Centre for Global Negotiations

Members of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues (ICIDI)

Biography: Eduardo Frei Montalva

Eduardo Frei Montalva was born in Chile
in 1911 and is best known for his tenure as President of Chile from 1964 to 1970.

A lawyer and editor, he was a founder
in 1938 of the National Falange, an independent party based on progressive Christian principles, which in 1957 became the core of the new Christian Democratic party. Montalva served as minister of roads and public works from 1945 to 1949, and was elected to the senate in 1949.

In 1964, on his second try for the presidency, he won a decisive victory as head of the Christian Democratic Party. One of the major achievements of Eduardo Frei Montalva and his government was the "Chileanization" of copper. The government took 51 percent ownership of the mines controlled by United States companies, principally those of Anaconda and Kennecott. Copper production rose, and Chile directly benefited from these enterprises.

During the tenure of the Christian Democrats, the government improved income distribution and access to education, as enrollments rose at all levels of schooling. The Frei government also organized many squatter communities, helping the homeless to build houses. At the same time, Frei enacted tax reforms that made tax collection more efficient than before. The Christian Democrats pushed through constitutional changes to strengthen the presidency. The PDC also revised electoral regulations, lowering the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen and giving the franchise to people who could not read.

After turning the presidency over to his elected successor, Salvador Allende Gossens, he remained active as head of the Christian Democratic party. He passed away at the age of 71 on January 22, 1982. The second Brandt Commission Report, Common Crisis, was dedicated in his memory. In 1993, Eduardo Frei's son, Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, was elected president and held that office up until 2000.

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