The years of 1958 until 1964 mark a time when the political structure that Chile had seen changed dramatically, allowing the influences of corrupt people and leaders who were out to better their own standard of living rather than the lives of the inquilinos and afuerinos (casual laborers) to take control of the government. Even though there was hope of escaping this time, it proved to be another false move by the Chilean Government. The Lion’s son as the Chileans referred to him was in control of Chile at a time when earthquakes, tidal waves, and volcanoes threatened the country’s welfare.
The disasters caused an economic downslide that directly affected the support for Alessandri. Alessandri was in a bind, because with inflation threatening and his government with no solution he was destined to an exit, which was to be decided by the voters. Alessandri however, compromised his political stance and sided with the Radicals in 1961, which ultimately gave him control of both houses. Considering the welfare of Chile at this time, this might have been Alessandri’s only option, even though it wasn’t the best one.
This dramatic change, in the strongest political party in Chile at this time, caused a huge wave of strikes in 1962. Some of the strikes were dealt with peacefully, but others such as one led by inhabitants of Jose Maria Caro, a shantytown, led to 5 people dying. A new goal now entered the minds of those who controlled the Chilean economy, but an opposition out to better themselves caused the attempt to fail miserably. The plan was to hasten Industrialization, which would create more jobs and also modernize the Chilean economy. This plan quickly vanished because the new government was not in accord with these tactics at this time.
Instead, it became clear that if the the Chilean people and economy would survive, there would have to be a resurgence of agricultural production. A socialist leader named Marmaduke Grove came up with a three-part solution for the low standards of living that haunted some 340,000 Chilean rural workers. His plan stated that individuals could not use the land as a form of income and instead must work the properties. In addition the government would divide the haciendas and redistribute the land to the peasants. ( Collier, Sater 266). Marama argued that this would increase production and lower prices for the domestic consumer.
The current political party denied this plan because it would cause them to lose important votes in the following election. Landowners at this time had a great deal of control over their workers. Even though Unions were formed and prohibitions were passed to give more rights to the workers, the landowners resisted and came up with ways to avoid following the new laws. A game was being played, in which the victor got away with more and the loser was robbed out of his rights. The thirty years from 1930 to 1960, contained many changes within the political system and in the economy.
Most of these changes were for the worst, but change causes more change and a country will never be stable and growing unless it finds what is best for it. The problem with the changes that occurred was not the changes themselves but who was in control, or behind all the changes. Their intentions were in the wrong places. Alessandri, for example, was out for his best interests and not for the intentions of his voters. All we can ask is for the leaders of Chile to think about why they are doing what they are and hope that if they’re not doing it for Chile’s sake to stop and let others take control.