Frei Montalva, Eduardo Nicanor ā˝ᵺwär´ᵺō nēkänōr´ frā mōntäl´vä [key]
, 1911–82, president of Chile (1964–70). A lawyer and editor, he was a founder (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. Frei served as minister of roads and public works (1945–49) and in the senate after 1949. On his second try for the presidency (1964), he won a decisive victory. A popular president, he introduced sweeping social and economic reforms within a democratic framework and secured Chilean control of the copper industry. After turning the presidency over to his elected successor, Salvador Allende Gossens
, he remained active as head of the Christian Democratic party. He later was a leading opponent of General Pinochet
's rule. In 2009 a Chilean judge charged six persons in connection with Frei's death after routine surgery, saying that there was autopsy evidence that the death was due to poisoning, but the charges were dismissed; a new trial in 2017 led to the six being convicted (2019) of homocide.
His son Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, 1942–, also president of Chile (1994–2000), was a civil engineer and businessman before he helped found (1988) the Committee for Free Elections and campaigned against the extension of Pinochet's term as president. Elected to the senate in 1989, Frei became head of the Christian Democratic party in 1991 and its candidate for president in 1993. Benefiting from his late father's popularity, he was elected handily. The policies of the Aylwin government were largley continued during Frei's term in office. He was succeeded as president by Ricardo Lagos. the first Socialist to hold the office since Allende. Frei failed to win a second presidential term in 2010, losing to conservative businessman Sebastián Piñera.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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