|Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
two-time President of Chile
Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was
born in Linares, Chile, on November 3, 1877. He
attended and graduated from a military school in
Santiago, after which he was appointed military
adviser to the army of El Salvador. After
returning to Chile, he served as director of the
cavalry school and the police academy.
Rise to Prominence
Ibáñez rose to political
prominence as a result of the bloodless military
coup that ousted President Arturo Alessandri
Palma in September 1924. He and a few close
associates led a counter-coup in January 1925
that restored Alessandri to the presidency.
Ibáñez was rewarded by being named Minister of
War, and, later, as Minister of the Interior.
Although Ibáñez had been
instrumental in restoring Alessandri to the
presidency, the two men frequently found
themselves at odds with each other. Believing
that Ibáñez was trying to wield too much power,
Alessandri resigned and went into exile in
October 1925. Emiliano Figueroa Larrain was
subsequently elected President, while Ibáñez
maintained his position as Minister of the
Continuing disputes within the
government led Figueroa to resign in April 1927,
elevating Ibáñez to the presidency according to
provisions of the Constitution then in effect. A
special election was held in May, and Ibáñez
was formally inaugurated as President on May 10,
Although often seen as more of
a dictator than a President, Ibáñez enjoyed
wide popularity among Chileans. During his
administration the country enjoyed growing
economic prosperity, thanks in large part to an
influx of foreign investments. Ibáñez used that
prosperity to initiate a series of public works
projects, which in turn led to a decline in the
national unemployment rate. His greatest foreign
policy achievement came in 1929, when he signed
the Treaty of Lima, in which Chile agreed to
return the Tacna Province, which had been seized
during the War of Pacific, to Peru.
Chile's economic prosperity
came to an end as depression gripped the world in
1930. Unable to restore that prosperity, Ibáñez
faced growing public dissent, and was finally
driven into exile on July 26, 1931.
Ibáñez returned to Chile
after Alessandri was again elected President in
1932, and soon became an active member of the
opposition. In 1938, with backing from several
small Nazi and Fascist groups, he ran for the
presidency, but withdrew from the race after
Chilean Nazis staged an unsuccessful coup against
Ibáñez ran for President
again in 1942. This time, in addition to the
Nazis and Fascists, he had support from the
Conservative and Libert parties. Although he won
44% of the popular vote, he lost the election to
leftist Juan Antonio Ríos, and remained a leader
of the active opposition.
In 1944, a few Nazi soldiers
and national policemen, with support from
Argentine President Juan Perón, tried to
overthrow President Gabriel González Videla and
make Ibáñez President. The plot was uncovered
before anything happened, however, and the coup
plotters were arrested. Although he was the
central figure of the planned coup, Ibáñez was
absolved of all blame and no charges were ever
filed against him.
In 1952, Ibáñez organized the
Agrarian-Labor Party, which in turn got him
elected to the presidency with 47% of the popular
vote; he took office again on November 3, 1952.
By now an old man, Ibáñez found his second
presidency far more difficult than his first.
Almost constantly at odds with Congress, he was
unable to accomplish much and chose not to run
for another term. He left office on November 3,
1958, and was succeeded by Jorge Alessandri
Rodríguez, son of Arturo Alessandri.
Left: Jorge Alessandri
(left), the new President of Chile, and Ibáñez
chat after the November 3 inaugural ceremony at
the National Congress in Santiago.
Carlos Ibáñez del Campo died
in Santiago, on April 28, 1960.
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