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Andres Zaldivar

Jose Andres Rafael Zaldivar Larrain, popularly known as El Chico Zaldivar ("Short Zaldivar"), is a prominent Chilean Christian Democrat politician. Andres Zaldivar is of Basque descent.

Early years

Zaldivar was born in Santiago, Chile. He attended primary and secondary school at the Instituto Alonso de Ercilla de Santiago, a member of the Congregacion de los Hermanos Maristas. In 1959 Zaldivar graduated from the Universidad de Chile, having written the thesis ""Rental Laws, Commentaries and Jurisprudence".'Ley de Arrendamientos: Comentarios y Jurisprudencia,

In 1952 Zaldivar began his political career by joining the Conservative Party''. while attending university, he participated in the International Congress of Students in Chicago in 1956 representing Chile, as the Secretary of the Union of Federated Universities of Chile. In 1957 he joined the Christian Democrat Party, and served as Juvenile President for Santiago's Third District.

Zaldivar practiced lawy in the Municipality of Colina from 1959 to 1962, then became magistrate of the local police of La Cisterna.

Political career

In the government of Eduardo Frei, Zaldivar served as Undersecretary of Finance from 1964 to 1967. He became Minister of Finance in 1968 and Minister of both Finance and Economy, in 1970. From 1968 to 1970, Zaldivar served as governor of the Inter-American Development Bank and was representative to the Interamerican Committee of the Alliance for Progress in Washington from 1968 to 1969 and representative to the Economic and Social Committee in Caracas in 1970.

During the years of the Popular Unity coalition, Zaldivar served many different posts within the party: from 1970 to 1973 he was a national counselor of the Christian Democrats, in 1972 he became a member of the Political Committee, and from 1976 to 1982 he was the president of the Christian Democrats. As such, he became one of the main leaders of the opposition to the Pinochet military regime at that time.

Military regime

In 1973, Zaldivar for the first time became a member of the National Congress of Chile, upon election to the Senate of Chile for the Second Provincial District of Atacama and Coquimbo, joining the Economic Committee of Congress. However, after the Chilean coup of 1973, Congress was dissolved on September 21st and Zaldivar went into exile with his family in Spain. Returning to Chile the following year, Zaldivar became president of the Christian Democrat Party, from 1975 to 1982.

In exile, Zaldivar was made President of the International Christian Democrats, an international organization of political parties, from 1981 to 1986, when he became a member of its advisory council. In 1981, furthermore, Zaldivar was a founding member of Center for Research for Ibero-America and Spain (Fundacion CIPIE) in Spain, holding the position of president. In 1988, he joined the "No" campaign for the national plebiscite of that year. Also in 1988, Zaldivar again became the president of his party for another two years.

Administrations of the Concertacion

In 1989, Zaldivar was elected Senator for the VII District of West Santiago, in one of the most hard-fought elections in history. Zaldivar received 31.27% of the vote while his partner on the list, future president Ricardo Lagos, received 30.62%. Due to Chile's "binominal system" and since no concessions could get double the votes of the Democracy and Progress, Andres Zaldivar and the Independent Democrat Union's Jaime Guzman, who only received 17.91% of the vote were elected.

At this time, Zaldivar joined the Senate Public Works Committee and presided over the Finance Committee. In December of the same year, he was re-elected Senator with 27.77% of the vote. His partner on the list, Camilo Escalona, received 15.98% principally due to the migration of votes from the left to the candidate of the Communist Party of Chile, Gladys Marin Millie, who received 15.69% of the vote. This allowed Zaldivar to be elected together with the conservative Jovino Novoa, with 20.56% of the vote.

During the second period since the rise of democracy, Zaldivar participated in the Constitution, Legislation, Justice, and Regulation Committees and presided over the Interior Administration Committee. In March 1998, Zaldivar was elected President of the Senate, a post that he held until March 15, 2004.

In 1999, Zaldivar was a candidate for President of Chile, representing the Christian Democrat Party for the primary election of the Chilean presidential election of that year. Meanwhile, the coalition PPD/PS (Party for Democracy and Socialist Party of Chile) elected Ricardo Lagos as its primary candidate. In that year, the Coalition of Parties for Democracy (the Concertacion) held a primary to decide between the two. Lagos won the vote, with 71.3% of the vote to Zaldivar's 28.7%.

In 2005, Zaldivar ran for the third consecutive time for the Senate seat of West Santiago in the Chilean parliamentary election, 2005 of December 11, facing the Deputy Guido Girardi (PPD) (his coalition partner on the list), the Senator Jovino Novoa (UDI), and the businessman Roberto Fantuzzi (Independent); the last two members of the Alliance for Chile coalition. Despite a strong campaign, Zaldivar did not retain his seat in the senate, although he exceeded the top candidate of his opponents' list, since the Democratic Coalition's votes did not double that of the Alliance for Chile, fellow Democratic Coalition member Guido Girardi was elected and Alliance for Chile member, the founder and president of Independent Democrat Union, Jovino Novoa was reelected.

However, in later days, Zaldivar became a leader and chief strategist of Michelle Bachelet's presidential campaign. After the victory of the socialist candidate Bachelet, Zaldivar was appointed as her Minister of the Interior.


Zaldivar's nickname, "Chico" alias "Shorty", comes from his extremely short height.

In the Chilean telenovela Hippie, ambientated in the very early 70's, Zaldivar had a small cameo as himself since at that time he was a member of the Congress. He was shown being interviewed by a group of college students outside of the National Congress in Santiago.

Notes and references

Official website of Andres Zaldivar

Government Biography

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