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Jose Manuel Balmaceda

Jose Manuel Emiliano Balmaceda Fernandez was a Chilean political figure and President. Balmaceda was part of the Castilian-Basque aristocracy in Chile.

He was born in Bucalemu, the son of Manuel Jose Balmaceda Ballesteros and of Encarnacion Fernandez Salas. His parents were wealthy, and in his early days he was chiefly concerned in industrial and agricultural enterprises. In 1849, he attended the School of the French Fathers, and almost joined the clergy, studying several years of theology at the Santiago Seminary. Later, Balmaceda married Emilia de Toro Herrera and together they had eight children.

On the basis of this radical program, he was elected Deputy for Carelmapu several times: 1864-1867; 18701873; 18731876; 18761879; 1879-1882. Under President Anibal Pinto he discharged some diplomatic missions abroad and is credited with persuading Argentina not to join the War of the Pacific in 1878. In 1882 he was reelect both for Carelmapu and Santiago. He decided to accept neither and became instead successively Minister of Foreign Affairs and Colonization and of the Interior under the presidency of Domingo Santa Maria. In the latter capacity he carried compulsory civil marriage and several other laws highly obnoxious to the conservatives and the clergy. Balmaceda was also elected a Senator for Coquimbo (18821888). He was proclaimed a candidate to the presidency on the Odeon Theater of Valparaiso on January 17, 1886, with the support of the Nacional, Liberal and part of the Radical Parties. On June 25 he was elected President as sole candidate.

Related websites

Biography at the Library of Chile's National Congress

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