Varas de la Barra, Antonio (1817–1886)

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Varas de la Barra, Antonio (1817–1886)

Antonio Varas de la Barra (b. 13 June 1817; d. 3 June 1886), Chilean politician. An outstanding figure of his period, Varas was the closest political associate of the Conservative president Manuel Montt. Eight times a deputy and twice a senator, he served as minister of the interior from 1850 to 1856, in 1860–1861, and again briefly in 1879. Although he fully supported the authoritarian stance of his intimate friend Montt, Varas was an altogether more attractive character. (In his old age he became quite liberal.) Montt wanted Varas to be his presidential successor in 1861, a prospect that deeply angered the opposition. By accepting the interior ministry again in April 1860, Varas implicitly abandoned all claim to presidential succession. His unselfishness, which won widespread praise, paved the way for the election of the less controversial José Joaquín Pérez Mascayano. After 1861, Varas headed the National (or, as it was revealingly nicknamed, Montt-Varista) Party in Congress.

See alsoChile, Political Parties: National Party; Pérez Mascayano, José Joaquin.


Antonio Varas, Correspondencia, 5 vols. (1918–1929).

Additional Bibliography

Bravo Lira, Bernardino. El Absolutismo ilustrado en Hispanoamérica: Chile (1760–1860) de Carlos III a Portales y Montt. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 1994.

Collier, Simon. Chile: The Making of a Republic, 1830–1865. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                       Simon Collier