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Home Documents Party Comunist. Party Comunist Download Report. Published on Sep View 78 Download It was not until the later s that it began to acquire vicentd organisational forms and practices characteristic of all members of the Third Communist International and not until the early s that it was led by men who gave unquestioning allegiance to Moscow.

Reduced to a shadow of its former self by prolonged persecution in the late huidkbro and early s, the party’s fortunes did not begin to revive until afterwhen the Third International adopted policies which encouraged it to become a regular participant in Chilean coalition politics.

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galance Between andthe party’s fortunes fluctuated some- what in accordance with changing national and international circumstances but coalition politics enabled it to play im- portant roles in the election of three successive Presidents of the Republic, to extend its appeal to wider sectors of society, to expand its electoral and trade union support and, indirectly, to lay the basis for an increasingly effective and professional party machine.

Inthe party became the first Latin American Communist Party to hold designated portfolios in cabinet but its experience of high government office was cut short by Cold War pressures – pressures which eventually forced the party into a period of clandestinity which lasted from until This, then, is the broad chronological sweep of this study. Within its context, particular attention is paid to the party’s relations with the International Communist Move- ment, to its links with organised labour, to its organisational development, to its electoral support and to its changing relations with other Chilean parties.

Yet, in fact, the Chilean Communist Party had been a force blaance some significance in Chilean politics for many years and, until the Cuban Revolution, could lay claim to being vicent most successful Communist Party in Latin America. No other Latin American Communist Party achieved such close links with organised labour, no other party had similar electoral appeal and no other party had the degree of acceptance and respectability which the Chilean party enjoyed.

Despite this, the Chilean Com- munist Party has not been the subject of much systematic study by either foreign or Chilean scholars and this work is an attempt to remedy that neglect for the years During those years, the PCCh developed its more striking characteristics both as an organisation and as an actor in the Chilean political process and it was during those years that it moved from the margins into the mainstream of Chilean political life. This study is based primarily on the newspaper and pamphlet literature of the time, not only of the party it- self but of all groups which had some part in the develop- ment of events.

Use has also been made of archival material. The Chilean Communist Party was in the process of collecting material for the Museo Recabarren when this author was in Santiago but that collection only yielded a few items which were not avail- able in public and private libraries elsewhere. I owe a particular debt of gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Harold lakemore, for his uhfailing advice and encouragement.

I am endebted to Juan de la Cruz Leyton vjcente Adrian Vasquez of vicemte Communist Party’s Museo Recaharren for not only giving me access to the materials under their control but also for first hand accounts of many of the events and developments touched upon in this study.

Finally, I should like to thank the Foreign Area Fellowship Program and the Viicente of Latin American Studies, University of London, for the financial support which made the preparation of this thesis possible. The roots of the Partido Comunista de Chile PCCh and of the modern Chilean working class movement lie in the economic, social and political changes which that country experienced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Like balancf neighbours, Chile had emerged from its struggle for independence patriltico Spain impoverished and plagued by civil war.

Afterhowever, Chile enjoyed a prolonged period of relatively peaceful and orderly development -a striking contrast to the bloody turbulence which continued to afflict most other Latin American Republics. Chile owed much of its good fortune in this matter to those geographic, economic and social peculiarities which gave the country a greater degree of cohesion than was usual on the continent.

Thus, despite Chile’s rugged and difficult terrain, the vast majority of its inhabitants lived in one distinctive area huiddobro the mile long Central Valley which lies between the Andes Mountains and the coastal ranges.

This concentration of population, together with the country’s narrowness never more than one hundred miles wide and its lengthy coastline meant that central govern- ment, based in the capital city of Santiago, had good land and sea communications with other population centres which made vicene task of governing a relatively easy matter. Smith, Latin Americas Geographical Perspectives London, pp 5, for a more detailed geographical appreci- ation of Chile. The dominance of agriculture based on the fundo provided cohesion in two directions.

Firstly, the undo owner or hacendado had a paternalistic and almost feudal attitude towards his work force and their close relationship tended to forge strong bonds of loyalty between classes. Secondly, the hacendados, who constituted Chile’s ruling elite, tended to share the economic preoccupations and the social attitudes of their rivals for political power. Negroes had never been imported in large numbers and the Indians, by the early nineteenth century, had been submerged by miecegena- tion, driven out of the Central Valley or exterminated.

These factors, however, did not make Chile entirely immune from the sort of conflicts which all Latin American countries experienced in the decades after independence. Chile had its caudillos, it experienced the pulls of a 2 G. MaBride’s Chiles Land and Society New York, provides the classic study of the importance of the latifundia to Chile’s development. The period of sustained and more or less peaceful development which Chile experienced after was not altogether the product huidobo fortuitous and impersonal circum- stance.


Chile owed much to human ingenuity and, in particular, to the skill and foresight of the wen who framed the Constitution patriofico created the system which channeled Chile’s political development for almost a century. Inat the Battle of Lircay, the more conservative and centralist forces in Chilean politics, the peluconos, defeated their more liberal and democratic opponents, the pipiolos, and brought to an end a seven year period of intermittent civil war known as La Anarguia.

One faction of the pelucones, led by Diego Portales, managed to impose its criterion on the Constitution. Portales and his friends perceived that lasting peace and statllity could only be restored to Chile by re-establishing harmony between the three principal pillars of Chilean society patriotiico the landed aristocracy, the Church and the Army – and by recreating the firm, authoritarian government which Chile had experienced as a colony.

In the Constitution, they instituted a quasi-monarchical form of government suitably adapted to the then current republican and constitutional norms. Thus, while the principle of the separation of powers was recognised, almost total power was invested in the office of the President of the Republic while a primarily consultative role was envisaged for the bi-cameral legislature.

By severely limiting the franchise and by instituting indirect elections for the Presidency, Portales and his huiddobro ensured that control remained firmly in the hands of the landed aristocracy. However, despite the deliberate attempt to limit popular participation in the political process, the Constitution was not un- enlightened.

Education, for example, was made the responsi- bility of the state and, more important still, steps were taken to ensure that the Presidency did not degenerate from an institutional to a personal dictatorship. Presidents were not permitted to serve more than two consecutive terms and Congress, which the Presidents could not dissolve, was given limited powers over finance and the Armed Forces.

In sum, the Constitution had the merits of recognising and bes- towing legitimacy upon existing power relationships in Chilean society and of providing an acceptable framework within which rival groups could compete for political power in a relatively peaceful manner. Under the aegis of the Constitution, Chile experienced the peace and stability necessary for sustained economic growth. In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, mining and agricultural resources were developod; banking and commerce began to flourish.

With economic growth came social change; new elites emerged whose wealth was not based primarily on land but on banking and commerce; new middle sectors – professional men, functionaries and businessmen – appeared in response to the demands of an increasingly complex economy and, at the huirobro end of the social scale, a new urban artisan class began to form. However, mid-century economic and social change was not on a sufficiently large scale to generate new forces willing and able to challenge the traditional ruling class for power.

Indeed, the landed aristocracy showed considerable flexibility in absorbing the new mining and commercial elites and political divisions, far from being re-drawn on the basis of class or socio-economic policy, continued to revolve around constitutional and religious issues.

Two issues in particular dominated nineteenth century politics in Chile – presidential authoritarianism and the powers and privileges of the Church. These issues, together with the intense personal rivalries between those who wished to become President of the Republic, lay behind the emergence of a series of loosely-knit political parties in the mid-nineteenth century. In the s, some pelucones, thwarted in their efforts to secure the presidency for one of their number, joined with the remnants of the pip solos “7” to form the Partido Liboral PL which pressed for curbs on presidential powers and greater public liberties.

Later, an administration hostile to the Church caused the pelucones to split again, producing two parties; the Parte o Conservador PCwhich defended the Church’s position, and the Partido Nacional PNwhich took the government’s side. Finally, in the the left wing of the PLC more mili- tant in its anti-clericalism and its defence of public liberties than the main body of Liberals, broke away to form the Partido Radical PR. The PL, for example, drew its support from the less devout hacendados and the newer elites; the PC became the voice of the traditionalist Catholic landowners while the PH represented secular-minded landowners, state functionaries and progressive businessmen.

The PR was, perhaps, the clearest manifestation of mid-century economic and social change since it drew its leadership and inspira- tion from the new mining elites. The issue of presidential authoritarianism was not only a catalyst in the formation of political parties but a significant factor in Chile’s constitutional development. Conflict between the executive and legislative arms of government, each intent on expanding or defending its pre- rogatives, characterised Chile’s constitutional history in the nineteenth century – much in the same way, according to one famous Chilean writer, that King and Parliament wrestled for power in seventeenth century England.

Indeed, the balance of power between President and Congress is often used to distinguish periods in Chile’s development.

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Thus, the Autocratic Republic, generally dated from tosaw presidential power little troubled by congressional inter- ference while during the Liberal Republic which followed, constitutional reforms were passed which converted Congress into a strong and independent body. So strong that, by the s, Congress could make governing an arduous task for any president who incurred its hostility. In the late s, President Balmaceda found himself in precisely that position although, ironically enough, as a congressman he had been in the forefront of the battle to curb presidential power.

In the face of congressional obstructionism, Balmaceda tried to rule without Congress altogether, an action which pre- cipitated the Revolution – and his own downfall. As its name might suggest, the Parliamentary Republic saw the ascendency of the legislature over the executive arm of government. Emboldened by its victory in the Revolution, Congress began to use the powers it had won under the Liberal Republic with an increasing frequency and, according to some critics, with a decreasing sense of responsibility.


Minis- terial instability, caused by the use of the congressional faculty to censure and remove ministers from office, and the interference of Congress in the most minute details of pub- lic administration, in a manner inimical to efficiency and dispatch, became striking features of the Parliamentary Re- public. Increasingly, Presidents found themselves in need of a working majority in Congress to perform the most routine tasks of government.

Presidents still possessed the means to influence Congress – through control over state patronage and the ability to influence election results – but the loose structure of the political parties and their suscepti- bility to fierce internal conflicts and fragmentation made the task of constructing a stable congressional majority one which often eluded the most astute of presidents.

Inevit- ably, the Parliamentary Republic came to be associated with weak, uncertain and corrupt governments incapable of meeting the challenge of economic and social change. Nitrates swiftly became Chile’s most important export industry and the key factor in a general economic expansion which brought profound social changes.

The nitrate industry stimulated the development of ancillary industries and services to satisfy its own needs and contributed to an expansion of the internal market by paying wages to large numbers of workers. The industry had an even greater impact on the economy through the role it came to play in government finances. Thus, the integra- tion of the nitrate industry into the economy initiated a complex process. Government spending and not private invest- ment became the principal motor of economic growth and the government’s capacity to spend was directly tied to the prosperity of the nitrate industry which, in its turn, was subject to the vagaries of world demand.

In sum, the whole economy became hostage to the fortunes of this single indus- try. Middle sectors of Chilean society – professional men, commercial and government functionaries, businessmen, small industrialists and manufacturers – expanded to meet the demands of the economy. Perhaps more striking still, the processes of internal migration were stimulated and an urban proletariat was created.

Chile, Hoy Santiago, pp, for a brief but clear discussion of the impact of the nitrate industry on the economy. For the first time the worker was exposed to the regimentation of industrial life and dependent on wages for his daily survival; any illusion which the migrant may have brought from the fundo concerning a community of interest between employer and em- ployee was swiftly eroded. Indeed, as an increasing number of workers were becoming dependent on wages, Chile itself was affected by a slow but persistent inflation.

The value of the peso fell by two-thirds between and while, according to another source, the real cost of consumer articles increased fourfold between and Julio Cesar Jobet opcit p. Perhaps nowhere is the process of the formation of working class consciousness better seen than in the nitrate provinces of Antofagasta and Tarapac.

There, large numbers of workers, often recruited by unscrupulous means, were herded together in poorly constructed camps in the hostile isolation of the Atacama desert. Lacking in the most rudi- mentary amenities, the camps were the private kingdoms of the nitrate companies. The compp6ny store provided the worker with the necessities of life at its own prices and convenience while the company police controlled access to and departure from the camp and maintained order and discipline – sometimes in a brutal and arbitrary fashion.

The truck system, poor water, the absence of civil rights, the lack of schools and impartial justice, the open toleration of prostitution, gambling and illegal distilling of liquor, the lack of proper medical attention – these were the perennial complaints of the nitrate workers.

Small wonder that the nitrate workers developed a particularly strong sense of class identity and solidarity which was regularly transmitted to other parts of Chile when, by necessity or choice, they returned to the central and southern provinces. The nitrate fields were by no means the only places where conditions helped to foster a strong sense of class identity.

Conditions in the southern coalfields mirrored those found in the nitrate provinces while the experiences of the migrant worker in the towns tended towards the forma- tion of similar attitudes, if in a less intensive form.

While the development of a clear sense of class consciousness had profound significance for the development of the working class movement in Chile, the first form of worker organisation which that country experienced belonged to an earlier stage of 1s development. The rnutualist society, which remained the most usual form of worker organisa- tion until well into the twentieth century, provided social security and educational benefits for its members.

Generally, it was organised on a trade basis, was not political in a partisan sense and was not concerned with fighting employers for better pay and conditions.

Under the impact of late nineteenth century change the mutualist movement grew con- siderably and in created a national organisation, the Congreso Social Obrero, which claimed 20, members in that year. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, sharpen- ing class conflict and the penetration of anarchist ideas produced a new form of worker organisation – the resistance society – specifically designed to fight for better pay and conditions for its members by direct and militant action.

First founded by railway shop workers in Santiago inthe resistance society spread to other groups of workers elsewhere in the country – including miners in Lota, port- workers in the northern provinces and bakers and seamen in Valparafso. The mancomunal, which first appeared in Iquique incombined the essential features of both the mutualist and the resistance society and was the true pre- cursor of the modern Chilean trade union.