed. Lidia Gueiler Tejada (1979-80), head of the Chamber of Deputies and a veteran MNR politician, became the first woman president of Bolivia. In 1980 Gueiler presided over elections in which the parties of the left gained a clear majority of the vote. Siles Zuazo and his Democratic and Popular Unity (Unidad Democrática y Popular–UDP) coalition alone got 38 percent of the votes; the Congress was certain to name him president on August 6, 1980.

The process was disrupted on July 17, 1980, however, by the ruthless military coup of General Luis García Meza. Reportedly financed by cocaine traffickers and supported by European mercenaries recruited by Klaus Barbie, former Gestapo chief in Lyons, the coup began one of the darkest periods in Bolivian history. Arbitrary arrest by paramilitary units, torture, and disappearances–with the assistance of Argentine advisers– destroyed the opposition. Government involvement in cocaine trafficking resulted in international isolation for Bolivia. Cocaine exports reportedly totaled US$850 million in the 1980-81 period of the García Meza regime, twice the value of official government exports. The "coca dollars" were used to buy the silence or active support of military officers. But García Meza, who failed to gain support in the military, faced repeated coup attempts and was pressured to resign on August 4, 1981. The ruthlessness, extreme corruption, and international isolation of the García Meza government completely demoralized and discredited the military; many officers wanted to return to democracy. However, President General Celso Torrelio Villa (1981- 82), who had emerged as a compromise candidate of the military after García Meza’s resignation, was reluctant to call for elections. In July 1982, after yet another attempt by the García Meza clique to return to power, he was replaced by General Guido Vildoso Calderón (1982), who was named by the high command to return the country to democratic rule. On September 17, 1982, during a general strike that brought the country close to civil war, the military decided to step down, to convene the 1980 Congress, and to accept its choice as president. Accordingly, Siles Zuazo assumed the presidency on October 10, 1982.

Domestically, Bolivia has entered an unprecedented era of political stability, ending a record of military coups and recurrent internal strife that was little short of ludicrous – there were 192 coups in the 156 years from independence to 1981; an average of one every 10 months. Much of the credit is due to President Victor Paz Estenssoro – the grand old man of Bolivian politics had held the presidency between 1952–56 and 1960–64. He was elected again in August 1985, at the head of a loose coalition
of both left- and right-wing parties. By the time Paz Estenssoro ceded office to Jaime Paz Zamora in August 1989, rampant hyper-inflation (an estimated 14,000 per cent in 1985) had been dramatically cut after initial unrest over the government’s strict austerity programme. Paz Estenssoro had been the candidate of one of Bolivia’s five main political parties, the MNR. The other four are the right-wing Acción Democrática Nacionalista (ADN), the Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), the Unión Cívica Solidaridad (UCS) andConciencia de Patria (CONDEPA).

Both the ADN and the MNR, sometimes in coalition, have enjoyed control of the presidency and the national assembly. The presidential election in June 2002, returned the MNR’s Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada as president, his party dominating both houses of Congress. However, a police revolt stemming from multiple fractious factors, such as economic recession and longstanding ethnic tensions, nearly toppled the government of President Lozada, who eventually resigned – following further bloody demonstrations – in 2003. Carlos Mesa assumed presidency and, for a while, seemed the man for the job of quieting this turbulent country. However, he resigned in June 2005 after a surge of protests swept the country. The protests were triggered in May when Congress approved an increase in taxes on foreign gas companies. Demonstrators, drawn mainly from Bolivia’s indigenous majority and left-wing groups, claimed that these rises were not enough and were asking for nationalisation of Bolivia’s primary – one might say only – source of wealth: energy reserves, namely, oil. There were also cries for constitution re-writes so that more power was distributed to the
indigenous peoples. La Paz was at a virtual standstill with road blockades catalysing exhausts in fuel supplies and rising prices. Matters have subsided somewhat since Mesa’s resignation (although protests weren’t really specifically aimed at Mesa), and the appointment of interim President, Eduardo Rodriguez, although the country and government still remain on tenterhooks. Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé decided to move up the 2007 elections to December 2005.

On December 18, 2005 Juan Evo Morales Ayma, head of the Movement for Socialism political party (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) was elected president. He is considered to be the country’s first indigenous head of state since the Spanish Conquest over 450 years ago. As of May 1, 2006, president Evo Morales signed a decree stating that all natural gas reserves were to be nationalized: "the state recovers ownership, possession and total and absolute control" of hydrocarbons (Bolivia has the second largest resources of natural gas in South America – 48.7 trillion cubic feet-, after Venezuela).
 

References:

Belize National History

Perhaps as early as 35,000 years ago, nomadic people came from Asia to the Americas across the frozen Bering Strait. In the course of many millennia, their descendants settled in and adapted to different environments, creating many cultures in North America, Central America, and South America. The Mayan culture emerged in the lowland area of the Yucatán Peninsula and the highlands to the south, in what is now southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, and Belize. Many aspects of this culture persist in the area despite nearly half a millennium of European domination. All evidence, whether from archaeology, history, ethnography, or linguistic studies, points to a cultural continuity in this region. The descendants of the first settlers in the area have lived there for at least three millennia.

Prior to about 2500 B.C., some hunting and foraging bands settled in small farming villages. While hunting and foraging continued to play a part in their subsistence, these farmers domesticated crops such as corn, beans, squash, and chili peppers– which are still the basic foods in Central America. A profusion of languages and subcultures developed within the Mayan
core culture. Between about 2500 B.C. and A.D. 250, the basic institutions of Mayan civilization emerged. The peak of this civilization occurred during the classic period, which began about A.D. 250 and ended about 700 years later. Belize boasts important sites of the earliest Mayan settlements, majestic ruins of the classic period, and examples of late postclassic ceremonial construction. About five kilometers west of Orange Walk, is Cuello, a site from perhaps as early as 2,500 B.C. Jars, bowls, and other dishes found there are among the oldest pottery unearthed in present-day Mexico and Central America. The site includes platforms of buildings arranged around a small plaza, indicating a distinctly Mayan community. The presence of shell, hematite, and jade shows that the Maya were trading over long distances as early as 1500 B.C. The Mayan economy, however, was still basically subsistence, combining foraging and cultivation, hunting, and fishing.

Cerros, a site on Chetumal Bay, was a flourishing trade and ceremonial center between about 300 B.C. and A.D. 100. It displays some distinguishing features of early Mayan civilization. The architecture of Mayan civilization included temples and palatial residences organized in groups around plazas. These structures were built of cut stone, covered with stucco, and elaborately decorated and painted. Stylized carvings and paintings of people, animals, and gods, along with sculptured stelae and geometric patterns on buildings, constitute a highly developed style of art. Impressive two-meter-high masks decorate the temple platform at Cerros. These masks, situated on either side of the central stairway, represent a serpent god. The Maya were skilled at making pottery, carving jade, knapping flint, and making elaborate costumes of feathers. One of the finest carved jade objects of Mayan civilization, the head of the sun god Kinich Ahau, was found in a tomb at the classic period site of Altún Ha, thirty kilometers northwest of present-day Belize City. Settled at least as early as 200 B.C., the Altún Ha area at its peak had an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 inhabitants. At the beginning of the second century A.D., the inhabitants built their first major structure, a temple. The visitor today sees a group of temples, priests’ residences, and other buildings around two adjacent plazas. In the vicinity, there are hundreds of other structures, most of which are still unexcavated. The Maya continued to rebuild some of the temples until almost the end of the ninth century. Excavations at Altún Ha have produced evidence suggesting that a revolt, perhaps of peasants against the priestly class, contributed to the downfall of the civilization. People may have continued to live at or to visit the site in the postclassic period, even though the ceremonial centers were left to decay. Some rubbish found at Altún Ha shows that people were at the site in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, perhaps to reuse the old structures or undertake pilgrimages to the old religious center.

Other Mayan centers located in Belize include Xunantunich and Baking Pot in Cayo District, Lubaantún and Nimli Punit in Toledo District, and Lamanai on Hill Bank Lagoon in Orange Walk District. Xunantunich, meaning "Lady of the Rock," was occupied perhaps as early as 300 B.C., but most of the architecture there was constructed in the late classic period. As in all the lowland Mayan centers, the inhabitants continually constructed temples and residences over older buildings, enlarging and raising the platforms and structures in the process. The views are breathtaking from Xunantunich’s "El Castillo," which, at thirty-nine meters, is the tallest man-made structure in Belize. Lamanai, less accessible to tourists than Altún Ha or Xunantunich, is an important site because it provides archaeological evidence of the Mayan presence over many centuries, beginning around A.D. 150. Substantial populations were present throughout the classic and postclassic periods. Indeed, people living in the area were still refacing some of the massive ceremonial buildings after the great centers, such as Tikal in neighboring Guatemala, had been virtually abandoned in the tenth century. In the late classic period, probably at least 400,000 people inhabited the Belize area. The decline of Mayan civilization is still not fully explained. Rather than identifying the collapse as the result of a single factor, many archaeologists now believe that the decline of the Maya was a result of many complex factors and that the decline occurred at different times in different regions.

Colonially oriented historians have asserted that the Maya had left the area long before the arrival of British settlers. But many Maya were still in Belize when the Europeans came in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Archaeological and ethnohistorical research confirms that several groups of Mayan peoples lived in the area now known as Belize in the sixteenth century. The political geography of that period does not coincide with present-day boundaries, so several Mayan provinces lay across the frontiers of modern Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. The Mayan province of Chetumal, for example, consisted of the northern part of presentday Belize and the southern coast of the Mexican state Quintana Roo. In the south, spreading west over the
present-day frontier between Belize and Guatemala, were the Mopán Maya, and still farther south, the Chol-speaking Manche groups. In central Belize lay the province of Dzuluinicob, meaning "land of foreigners" or "foreign people." This province stretched from New River in the north to Sittee River in the south, and from close to the presentday Guatemalan border in the west to the sea. The apparent political center of this province was Tipu, located east of modern Benque Viejo del Carmen. Lamanai, several towns on New River and on Belize River, and Xibún on Sibun River, were included in this province.

Christopher Columbus traveled to the Gulf of Honduras during his fourth voyage in 1502. A few years later, two of his navigators, Martín Pinzón and Juan De Solís, sailed northward along the coast of Belize to Yucatán. In 1519 Hernán Cortés conquered Mexico, and Pedro Arias Dávila founded Panama City. Spain soon sent expeditions to Guatemala and Honduras, and the conquest of Yucatán began in 1527. When Cortés passed through the southwestern corner of present-day Belize in 1525, there were settlements of Cholspeaking Manche in that area. When the Spanish "pacified" the region in the seventeenth century, they forcibly displaced these settlements to the Guatemalan highlands. The Spanish launched their main incursions into the area from Yucatán, however, and encountered stiff resistance from the Mayan provinces of Chetumal and Dzuluinicob. The region became a place of refuge from the Spanish invasion, but the escaping Maya brought with them diseases that they had contracted from the Spanish. Subsequent epidemics of smallpox and yellow fever, along with endemic malaria, devastated the indigenous population and weakened its ability to resist conquest.

In the seventeenth century, Spanish missionaries from Yucatán traveled up New River and established churches in Mayan settlements with the intention of converting and controlling these people. One such settlement was Tipu, which was excavated in the 1980s. People occupied the site during preclassic, classic, and postclassic times, and through the conquest period until 1707. Though conquered by the Spanish in 1544, Tipu was too far from the colonial centers of power to be effectively controlled for long. Thousands of Maya fled south from Yucatán in the second half of the sixteenth century, and the people of Tipu rebelled against Spanish authority. Although Tipu was too far south for the Spanish of Yucatán to control, it was apparently too important to ignore because of its proximity to the Itzá of the Lago Petén Itzá region of present-day Guatemala. In 1618 and 1619, two Franciscans, attempting to convert the people built a church in Tipu. In 1638 a period of resistance began in Tipu, and by 1642, the entire province of Dzuluinicob was in a state of rebellion. The Maya abandoned eight towns at this time, and some 300 families relocated in Tipu, the center of rebellion. In the 1640s, Tipu’s population totaled more than 1,000. Piracy along the coast increased during this period. In 1642, and again in 1648, pirates sacked Salamanca de Bacalar, the seat of Spanish government in southern Yucatán. The abandonment of Bacalar ended Spanish control over the Mayan provinces of Chetumal and Dzuluinicob. Between 1638 and 1695, the Maya living in the area of Tipu enjoyed autonomy from Spanish rule. But in 1696, Spanish soldiers used Tipu as a base from which they pacified the area and supported missionary activities. In 1697 the Spanish conquered the Itzá, and in 1707, the Spanish forcibly resettled the inhabitants of Tipu to the area near Lago Petén Itzá. The political center of the Mayan province of Dzuluinicob ceased to exist at the time that British colonists were becoming increasingly interested in settling the area.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Spain tried to maintain a monopoly on trade and colonization in its New World colonies, but northern European powers were increasingly attracted to the region by the potential for trade and settlement. These powers resorted to smuggling, piracy, and war in their efforts to challenge and then destroy Spain’s monopoly. Early in the seventeenth century, the Dutch, English, and French encroached in areas where Spain was weak: the small islands of the Lesser Antilles, the no-man’s-land of the Guianas between the Spanish and Portuguese dominions, and the uncharted coasts of Yucatán and Central America. Later in the seventeenth century, England effectively challenged Spain in the western Caribbean, capturing Jamaica in 1655 and subsequently using this base to support settlements all the along the Caribbean coast from the Yucatán to Nicaragua. Early in the seventeenth century, on the shores of the Bay of Campeche in southeastern Mexico and on the Yucatán Peninsula, English buccaneers began cutting logwood, which was used in the production of a dye needed by the woolen industry. According to legend, one of these buccaneers, Peter Wallace, called "Ballis" by the Spanish, settled near and gave his name to the Belize River as early as 1638. English buccaneers began using the tortuous coastline of the area as a base from which to attack Spanish ships. Some of the buccaneers may have been refugees expelled by the Spanish in 1641-42 from settlements on islands off the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras. Buccaneers stopped plundering Spanish logwood ships and started cutting their own wood in the 1650s and 1660s. Logwood extraction then became the main reason for the English settlement for more than a century.

A 1667 treaty, in which the European powers agreed to suppress piracy, encouraged the shift from buccaneering to cutting logwood and led to more permanent settlement. The 1670 Godolphin Treaty between Spain and England confirmed English possession of countries and islands in the Western Hemisphere that England already occupied. Unfortunately, those colonies were not named and ownership of the coastal area between Yucatán and Nicaragua remained unclear. Conflict continued between Britain and Spain, over the right of the British to cut logwood and to settle in the region. In 1717 Spain expelled British logwood cutters from the Bay of Campeche west of the Yucatán. This action had the unintended effect of enhancing the significance of the growing British settlement near the Belize River.

During the eighteenth century, the Spanish attacked the British settlers repeatedly. In 1717, 1730, 1754, and 1779 the Spanish forced the British to leave the area. The Spanish never settled in the region, however, and the British always returned to expand their trade and settlement. At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, the Treaty of Paris conceded to Britain the right to cut and export logwood but asserted Spanish sovereignty over the territory. Still, there was never an agreement on the precise area in which logwood cutters could operate. The Spanish frontier town of Bacalar in the Yucatán, refounded in 1730 after having been deserted for almost a century, became a base for operations against the British. When war broke out again in 1779, the commandant of Bacalar led a successful expedition against the British settlement, which was abandoned until the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 allowed the British to cut logwood in the area between the Hondo and Belize rivers. By that time, however, the logwood trade had declined and mahogany had become the chief export, so the settlers petitioned for a new agreement.

The British were reluctant to set up any formal government for the settlement for fear of provoking the Spanish. On their own initiative and without recognition by the British government, the settlers had begun annual elections of magistrates to establish common law for the settlement as early as 1738. In 1765 Rear Admiral Sir William Burnaby, commander in chief of Jamaica, arrived in the settlement and codified and expanded their regulations into a document known as Burnaby’s Code. When the settlers began returning to the area in 1784, the governor of Jamaica named Colonel Edward Marcus Despard as superintendent to oversee the Settlement of Belize in the Bay of Honduras. The Convention of London, signed in 1786, allowed the British settlers, known as Baymen, to cut and export logwood and mahogany from the Hondo River in the north southward to the Sibun River. The convention, however, did not allow the Baymen to build fortifications, establish any form of government, military or civil, or develop plantation agriculture. Spain retained sovereignty over the area and asserted the right to inspect the settlement twice a year. Britain also agreed to evacuate its settlement on the Mosquito Coast (Costa de Mosquitos) in eastern Nicaragua. Over 2,000 of these settlers and their slaves arrived in 1787 in the settlement of Belize, reinforcing the British presence.

The last Spanish attack on the British settlement occurred two years after the outbreak of war in 1796. The governor general of Yucatán commanded a Spanish flotilla of some thirty vessels with some 500 sailors and 2,000 troops and attacked the British colonists in 1798. During several brief engagements culminating in a two-and-a-half-hour battle on September 10, the British drove off the Spanish. The attack marked Spain’s last attempt to control the territory or dislodge the British. The landowners resisted any challenge to their growing political power. Colonel Edward Marcus Despard, the first superintendent appointed by the governor of Jamaica in 1784, was suspended in 1789 when the wealthy cutters challenged his authority. When Superintendent George Arthur attacked what he called the "monopoly on the part of the monied cutters" in 1816, he was only partially successful in breaking their monopoly on landholding. He proclaimed that all unclaimed land was henceforth crown land that could be granted only by the crown’s representative but continued to allow the existing monopoly of landownership.

Cutting logwood was a simple, small-scale operation, but the settlers imported slaves to help with the work. Slavery in the settlement was associated with the extraction of timber, first logwood and then mahogany, as treaties forbade the production of plantation crops. This difference in economic function gave rise to variations in the organization, conditions, and treatment of slaves. The earliest reference to African slaves in the British settlement appeared in a 1724 Spanish missionary’s account, which stated that the British recently had been importing them from Jamaica and Bermuda. A century later, the total slave population numbered about 2,300. Most slaves, even if they were brought through West Indian markets, were born in Africa, probably from around the Bight of Benin, the Congo, and Angola–the principal sources of British slaves in the late eighteenth century. The Eboe or Ibo seem to have been particularly numerous; one section of Belize Town was known as Eboe Town in the first half of the nineteenth century. At first, many slaves maintained African ethnic identifications and cultural practices. Gradually, however, the process of assimilation was creating a new, synthetic Creole culture. The whites, although a minority in the settlement, monopolized power and wealth by dominating the chief economic activities of trade and cutting timber. They also controlled the first legislature and the judicial and administrative institutions. As a result, the British settlers had a disproportionate influence on the development of the Creole culture. Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist missionaries helped devalue and suppress African cultural heritage.

The slaves’ experience, though different from that on plantations in other colonies in the region, was nevertheless oppressive. They were frequently the objects of "extreme inhumanity," as a report published in 1820 stated. The settlement’s chaplain reported "instances, many instances, of horrible barbarity" against the slaves. The slaves’ own actions, including suicide, abortion, murder, escape, and revolt, suggest how they viewed their situation. Slaves who lived in small, scattered, and remote groups could escape with relative ease if they were willing to leave their families. In the eighteenth century, many escaped to Yucatán, and in the early nineteenth century a steady flow of runaways went to Guatemala and down the coast to Honduras. Some runaways established communities, such as one near Sibun River, that offered refuge to others. When freedom could be attained by slipping into the bush, revolt was not such a pressing option. Nevertheless, numerous slave revolts took place. The last revolt in 1820, led by two black slaves, Will and Sharper, involved a considerable number of well-armed individuals who "had been treated with very unnecessary harshness by their Owner, and had certainly good grounds for complaint."

The "Coloured Subjects of Free Condition" were granted civil rights on July 5, 1831, a few years before the abolition of slavery was completed. The essence of society, a rigidly hierarchical system in which people were ranked according to race and class was well established by the time of full emancipation in 1838. The act to abolish slavery throughout the British colonies, passed in 1833, was intended to avoid drastic social changes by effecting emancipation over a five-year transition period. The act included two generous measures for slave owners: a system of "apprenticeship" calculated to extend their control over the former slaves who were to continue to work for their masters without pay, and compensation for the former slave owners for their loss of property. These measures helped ensure that the majority of the population, even when it was legally freed after apprenticeship ended in 1838, depended on their former owners for work. These owners still monopolized the
land. Before 1838, a handful of the inhabitants controlled the settlement and owned most of the people. After 1838, the masters of the settlement, a tiny elite, continued to control the country for over a century by denying access to land, and by promoting economic dependency of the freed slaves through a combination of wage advances and company stores.

At the same time that the settlement was grappling with the ramifications of the end of slavery, a new ethnic group, the Garifuna appeared. In the early 1800s, the Garifuna, descendants of Carib peoples of the Lesser Antilles and of Africans who had escaped from slavery, arrived in the settlement. The Garifuna had resisted British and French colonialism in the Lesser Antilles until they were defeated by the British in 1796. After putting down a violent Garifuna rebellion on Saint Vincent, the British moved between 1,700 and 5,000 of the Garifuna across the Caribbean to the Bay Islands (present-day Islas de la Bahía) off the north coast of Honduras. From there they migrated to the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and the southern part of present-day Belize. By 1802 about 150 Garifuna had settled in the Stann Creek (present-day Dangriga) area and were engaged in fishing and farming. Other Garifuna later came to the British settlement of Belize after finding themselves on the wrong side in a civil war in Honduras in 1832. Many Garifuna men soon found wage work alongside slaves as mahogany cutters. In 1841 Dangriga, the Garifuna’s largest settlement, was a flourishing village. The American traveler John Stephens described the Garifuna village of Punta Gorda as having 500 inhabitants and producing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The British treated Garifuna as squatters. In 1857 the British told the Garifuna that they must obtain leases from the crown or risk losing their lands, dwellings, and other buildings. The 1872 Crown Lands Ordinance established reservations for the Garifuna as well as the Maya. The British prevented both groups from owning land and treated them as a source of valuable labor.

In the 1850s, the power struggle between the superintendent and the planters coincided with events in international diplomacy to produce major constitutional changes. In the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850, Britain and the United States agreed to promote the construction of a canal across Central America and to refrain from colonizing any part of Central America. The British government interpreted the colonization clause as applying only to any future occupation. But the United States government claimed that Britain was obliged to evacuate the area, particularly after 1853, when President Franklin Pierce’s
expansionist administration stressed the Monroe Doctrine. Britain yielded on the Bay Islands and the Mosquito Coast in eastern Nicaragua. But in 1854, Britain produced a formal constitution establishing a legislative for its possession of the settlement in present-day Belize. The Legislative Assembly of 1854 was to have eighteen elected members, each of whom was to have at least £400 sterling worth of property. The assembly was also to have three official members appointed by the superintendent. The fact that voters had to have property yielding an income of £7 a year or a salary of a £100 a year reinforced the restrictive nature of this legislature. The superintendent could defer or dissolve the assembly at any time, originate legislation, and give or withhold consent to bills. This situation suggested that the legislature was more a chamber of debate than a place where decisions were made. The Colonial Office in London became, therefore, the real political-administrative power in the settlement. This shift in power was reinforced when in 1862, the Settlement of Belize in the Bay of Honduras was declared a British colony called British Honduras, and the crown’s representative was elevated to a lieutenant governor, subordinate to the governor of Jamaica.

During the Caste War in Yucatán, a devastating struggle that halved the population of the area between 1847 and 1855, thousands of refugees fled to the British settlement. The Legislative Assembly had given large landowners in the colony firm titles to their vast estates in 1855 but did not allow the Maya to own land. The Maya could only rent land or live on reservations. Nevertheless, most of the refugees were small farmers who, by 1857, were growing considerable quantities of sugar, rice, corn, and vegetables in the Northern District (now Corozal and Orange Walk districts). In 1857 the town of Corozal, then six years old, had 4,500 inhabitants, second in population only to Belize Town, which had 7,000 inhabitants. Some Maya, who had fled the strife in the north but had no wish to become subjects of the British, settled in the remote area of the Yalbac Hills, just beyond the woodcutting frontier in the northwest. By 1862 about 1,000 Maya established themselves in ten villages in this area, with the center in San Pedro. One group of Maya, led by Marcos Canul, attacked a mahogany camp on the Bravo River in 1866, demanding ransom for their prisoners and rent for their land. A detachment of British troops sent to San Pedro was defeated by the Maya later that year. Early in 1867, more than 300 British troops marched into the Yalbac Hills and destroyed the Mayan villages, provision stores, and granaries in an attempt to drive them out of the district. The Maya returned, however, and in April 1870, Canul and his men marched into Corozal and occupied the town. Two years later, Canul and 150 men attacked the barracks at Orange Walk. After several hours of fighting, Canul’s group retired. Canul, mortally wounded, died on September 1, 1872. That battle was the last serious attack on the colony.

In the 1880s and 1890s, Mopán and Kekchí Maya fled from forced labor in Guatemala and came to British Honduras. They settled in several villages in southern British Honduras, mainly around San Antonio in Toledo District. The Maya could use crown lands set aside as reservations, but these people lacked communal rights. Under the policy of indirect rule, a system of elected alcaldes (mayors), adopted from Spanish local government, linked these Maya to the colonial administration. However, the remote area of British Honduras in which they settled, combined with their largely subsistence way of life, resulted in the Mopán and Kekchí Maya maintaining more of their traditional way of life and becoming less assimilated into the colony than the Maya of the north. The Mopán and Kekchí Maya maintained their languages and a strong sense of identity. But in the north, the distinction between Maya and Spanish was increasingly blurred, as a Mestizo culture emerged. In different ways and to different degrees, then, the Maya who returned to British Honduras in the nineteenth century became incorporated into the colony as poor and dispossessed ethnic minorities. By the end of the nineteenth century, the ethnic pattern that remained largely intact throughout the twentieth century was in place: Protestants largely of African descent, who spoke either English or Creole and lived in Belize Town; the Roman Catholic Maya and Mestizos who spoke Spanish and lived chiefly in the north and west; and the Roman Catholic Garifuna who spoke English, Spanish, or Garifuna and settled on the southern coast.

Largely as a result of the costly military expeditions against the Maya, the expenses of administering the new colony of British Honduras increased, at a time when the economy was severely depressed. Great landowners and merchants dominated the Legislative Assembly, which controlled the colony’s revenues and expenditures. Some of the landowners were also involved in commerce but their interest differed from the other merchants of Belize Town. The former group resisted the taxation of land and favored an increase in import duties; the latter preferred the opposite. Moreover, the merchants in the town felt relatively secure from Mayan attacks and were unwilling to contribute toward the protection of mahogany camps, whereas the landowners felt that they should not be required to pay taxes on lands given inadequate protection. These conflicting interests produced a stalemate in the
Legislative Assembly, which failed to authorize the raising of sufficient revenue. Unable to agree among themselves, the members of the Legislative Assembly surrendered their political privileges and asked for establishment of direct British rule in return for the greater security of crown colony status. The new constitution was inaugurated in April 1871 and the new legislature became the Legislative Council. Under the new constitution of 1871, the lieutenant governor and the Legislative Council, consisting of five ex officio or "official" and four appointed or "unofficial" members, governed British Honduras. This constitutional change confirmed and completed a change in the locus and form of power in the colony’s political economy that had been evolving during the preceding half century. The change moved power from the old settler oligarchy to the boardrooms of British companies and to the Colonial Office in London.

The forestry industry’s control of land and its influence in colonial decision making retarded the development of agriculture and the diversification of the economy. In many parts of the Caribbean, large numbers of former slaves, some of whom had engaged in the cultivation and marketing of food crops, became landowners. British Honduras had vast areas of sparsely populated, unused land. Nevertheless, landownership was controlled by a small European monopoly, thwarting the evolution of a Creole landowning class from the former slaves. Rather than the former slaves, it was the Garifuna, Maya, and Mestizos who pioneered agriculture in nineteenth-century British Honduras. These groups either rented land or lived as squatters. However, the domination of the land by forestry interests continued to stifle agriculture and kept much of the population dependent on imported foods. Landownership became even more consolidated during the economic depression of the mid-nineteenth century. Exports of mahogany peaked at over 4 million linear meters in 1846 but fell to about 1.6 million linear meters in 1859 and 8,000 linear meters in 1870, the lowest level since the beginning of the century. Mahogany and logwood continued to account for over 80 percent of the total value of exports, but the price of these goods was so low that the economy was in a state of prolonged depression after the 1850s. Major results of this depression included the decline of the old settler class, the increasing consolidation of capital and the intensification of British landownership. The British Honduras Company emerged as the predominant landowner of the crown colony. The firm originated in a partnership between one of the old settler families and a London merchant and was registered in 1859 as a limited company. The firm expanded, often at the expense of others who were forced to sell their land. In 1875 the firm became the Belize Estate and Produce Company, a London-based business that owned about half of all the privately held land in the colony. The new company was the chief force in British Honduras’s political economy for over a century.

This concentration and centralization of capital meant that the direction of the colony’s economy was henceforth determined largely in London. It also signaled the eclipse of the old settler elite. By about 1890, most commerce in British Honduras was in the hands of a clique of Scottish and German merchants, most of them newcomers. This clique encouraged consumption of imported goods and thus furthered British Honduras’s dependence on Britain. The European minority exercised great influence in the colony’s politics, partly because it was guaranteed representation on the wholly appointed Legislative Council. The manager of the Belize Estate and Produce Company, for example, was automatically a member of the council, while members of the emerging Creole
elite were excluded from holding seats on the council. The Creoles requested in 1890 that some seats on the council be opened to election (as had occurred in Canada and New Zealand) in the hope of winning seats, but the Legislative Council refused. In 1892, the governor appointed several Creole members, but whites remained the majority. In the 1920s, the Colonial Office supported agitation for an elective council as long as the governor had reserve powers to allow him to push through any measures he considered essential without the council’s assent. But the council rejected these provisos, and the issue of restoring elections was postponed.

Despite the prevailing stagnation of the colony’s economy and society during most of the century prior to the 1930s, seeds of change were being sown. The mahogany trade remained depressed, and efforts to develop plantation agriculture in several crops, including sugarcane, coffee, cocoa, cotton, bananas, and coconuts failed. A brief revival in the forestry industry
took place early in the twentieth century as new demands for forest products came from the United States. Exports of chicle, a gum taken from the sapodilla tree and used to make chewing gum, propped up the economy from the 1880s. Much of the gum was tapped in Mexican and Guatemalan forests by Mayan chicleros who had been recruited by labor contractors in British Honduras. A short-lived boom in the mahogany trade occurred around 1900 in response to growing demand for the wood in the United States, but the ruthless exploitation of the forests without any conservation or reforestation depleted resources. The introduction of tractors and bulldozers opened up new areas in the west and south in the 1920s, but this development led again to only a temporary revival. At this time, mahogany, cedar, and chicle together accounted for 97 percent of forest production and 82 percent of the total value of exports. The economy, which was increasingly oriented toward trade with the United States, remained dependent and underdeveloped. Creoles, who were well-connected with businesses in the United States, challenged the traditional political-economic connection with Britain as trade with the United States intensified. Men such as Robert S. Turton, the Creole chicle buyer for Wrigley’s of Chicago, and Henry I. Melhado, whose merchant family dealt in illicit liquor during prohibition, became major political and economic figures. In 1927, Creole merchants and professionals replaced the representatives of British landowners, (except for the manager of the Belize Estate and Produce Company) on the Legislative Council. The participation of this Creole elite in the political process was evidence of emerging social changes that were largely concealed by economic stagnation. These changes accelerated with such force in the 1930s that they ushered in a new era of modern politics.

The Great Depression shattered the colony’s economy, and unemployment increased rapidly. The Colonial Report for 1931 stated that "contracts for the purchase of mahogany and chicle, which form the mainstay of the Colony, practically ceased altogether, thereby throwing a large number of the woodcutters and chicle-gatherers out of work." On top of this economic disaster, the worst hurricane in the country’s recent history demolished Belize Town on September 10, 1931, killing more than 1,000 people and destroying at least three-quarters of the housing. The British relief response was tardy and inadequate. The British government seized the opportunity to impose tighter control on the colony and endowed the governor with reserve powers, or the power to enact laws in emergency situations without the consent of the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council resisted but eventually passed a resolution agreeing to give the governor reserve powers in order to obtain disaster aid. Meanwhile, people in the town were making shelters out of the wreckage of their houses. The economy continued to decline in 1932 and 1933. The total value of imports and exports in the latter year was little more than one-fourth of what it had been in 1929.

The Belize Estate and Produce Company survived the depression years because of its special connections in British Honduras and London. Since 1875 various members of the Hoare family had been principal directors and maintained a controlling interest in the company. Sir Samuel Hoare, a shareholder and former director, was a former British cabinet member and a
friend of Leo Amery, the British secretary of state for the colonies. In 1931, when the company was suffering from the aftereffects of the hurricane and the depression, family member Oliver V.G. Hoare contacted the Colonial Office to discuss the possibility of selling the company to buyers in the United States. The British government rescued the company by granting it an area of virgin mahogany forest and a loan of US$200,000 to erect a sawmill in Belize Town. When the government almost doubled the land tax, the large landowners refused to pay. The government accepted some virtually worthless land in lieu of taxes and in 1935 capitulated completely, reducing the tax to its former rate and annulling the landowners’ arrears by making them retroactive to 1931. But small landowners had paid their taxes, often at a higher rate.

Robert Turton, the Creole millionaire who made his fortune from chicle exports, defeated C.H. Brown, the expatriate manager of the company, in the first elections for some of the Legislative Council seats in 1936. After the elections, the governor promptly appointed Brown to the council, presumably to maintain the influence of what had for so long been the colony’s chief business. But Brown’s defeat by Turton, one of the company’s chief local business rivals, marked the decline of old British enterprises in relation to the rising Creole entrepreneurs with their United States commercial connections. Meanwhile, the Belize Estate and Produce Company drove Mayan villagers from their homes in San Jose and Yalbac in the northwest and treated workers in mahogany camps almost like slaves. Investigators of labor conditions in the 1930s were appalled to discover that workers received rations of inferior flour and mess pork and tickets to be exchanged at the commissaries, in lieu of cash wages. As a result, workers and their families suffered from malnutrition and were continually in debt to their employers. The law governing labor contracts, the Masters and Servants Act of 1883, made it a criminal offense for a laborer to breach a contract. The offense was punishable by twenty-eight days of imprisonment with hard labor. In 1931 the governor, Sir John Burdon, rejected proposals to legalize trade unions and to introduce a minimum wage and sickness insurance. The conditions, aggravated by rising unemployment and the disastrous hurricane, were responsible for severe hardship among the poor. The poor responded in 1934 with a series of demonstrations, strikes, petitions, and riots that marked the beginning of modern politics and the independence movement.

Riots, strikes, and rebellions had occurred before, during and after the period of slavery, but the events of the 1930s were modern labor disturbances in the sense that they gave rise to organizations with articulate industrial and political goals. In 1894 mahogany workers rioted against a cut in their real wages caused by devaluation. In 1919 demobilized Creole servicemen protested British racism. But British troops soon stopped these spontaneous protests, which were indicative of discontent but had little lasting effect. In contrast, a group calling itself the Unemployed Brigade marched through Belize Town on February 14, 1934, to present demands to the governor and started a broad movement. Poor people, in desperation, turned to the governor, who responded by creating a little relief work–stone-breaking for US$0.10 a day. The governor also offered a daily ration of two kilograms of cooked rice at the prison gates. The unemployed, demanding a cash dole, turned to Antonio Soberanis Gómez (1897-1975), who denounced the Unemployed Brigade’s leaders at a meeting on March 16, 1934, and took over the movement. For the next few weeks, Soberanis and his colleagues of the Labourers and Unemployed Association (LUA) attacked the governor and his officials, the rich merchants, and the Belize Estate and Produce Company at biweekly meetings attended by 600 to 800 people. The workers demanded relief and a minimum wage. They couched their demands in broad moral and political terms that began to define and develop a new nationalistic and democratic political culture.

Soberanis was jailed under a new sedition law in 1935. Still, the labor agitation achieved a great deal. Of most immediate importance was the creation of relief work by a governor who saw it as a way to avoid civil disturbances. Workers built more than 300 kilometers of roads. The governor also pressed for a semirepresentative government. But when the new constitution was
passed in April 1935, it included the restrictive franchise demanded by the appointed majority of the Legislative Council, which had no interest in furthering democracy. High voter- eligibility standards for property and income limited the electorate to the wealthiest 2 percent of the population. Poor people, therefore, could not vote; they could only support members of the Creole middle classes that opposed big-business candidates. The Citizens’ Political Party and the LUA endorsed Robert Turton and Arthur Balderamos, a Creole lawyer, who formed the chief opposition in the new council of 1936. Working-class agitation continued, and in 1939 all six seats on the Belize Town Board (the voting requirements allowed for a more representative electorate) went to middle-class Creoles who appeared more sympathetic to labor.

The greatest achievements of the agitation of the 1930s were the labor reforms passed between 1941 and 1943. Trade unions were legalized in 1941, but the laws did not require employers to recognize these unions. Furthermore, the penal clauses of the old Masters and Servants Act rendered the new rights ineffectual. Employers among the unofficial members at the Legislative Council defeated a bill to repeal these penal clauses in August 1941, but the Employers and Workers Bill, passed on April 27, 1943, finally removed breach-of-labor-contract from the criminal code and enabled British Honduras’s infant trade unions to pursue the struggle for improving labor conditions. The General Workers’ Union (GWU), registered in 1943, quickly expanded into a nationwide organization and provided crucial support for the nationalist movement that took off with the formation of the People’s United Party (PUP) in 1950. The 1930s were therefore the crucible of modern Belizean politics. It was a decade during which the old phenomena of exploitative labor conditions and authoritarian colonial and industrial relations began to give way to new labor and political processes and institutions.

The origins of the independence movement also lay in the 1930s and 1940s. Three groups played important roles in the colony’s politics during this period. One group consisted of working-class individuals and emphasized labor issues. This group originated with Soberanis’s LUA between 1934 and 1937 and continued through the GWU. The second group, a radical nationalist movement, emerged during World War II. Its leaders came from the LUA and the local branch of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. The group called itself variously the British Honduras Independent Labour Party, the People’s Republican Party, and the People’s National Committee. The third group consisted of people who engaged in electoral politics within the narrow limits defined by the constitution and whose goals included a "Natives First" campaign and an extension of the franchise to elect a more representative government. In 1947 a group of graduates of the elite Saint John’s College won control of the Belize City Council and started a newspaper, the Belize Billboard. One member of this group, George Cadle Price, topped the polls in the 1947 election when he opposed immigration schemes and import controls and rode a wave of feeling against a British proposal for a federation of its colonies in the Caribbean. Price was an eclectic and pragmatic politician whose ideological position was often obscured under a cloak of religious values and quotations. He has remained the predominant politician in the country since the early 1950s.

The event that precipitated Price’s political career and the formation of the PUP, was the devaluation of the British Honduras dollar on December 31, 1949. In September 1949, the British government devalued the British pound sterling. In spite of repeated denials by the governor that the British Honduras dollar would be devalued to maintain the old exchange rate with
the British pound, devaluation was nevertheless effected by the governor, using his reserve powers in defiance of the Legislative Council. The governor’s action angered the nationalists because it reflected the limits of the legislature and revealed the extent of the colonial administration’s power. The devaluation enraged labor because it protected the interests of the big transnationals, such as the Belize Estate and Produce Company, whose trade in British pounds would have suffered without devaluation while it subjected British Honduras’s working class, already experiencing widespread unemployment and poverty, to higher prices for goods–especially food–imported from the United States. Devaluation thus united labor, nationalists, and the Creole middle classes in opposition to the colonial administration. On the night that the governor declared the devaluation, the People’s Committee was formed and the nascent independence movement suddenly matured.

Between 1950 and 1954, the PUP, formed upon the dissolution of the People’s Committee on September 29, 1950, consolidated its organization, established its popular base, and articulated its primary demands. Belize Billboard editors Philip Goldson and Leigh Richardson were prominent members of the PUP. They gave the party their full support through anticolonial editorials. The PUP received the crucial support of the GWU, whose president, Clifford Betson, was one of the original members of the People’s Committee. Before the end of January 1950, the GWU and the People’s Committee were holding joint public meetings and discussing issues such as devaluation, labor legislation, the proposed West Indies Federation, and constitutional reform. The GWU was the only mass organization of working people, so the early success of the PUP would have been impossible without the support of this union. On April 28, however, the middle-class members of the People’s Committee (formerly members of the Christian Social Action Group, to which the founders of the Belize Billboard belonged) took over the leadership of the union and gave Betson the dubious honorific title of "patriarch of the union." A year later, George Price, the secretary of the PUP, became vice president of the union. The political leaders took control of the union to use its strength, but the union movement declined as it became increasingly dependent upon politicians in the 1950s.

The PUP concentrated on agitating for constitutional reforms, including universal adult suffrage without a literacy test, an all-elected Legislative Council, an Executive Council chosen by the leader of the majority party in the legislature, the introduction of a ministerial system, and the abolition of the governor’s reserve powers. In short, PUP pushed for
representative and responsible government. The colonial administration, alarmed by the growing support for the PUP, retaliated by attacking two of the party’s chief public platforms. In July 1951, the governor dissolved the Belize City Council on the pretext that it had shown disloyalty by refusing to display a picture of King George VI. Then, in October, the governor charged Belize
Billboard
publishers and owners, including Richardson and Goldson, with sedition. The governor jailed them for twelve months with hard labor. Soon after, PUP leader John Smith resigned because the party would not agree to fly the British flag at public meetings. The removal of three of four chief leaders was a blow to the party, but the events left Price in a powerful position. In
1952 he comfortably topped the polls in Belize City Council elections. Within just two years, despite persecution and division, the PUP had become a powerful political force, and George Price had clearly become the party’s leader.

The colonial administration and the National Party, which consisted of loyalist members of the Legislative Council, portrayed the PUP as pro-Guatemalan and even communist. The leaders of the PUP, however, perceived British Honduras as belonging to neither Britain nor Guatemala. The governor and the National Party failed in their attempts to discredit the PUP on the issue of its contacts with Guatemala, which was then ruled by the democratic, reformist government of President Jacobo Arbenz. When voters went to the polls on April 28, 1954, in the first election under universal literate adult suffrage, the main issue was clearly colonialism–a vote for the PUP was a vote in favor of self-government. Almost 70 percent of the electorate voted. The PUP gained 66.3 percent of the vote and won eight of the nine elected seats in the new Legislative Assembly. Further constitutional reform was unequivocally on the agenda.

British Honduras faced two obstacles to independence: British reluctance until the early 1960s to allow citizens to govern themselves, and Guatemala’s complete intransigence over its long-standing claim to the entire territory (Guatemala had repeatedly threatened to use force to take over British Honduras). By 1961, Britain was willing to let the colony become independent. From 1964 Britain controlled only defense, foreign affairs, internal security, and the terms and conditions of the public service. On June 1, 1973, the colony’s name was changed to Belize in anticipation of independence. After 1975 Britain allowed the colonial government to internationalize its case for independence, so Belizeans participated in international diplomacy even before the area became a sovereign nation. The stalemate in the protracted negotiations between Britain and Guatemala over the future status of Belize led Belizeans to seek the international community’s assistance in resolving issues associated with independence. Even after Belize became independent in 1981, however, the territorial dispute remained unsettled.

The territorial dispute’s origins lay in the eighteenth-century treaties in which Britain acceded to Spain’s assertion of sovereignty while British settlers continued to occupy the sparsely settled and ill-defined area. The 1786 Convention of London, which affirmed Spanish sovereignty was never renegotiated, but Spain never attempted to reclaim the area after 1798. Subsequent treaties between Britain and Spain failed to mention the British settlement. By the time Spain lost control of Mexico and Central America in 1821, Britain had extended its control over the area, albeit informally and unsystematically. By the 1830s, Britain regarded the entire territory between the Hondo River and Sarstoon River as British. The independent republics that emerged from the disintegrating Spanish Empire in the 1820s claimed that they had inherited Spain’s sovereign rights in the area. Britain,
however, never accepted such a doctrine. Based on this doctrine of inheritance, Mexico and Guatemala asserted claims to Belize. Mexico once claimed the portion of British Honduras north of the Sibun River but dropped the claim in a treaty with Britain in 1893. Since then, Mexico has stated that it would revive the claim only if Guatemala were successful in obtaining all or part of the nation. Still, Mexico was the first nation to recognize Belize as an independent country.

At the center of Guatemala’s claim was the 1859 treaty between Britain and Guatemala. From Britain’s viewpoint, this treaty merely settled the boundaries of an area already under British dominion. But Guatemala later developed the view that this agreement was a treaty of cession through which Guatemala would give up its territorial claims only under certain conditions, including the construction of a road from Guatemala to the Caribbean coast. Guatemala said it would repudiate the treaty in 1884 but never followed up on the threat. The dispute appeared to have been forgotten until the 1930s, when the government of General Jorge Ubico claimed that the treaty was invalid because the road had not been constructed. Britain argued that because neither the short- lived Central American Federation (1821-39) nor Guatemala had ever exercised any authority in the area or even protested the British presence in the nineteenth century, British Honduras was clearly under British sovereignty. In its constitution of 1945, however, Guatemala stated that British Honduras was the twenty-third department of Guatemala. Since 1954 a succession of military and right-wing governments in Guatemala frequently whipped up nationalist sentiment, generally to divert attention from domestic problems. Guatemala has also periodically massed troops on the border with the country in a threatening posture.

Negotiations between Britain and Guatemala began again in 1961, but the elected representatives of British Honduras had no voice in these talks. George Price refused an invitation from Guatemalan President Ydígoras Fuentes to make British Honduras an "associated state" of Guatemala. Price reiterated his goal of leading the colony to independence. In 1963 Guatemala broke off talks and ended diplomatic relations with Britain. In 1965 Britain and Guatemala agreed to have a United States lawyer, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson, mediate the dispute. The lawyer’s draft treaty proposed giving Guatemala so much control over the newly independent country, including internal security, defense, and external affairs, that Belize would have become more dependent on Guatemala than it was already on Britain. The United States supported the proposals. All parties in British Honduras, however, denounced the proposals, and Price seized the initiative by demanding independence from Britain with appropriate defense guarantees.

A series of meetings, begun in 1969, ended abruptly in 1972 when Britain announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and 8,000 troops to Belize to conduct amphibious exercises. Guatemala then massed troops on the border. Talks resumed between 1973 and 1975 but again broke off as tensions flared. At this point, the Belizean and British governments, frustrated at
dealing with the military-dominated regimes in Guatemala, agreed on a new strategy that would take the case for self-determination to various international forums. The Belize government felt that by gaining international support, it could strengthen its position, weaken Guatemala’s claims, and make it harder for Britain to make any concessions. Belize argued that Guatemala frustrated the country’s legitimate aspirations to independence and that Guatemala was pushing an irrelevant claim and disguising its own colonial ambitions by trying to present the dispute as an effort to recover territory lost to a colonial power. Between 1975 and 1981, Belizean leaders stated their case for self-determination at a meeting of the heads of Commonwealth of Nations governments in Jamaica, the conference of ministers of the Nonaligned Movement in Peru, and at meetings of the United Nations (UN). The support of the Nonaligned Movement proved crucial and assured success at the UN.

Latin American governments initially supported Guatemala. Cuba, however, was the first Latin country, in December 1975, to support Belize in a UN vote that affirmed Belize’s right to self-determination, independence, and territorial integrity. The outgoing Mexican president, Luis Echeverría Alvarez, indicated that Mexico would appeal to the Security Council to prevent Guatemala’s designs on Belize from threatening peace in the area. In 1976 President Omar Torrijos of Panama began campaigning for Belize’s cause, and in 1979 the Sandinista government in Nicaragua declared unequivocal support for an independent Belize. In each of the annual votes on this issue in the UN, the United States abstained, thereby giving the Guatemalan government some hope that it would retain United States backing. Finally, in November 1980, with Guatemala completely isolated, the UN passed a resolution that demanded the independence of Belize, with all its territory intact, before the next session of the UN in 1981. The UN called on Britain to continue defending the new nation of Belize. It also called on all member countries to offer their assistance.

A last attempt was made to reach an agreement with Guatemala prior to the independence of Belize. The Belizean representatives to the talks made no concessions, and a proposal, called the Heads of Agreement, was initialed on March 11, 1981. However, when ultraright political forces in Guatemala labeled the proposals as a sellout, the Guatemalan government refused to ratify the agreement and withdrew from the negotiations. Meanwhile, the opposition in Belize engaged in violent demonstrations against the Heads of Agreement. The demonstrations resulted in four deaths, many injuries, and damage to the property of PUP leaders and their families. A state of emergency was declared. However, the opposition could offer no real alternatives. With the prospect of independence celebrations in the offing, the opposition’s morale fell. Independence came to Belize on September 21, 1981, without reaching an agreement with Guatemala.

However, the new Guatemalan president, Jorge Serrano, who took office in January 1991, declared his government’s urgent desire to reach a settlement. An agreement was duly reached in September 1991 (including the establishment of diplomatic relations), under which Guatemala recognised Belizean sovereignty (although it maintains its territorial claim) in exchange for access to Belizean ports. In May 1993, the British garrison withdrew. Shortly afterwards, Premier George Price called a snap election. Despite expectations, his PUP was narrowly defeated by Manuel Esquival, the new leader of the UDP. The Guatemala problem emerged once again in 1994, when a formal sovereignty claim was lodged at the United Nations. The Belizean government responded by opening talks with Britain on future military assistance. Since then Belize and Guatemala have held a series of inconclusive bilateral negotiations under the auspices of the UN – as recently as 2000, the Guatemalans formally lodged a claim to half of Belizean territory. In the same forum, the Belizean government has come under pressure from the USA for its alleged laxity in the ‘war on drugs’ – Washington believes that Belize has become a major transit point for shipments into the USA and for the laundering of drug profits through the country’s banking system. Belize’s present ambassador at the UN is a controversial figure; Michael Ashcroft, a wealthy British entrepreneur (and treasurer of the British Conservative party), was the driving force behind Belize’s newly developed ‘offshore’ finance industry. He also controls a significant portion of the financial sector as well as key parts of Belize’s economic infrastructure. Ashcroft has developed a very close relationship with the PUP government led by Said Musa, which took office after a landslide victory in the August 1998 election. The result was repeated at the most recent poll in March 2003.

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Bahamas National History

Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, most of the Caribbean was peopled by three types, or groups, of inhabitants: the Ciboney or Guanahuatebey, the Taino or Arawak, and the Caribs. The cultural distinctions among the three groups are not great; the single greatest differentiating factor appears to be their respective dates of arrival in the region. The Ciboney seem to have arrived first and were found in parts of Cuba and the Bahamas.

The Bahamas also bears the distinction of being the first of the Caribbean islands discovered by Columbus in 1492 on his first transatlantic voyage in search of a new route to India. Several islands in the Bahamas have been named as Columbus’s first landing site in the Caribbean, but until very recently, Watling Island was the most widely accepted location; in 1926 it was renamed San Salvador, the name bestowed by Columbus himself. In 1986, however, after an extensive five-year investigation, a National Geographic Society team announced that Samana Cay, a small isolated island in the far eastern Bahamas, was the most probable location of Columbus’s first landfall.

Upon his arrival, Columbus encountered natives known as Ciboney or Guanahuatebey, related to the Arawak Indians. Within a quarter of a century, however, the Ciboney had been decimated, the result of diseases brought by the Europeans and of having been forced to work in the mines of Hispaniola (the island containing present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic). For the next century, the Bahamas was a forgotten colony. Attention was focused instead on the mineral wealth of the other Caribbean islands.

The first permanent settlement was not established until 1649, when Puritans from the English colony of Bermuda founded Eleuthera, which in Greek means "place of freedom." The colonists, known as Eleutheran Adventurers, set out to establish a colony where they could practice their religion freely, as in the colonies settled by the Pilgrims in New England. In 1666 other English settlers established a colony on New Providence and founded Charlestown, which was renamed Nassau in 1697. Throughout the seventeenth century, the islands served as a favorite base for pirates, but the era of piracy came to a close in 1718, when Woodes Rodgers became governour of The Bahamas, and commerce was restored to the settlement.

During the American War of Independence (1775-1783) the islands were occupied by american troops of John Paul Jones. In 1782 The Bahamas were a Spanish colony for just one year. British loyalists and their slaves arrived from the mainland colonies in the wake of the British defeat in the American Revolution. In the 1780s, the population of New Providence tripled, and the first substantial settlement was made on Great Abaco Island. Cotton plantations were established as the southern life of the North American mainland colonies was reproduced in the Bahamas. However, the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833 and the termination of post-abolition apprenticeships and indentured servanthood in 1838 marked the end of slavery in the Bahamas. The Bahamian economy prospered during the United States Civil War, as Nassau served as an important base for blockade-running by the Confederate States. The war’s end, however, set in motion an economic tailspin that lasted for the next half-century. Little economic development occurred other than in the areas of sponging, pineapple cultivation, and tourism.

The passage of the Volstead Act (Prohibition Act) by the United States in 1919 was a bonanza for the Bahamas. The islands served as a base for United States prohibition runners, and the port of Nassau became congested once again. The introduction of commercial aircraft in the 1930s enabled the Bahamas tourism sector to develop as a mainstay of the nation’s economy. The development of tourism helped mitigate the combined impact of the United States repeal of prohibition in 1933 and a marine disease in 1938 that devastated the sponging industry. During World War II, the Bahamas prospered as Britain established two air force bases on the islands; the Royal Air Force set up a bomber base to ferry new airplanes to European combat zones and to operate a training school for flight and antisubmarine operations in the Caribbean.

After World War II, the Bahamas developed economically and politically. The nation began to exploit its tourism sector more fully; by the end of the 1940s, tourism had become the principal business. In the 1960s, the nation also developed into an international finance center because of taxation and foreign capital movement legislation in the United States and Western Europe. In 1998 tourism, with about 5 million visitors each year, and banking remained the two most important economic sectors in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas also underwent a major political transformation in the postwar era. The first political parties and trade union federations were founded in the 1950s. In 1964, after more than two centuries of British colonial rule, constitutional changes were negotiated at a conference in London; a new constitution replaced the nation’s old representative government with a premier (the preindependence title for prime minister) and a cabinet. In 1967 a bicameral legislature was established, and the first independent government was elected. Full internal self-government was achieved with the signing of the 1969 constitution; and the name of the colony was officially changed to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. A final constitutional conference was held in 1972, paving the way for national independence. On July 10, 1973, the new independence Constitution was presented to Lynden O. Pindling, who was Prime Minister five times, by Prince Charles on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II; with that, the Bahamas became a sovereign independent nation.

Post-independence politics in the Bahamas have been dominated by (later Sir) Lynden Pindling, who had first been elected to the premiership as head of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in 1967. The PLP, with Pindling as its head, was returned to office at each of five subsequent elections, despite increasingly numerous and detailed allegations of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking against Pindling and some of his associates. All were vehemently and repeatedly denied by Pindling. Pressure from the USA (which has leased two military bases on the islands since the 1950s) forced the government to introduce more stringent measures against drug trafficking, including changes to the islands’ banking secrecy laws. The damage to Pindling’s reputation and the islands’ poor economic performance during the early 1990s led to the PLP’s rejection by the electorate at the August 1992 polls. The new premier was the leader of the long-time opposition Free National Movement (FNM), Hubert Ingraham. Once a minister under Pindling, Ingraham had resigned in 1984. Ingraham was re-elected in 1997. However, at the most recent poll in May 2002, the PLP resumed control of the government with an overwhelming majority in the House of Assembly. The current premier is Perry Christie, another veteran Bahamanian politcian and former colleague of Pindling. Pindling retired from politics after his 1992 defeat. He died in August 2000.

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