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Patricio Aylwin
Aylwin Banda.jpg
Official portrait, 1990
30th President of Chile
In office
11 March 1990 – 11 March 1994
Preceded by Augusto Pinochet Ugarte
Succeeded by Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle
President of the Senate of Chile
In office
12 January 1971 – 22 May 1972
Preceded by Tomás Pablo Elorza
Succeeded by José Ignacio Palma
Senator of the Republic of Chile
for the Sixth Provincial Grouping (Curicó, Talca, Linares and Maule)
In office
15 May 1965 – 11 September 1973
Personal details
Patricio Aylwin Azócar

(1918-11-26)26 November 1918
Viña del Mar, Chile
Died 19 April 2016(2016-04-19) (aged 97)
Santiago, Chile
Resting place Cementerio General de Santiago, Santiago
Nationality Chilean
Political party Christian Democratic Party
(m. 1948)
Children 5
Alma mater University of Chile
Occupation Lawyer

Patricio Aylwin Azócar OMCh (Spanish pronunciation: [paˈtɾisjo ˈelwin aˈsokaɾ]; 26 November 1918 – 19 April 2016) was a Chilean politician from the Christian Democratic Party, lawyer, author, professor and former senator. He was the first president of Chile after dictator Augusto Pinochet, and his election marked the Chilean transition to democracy in 1990.

Despite resistance from elements of the Chilean military and government after his election, Aylwin was staunch in his support for the Chilean National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation which exposed the systematic brutalities of the dictatorship.

Early life

Aylwin, the eldest of the five children of Miguel Aylwin and Laura Azócar, was born in Viña del Mar. An excellent student, he enrolled in the Law School of the University of Chile where he became a lawyer, with the highest distinction, in 1943. He served as professor of administrative law, first at the University of Chile (1946–1967) and also at the School of Law of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (1952–1960). He was also professor of civic education and political economy at the National Institute (1946–1963). His brother, Andrés, was also a politician.

On 29 September 1948, he was married to Leonor Oyarzún Ivanovic. They had five children (his daughter Mariana worked as a minister in subsequent governments) and 14 grandchildren (among them, popular telenovela and film actress Paz Bascuñán).

Political career

Aylwin Allende
President Salvador Allende with then-senator Aylwin

Aylwin's involvement in politics started in 1945, when he joined the Falange Nacional. Later he was elected president of the Falange in 1950–51. When that party became the Christian Democratic Party of Chile, he served seven terms as its president between 1958 and 1989.

In 1965 he was elected to the National Congress as a Senator. In 1971, he became the president of the Senate. During the government of Popular Unity, headed by Salvador Allende, he was also the president of his party, and he led the democratic opposition to Allende within and without Congress. He is credited, to some degree, with trying to find a peaceful solution to the country's political crisis. Distrusting Allende, Aylwin "demanded that the president appoint only military men to his cabinet as proof of his honest intent," which Allende did only partially, and Aylwin "apparently sided with pro-coup forces, believing that the military would restore democracy to the nation." He stated very plainly that between "a Marxist dictatorship and a dictatorship of our military, I would choose the second."

Aylwin was president of the Christian Democrats until 1976, and after the death of the party's leader, Eduardo Frei, in 1982, he led his party during the military dictatorship. Later he helped establish the Constitutional Studies Group of 24 to reunite the country's democratic sectors against the dictatorship. In 1979 he served as a spokesman in the group that opposed the plebiscite that approved a new constitution.

Logo NO 1988
Logo of the No campaign, el arcoíris (the rainbow).

In 1982, Aylwin was elected vice president of the Christian Democrats. He was among the first to advocate acceptance of the Constitution as a reality in order to facilitate the return to democracy. The opposition eventually met the legal standards imposed by the Pinochet regime and participated in the 1988 plebiscite.

On 5 October 1988, the Chilean national plebiscite was held. A "Yes" vote would grant Pinochet eight more years as president. Despite the widespread expectation that Pinochet would be voted an extended term, the "No" campaign triumphed, in part because of a superb media campaign depicted in the 2012 film No. Patricio Aylwin was at the center of the movement that defeated General Pinochet. After the plebiscite, he participated in negotiations that led the government and the opposition to agree on 54 constitutional reforms, thereby making possible a peaceful transition from 16 years of dictatorship to democracy.


Patricio Aylwin (1990)
Aylwin in his office, 1990.
Transmision de mando Aylwin-Pinochet
Pinochet congratulates Aylwin on inauguration day, 11 March 1990.
The Aylwin Cabinet
Office Name Party Term
President Patricio Aylwin DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Interior Enrique Krauss PS 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Foreign Affairs Enrique Silva Cimma PR 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Defense Patricio Rojas DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Finance Alejandro Foxley DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Gen. Sec. of the
Edgardo Boeninger DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Gen. Sec. of
Enrique Correa PS 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Economy Carlos Ominami PS 11 March 1990–28 September 1992
Jorge Marshall PPD 28 September 1992–16 December 1993
Jaime Tohá PS 16 December 1993–11 March 1994
Sergio Molina Silva DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Education Ricardo Lagos PPD 11 March 1990–28 September 1992
Jorge Arrate PS 20 September 1992–11 March 1994
Justice Francisco Cumplido DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Labor René Cortázar DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Public Works Carlos Hurtado Ruíz-Tagle Ind. 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Health Jorge Jiménez DC 11 March 1990–30 October 1992
Julio Montt DC 30 October 1992–11 March 1994
Housing &
Alberto Etchegaray Aubry Ind. 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Agriculture Juan Agustín Figueroa PR 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Mining Juan Hamilton Depassier DC 11 March 1990–28 September 1992
Alejandro Hales DC 28 September 1992–11 March 1994
Transport &
Germán Correa PS 11 March 1990–28 September 1992
Germán Molina Valdivieso PPD 28 September 1992–11 March 1994
National Assets Luis Alvarado Constenla PPD 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Environment Jaime Tohá PS 11 March 1990–11 March 1994
Women Soledad Alvear DC 11 March 1990–11 March 1994

Domestic policy

Patricio Aylwin was elected president of the Republic on 14 December 1989.

Although Chile had officially become a democracy, the Chilean military led by Pinochet remained highly powerful during the presidency of Aylwin, and the Constitution ensured the continued influence of Pinochet and his commanders, which prevented his government from achieving many of the goals it had set, such as the restructuring of the Constitutional Court and the reduction of Pinochet's political power. His administration, however, initiated direct municipal elections, the first of which were held in June 1992. In spite of the severe limits imposed on Aylwin's government by the Constitution, over four years, it "altered power relations in its favor in the state, in civil society, and in political society." Pinochet was determined that the military not be punished for its role in overthrowing Allende's government or for the years of military dictatorship. Aylwin did attempt to bring to justice those in the military who committed abuses.

Economic policy

The Aylwin Government did much to reduce poverty and inequality during its time in office. A tax reform was introduced in 1990 which boosted tax revenues by around 15% and enabled the Aylwin Government to increase government spending on social programs from 9.9% to 11.7% of GDP. By the end of the Aylwin government, unprecedented resources were being allocated to social programs, including an expanded public health programs, vocational and training programs for young Chileans, and a major public housing initiative.

A new Solidarity and Social Investment Fund was set up to direct aid towards poorer communities, and social spending (especially on health and education) increased by around one-third between 1989 and 1993. A new labor law was also enacted in 1990, which expanded trade union rights and collective bargaining while also improving severance pay for workers. The minimum wage was also increased, as were family allowances, pensions, and other benefits. Between 1990 and 1993, real wages grew by 4.6%, while the unemployment rate fell from 7.8% to 6.5%. Spending on education increased by 40% while spending on health increased by 54%. The incomes of poor Chileans increased by 20% in real terms (above the rate of inflation) under the Aylwin Government, while increases to the minimum wage meant that it was 36% higher in real terms in 1993 than in 1990. A slum clearance program was also initiated, with over 100,000 new homes built under the Aylwin Government, compared with 40,000 per annum under the Pinochet Government.

Under the Aylwin government, the numbers of Chileans living in poverty significantly decreased, with a United Nations report estimating that the percentage of the population living in poverty had fallen from around 40% of the population in 1989 to around 33% by 1993.


He was succeeded in 1994 by the election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of the late President Eduardo Frei Montalva.


Patricio Aylwin(2011)
Aylwin in July 2011

Aylwin was president of the Corporation for Democracy and Justice, a non-profit organization he founded to develop approaches to eliminating poverty and to strengthen ethical values in politics. In 1998, he received the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

Aylwin received honorary degrees from universities in Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, and the United States, as well as seven Chilean universities. In 1997, the Council of Europe awarded the North-South Prize to Aylwin and Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, for their contributions to fostering human rights, democracy, and cooperation between Europe and Latin America.


22 Abril 2016. Funeral del ex Pdte. Patricio Aylwin. (26556071576)
The funeral cortege of Patricio Aylwin on 22 April 2016 in Santiago.

On 18 December 2015, Aylwin was hospitalized in Santiago after suffering a cranial injury at home. He died on 19 April 2016, aged 97 from natural causes from respiratory insufficiency.

His state funeral was held on 22 April 2016 and was buried at Cementerio General de Santiago in the following days.

Honours and awards

Foreign honours


  • Council of Europe: North–South Prize (1997)
  • Fulbright Association: William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding (1988)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Patricio Aylwin para niños

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