Chilean poet-diplomat and politician, Pablo Neruda, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He was a versatile writer and his works include surrealist poems, historical epics, political manifestos, and love poems. He is considered the national poet of Chile. As a politician, he served a term as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party and held several diplomatic positions.
José de San Martín was an Argentine general who played an important role in the Spanish American wars of independence. San Martín is considered a national hero of Peru and Argentina. The Order of the Liberator General San Martín, the highest honor conferred by the government of Argentina, was created in his honor.
Chilean president Sebastian Pinera not only boasts of a Harvard doctoral degree but is also a successful businessman, having introduced credit cards to the Chilean public through his company Bancard. His Fundación Futuro works for causes such as energy and water conservation. He is married to his neighbor Cecilia Morel.
Chilean politician Michelle Bachelet serves as 7th United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She became the first female politician in Chilean history who was elected as the country’s President and the first elected female leader in South America. She served as the 33rd and 35th President of Chile and held several other prominent positions during her expansive political career.
Orlando Letelier was a Chilean politician, economist, and diplomat. After his arrest due to his participation in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, Letelier was exiled from Chile. In 1975, Letelier left for Washington D.C., where he achieved popularity as an economist and teacher. Orlando Letelier was murdered in 1976 by agents of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional.
Lautaro was a Mapuche war leader best remembered for spearheading the indigenous resistance against the conquest of Chile by the Spanish. He led the warriors of Mapuche to a series of triumphs against the Spanish. He was killed at the Battle of Mataquito in his early 20s. Lautaro is credited with developing tactics that were used even after his death.
Isabel Allende Bussi is a Chilean politician best known for her service as the President of the Chilean Senate from 2014 to 2015. She was the first woman to serve as the president of the Senate in Chilean history. An important and influential member of the Socialist Party, Isabel Allende is currently serving as Senator for Valparaíso.
Patricio Aylwin was a Chilean politician who served as the President of Chile from 1990 to 1994. Aylwin did much to reduce inequality and poverty. Under his presidency, the number of people living in poverty in Chile decreased significantly. He also served as the President of the Senate of Chile from 12 January 1971 to 22 May 1972.
Ricardo Lagos is a Chilean lawyer and politician who served as the President of Chile from 2000 to 2006. He openly denounced Dictator Augusto Pinochet on live television in 1988. He also served as the Minister of Education from 1990 to 1992.
Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle served as the President of Chile from 1994 to 2000. Under his presidency, poverty in Chile decreased and improvements were made in education and health sectors. An important politician, Frei also served as the President of the Senate of Chile from 2006 to 2008.
Regarded as the intellectual father of South America, Venezuelan-Chilean poet Andrés Bello one taught revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar and also inspired the struggle for Venezuelan independence. He established the University of Chile and also penned masterpieces such as Las Silvas Americanas. As a legislator, he inspired the Chilean Civil Code.
Eduardo Frei Montalva was a Chilean politician who served as the President of Chile from 1964 to 1970. An important and influential politician, Frei also served as the President of the Senate of Chile from 1973 to 1973. Apart from his political career, Eduardo Frei Montalva was also known for his teaching career in Columbia University.
Carlos Ibáñez del Campo was a Chilean political figure and Army officer. He served as the President of Chile on two occasions; from 1927 to 1931 and again from 1952 to 1958. Ibáñez also served as the Minister of War and Navy from 1925 to 1927 and as the Minister of the Interior in 1927.
Seasoned Chilean politician and reformer Arturo Alessandri Palma served as President of Chile thrice. A member of the Liberal Party of Chile, Palma earlier served as Minister of Finance and as Minister of the Interior. Following his presidency, Palma continued with his political journey and served as Senator of the Republic of Chile and as President of the Senate of Chile.
Chilean statesman Diego Portales was one of the most important political figures of the 19th century and is remembered for creating the Constitution of 1833. As a minister of foreign affairs and war, he started a war with the Peru-Bolivia alliance to counter trade competition but was eventually assassinated by rebellious forces.
José Manuel Balmaceda was a Chilean politician who served as the President of Chile from 1886 to 1891. Balmaceda's disagreements with the Chilean congress gave rise to the Chilean Civil War of 1891, which was fought between forces supporting José Manuel Balmaceda and forces supporting Congress. Balmaceda lost the war and committed suicide on September 19, 1891.
José Miguel Carrera was a Chilean general and an important member of the famous Carrera family. The most prominent leader of the War of Independence in Chile, Carrera is widely regarded as a co-founder of independent Chile. Today, he is counted among the Fathers of the Nation in Chile. José Miguel Carrera is also credited with ending slavery in Chile.
A 16th-century war leader of the Mapuche tribe of Chile, Caupolicán led the resistance against Spanish invaders. Equipped with a disorganized army of tribesmen, he was defeated, imprisoned by Capt. Alonso de Reinoso, and eventually executed. His heroics have been immortalized in the epic poem La Araucana.
Admiral José Toribio Merino Castro of the Chilean Navy was a prominent leader of the 1973 Chilean coup d'état that deposed President Salvador Allende’s government ending civilian rule. During the military dictatorship (1973-90), Merino first became the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy and thereafter President of the Government Junta of Chile and served the positions before the Chilean transition to democracy.
Chilean Communist Party leader Gladys Marín had joined the party as a student in Santiago. She went underground in the wake of Augusto Pinochet’s rise and then escaped, first to Moscow and then to Costa Rica. She later returned to Chile and became the first Chilean to file a legal complaint against Pinochet.
Two-time president of Chile, Manuel Montt was not just a qualified lawyer but also gained repute as a distinguished scholar. He had also held the ministries of foreign affairs and public instruction and supported academic growth of Chile. Post-retirement, he served as the president of the Supreme Court.
Chilean military and political figure Manuel Bulnes had an illustrious military career, leading and decisively winning several battles most notably the Battle of Yungay, the last battle of War of the Confederation that effectively dissolved the Peru-Bolivian Confederacy. Bulnes served as the 4th President of Chile. During his presidencies, Chile witnessed educational and cultural expansion, economic progress and public works developments.
Award-winning author and Chilean Communist Party intellectual Volodia Teitelboim was a close friend of President Salvador Allende and had also briefly been the senator of Santiago. The Chilean National Prize winner is remembered for his memoirs and belonged to the Chilean artistic literary movement Generation of '38.
Chilean politician Sergio Onofre Jarpa served as Chile’s minister of the interior during the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet. He had also been an ambassador to Colombia and Argentina. He later formed the right-wing National Labour Front and also wrote extensively on socio-political issues. He died of COVID-19 in 2020.
The son of Chilean president Manuel Montt Torres, Pedro Montt grew up to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a National Party leader and later became Chile’s president. His strict military reforms resulted in the Santa María School massacre. He also contributed to the growth of nitrate and copper production.
A seasoned lawyer and a skilled orator, Raúl Rettig was an influential Chilean politician from the Radical Party. He served as the Chilean ambassador to Brazil during President Salvador Allende’s rule. He was also instrumental in releasing the Rettig Report, an analysis of the human rights violations during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
Chilean politician Hernan Pinto, who led as the mayor of Valparaíso and represented the Christian Democratic Party, was also a qualified lawyer. Under his leadership, Valparaíso was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He died in 2020, at age 67, due to complications caused by COVID-19.