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Antonio Varas (1817-1886) was a conservative Chilean political figure best known for serving as the President of Chile from 1864 to 1868, the Minister of the Interior from 1860 to 1864, and as the Chilean Ambassador to the United States from 1856 to 1859 and as the Chilean Minister of Industry from 1859 until his ascendancy to the more powerful Ministry of the Interior. Prior to these appointments, Varas was a deputy in Chillan and sat in the National Congress.
Regarded as having an acute mind and being a relative moderate, Varas' lasting achievement was the initiation of the construction of the Chilean National Railroad between Arica in the north to Valdivia in the south, spanning the entire length of Chile. The project would take seven years and an intense involvement by the government to complete, but was regarded by Varas - who had seen the economic benefits of a railroad system during his time in the United States - as crucial both to the expansion of Chilean industry, but also as critical to the protection of its newly captured territories from Peru in the north, believing that the efficient use of a railroad to transport troops could help with national security. While the railroad would not be completed until 1874, long after his presidency, Varas is regarded as its father and as a major influence on the robust growth of the Chilean economy in the 1870's and 1880's. The town of Puerto Varas is named in his honor.