Foreign policy and defense
Chile has historically had important
relations with Europe, but since World War II, the
relationship with the United States has been more
important. Relations with neighboring countries have
been periodically conflicting, although trade relations
in recent years have contributed to closer cooperation.
The United States countered Salvador Allende in the
1970s by secretly providing financial support to his
opponents, first in order to prevent him from being
elected president, then to undermine his government (see
also Modern History).
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Chile for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Initially, the United States also supported the 1973
military coup and Pinochet's anti-communist policies,
but there is no evidence that the United States has
actively participated in the coup. After Jimmy Carter
became president in 1977, the White House condemned the
oppression in Chile. The Pinochet regime was isolated
after the revelation that its security service had been
involved in the assassination of Allende's former
Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier in Washington DC in
1976. Democratization in Chile radically improved
relations with the United States.
Trade issues are important for Chilean foreign
policy. Chile has free trade agreements with a large
number of countries (see Economic overview).
After democratization, Chile established good
contacts across the Pacific, initially initially with
Japan but during the 2000s also with China. In addition
to Peru and Mexico, Chile is the only country in Latin
America that is a member of the Pacific Cooperation
Along with Colombia, Peru and Mexico, Chile also
formed the Pacific Alliance (Alianza Pacífico) in 2011.
It is primarily a trade block but also strives for
increased integration on other levels as well. Unlike
many other regional initiatives, the Pacific Alliance
has in a short time taken concrete steps towards a
common market for goods, services and people.
In the two Mercosur regional trade organizations and
the Andean Community, Chile is an associated member. The
country was also included when Unasur was formed in
2008, by all independent states in South America, but
was also one of six countries that first suspended its
participation ten years later.
In 2010, Chile became the first South American
country to join the democratic industrialized countries'
cooperative organization OECD. During the years
2014–2015, Chile was one of the ten non-permanent
countries in the UN Security Council.
During the 2000s, Chile has sought to play a more
central role in the region. The country participated in
the UN operation in Haiti until 2017, including with
soldiers. The government has also declared its
willingness to assist several Caribbean countries,
including police training.
Disputes with neighbors
In the early 1980s, Chile and Argentina were about to
start war on some islands in the border area in the
south, but the pope managed to mediate the conflict. A
few years into the 21st century, relations were
disturbed by a conflict over energy, when Argentina was
forced to cut gas supplies to Chile due to energy
shortages. The Chilean government claimed this was
contrary to a previous agreement (see Natural Resources,
Energy and Environment).
With Bolivia, Chile does not have full diplomatic
relations because of a dispute over the territory that
Chile conquered from Bolivia in the so-called nitpicking
war in the late 1800s (see Older history). Bolivia has
continued to assert its right to a passage to the
Pacific and turned in 2013 to the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) to get it right. In 2018, the ICJ decided
the issue in Chile's favor.
Relations with Peru have also been strained due to
the Chilean land gains in the War of the Nets, but in
1999 agreements were signed in which territorial
disputes were settled. In 2005, however, Peru's
parliament decided that the sea border with Chile should
be changed so that a disputed sea area rich in fish
would belong to Peru, which led to disruptions in
relations between the countries. At the beginning of
2008, the sea border issue led to new tensions since
Peru decided to ask the ICJ to resolve the issue of the
disputed sea area. Tense relations deteriorated even
further after a spy deal was unveiled in November 2009.
A Peruvian officer was then accused of having sold
military secrets to Chile, something the Chilean
In January 2014, the ICJ's verdict came in the sea
boundary dispute. Peru was entitled to a new sea area,
while Chile was allowed to retain fish-rich waters near
the coast. Both countries pledged to comply with the
decision. Despite this, a new dispute arose the
following year, when it turned out that the countries
did not agree on where the new border begins: according
to Chile, it is in the same place on the coast as before
and according to Peru 270 meters inside the coast. Peru
established a new administrative district on the site,
with 15,000 residents, leading to protests from Chile.
Chile's military spending has long been among the
highest in Latin America. The army has been restructured
since the late 1990s and divided into smaller and
well-equipped units. Following the constitutional reform
in the autumn of 2005, the president has the right to
dismiss the army chief; this was not allowed in
FACTS - DEFENSE
46 350 men (2017)
The air Force
11 050 men (2017)
19 800 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
1.9 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
7.2 percent (2017)
Compensation to the victims of the dictatorship
The government decides to grant financial compensation to relatives of twelve
victims of the dictatorship 1973–1990.
Ministers may go after traffic protests
Major protests erupt when the introduction of a new public transport system
in Santiago causes chaos. Four ministers may go, including the Minister of
Former dictator Augusto Pinochet dies at a military hospital after a heart
attack, 91 years old.
Free trade agreement with China
A free trade agreement enters into force between China and Chile and means
that 97 percent of all goods within ten years should be completely duty free.
Bachelet wins the presidential election
Middle Left Alliance Concertación candidate Michelle Bachelet wins the second
round of presidential elections and becomes Chile's first female president. She
wins with 53.5 percent of the vote over Sebastian Piñera who gets 46.5 percent.
The Bachelet will take up March 11.