Santiage, Chile — The passing of former Chilean president Eduardo Frei Montalva marked the end of a significant era in Chilean politics.
Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes that Mr. Frei's death eliminates the principal opponent to Chilean dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, at a time when the Chilean economy is facing serious problems.
Frei was the leader of Chile's Christian Democratic Party, many of whose members are in exile and four of whom were refused permission by the Pinochet government to return for their party leader's funeral.
In the larger context, the Frei passing is seen throughout the hemisphere as the end of hope stirred in the 1960s that moderate, reformist governments would bring about dramatic political, economic and social reform in Latin America. The Frei government, from 1964 to 1970, initiated broad-based land reform and numerous other changes in Chile's economic and social structure which were supported by massive US aid.
With Frei's passing, there are few leaders from the 1960s remaining anywhere in Latin America.During the past two years, in addition to Frei, Romulo Betancourt of Venezula, Luis Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico, Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra of Ecuador, and Victor Raul Haya de la Torre of Peru have passed from the scene. New leaders have taken the mantle as politics has changed dramatically.