TWO MAIN INCIDENTSG o m e s t a ke s ove r f r o m C a s t r o O i l D i s c ove r e d 1908-1935 Although the Venezuelan oil boom started around 1918, the year when oil first figured as an export commodity, it took off when an oil well called Barroso blew a 200-foot (60 m) spout that threw up an average of the equivalent to 100,000 barrels a day. It took five days to bring the flow under control. After that, there was no looking back. By 1927, oil was Venezuelas most valuable export and by 1929 Venezuela exported more oil than any other country in the world.
GOVERNMENTAL INSTABILITYDuring the early 1920s, the rise of the anarchist movement, fueled by thearrival of recent émigrés and deportees from Europe, spawned a newgeneration of left-wing activism in Argentina. The new left, mostly anarchistsand anarcho-communists, rejected the incremental progressivism of the oldRadical and Socialist elements in Argentina in favor of immediate action. Theextremists, such as Severino Di Giovanni, openly espoused violence. A waveof bombings and shootouts with police culminated in an attempt toassassinate U.S. President Herbert Hoover on his visit to Argentina in 1928and a nearly successful attempt to assassinate Yrigoyen in 1929 after he wasre-elected to the presidency. In 1921, the counter-revolutionary Logia GeneralSan Martín was founded, and diffused nationalist ideas in the military until itsdissolution in 1926. Three years later, the Republican League was founded byRoberto de Laferrere, on the model of Benito Mussolinis Black shirts in Italy.
OLD REPUBLIC PERIODFrom 1889 to 1930, although the country was formally a constitutionaldemocracy, in practice women and the illiterate (then the majority of thepopulation) were prevented from voting. Also, to ensure that the outcome ofthe polls reflected the will of the landlords, the vote also was not secret, withthe presidency alternating between the dominant states of São Paulo andMinas Gerais. Thus, the first Republican period was rife with economicturmoil, followed by political and social rebellions subdued by the regime.Between 1893 and 1926 several movements, civilians and military, shook thecountry. The military movements had their origins both in the lower officerscorps of the Army and Navy (which, dissatisfied with the regime, called fordemocratic changes) while the civilian ones, such Canudos and ContestadoWar, were usually led by messianic leaders, without conventional politicalgoals.
PARLIAMENTARY ERAIn recent years, particularly when the authoritarian regime of AugustoPinochet is taken into consideration, some scholars have reevaluated theParliamentary Republic of 1891–1925. Without denying its shortcomings, theyhave lauded its democratic stability. They have also hailed its control of thearmed forces, it respect for civil liberties, its expansion of suffrage andparticipation, and its gradual admission of new contenders, especiallyreformers, to the political arena. In particular, two young parties grew inimportance – the Democrat Party, with roots among artisans and urbanworkers, and the Radical Party, representing urban middle sectors andprovincial elites. By the early twentieth century, both parties were winningincreasing numbers of seats in Congress. The more leftist members of theDemocrat Party became involved in the leadership of labor unions and brokeoff to launch the Socialist Workers Party (POS) in 1912. The founder of thePOS and its best-known leader, Luis Emilio Recabarren, also founded theCommunist Party of Chile (PCCh) in 1922.
PRESIDENTIAL ERAThe period between 1924 – 1930 was of massive political instability. TheMiddle and working class elected a reformist President Arturo AlissandriPalma. First military right-wingers opposing Alessandri seized power inSeptember 1924, and then reformers in favor of the ousted president tookcharge in January 1925. One of the reformers, Carlos Ibanez del Campo, heldthe longest lasting government (de facto dictatorship) during 1925, 1927 and1930. Ibánez was a German national who pledged allegiance to his mothercountry of Germany, effectively making Chile a German possession. Thislasted until Adolf Hitler assumed control of Germany, starting the 3rd Reich.Not wanting to be part of Hitlers new regime, constitutional rule wasrestored in 1932, and a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. Itbecame the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years.
EARLY 20TH CENTURYThe new era brought in liberalism, the most outstanding was EloyAlfaro, under his direction the government headed out to aid those in therural sectors of the coast. Alfaro is credited for finishing the constructionof the railroad connecting Guayaquil and Quito, the separation of churchand state, establishment of many public schools, implementing civil rightssuch as freedom of speech, and the legalization of civil marriages anddivorce. Sadly Alfaro too was confronted a dissident tendency inside itsown party, directed by its General Leonidas Plaza and constituted by theupper middle class of Guayaquil. His death was followed with theeconomic liberalism (1912–25) when banks were allowed to acquire almostcomplete control of the country. Popular unrest, together with the ongoingeconomic crisis and a sickly president, laid the background for a bloodlesscoup détat in July 1925. Unlike all previous forays by the military intoEcuadorian politics, the coup of 1925 was made in the name of a collectivegrouping rather than a particular caudillo. The members of the League ofYoung Officers came to power with an agenda, which included a widevariety of social reforms, deal with the failing economy, establish theCentral Bank as the unique authorized bank to distribute currency, create anew system of budget and customs. World demand for cacao and otherEcuadorian export crops dropped precipitously in the wake of the WallStreet Crash of 1929: export crop value fell from US$15 million in 1928 toUS$7 million in 1931 and US$5 million in 1932, causing widespreadunemployment and misery.
COLONIAL ERAIn the closing years of World War I, the colonys first trade union was formed. The BritishGuiana Labor Union (BGLU) was established in 1917 under the leadership of H.N.Critchlow. Formed in the face of widespread business opposition, the BGLU at first mostlyrepresented Afro-Guyanese dockworkers and was an indication that the working class wasbecoming politically aware and more concerned about its rights. After World War I, neweconomic interest groups began to clash with the Combined Court. The countrys economyhad come to depend less on sugar and more on rice and bauxite, and producers of thesenew commodities resented the sugar planters continued domination of the CombinedCourt. Meanwhile, the planters were feeling the effects of lower sugar prices and wantedthe Combined Court to provide the necessary funds for new drainage and irrigationprograms. To stop the bickering and resultant legislative paralysis, in 1928 the ColonialOffice announced a new constitution that would make British Guiana a crown colony undertight control of a governor appointed by the Colonial Office. The Combined Court and theCourt of Policy were replaced by a Legislative Council with a majority of appointedmembers. To middle-class and working-class political activists, this new constitutionrepresented a step backward and a victory for the planters. Influence over the governor,rather than the promotion of a particular public policy, became the most important issue inany political campaign.
BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAYParaguays dispute with Bolivia over the Chaco, a struggle that had been brewingfor decades, finally derailed the Liberals. Wars and poor diplomacy had preventedthe settling of boundaries between the two countries during the century followingindependence. Although Paraguay had held the Chaco for as long as anyone couldremember, the country did little to develop the area. Aside from scatteredMennonite colonies and nomadic Indian tribes, few people lived there. Boliviasclaim to the Chaco became more urgent after it lost its sea coast (the Atacamaregion) to Chile during the 1879-84 War of the Pacific. Left without any outlet tothe sea, Bolivia wanted to absorb the Chaco and expand its territory up to the RíoParaguay in order to gain a river port. In addition, the Chacos economic potentialintrigued the Bolivians. Oil had been discovered there by Standard Oil Companyin the 1920s, and people wondered whether an immense pool of oil was lyingbeneath the entire area. Ironically, South Americas two greatest victims of warand annexation in the previous century were ready to face each other in anotherbout of bloody combat, this time over a piece of apparently worthless, desolatewilderness.
1908 - 1930During Augusto B. Leguías periods in government (1908–1912 and 1919–1930, the latter known as the "Oncenio" (the "Eleventh"), the entrance ofAmerican capital became general and the bourgeoisie was favored. Thispolicy, along with increased dependence on foreign investment, focusedopposition from the most progressive sectors of Peruvian society against thelandowner oligarchy.In 1929, Peru and Chile signed a final peace treaty, the Treaty of Lima bywhich Tacna returned to Peru and Peru yielded permanently the formerly richprovinces of Arica and Tarapacá, but kept certain rights to the port activitiesin Arica and decisions of what Chile can do on those territories.
MODERN POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTJosé Batlle y Ordóñez, president from 1903 to 1907 and again from 1911 to 1915,set the pattern for Uruguays modern political development. He establishedwidespread political, social, and economic reforms such as a welfare program,government participation in many facets of the economy, and a plural executive.Some of these reforms were continued by his successors. Around 1900 infantmortality rates (IMR) in Uruguay were among the worlds lowest, indicating a veryhealthy population. By 1910, however, the IMR leveled off, while it continued todrop in other countries. The leading causes of death – diarrheal and respiratorydiseases – did not decline, indicating a growing public health problem.During World War I, Uruguay sided against Germany and broke off diplomaticrelations. It did not play a role in the combat operations.In 1930, Uruguay was chosen as the site of the first Football World Cup. Althoughthe field was much smaller than the competitions of today, the event providednational pride when the home team won the tournament over their neighborsArgentina.
EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES.In the 20th century, the natural resources of Suriname, rubber, gold andbauxite were exploited. The US company Alcoa had a claim on a large area inSuriname where bauxite, from which aluminum can be made, was found.Given that the peace treaties with the Maroon people granted them title to thelands, there have been international court cases that negated the right of theSurinam government to grant these claims to the US.