Eduardo Frei Montalva


Eduardo Frei Montalva : biography

January 16, 1911 – January 22, 1982

Much attention was also given to improve social and economic conditions in the countryside. Both rural unionisation and agrarian reform were accelerated, with the government starting to expropriate estates in a serious way. The agricultural minimum wage was also raised to the same level as its urban equivalent, and an agrarian reform law signed by Frei in July 1967 made all farms of more than eighty “basic” hectares liable to expropriation. The Frei Administration had thus made a major start to land reform, a policy continued by the Allende Government. The agrarian reform carried out by the Frei Government organized the reformed sector according to a temporary system established in the law, whereby the expropriated estates became asentamientos. This was a legal form in which the farm operated as a joint enterprise between the state and the peasants who had lived in the former latifundia (extensive agricultural estates), with the state providing the credits, land, and technical assistance, and the peasants their labor. After an indeterminate period, the land would be made available for subdivision into small private plots, if the peasants wished.Politics and Ideology in Allende’s Chile by Ricardo Israel Zipper

During his administration 8 workers were killed in El Salvador mineUriel Hancock, , page 133 and 11 squatters in the Massacre of Puerto Montt. His Minister of the Interior, Edmundo Pérez Zujovic was politically blamed for the deaths. On 21 October 1969 the Tacnazo insurrection, occurred—a brief non-violent demonstration of the Tacna artillery regiment in Santiago, led by General Roberto Viaux.

In 1966, the Andean Group, officially created through its Declaration, signed in January 1965. However, the group culminated with the famous speech delivered by Eduardo Frei Montalva in Plaza Bolívar, Bogota. The same year the pacts on Chilean copper are signed.

In January, 1967 the National Congress refused his constitutional permission to travel to the United States where he had been invited by President Lyndon B. Johnson. In April, he participated in the Meeting of Presidents from American countries, carried out in Montevideo, Uruguay.

In 1970, he was awarded with the Doctor Honoris Causa title by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. On November 4, he left office, handing over the Presidency to Salvador Allende.

Political career

He began his political career in the Conservative Party, but was among a group of young men who founded their own party in 1938: the Falange Nacional. He was minister of Public Works in 1945, and in 1949, Frei was elected senator for Atacama and Coquimbo. The same year he published “Historia de los Partidos Políticos Chilenos” (“History of Chilean Political Parties”) in collaboration with Albert Edwards Vives. In 1950, he traveled to New York as a UN delegate. In 1952, at 41 years of age, Frei Montalva announced his first candidacy in the presidential elections.

The 1952 election was won by Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. Later, President Ibañez requested Frei to organize an executive committee. However, this never came to be. In 1954, the UN appointed him President of the Commission in charge of elaborating the report of the Conference of Chancellors held in Rio de Janeiro. Some of its members were: Carlos Lleras Restrepo, former President of Colombia, and Raúl Prebisch director of ECLAC. The report served as a basis for subsequent studies on economic development and the integration of Latin America. In 1956 he was elected Senator in Santiago by first majority.

On July 27, 1957, the Falange Nacional became the Christian Democratic Party of Chile, and he became the undisputed leader. Frei Montalva was offered once more the candidacy for president of the Republic in the 1958 elections. Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez was elected president while Eduardo Frei Montalva took only third place.

During these years he published three more books: “Sentido y Forma de una Política” (“Meaning and Shape of Politics”), “La Verdad Tiene Su Hora” (“Truth Has Its Time”), y “Pensamiento y Acción” (“Thought and Action”). In 1960, he lectured at conference “The Mission of Universities in Latin America” in Montevideo; a widely promoted conference at that time. In 1961, he was elected President of the First World Christian Democratic Party Congress, held in Santiago, Chile. The congress was attended by delegations from throughout Latin America, European, North American, and African countries. That year he was invited as special guest to a seminar on the problems of Developing Nations, held at Oxford University. The seminar was attended by delegates from all over the world.