Aylwin Azócar, Patricio (1918–)

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Aylwin Azócar, Patricio (1918–)

Patricio Aylwin Azócar (b. 26 November 1918), leader of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) and president of Chile (1990–1994). One of the original founders of the PDC, he served as the head of the National Falange as well as of the party itself. As the leader of the PDC's more conservative wing, the oficialistas, and later, as head of the entire party, he doubted the Allende government's (1970–1973) commitment to respect the nation's constitution. Aylwin increasingly came to believe that President Salvador Allende could not be trusted and, following last-minute negotiations, demanded that the president appoint only military men to his cabinet as proof of his honest intent. When Allende complied only partially, Aylwin apparently sided with the pro-coup forces, believing that the military would restore democracy to the nation.

Following Allende's overthrow in 1973, Aylwin, particularly after the death of Eduardo Frei, slowly emerged as the PDC's most viable spokesman. As the head of Chile's most popular party and one of the leaders of the anti-Pinochet forces, Aylwin became a leader around whom the various diverse parties could unite. In 1989 he managed to forge a coalition of seventeen disparate elements, defeat two opponents, and win the presidency with 55 percent of the vote.

Following his election, Aylwin created a coalition government in an attempt to retain widespread public support. His economic programs consisted of attempting to build on the momentum generated by the Pinochet administration while implementing new laws, and passing new taxes, to protect the working class.

Aylwin's principal problem following his election, as well as before it, was General Augusto Pinochet. The former dictator, although no longer president, still controlled the army. He was intent, moreover, on ensuring that the newly elected government would not punish the armed forces for their activities in overturning Allende or in the succeeding years. Aylwin, however, had to attempt to heal the nation while bringing to justice those who had committed abuses. Aylwin's election marked the return of Chile to its democratic traditions. Since leaving office, Aylwin has focused on fighting poverty. He proposed a UN summit on the subject, which was held in Copenhagen during 1995. Currently, he works as president of the Corporation for Democracy and Justice, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on the elimination of poverty and promoting honest government.

See alsoAllende Gossens, Salvador; Chile, Political Parties: Christian Democratic Party (PDC); Frei Montalva, Eduardo; Pinochet Ugarte, Augusto.


Paul E. Sigmund, The Overthrow of Allende and the Politics of Chile, 1964–1976 (1977), 217-218, 220, 223.

Julio Faúndez, Marxism and Democracy in Chile: From 1932 to the Fall of Allende (1988), 235.

Additional Bibliography

Aylwin, Patricio, Margarita Serrano, and Ascanio Cavallo. El poder de la paradoja: 14 lecciones políticas de la vida de Patricio Aylwin. Santiago de Chile: Grupo Editorial Norma, 2006.

                                     William F. Sater