Chapter 33: Latin America: Revolution and Reaction into the 21



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Chapter 33: Latin America: Revolution and Reaction into the 21st Century



  • 1998: General Augusto Pinochet: former commander in chief of Chilean army and dictator from 1974 to 1990, was arrested in London.

    • Accused of crimes against humanity

    • 1973: overthrew the regime of President Salvador Allende

    • thousands of people were killed and tortured

    • claimed he did not have a personal role in the abuses and restored economic prosperity

    • Didn’t stand trial for “reasons of health”

  • 20th century Latin America: struggle between the forces of revolution and reaction

  • Third World: loaded term (what does it signify? What comparisons are made as to what makes a First, Second, and Third World country?) 3rd: developing nations, 2nd: formerly communist industrial countries, 1st: capitalist industrial nations.

  • Post-WWII and especially 1970’s onward, Latin American elites led their nations into closer ties with the growing international capitalist economy.

  • Investments and initiative mostly from US and Europe, Latin American countries continued to focus on exports.

  • Struggle of decolonization has been primarily one of economic disengagement

  • Industrialization in some areas, as well as emigration and some explosive urban growth, also a growing urban middle class.

  • Economic expansion, conservative regimes looking to maintain status quo

Latin America After WWII



  • Economies grew during WWII

  • Brazil worked with US for help with Steel Industry

  • Cold War: Marxism and political agitation in Latin America

  • Getulio Vargas: returned to power in Brazil in 1950: populist nationalism, state took over petroleum industry

  • Juan Peron: ruled in Argentina, populist platform, and political repression

    • Military group had driven Peron from power in 1955

    • Still popular among workers, Peronism

  • Argentina: “Dirty War”: military dictators tortured and executed presumed opponents.

  • Argentina fought against Britain in 1982 over the Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands) which Britain controlled and Argentina claimed, but Argentina lost

Mexico and the PRI



  • 1940 onward dominated by the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI)

    • mounting charges of corruption and lack of social improvement

  • Zapatistas: armed guerilla movement emerged in 1994 in the heavily indigenous southern state of Chiapas. Named after Emiliano Zapata. Government responded with repression and negotiation

  • 2000 Election, ended the PRI political monopoly with the election of Vincente Fox, leader of the conservative PAN party: platform of cleaning up corruption, improving conditions for Mexican workers in the US

Radical Options in the 1950’s



  • Socialist ideas became very popular in some areas

  • Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba socialism became prominent

  • Marxian socialism was popular amongst many in Latin America, but dangerous because of the context of the Cold War, and the ideological struggle between US and USSR

  • Bolivia: 90% of land owned by 6% of population: revolution began in 1952, led by miners, peasants, and urban middle-class groups, but army back into power in 1964

Guatemala: Reform and United States Intervention



  • Population was mostly illiterate, poor health conditions, high mortality rates

  • Land and wealth distributed very unequally

  • Variable/volatile economy based on exports of bananas and coffee

  • 1944: reformer Juan Jose Arevalo was elected as president. Began series of programs he called “spiritual socialism,” with land reform and an improvement in rights of rural and industrial workers.

    • Income tax

    • Intense nationalism

  • Arevalo in conflict with United Fruit Company (US-based) larges and most important foreign concern in Latin America, controlled extensive properties, transportation, and shipping facilities

  • 1951: free election of President Jacobo Arbenz: nationalist program and made public statements against foreign economic interests

    • announced programs to nationalize the transportation network, the hydroelectric system, etc.

    • Expropriate unused land in 1953 provoked opposition from landed oligarchy and United Fruit, (could lose half a million acres of land).

  • United States, claimed it was concerned about “communist” penetration of Arbenz govt, and with pressure from United Fruit, denounced the changed and imposed economic and diplomatic restrictions on Guatemala.

  • 1954, with help from the US CIA, dissident military force was organized and invaded Guatemala.

    • Arbenz govt. fell

    • Pro-American regime took power and turned back the land reform and renegotiated with United Fruit

    • Political instability throughout series of military govts.

The Cuban Revolution: Socialism in the Caribbean



  • Population of about 6 million with a large middle class

  • 1950s ¾ of imports came from US

  • Heavy US investments in Cuba in 1940s and 50s

  • Economy fluctuated with price of main export, Sugar

  • Fulgencio Batista: led Cuba from 1934 to 1944: promised major changes- nationalization of natural resources, full employment, and land reform.

    • Corrupt regime

    • 1952 returned to presidency, more of a dictator

  • Key opponent to Batista was Fidel Castro.

  • July 26, 1953: Castro launched an unsuccessful attack on some military barracks

    • Captured and imprisoned

    • Fled to exile in Mexico

  • Ernesto “Che” Guevara: Argentine revolutionary, espoused Marxism. Helped Castro re-enter Cuba. Then moved to Bolivia where he was killed in 1967. Celebrated as an icon by some, and a villain by others.

    • “26th of July Movement” landed in Cuba in 1956, lost many men, remaining 12 went to mountains, and gradually built up support from students, labor organizations, and rural workers.

    • Bearded rebels “barbudos”

    • Dictator driven from power, rebels took Havana

  • Castro then launched a program of sweeping change.

    • Foreign properties expropriated

    • US sponsored a failed invasion in 1961: Bay of Pigs

    • Cuban Missile Crisis 1961: Soviet sponsored missiles

    • Extensive social programs

    • USSR helped maintain the Cuban economy

The Search for Reform and the Military Option



  • Military governments in the 1960’s and 70’s: based on nationalism, new “bureaucratic authoritarian” regimes that served the Cold War interests of the US

  • PRI in Mexico lost control in the 1980’s

  • Roman Catholic Church: still a powerful force. Chile and Venezuela in the 1950’s had Christian Democratic parties emerge

  • Many members of the Roman Catholic clergy worked for social justice and human rights

    • Father Camilo Torres: Colombia joined armed revolutionary groups in the 1960’s

    • Archbishop Oscar Romero: El Salvador: spoke out for social reform and was assassinated in 1980.

  • Liberation Theology: 1970’s combined Catholic theology and socialist principles.

Out of the Barracks: Soldiers Take Power



  • Military became more professionalized

  • 1964: Brazilian military, (with support of US and Brazilian middle class) overthrew the elected president after he threatened to make sweeping social reforms

  • Argentina: military intervention in 1966 between Peronists and the middle class

  • 1973: Chilean military overthrew the socialist government of Salvador Allende.

    • Allende nationalized industries and banks and sponsored peasant and worker expropriations of lands and factories

    • Allende killed during the coup

  • Military-backed dictatorships

  • Political repression and torture

  • Argentina: violent opposition to military rule led to a counteroffensive and the “dirty war” in which thousands of people “disappeared.”

  • Argentina: went to war against Britain over the Falkland Islands but lost

New Democratic Trends



  • 1980’s military govts shifting to civilian leaders again

  • Peru: Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path,) long-sustained leftists guerilla movement, controlled areas of the countryside and tried to disrupt national elections in 1990.

  • 1990: Nicaragua, elections held under threat of US embargo, removed Sandinista party from control

  • US invaded Panama and arrested leader Manuel Noriega

  • Brazil: leftist working-class presidential candidate was elected 2002, Lula

The United States and Latin America: Continuing Presence



  • 19th century: US replaced European investments increasingly in Latin America

  • Private investments by American companies and entrepreneurs, as well as loans from the US govt. were the chief means of US influence

  • Cuba Puerto Rico: direct US involvement, protectorate status following Spanish-American War

  • Over 30 military interventions to protect US owned properties and investments before 1933

  • Haiti, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Cuba: all had direct interventions by US troops

  • Central America: investments from United Fruit was very high

  • Augusto Sandino: Nicaragua, led a resistance movement against occupying troops until his assassination by the US trained Nicaraguan National Guard in 1934

    • Seen by many as a hero and a figurehead for the Sandinista party: worked for a socialist revolution in Nicaragua in the 1980’s

  • Banana Republics: conservative governments that were friendly to the United States, often dictatorships…depended on export of tropical products

  • 1933: FDR introduced the Good Neighbor Policy: promised to deal more fairly with Latin America and stop direct interventions.

  • Intervention continued, more covertly, with the Cold war

  • Alliance for Progress, a US program begun in 1961, aimed to develop Latin America as an alternative to socialist solutions

    • Many felt it only benefited elites

  • Jimmy Carter, 1976-1980, attempted to influence Latin American governments to observe civil liberties

    • Treaty was signed with Panama that ceded that nation eventual control of the Panama Canal

  • More conservative presidents, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, led the US increased direct involvement or support of counterrevolutionary forces.

    • 1989/1990: US took down a govt in Panama and replaced it with a cooperative regime

Societies in Search of Change



  • Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia sought to enfranchise their Indian populations during the 20th century

  • Indian considered an insult by many

Slow Change in Women’s Roles



  • Ecuador: 1st to enfranchise women in 1929, Brazil and Cuba 1932

  • Disparity in wages

The Movement of the People



  • Growing population in Latin America from 1950: 165 million to 1985: 400 million

  • 1920’s large numbers of migrant workers to United States: Visiting Workers

  • Also illegal immigration

  • Political reasons: Cuban Revolution: many left and came to US

  • More Latin Americans moving to urban centers

  • Favela: shantytowns in Brazil

Cultural Reflections of Despair and Hope



  • Vibrant culture, celebration of influences in dance, music, language, etc.

  • Famous writer: Garcia Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) Colombian author.



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