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Antonio Varas

Antonio Varas de la Barra was a Chilean political figure, statesman and conservative politician. He served several times as minister.

Antonio Varas was born in Cauquenes, the son of Miguel Varas Vallejo and of Agustina de la Barra Alarcon. Because his father was a royalist supporter, after independence all the family properties were confiscated, leaving them in the most complete destitution. Thanks to his brother, Jose Miguel, he was able to complete his studies at the Instituto Nacional, where he met and befriended Manuel Montt and Ventura Cousino, both of whom were his teachers. In time he became, first, philosophy teacher, later vice-principal and finally principal of that institute. During his tenure, he substantially improved the quality of education offered at that, the principal school in the country.

He started his political career when elected deputy for Chillan in 1842. He was later elected deputy for Cauquenes in 1846, and for Curico in 1852. Varas was named Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs by President Manuel Bulnes, a position he retained under President Manuel Montt. During that administration, he was also Minister of Justice, Cult and Public Instruction, Minister of the Treasury and Minister of War and Navy. In 1858 was elected deputy for Talca and later for Cauquenes again. In 1864 was elected deputy for Santiago, in 1867 for Elqui and in 1873 for Talca. In 1876 was elected senator for Talca, in 1879 for Coquimbo and reelected for the same in 1882, position he held until his death. He was elected President of the Senate of Chile in 1882. Varas died in Santiago, at the age of 69. The city of Puerto Varas is named after him.

Related websites

Official biographical sketch

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