EVENTS in Chile during the past decade and a half have pursued a spectacular course. Until the World War Chile, was generally regarded as politically the most stable nation in South America. Since 1924, however, she has experienced five military coups d'état, three dictatorships and one popular revolution. She came dangerously close to another upheaval last autumn when a coalition of Left wing parties, by a narrow margin, captured the presidency of the Republic, and with it the control of the Government.
In the economic sphere her vicissitudes have been equally dramatic. For a century she enjoyed high credit in the commercial world, due to her consistent endeavor to live up to her foreign obligations. But in 1931-32 she was plunged into a crisis more profound than that of any other South American country, and she was forced to default entirely on the service of the national debt. Her exports dropped to less than one-sixth of their 1929 value and her national revenues to less than one-third.
Since then the Chilean economy has recovered considerably, due in large measure to the opportune policies of the energetic government of President Alessandri, who came into office after the political turmoil of 1932. However, the most important contributing factor has been inflation, injected into the country, for good reasons or bad, by Alessandri's predecessors and utilized by his administration. Inflation has helped the farmers and industrialists, and they have been making money. But the cost of living has also risen greatly, and although accurate figures are difficult to obtain, there is a general impression that wages and salaries have not kept pace. Much building activity has taken place, especially in Santiago, but relatively little has been done to improve the scandalous health and housing conditions of the very poor.
The condition of the laboring, or obrero, class is indeed one of the most important political and economic problems in Chile. Even assuming that wages have kept pace with rising costs, they are still quite inadequate. If
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