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Free «Latin American History» Essay Sample


In Cuba, Chile and Nicaragua, a number of nations in Latin America tried to forge a radical anti-capitalist alternative to address the challenges they faced as nations. In many ways, the entire region was full of communism. The region was flooded with military regimes that somehow drowned revolutionary ambitions in blood. As a result, all the trappings of democracy were discarded. This included the rule of law, as well as development programs.

Nationalization for Self-determination

The period between 1960 and 1990 saw one of the most turbulent stages in its history. This is due to the fact that there were tensions arising from armed struggles as well as national movements for self-determination. This went a long way in influencing the radical anti-capitalists who were either in power or seeking power. Most of them were guided by socialist as well as anti-imperialist ideas (Meade, 2010).

A number of these ideas were mainly anti-capitalist. They were also against multinational business interests, which were loyal to landowning oligarchies, the military, as well as commercial elites. In as much as a number of the movements for political and fiscal change decided to resort to armed struggle, other decided to bring about reforms through the political arena. One of the countries like Mexico decided to take on modernization and progress.



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In the mid 1980’s, there was an attempt to institute economic reforms in some of the Latin American nations. For instance, in Cuba, the government of Fidel Castro nationalized a number of private companies, which were mostly owned by foreign investors from the United States. On the other hand, Chile reprivatized its companies. Eventually, this resulted in different economic performances in different nations (Meade, 2010).

One of the leading economies in Latin America, Cuba, went through slow growth and unemployment, resulting in a cleavage in the society. By and large, the 1959 revolution saw an advancement of Marxist ideals, which were mostly fronted by Che Guevara, a powerful Argentinean revolutionary. During this time, several Marxist ideologies were embraced, including collectivization of the means of production and central planning (Meade, 2010).

To be precise, there was an increase of land ownership since tenant farmers as well as squatters were granted land rights. However, as a result of social expenditures, the government of Cuba became broke. This is due to the fact that the Russian equipment that had been brought by the Cuban leadership was most costly and inferior to the system of production.

In the 1970s, Fidel Castro led Cuban government introduced key reforms. These reforms were called the “New System of Economic Management and Planning” (SDPE). Consequently, central planning was introduced, thus leading to the merging of a number of state enterprises. The centralization of the systems became inflexible, thus paving way for greater decentralization. Later on, the Rectification Process (RP) was introduced, leading to the abolition of most of the private sectors of the Cuban economy.

Chile, on the other hand, introduced policies that included privatization, creation of an open economy, and the reduction of public expenditure. Most of the Chilean students who had been offered scholarships to study abroad came back to modernize the Chilean economy, especially the financial system (Meade, 2010). Between 1985and 1990, there was sustained growth in the Chilean economy. This led to a push for privatization, trade, as well as expansion of the financial system (Meade, 2010). Eventually, even as the Chilean economy was growing, the Cuban economy saw a steep decline due to the nationalization of the Cuban economy.

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Development of Liberation Theology and Evangelicalism

For a number of years, Latin American populations converted to liberal theology. Additionally, evangelism and Pentecostal Christianity also flourished. During the 1980s, there were approximately 18.6 million evangelicals in Latin America (Meade, 2010). By around 1990, this number had grown to well over sixty million. One of the main reasons why evangelicalism grew in Latin America is due to the fact that people were pursuing social justice. Additionally, there were social inequalities which had refused to disappear for many years. The other problem was the abject poverty that had for long remained stubborn (Meade, 2010).

The Rise of Military Dictatorships

The 1970s became a very tumultuous period in Latin America. This is because people like General Augusto Pinochet decided to overthrow democratically elected governments, with the backing of the United States. The coups brought a number of democratic governments in Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador, and Chile. A number of these activities took place under the reign of Richard Nixon, the US President, in conjunction with his senior advisor, Henry Kissinger (Meade, 2010).

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They actually gave the green light to dictatorships to eliminate subversions, referred to as “Operation Condor”. The United States also played a key role in training of thousands of military officers from Latin American countries, especially Chile. These trainees were very instrumental in carrying out the activities of Operation Condor. As a result, many political opponents were brutally killed.

After witnessing serious brutality from military dictators, Latin Americans decided to disengage themselves from the United States, which played a key role in the rise of these dictators. In many ways, the people decided to take it upon themselves to gain freedom. In fact, countries like Cuba decided to work with Communist states like Russia to avoid the American dominance. Formal ties with the United States were cut to avoid infiltration. The people also engaged in civil unrest to fight the military dictators (Meade, 2010). 


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