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Latin America


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Latin America

  1. 1. Latin America<br />By: Sandra Flores<br />
  2. 2. Independence<br />The movement for independence began first in Spain’s American colonies. The Spanish-American movement was fostered by developments in the late 1700s . The monarchy, determined to improve imperial defenses, needed to increase revenues. It set in place a series of measures, known as the Bourbon Reforms. As part of his reforms, King Charles III reorganized the administration of the colonies, which had been divided into large administrative regions called viceroyalties. The most famous of Charles’s reforms was the freedom of trade decree of 1778, which lifted restrictions on trade between many Spanish and colonial ports.<br />To defend its empire, Spain created colonial armies and enlarged militia units in Spanish America as part of its reforms. Tens of thousands of Spanish American colonists were armed and trained in some kind of military service. Ironically, this measure to protect the Spanish Empire contributed to its downfall, as these militias later formed the base of the armies of independence.<br />As the Spanish monarchy tried to increase its authority, it was hampered by the power of the Catholic Church. The church, including various religious orders, had acquired great wealth, including large holdings of land, in the colonies. To control this rival authority, the monarchy curtailed special church privileges. By 1810 many of the lower clergy were receptive to the talk of independence.<br />
  3. 3. Independence<br />The frustration of the Spanish Americans was fueled by the intellectual movement of the Enlightenment. With its emphasis on science and reason, the Enlightenment challenged political and social institutions such as monarchy, religion, mercantilism, and class distinctions. The American Revolution and the French Revolution provided an example for the Spanish American colonists.<br />However, many Spanish Americans were also frightened by the social upheaval that followed the French Revolution, including the bloody war for independence in the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue. At the same time that colonists were becoming dissatisfied with imperial rule, Spain began to face problems at home. During the 18th and 19th centuries Spain became involved in a number of international wars, which seriously strained the kingdom’s finances.<br />By the middle of the 1820s almost all of the Latin American colonies had achieved independence. The new Spanish American nations now faced many difficult political, social, and economic issues. All of the constitutions established by the new nations in Latin America had two fundamental things in common. They were all dedicated to the preservation of private property, and they all permitted only a small percentage of adult males to vote or hold public office. However, although they began as civil wars to break the ties of colonialism, the Spanish American independence movements did have a revolutionary outcome on society. The new republics increased the freedoms of Native Americans, mestizos, people of color, and often women.<br />
  4. 4. Mid-Century<br />There had been some Latin Americans who hoped independence would usher in more rapid transformations. The decade of the 1820s did in fact see a flurry of reform activity almost everywhere. However, some of the &quot;reforms&quot; had only superficial effect, some were quickly repealed, and, with a few partial exceptions such as Venezuela and Guatemala, the next two decades saw an obvious waning of the impulse to change things. The 1830s and 1840s were typified instead by a preoccupation with the attainment of order and a generally moderate approach to questions of religious, social, or economic policy.<br />The mood of Latin America, or at least of the middle and upper sectors of the population, changed again about mid-century, as most countries entered a period of around twenty-five to thirty years in which economic growth provided a renewed basis for optimism and liberal reformers generally seized the political initiative.<br />The Industrial Revolution itself, initially concentrated in Britain, northern France, and Belgium, was spreading out to other parts of Europe and the United States and in the process creating new demands for industrial raw materials as well as for imported foodstuffs to be consumed by a population that was becoming steadily more urban. Northern European industry, however, was not only spreading geographically. The efficiency of steel-making processes, steam engines, and other basic elements of the emerging industrial civilization underwent sharp improvement during the second half of the century, creating still more demands in the industrial countries for commodity imports while leading to the production of more, cheaper, and better manufactured goods to sell in exchange.<br />
  5. 5. Mid-Century<br />Whether or not the role of the external economy was as critical in the flowering of post-1850 Latin American liberalism, a generational shift within Latin America clearly helped prepare the way. The harsh realities which so often frustrated their projects contributed to the mood of relative moderation if not conservative reaction that prevailed generally through the 1830s and 1840s. But by mid-century these men were giving way to a new generation whose members attended exclusively postcolonial schools, had been directly exposed to notions and ideas that circulated only in limited form before, and had not yet had time to become disillusioned. The new leaders coming of age at mid-century, confident that they could do better than those they replaced, were in one sense intent on completing the work of independence itself by clearing away what still remained-which was quite a lot-of outdated colonial institutions.<br />In political matters, the period was marked by systematic weakening of the state; along with the simultaneous weakening of the church by liberal anticlericalism redounded intentionally or not to the strengthening of the state and provided the state with additional resources. Neither did liberal governments necessarily renounce the state&apos;s prerogative give positive assistance to private enterprise for the creation of transportation infrastructure and the like. There are also a number of countries that depart from the overall pattern. One of these is Brazil, because it moved earlier than most to adopt certain liberal measures (such as religious toleration) and was conspicuously later in adopting others (such as abolition of slavery). <br />
  6. 6. Influence of Britain<br />The leaders of the new nations regarded diplomatic recognition by the United Kingdom as essential for both their economic development and their political security. The first real concessions came in 1810, when the British government negotiated preferential trading privileges in Brazil in return for its support for the Portuguese royal family during the Napoleonic Wars. In the Spanish empire, where the struggle for emancipation lasted from about 1810 until 1825, restrictions on direct trade between the colonies and other countries were gradually dismantled during the conflict. When it finally became clear, in the early 1820s, that Spain could do little to reverse the independence process, Canning took the first steps towards safeguarding Britain&apos;s economic interests and recognizing the new republics by sending out consular officials.<br />Between 1870 and 1914, despite setbacks caused by commercial and financial crises in the mid 1870s and the early 1890s, Britain&apos;s economic interests in Latin America reached their peak. In the major countries their influence appeared pervasive and almost unassailable.Between 1900 and 1914, the United States consul in Buenos Aires had claimed: &apos;It almost seems that the English have the preference in everything pertaining to the business and business interests of the country. . . . They are &quot;in&quot; everything, except politics, as intimately as though it were a British colony.‘<br />Yet by the middle of the twentieth century Britain&apos;s influence had disintegrated. The First World War permitted the United States to gain ground in Latin America at the expense of the European powers.<br />
  7. 7. Influence of Britain<br />The Second World War reduced trade further and put Britain into debt to the major Latin American countries as well as to the United States. By 1945 Britain&apos;s exports to the region amounted to less than a quarter of their 1938 level. Over the next few years many of the pre-1914 investments, which had become almost worthless, were surrendered to Latin American governments in exchange for a cancellation of Britain&apos;s debts.<br />At the time of independence Latin America was still a frontier of European colonization. Independence obviously stimulated a wholesale reorientation of Latin America&apos;s external economic connections. The struggles also caused serious disruption to the domestic economies of the new states. Despite their success in achieving independence the &apos;patriots&apos; left the political future of Spanish America undefined. Liberal hopes of political stability and constitutional progress were almost everywhere quickly disappointed. The precise reasons for the political instability and its nature varied from one country to another, but there were some common problems. One was that most governments remained desperately short of money. Closely associated with these fiscal problems were the problems of external security and the intense civil conflicts which developed after independence.<br />The formation of strong national political structures thus proved more difficult than either the Latin American or British proponents of independence had expected. Yet slowly political institutions became more stable, and power began to pass from military caudillos to civilian presidents. Despite their outward constitutionalism the political systems of Latin America in the late nineteenth century tended to be relatively closed and undemocratic. <br />
  8. 8. Wars<br />The Haitian War for Independence (1791-1803) began as a struggle between the privileged white planters and the less privileged affranchis (those of mixed blood) and rapidly became an all-out race war when the third and largest racial element, the pure blacks, ultimately dominated.<br />The American Revolution (1775-1783), which had had the support of Spain, and the French Revolution (1789-1799) provided models. These influenced some of the privileged of the New World, the two most important being Simon Bolivar of New Granada and Miguel Hidalgo of Mexico.<br />Latin American wars for independence were fought primarily between 1791 and 1824, with notable exceptions such as those in Santo Domingo (1820-44) and Cuba (1868-98).<br />The potential of the young nation breaking apart dominated Argentine politics and military operations for almost six decades (1816-61). Colombia was subjected to nearly eighty years of on-again, off-again civil wars between Centralists and Federalists; between 1828 and 1871 some fifty revolts occurred.<br />The clearest example of wars for territorial conquest were the United States confrontations with Mexico (1835-48) and British expansion in Central America (1821-56).The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-70) was also a war for territorial conquest.<br />The cause for the War of the Pacific (1879-83), sometimes called the &quot;Nitrate War&quot; between Chile against Peru and Bolivia, was the arbitrary taxation and duties imposed by Bolivia upon Chilean-owned nitrate firms, provoking Chile to intervene militarily and ultimately leading to war. Without the nitrates, the Chileans may never have attempted to conquer the desert. <br />
  9. 9. Wars<br />In the decades following independence, the unresolved struggle between conservatives, who favored a monarchy, and liberals, who wanted a republic, led to wars. The most bloody were the French intervention in Mexico (1861-67) in support of the Mexican Conservatives and the Brazilian Civil War of 1893-94.<br />The commercial nations (mainly the United States and Great Britain) frequently intervened within Latin America because they believed their investments was threatened. Latin American nations emerged from the wars for independence bankrupt, indebted, and devastated. The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 did outline a policy for intervention in Latin America in order to prevent a monarchic counterrevolution against republican governments and to deter the expansion of European colonies in the New World. The first threat never materialized and the second too frequently was carried out by Great Britain, the world&apos;s dominant military power. Looking back over the nineteenth century, only on rare occasions did the United States threaten military intervention to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. More than one hundred interventions took place in Latin America during the nineteenth century. Virtually no country was immune. And, not all interventions were initiated by nations. Many were the acts of individuals.<br />Religion played an important role in Latin American wars. Fathers like Miguel Hidalgo and Jose Morelos, who led the War for Independence in Mexico, are but the most prominent examples of a significant number of clerics who took up the saber. <br />The ten causes for war in Latin America-race war, the ideology of independence, the controversy of separation versus union, boundary disputes, territorial conquests, caudilloism, resource wars, intraclass struggles, interventions caused by capitalism, and religious wars-were intertwined and profoundly influenced the region throughout the nineteenth century. And war was pervasive. <br />
  10. 10. Mexico<br />Mexico is the fifth largest country in the Western Hemisphere and is rich in natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas. The nation’s capital, Mexico City, is one of the largest cities in the world. In Latin America, only Brazil has a larger population than Mexico. Mexico is bordered by the United States on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea on the east, and Guatemala and Belize on the south. It is characterized by an extraordinary diversity in topography and climate and is crossed by two major mountain chains, the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental.<br />Mexico has a rich heritage in art and architecture and is recognized internationally for the contributions of its 20th-century mural artists, who created murals that reflected not only Mexico’s history and culture, but also its current social issues. Mexico’s economic achievements are many, but the country continues to face many obstacles as it tries to further develop its economy. <br />The history of Mexico revolves around the mixing of numerous cultural, ethnic, and political influences. These include contributions from several major indigenous civilizations, Spanish influences from the period of colonial rule, and a significant African heritage resulting from the slave trade of the early colonial era. Mexico’s post-independence period was characterized by violence and civil war, including European intervention and a long domestic dictatorship. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920)—the most important event in 20th-century Mexican history.<br />During the late 18th century, after Spain suffered a number of military defeats in Europe, the Spanish monarchy determined to improve the defenses of its empire. To pay for these improvements, it attempted to increase revenues. The extensive tax and administrative changes received little sympathy in Mexico, where many had prospered under the old system. Attempts to institute reforms provoked riots and antigovernment protests, which were put down by force, further upsetting many Mexicans.<br />
  11. 11. Mexico<br />Efforts by the Spanish monarchy to limit the power of the Catholic Church also aroused opposition in New Spain. The church and various religious orders, most notably the Jesuits, had amassed great wealth and held large amounts of land in the colony. The monarchy viewed the church as an economic and political rival and moved to limit its power by curtailing church privileges.<br />The immediate crisis that moved Mexico to take the final steps toward independence came as a result of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. With central authority in Spain weakened, the leaders of New Spain began to quarrel among themselves. The struggle for power between various political factions eventually set off a rebellion that led to civil war.<br />In 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest who was familiar with the ideas of the Enlightenment, launched a revolt that aimed to free Mexico from the oppression of the Spanish colonial government and the peninsulares. Hidalgo called for the immediate abolition of slavery and an end to taxes imposed upon Native Americans. The effort to overthrow the colonial government soon turned into a social rebellion as tens of thousands of Native Americans near Mexico City—suffering from the effects of rising food prices and declining wages—joined thousands of mestizos in the uprising.<br />Mexico was unprepared for the task of creating a new republic. Civil war had destroyed both social stability and the economy. Tax revenue fell to disastrously low levels as the economy struggled to revive. Moreover, few had the political experience to bind the nation together.<br />