Balmaceda, José (hōsāˈ bälmäsāˈħä) [key], 1840–91, president of Chile (1886–91). A leader of a liberal, anticlerical group, he was sent as minister (1878) to Argentina, where he successfully prevented Argentina from entering the War of the Pacific. He later served as foreign minister under Domingo Santa María. As president, Balmaceda instituted a wide reform program, but his rule was unparliamentary. A resultant quarrel with congress came to a head in 1890. A disastrous civil war broke out in Jan., 1891, led by Jorge Montt. After vigorous fighting the revolutionists triumphed. Balmaceda took refuge in the Argentine legation. Rather than surrender for a trial, he committed suicide.
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