Riesco Errázuriz, Germán (1854–1916)

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Riesco Errázuriz, Germán (1854–1916)

Germán Riesco Errázuriz (b. 18 May 1854; d. 8 December 1916), president of Chile (1901–1906). A lawyer and professional bureaucrat, Riesco served for almost twenty years as a judge before entering the Senate. Apparently selected as a presidential candidate because he did not threaten the political order, Riesco fulfilled his backers' expectations by essentially doing nothing. His inactivity proved grievous, because the nation suffered from mounting social unrest as well as bitter labor disputes during his tenure. His government's response was to crush outbreaks brutally.

Although Riesco's internal policies lacked both compassion and vision, he did manage to end an extremely costly naval arms race and to avoid war with Argentina by seeking a negotiated settlement to a long-festering border problem. In 1902 he signed the May Pacts (Pactos de Mayo), which, while limiting Chile's sphere of influence to the Southern Hemisphere's Pacific Coast, ended open hostility with Buenos Aires. Riesco's government also negotiated a peace treaty with Bolivia in 1904 which granted Chile the Atacama region but obliged Santiago to finance a railroad from Arica, where the Bolivians would enjoy a duty-free zone, to La Paz.

See alsoChile: The Twentieth Century; May Pacts (1902).


Germán Riesco, Presidencia de Riesco, 1901–1906 (1950).

Luis Galdames, A History of Chile (1941), pp. 437, 510-511.

Additional Bibliography

Errázuriz Guilisasti, Octavio, and Germán Carrasco Domínguez. Las relaciones chileno-argentinas durante la presidencia de Riesco, 1901–1906. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andrés Bello, 1968.

                                       William F. Sater