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