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Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner someone I suspect an individual related to that indefinite day of whom we hear so much once quipped the difference between US politics and Latin American politics is that here a man talks his way into office while they're in Latin America. He shoots his way in. Like all generalizations this is glib but dangerous. I would today like to refer to a volume recently published by Houghton Mifflin of Boston in titled The political system of Chile authored by that I recall. He'll spelled g i l of the University of North Carolina. This volume dealing
with chili of course concerns the string bean like republic on the southwest side of South America with its area of approximately 200 90000 square miles and a population approximating eight and a half million people. A country in which today those who are above the age of 15 are judged. Eighty four percent literate. A country in which the population is thought to be 80 percent Roman Catholic. That nation at present knows the presidency of Eduardo for a e who took office in 1964 another election to come up at the end of his six year term in one thousand seventy. I speak about one of the most sophisticated of all the areas of Latin America politically and so even as one derides one generalization no other generalization is to be derived from these comments.
Chile is the only Latin American country where political forces are clearly and distinctly aligned as in many European countries into three great blocs. The right center and the left. The resemblance of the Chilian party system to that of much of Europe and particular to the system which existed in France during the third and fourth republics is striking and has been noted by many observers students of comparative politics who are familiar with both countries are prone to compare Chiles radical party at the Capitol are a formal party and the French radicals of the Third Republic. To conclude that both are similar and both of played an almost identical role in their respective systems as the middle of the road bureaucratic party representative of middle class interests. It is equally tempting to compare the working alliance of communists and socialists in Chile with the present cooperative arrangement between their counterparts in Italy or to attempt to determine
to what extent the Chilean Christian Democrats have been influenced by the Christian socialist movement of Germany and Italy. Chilean politics are undoubtedly more nearly European than is the case elsewhere in Latin America. But there are features that are uniquely the typically Chilean ideologically speaking. The Chilean political scene is overbalanced toward the left. The Conservatives capital C and the liberals a capital L both being formal parties have long accepted existing liberal democratic institutions and therefore cannot be called extreme rightist parties in the same sense as European Marcus and factious. The right and the left are almost equal in the number of votes received in Chile with each getting a little over a quarter of the total with the center receiving almost half Chile is also
often cited as the best example of the multi-party system which is common in various forms throughout all Latin America. It comes close to having parties representing the entire range of political tendencies. In the period of approximately 100 years during which the multi-party system has functioned in Chile the number of parties in existence has varied widely reaching a maximum of thirty six. In the Depression years of the 1930s However for more than the 30 years since then the major parties have been six in number. Almost all of which reach back more than a half century in their political history. Speaking out from Moment of the right and those parties principally related to it the right in Chile is composed of the United Conservative Party and that is a formal title and the Liberal Party. These two either officially are an officially allied have for the last 30 years
established national policy or at least wielded a generally effective veto power over it. In 1061 the radical party capital are remember joining the administration coalition and in 60 to the three of them in a coalition on the so-called Democratic Front which in turn fell apart in 1964. Speaking out of a conservative party the oldest and the first ruling party of Chile a party that has traditionally been related to the wealthy landed aristocracy. The foreword of that conservative party platform adopted as recently as one thousand sixty one declared that the party's fundamental doctrine conforms to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Traditionally the core of that party I repeat has been of high status groups the socially notable represented primarily by large land holders and
the aristocracy derived from land holding interests. The Liberal Party also a portion of that right. Indeed the other principal wing had its origins in the 1840s in the opposition of a commercially oriented segment of the upper class of Chile. That is an opposition to the authoritarian and ecclesiastical bias of the Conservative Party. But in due time the commercial interests of the town and the conservative interests of the rural regions so harmonize themselves that arriving at a consensus that both commercial and agricultural interests could be safeguarded together without damage one to the other. The liberals and conservatives today are solidly united the core of the membership of the Liberal Party comes from groups which are belonging to the upper straight I'm of Chilean society do not predominantly depend
upon agricultural activities but instead are connected with industry business and in a few cases with the professions. Swinging from those principal parties of the right to the left the Chilean left consists of a formidable coalition of four parties communist socialist national Democratic and National Vanguard of the people. The first two of which are deserving of comment. The Communist Party has been represented in Chile's politics longer and more consistently than have its counterparts in the affairs of any other Latin American country. It occupied a key position in the labor movement of Chile over a period of more than 40 years now and during much of this period was the principal political force among Chilean workers particularly in the mining zones of Chile which made possible the communist party
automatically taking a stand that was anti-imperialist and anti US the Socialist Party has its roots according to the statements of its own history in the works of a mid 19th century French disciple of utopian socialism. However the theory and practice did not come together to make a meaningful party in Chile until early 20th century years and the birth of the labor movement in Chalet had with it genuine socialistic ideas concerning the role of the state. These parties to the extreme right and to the extreme left it to be remembered represent about 50 percent of the total political spectrum. Meanwhile the center is possessed of 50 percent of the strength and indeed presently is in control of the government of Chile. A word about that political center the center in Chilean politics
is presently occupied by the Radical Party. Again formal title on the right and the Christian Democratic Party and the left of center position throughout the development of the Chilian party system. The Radical Party has been the medium of political expression of the middle class during the last two decades. The Christian Democratic Party by means of its Roman Catholic oriented reform program has succeeded in attracting large numbers of sympathizers from among the middle class groups that were traditionally in the Radical Party. This has made for an easy coalition of the two from 1932 to 64. The Radical Party had greater voting strength than any other single party in Chile. This has now swung to its near neighbor and ideological outlook. The Christian Democratic Party. No other party in the Chilean political system has had so varied a
composition as the Radical Party. It has Northerners from the mining districts. It has artists and skilled labor. Some of the Southern small landowners small merchants professionals intellectuals even on occasion retired military officers. The newest and strongest of the political structures however is that that relates to the Christian Democratic Party the left wing of the center which came into existence only as recently as the late 19th 30s. The Christian Democratic Party in essence is a social pluralism a sort of support of a political democracy that advocates revolution with freedom. The Christian Democratic plank for the successful one thousand sixty four presidential elections specified the means by which their revolution with freedom might be achieved. They included democratization and
modernization of political structures of today. The consulting of the people directly on fundamental issues extension of the franchise to all 21 years of age. The enumeration of the rights of labor in the Constitution such as the right to strike the improvement of public administration. This in terms of efficiency and honesty. Indeed you have the abolition of monopolies profit sharing plans a wider role for the government. The reduction of foreign interests in the economy. All of this means that they advocate peace universal disarmament the proscription of nuclear weapons the Pacific Solution of international controversies and the creation of institutions that would integrate the economy of Latin America. This is a sophisticated system of government with many many parties and today we have in the government of it wide open for he and President for each name is spelled f r i an effort on the part of
Latin American perspectives
The middle class
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the middle class in Latine America.
Series Description
A series of comment and analysis about current affairs in Latin American countries.
Global Affairs
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Host: Gardiner, C. Harvey (Clinton Harvey)
Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-31-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:40
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives; The middle class,” 1968-10-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 4, 2023,
MLA: “Latin American perspectives; The middle class.” 1968-10-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Latin American perspectives; The middle class. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from