Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU. Email Address. Email address:. Reading about certain customs and practices of the Chilean society made me wonder that my country and Chile is alike in a lot of respects. There are so many things Isabel Allende has sketched about Chilean people, that I find around myself in one cursory look.
These days I try to pick books that either teach me something new or inspire me in my writing. Oddly, I could relate so much with the writer who happens to be decades older than me and belongs if we can say that she belongs to a country that has been alien to me all these years. This sense of identification with a complete stranger is what I seek to do with my own writing.
You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Formerly the powerful belonged to a small oligarchy that had descended from Europeans and was composed of a handful of families; today the ruling class is broader, numbering several thousand of the kinds of persons who know how to get things done. During the first hundred years of the republic, the presidents and politicians were all from the upper class, though later the middle class also had a hand in governing.
Few, nevertheless, came from the working class. Presidents with a social conscience were men moved by inequality, injustice, and poverty, even though they had not experienced those afflictions personally. Today the president and the majority of politicians, with the exception of several rightists, are not members of the economic group that has true control of the country.
At this moment we have a paradoxical situation: a Socialist president and a rightist economy and policies.
'My Invented Country': Life Within and Without Chile
Until the country was ruled by a conservative oligarchy with a feudal mentality. Nevertheless, the seeds of social ideas had been planted, and the following years saw the birth of the radical and communist parties. In a political leader was elected who for the first time preached social justice: Arturo Alessandri Palma, nicknamed The Lion. He came from a middle-class family of second-generation Italian immigrants.
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He promulgated social legislation, and during the term of his government workers organized and gained access to political parties. Alessandri suggested modifying the Constitution to establish a true democracy, but the conservative forces of the opposition impeded him from accomplishing that, even though the majority of Chileans, especially the entire middle class, supported him.
Parliament again the parliament! A succession of military juntas attempted to govern, but the country seemed to lose direction and the popular outcry forced the return of The Lion, who ended his term by seeing a new constitution put into effect. Then came a period that we can classify as a sane democracy.
Alliances were formed among parties, and in the left came to power under President Pedro Aguirre Cerda, a member of the Frente Popular, or Popular Front, in which communist and radical parties participated. In my hideaway beneath the grand piano I heard the apocalyptic prognostications of my grandfather and uncles. I spent sleepless nights, convinced that enemy hordes were coming to burn our house to the ground.
No such thing happened, the general had learned his lesson and acted within the Constitution. For twenty years we had center-left governments, until , when the right triumphed with Jorge Alessandri, son of The Lion and completely different from his father. The Lion was a populist with advanced ideas for his time; his son was a conservative, and projected an old-maidish image. While revolutions were erupting in most Latin American countries and caudillos were taking over governments at gunpoint, an exemplary democracy was being consolidated in Chile. The first half of the twentieth century witnessed the crystallization of significant social advances.
Free, public, compulsory education, public health for all, and one of the most advanced social security systems on the continent favored the strengthening of a vast educated and politicized middle class, as well as a proletariat with class awareness.
‘My Invented Country’ By Isabel Allende: Short Review
Unions were formed, along with centers for workers, employees, and students. Women gained the vote, and electoral processes were perfected. Citizens line up in queues to vote, without ever producing the least altercation, even if political tempers are boiling. Men and women vote at different sites, guarded by soldiers to avoid disturbances or bribery.
My Invented Country
No alcohol is sold the previous day, and businesses and offices remain closed. No one works on Election Day. Concern for social justice also reached into the Catholic Church, which has great influence in Chile, and which on the basis of new encyclicals made great efforts to support the changes being effected in the country. In the meantime two large blocks of influence were being affirmed in the outside world: capitalism and socialism. To confront Marxism, the Christian Democrats were born in Europe, a center-right party with a humanist and community-oriented message.
The overwhelming triumph of Eduardo Frei Montalva, and a Christian Democrat majority in the parliament, marked a milestone. The country had changed.
It was assumed that the right had faded into history, that the left would never have its chance, and that Christian Democrats would govern till the end of time, but that did not happen, and after only a few years the party lost popular support. The right had not been shattered, as had been predicted, and the left came back from defeat and reorganized. Power was divided into three parts: right, center, and left.
There was a suffocating atmosphere of revenge on the part of the right, which felt its wealth had been expropriated and which feared it would definitively lose the power it had always boasted of, and of resentment on the part of the lower classes, which had never felt represented by the Christian Democrats. Each of the three segments of power presented a candidate: Jorge Alessandri for the right, Radomiro Tomic for the Christian Democrats, and Salvador Allende for the left.
The parties of the left joined together in a coalition called the Unidad Popular, which included the Communist Party.