Pérez Mascayano, José Joaquín (1801–1889)

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Pérez Mascayano, José Joaquín (1801–1889)

José Joaquín Pérez Mascayano (b. 6 May 1801; d. 1 June 1889), president of Chile (1861–1871). Pérez's early manhood was spent largely abroad, in Chile's diplomatic missions in the United States, France, and Argentina. A member of the Chamber of Deputies from 1836 to 1852 and then the Senate (1852–1861 and 1873–1882), Pérez also served as minister of finance (1845–1846) and of the interior (1849–1850). Although he supported the Manuel Montt administration (1851–1861) for its whole duration, his own temperament was averse to Montt's authoritarianism. In 1861, when public opinion fiercely rejected the presidential candidacy of Antonio Varas, Pérez emerged as a suitably conciliatory figure to succeed Montt.

Pérez's presidency marked a genuine turning point in Chilean affairs. His own tolerant, patrician style did much to foster a new, more liberal atmosphere after the upheavals of the 1850s. In July 1862, abandoning Montt's National Party, Pérez invited into the cabinet the opposition Liberal-Conservative Fusion, which supported him for the remainder of his two presidential terms.

Pérez has never been well regarded by the admirers of strong government. Yet a persuasive case can be made for seeing him as the vitally important nineteenth-century president, the one head of state who truly consolidated the Chilean "idiosyncrasy" of civilized politics.

See alsoChile, Political Parties: Liberal-Conservative Fusion (Liberal-Conservadora); Chile, Political Parties: National Party.


Additional Bibliography

Caistor, Nick. Chile in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture. Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2002.

Calderón Ruiz de Gamboa, Carlos. Gobernantes de Chile: De Pedro de Valdivia a Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle. Santiago de Chile, 1995.

Perera, Victor. Unfinished Conquest: The Guatemalan Tragedy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

                                      Simon Collier

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Pérez Mascayano, José Joaquín (1801–1889)

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