Juan Antonio Ríos
Overview
 
Juan Antonio Ríos Morales (November 10, 1888 – June 27, 1946) was a Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

an political figure, and President of Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 from 1942 to 1946, during the height of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He died in office.
Ríos was born at the Huichicura hacienda
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

, near the town of Cañete
Cañete
Cañete is a city and commune in Chile in Arauco Province, Biobío Region. It's located 135 km to the south of Concepción.-History:In 1552, Pedro de Valdivia founded the Tucapel Fort, near the present city of Cañete. In 1553, after destroying the fort, the native Mapuche defeated the Spanish...

, a coal-mining village in the Arauco Province
Arauco Province
Arauco Province is one of four provinces of the Chilean region of Biobío . It spans a coastal area of just south of the mouth of the Biobío River, the traditional demarcation between the nation's major natural regions, Zona Central and Zona Sur...

 of southern Chile. He was the youngest son of Anselmo Ríos, a rich landowner, and his third wife Lucinda Morales.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Juan Antonio Ríos Morales (November 10, 1888 – June 27, 1946) was a Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

an political figure, and President of Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 from 1942 to 1946, during the height of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He died in office.

Early life

Ríos was born at the Huichicura hacienda
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

, near the town of Cañete
Cañete
Cañete is a city and commune in Chile in Arauco Province, Biobío Region. It's located 135 km to the south of Concepción.-History:In 1552, Pedro de Valdivia founded the Tucapel Fort, near the present city of Cañete. In 1553, after destroying the fort, the native Mapuche defeated the Spanish...

, a coal-mining village in the Arauco Province
Arauco Province
Arauco Province is one of four provinces of the Chilean region of Biobío . It spans a coastal area of just south of the mouth of the Biobío River, the traditional demarcation between the nation's major natural regions, Zona Central and Zona Sur...

 of southern Chile. He was the youngest son of Anselmo Ríos, a rich landowner, and his third wife Lucinda Morales. His father (aged 69 to his young wife's 19 at marriage) died when he was very young so he and his three brothers were raised single-handedly by his mother. He completed his primary studies at the rural school of Cañete, and his secondary studies first at the Liceo of Lebu
Lebu, Chile
Lebu is a port city and commune in central Chile administered by the Municipality of Lebu. Lebu is also the capital of Arauco Province in Bío-Bío Region...

 and later at the one in Concepción
Concepción, Chile
Concepción is a city in Chile, capital of Concepción Province and of the Biobío Region or Region VIII. Greater Concepción is the second-largest conurbation in the country, with 889,725 inhabitants...

, and continued legal studies at the courses given at the annex of his school. Ríos became a lawyer in 1914 with an exposition on the creation and development of the police in Chile.

A member of the conservative wing of the Radical Party
Radical Party (Chile)
The Radical Party of Chile was a Chilean political party. It was formed in 1863 by a split in the Liberal Party. Not coincidently, it was formed shortly after the organization of the Grand Lodge of Chile, and it has maintained a close relationship with Chilean Freemasonry throughout its life...

 since his high school days, he was elected local president of the youth branch of that party and later city councillor. During the presidential election of 1920
Chilean presidential election, 1920
The Chilean presidential election of 1920 resulted in the election as President of Arturo Alessandri.-Popular vote:Carried out on June 25, 1920. -Electoral vote :Carried out on July 25, 1920.-Electoral vote :...

 he campaigned for Arturo Alessandri
Arturo Alessandri
Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma was a Chilean political figure and reformer, who served twice as the President of Chile, first between 1920 and 1924, and then again in 1925, and finally from 1932 until 1938....

, being responsible for the southern part of the country. He was rewarded by Alessandri with the appointment of Consul-general
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

 and Chargé d'affaires
Chargé d'affaires
In diplomacy, chargé d’affaires , often shortened to simply chargé, is the title of two classes of diplomatic agents who head a diplomatic mission, either on a temporary basis or when no more senior diplomat has been accredited.-Chargés d’affaires:Chargés d’affaires , who were...

 to Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

. On October 21, 1921 he married Marta Ide, and together they had three sons: Juan, Carlos, and Fernando.

Ríos returned to Chile in 1924, to run in that year's congressional elections. He was elected as deputy
Chamber of Deputies of Chile
The Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of Chile is the lower house of Chile's bicameral Congress. Its organisation and its powers and duties are defined in articles 42 to 59 of Chile's current constitution....

 for Arauco, Lebu and Cañete, and was reelected in 1926. After Alessandri's return to power following the Chilean coup of 1925, he participated of the committee charged with drafting a new constitution, that led to the approval and proclamation of the 1925 Chilean Constitution.

In the meantime, Juan Antonio Ríos had become president and one of the principal leaders of the Radical Party
Radical Party (Chile)
The Radical Party of Chile was a Chilean political party. It was formed in 1863 by a split in the Liberal Party. Not coincidently, it was formed shortly after the organization of the Grand Lodge of Chile, and it has maintained a close relationship with Chilean Freemasonry throughout its life...

. During the administration of colonel Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was a Chilean Army officer and political figure. He served as dictator between 1927 and 1931 and as constitutional President from 1952 to 1958.- The coups of 1924 and 1925 :...

 he was caught between his party's opposition to the government's dictatorial administration and his personal admiration for the government's results. As party president, he participated of the Thermal Congress (an unelected Congress convened by President Ibañez) as a senator
Senate of Chile
The Senate of the Republic of Chile is the upper house of Chile's bicameral National Congress, as established in the current Constitution of Chile.-Composition:...

 for Arauco, Malleco, and Cautín. After the fall of general Ibañez in 1931, Ríos was expelled from his party for his cooperation with the former dictatorship.

The year 1932 was a very turbulent time politically for Ríos. First, he supported the Chilean coup of 1932, a successful coup that toppled President Juan Esteban Montero
Juan Esteban Montero
Juan Esteban Montero Rodríguez was a Chilean political figure. He served twice as president of Chile between 1931 and 1932.-Early life:...

, and resulted in the proclamation of the Socialist Republic of Chile
Socialist Republic of Chile
Socialist Republic of Chile was a short-lived political entity in Chile, that was proclaimed by the Government Junta that took over that year.-Background:...

. Then he went on to become the Minister of the Interior
Ministry of the Interior (Chile)
The Ministry of the Interior and Public Security is the cabinet-level administrative office in charge of "maintaining public order, security and social peace" within Chile. It is also charged with planning, directing, coordinating, executing, controlling, and informing the domestic policies...

 when Carlos Dávila
Carlos Dávila
Carlos Gregorio Dávila Espinoza , was a Chilean political figure, Chairman of Government Junta of Chile in 1932, and Secretary General of the Organization of American States from 1954 until his death in 1955.-Early life:...

 took over as head of state. In turn, after the resignation of Dávila three months later, general Bartolome Blanche
Bartolomé Blanche
General Bartolomé Guillermo Blanche Espejo was a Chilean military officer and provisional president of Chile in 1932....

 became president, and Ríos became his Minister of Justice. Nonetheless, with the election of Arturo Alessandri
Arturo Alessandri
Arturo Fortunato Alessandri Palma was a Chilean political figure and reformer, who served twice as the President of Chile, first between 1920 and 1924, and then again in 1925, and finally from 1932 until 1938....

 in the presidential election of 1932
Chilean presidential election, 1932
The Chilean presidential election of 1932 was held on October 30 of that year between:* Former President Arturo Alessandri for the Liberal Party.* Former Head of State Marmaduque Grove for the Socialist Party....

 and the return to institutional normality, he was politically shunned.

Ríos ran as an independent in the congressional election of 1933 and was elected as deputy
Chamber of Deputies of Chile
The Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of Chile is the lower house of Chile's bicameral Congress. Its organisation and its powers and duties are defined in articles 42 to 59 of Chile's current constitution....

 for Arauco and Cañete. That was the beginning of his political comeback. In 1935 he was welcomed back into the Radical fold. In 1937, the Radical Party
Radical Party (Chile)
The Radical Party of Chile was a Chilean political party. It was formed in 1863 by a split in the Liberal Party. Not coincidently, it was formed shortly after the organization of the Grand Lodge of Chile, and it has maintained a close relationship with Chilean Freemasonry throughout its life...

, the Socialist Party
Socialist Party of Chile
The Socialist Party of Chile is a political party, that is part of the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy coalition. Its historical leader was the late President of Chile Salvador Allende Gossens, who was deposed by General Pinochet in 1973...

, the Communist Party, the Democratic Party, and the Radical Socialist Party, as well as organizations such as the Confederación de Trabajadores de Chile (CTCH) trade-union, the Mapuche
Mapuche
The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. They constitute a wide-ranging ethnicity composed of various groups who shared a common social, religious and economic structure, as well as a common linguistic heritage. Their influence extended...

 movement which unified itself in the Frente Único Araucano, and the feminist
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 Movimiento Pro-Emancipación de las Mujeres de Chile (MEMCh) allied themselves in the Popular Front
Popular Front (Chile)
The Popular Front in Chile was an electoral and political left-wing coalition from 1937 to February 1941, during the Presidential Republic Era...

 , with Ríos becoming its first president. Nonetheless, Ríos was defeated in the internal presidential primaries by Pedro Aguirre Cerda
Pedro Aguirre Cerda
Pedro Aguirre Cerda was a Chilean political figure. A member of the Radical Party, he was chosen as the Popular Front's candidate for the 1938 presidential election, and was triumphally elected. He governed Chile until his death in 1941...

, who got the nomination and then went on to win the presidential election of 1938
Chilean presidential election, 1938
A presidential election was held in Chile on October 25, 1938.-Results:* Withdrew candidacy before election and gave his support to Aguirre.Source:...

.

During the Aguirre Cerda administration, Ríos was president of Chile's largest bank, the state-owned Caja de Credito Hipotecario, which made mortgage loans to Chilean farmers. He also sought to increase his political influence inside his party. His main political rival was Gabriel González Videla
Gabriel González Videla
Gabriel González Videla was a Chilean politician. He was a deputy and senator in the Chilean Congress and was President of Chile from 1946 to 1952...

, but soon he managed to have him named ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to France, leaving him free to pursue his own political advancement. At the time it was rumored that President Aguirre Cerda had also offered him an ambassadorial position, but that he had answered: ... tell the President that I thank him for his offer, but I am moving up, not down.

1942 presidential campaign

In 1941, due to his rapidly escalating illness, President Aguirre Cerda appointed his minister of the Interior, Jerónimo Méndez
Jerónimo Méndez
Jerónimo Méndez Arancibia was a Chilean politician who served as provisional president.He was born in Chañaral, where he completed his secondary studies. In 1914 he graduated as an MD from the Universidad de Chile. President Pedro Aguirre Cerda appointed him Minister of the Interior...

 as vice-president and died soon after, on November 25, 1941. A presidential election was called for February 1, 1942. This was the opportunity Ríos had been waiting for and he immediately started to campaign. Nevertheless, two days before the internal primaries, Gabriel González Videla returned to Chile to oppose him for the nomination. The results were too close to call, so a tribunal of honor (electoral commission) was constituted, and Juan Antonio Ríos was finally proclaimed the candidate of the left-wings' coalition. This Democratic Alliance
Democratic Alliance (Chile)
The Democratic Alliance of Chile was a coalition of left-wing parties from 1941 to 1946, which succeeded to the Popular Front headed by Pedro Aguirre Cerda's government...

  was formed by the Radical Party
Radical Party (Chile)
The Radical Party of Chile was a Chilean political party. It was formed in 1863 by a split in the Liberal Party. Not coincidently, it was formed shortly after the organization of the Grand Lodge of Chile, and it has maintained a close relationship with Chilean Freemasonry throughout its life...

, the Socialist Party
Socialist Party of Chile
The Socialist Party of Chile is a political party, that is part of the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy coalition. Its historical leader was the late President of Chile Salvador Allende Gossens, who was deposed by General Pinochet in 1973...

, the Communist Party, the Democratic Party, and the Workers' Socialist Party.

The left-wings' coalition was united against a common opponent, General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
Carlos Ibáñez del Campo
General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was a Chilean Army officer and political figure. He served as dictator between 1927 and 1931 and as constitutional President from 1952 to 1958.- The coups of 1924 and 1925 :...

. Ríos was a member of the conservative wing of the Radical Party and defeated Ibáñez in the 1942 election
Chilean presidential election, 1942
A presidential election was held in Chile on February 2, 1942. Juan Antonio Ríos was a member of the conservative wing of the Radical Party and defeated General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, portraying himself as a conservative anti-fascist candidate...

, portraying himself as a conservative anti-fascist candidate. Ibáñez had the support of Chile's Conservative party
Conservative Party (Chile)
The Conservative Party of Chile was one of the principal Chilean political parties since its foundation in 1836 until 1949, when it broke apart. In 1953 it reformed as the United Conservative Party and in 1966 joined with the Liberal Party to form the National Party...

, Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Chile)
The Liberal Party of Chile was a Chilean political party created by a faction of pipiolos in 1849. After the conservative victory in the Chilean Civil War of 1829 the liberals became the principal opposition party to the Conservative Party...

, National Socialist party, Popular Socialist Vanguard
Vanguardia Popular Socialista
The Vanguardia Popular Socialista was a Chilean political party created in 1938. It was the direct heir of the National Socialist Movement of Chile and founded as a consequence of the failed fascist coup in 1938 and its repression. It included Jorge González von Marées and Miguel Serrano, while...

 and the majority of the independents. Ríos obtained 55.95% of the votes and took office on April 2, 1942.

Presidency

Ríos' presidency was marked from the very beginning by parliamentary unstability, caused by rivalries between the different political tendencies in his cabinet, and the renewed and increased influence of Congress. The Chilean Communist Party opposed Ríos because he had initially chosen neutrality in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and had refused to break off diplomatic relations with the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

, while the right-wing accused him of complacency with the left. Economically, he faced labor unrest at home, brought about in large part by a drop in copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 prices worldwide, while at the same time, the Chilean Socialist Party accused him of being too soft with big business and of failing to enact labour legislation protecting workers' rights.

Domestic affairs

Even though Ríos had been elected with the support of the Communist party, he refused the direct participation of this party in the government, thus earning their opposition. Ríos' option instead was to appoint "technical experts" and "personal friends" to cabinet and high-level government positions; this policy allowed him to include not only members of his own party, but also from the Conservative and Liberal opposition.

In 1943, Congress approved and Ríos signed the first constitutional reform to the 1925 constitution. This reform gave constitutional rank to the General Comptroller and limited the power of the President with respect to public expenditures without congressional approval.

In 1944, the Radical Party itself presented to Ríos a serie of propositions which he deemed unacceptable. Those included breaking-off diplomatic relations with Francoist Spain — diplomatic and especially economic pressure had caused him to finally break off relations with the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 in January 1943 — the recognition of the USSR and a cabinet exclusively composed of Radicals. His refusal to implement the Radical Party's propositions, and the violent repression of riots that took place on Plaza Bulnes in Santiago, leading to several deaths, caused the resignation of all the Radical ministers, leaving the President without a party.

These internal divisions partly explain the right-wing parties success' during the 1945 legislative elections, which were a debacle for the Socialists and the Communists. The Radicals themselves lost a number of seats. Finally, shortly after the end of the war, in October 1945, his entire cabinet resigned again, this time to protest a planned state visit he made to Washington D.C. to meet with President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

.

After his return from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and faced with failing health, he finally gave in to the political pressure and appointed a cabinet made up exclusively of Radical party members. Soon after, he transferred his presidential powers to his minister of the Interior Alfredo Duhalde
Alfredo Duhalde
Alfredo Duhalde Vásquez was a Chilean politician who served twice as provisional president in 1946.Duhalde was born in the city of Río Bueno, the son of Pedro Duhalde and of Zoila Vasquez. After completing his primary schooling in his natal town, he completed his secondary education at the Liceo...

 (January 17, 1946) and died a few months later, on June 27.

Economic development

Ríos' administration — continuing the Aguirre Cerda
Pedro Aguirre Cerda
Pedro Aguirre Cerda was a Chilean political figure. A member of the Radical Party, he was chosen as the Popular Front's candidate for the 1938 presidential election, and was triumphally elected. He governed Chile until his death in 1941...

 policies — focused on the development of the steel, power and oil industries. To that effect, funds were channeled via the Production Development Corporation , created under the previous administration.

Thus in 1943, it was created the National Power Company ; in 1945, the National Oil Company ; and in 1946, the Pacific Steel Company , which opened the Huachipato steelworks next to the port of Talcahuano
Talcahuano
Talcahuano is a port city and commune in the Biobío Region of Chile. It is part of the Greater Concepción conurbation. Talcahuano is located in the south of the Central Zone of Chile.-Geography:...

.

Foreign relations

Up to 1942, Chile and Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 had declined to sever relations with the Axis powers, and the Chilean election was viewed by many as critical during World War II. A bitter disagreement sprung up between the president and its supporting Democratic Alliance
Democratic Alliance (Chile)
The Democratic Alliance of Chile was a coalition of left-wing parties from 1941 to 1946, which succeeded to the Popular Front headed by Pedro Aguirre Cerda's government...

. Initially, Ríos' government was committed to neutrality during the war, but the left-wing parties of his coalition were in favor of an immediate and total rupture with the Axis as well as for the recognition of the USSR, which they saw as their contribution to the world-struggle against fascism.

Diplomatic and especially economic pressure from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 finally caused him to break off relations with the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 on January 20, 1943. By doing so, he made Chile eligible for the Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 program, and obtained the necessary loans to help along the economic recovery.

Death

President Ríos returned from his state visit
State visit
A state visit is a formal visit by a foreign head of state to another nation, at the invitation of that nation's head of state. State visits are the highest form of diplomatic contact between two nations, and are marked by ceremonial pomp and diplomatic protocol. In parliamentary democracies, heads...

 and reassumed power on December 3, 1945; but by then he was already terminally ill with cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

. He transferred his presidential powers on January 17, 1946, to his Minister of the Interior, Alfredo Duhalde
Alfredo Duhalde
Alfredo Duhalde Vásquez was a Chilean politician who served twice as provisional president in 1946.Duhalde was born in the city of Río Bueno, the son of Pedro Duhalde and of Zoila Vasquez. After completing his primary schooling in his natal town, he completed his secondary education at the Liceo...

, who took over as Vice-President. Juan Antonio Ríos spent his last days at Villa Paidahue, in La Reina
La Reina
La Reina is a commune of Chile located in Santiago Province, Santiago Metropolitan Region. It was created in 1963 from an eastern portion of the Ñuñoa commune...

, where he died on June 27, 1946, before the end of his constitutional period.

External links and sources

  • Valencia Avaria, Luis. 1986. Anales de la República: textos constitucionales de Chile y registro de los ciudadanos que han integrado los poderes ejecutivo y legislativo desde 1810. 2ª edición Santiago de Chile. Editorial Andrés Bello.
  • Biographies of famous Chilean Freemasons
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