Latin America In The 20th And 21st Centuries Essay

Submitted By ktmzach199
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AP World History
Ms. Sheets
University High School

WWII was not a critical event; LA only moderately involved (Brazil aided US steel industry) New definitions:
 First World: capitalist industrialized nation
 Second World: communist industrialized nation
 Third World: developing nations, usually less

economically powerful
 Latin America, despite regional variety, mostly fits the
Third World definition because of its slow industrialization and lingering reliance on Western markets.

Post-WWII: surge of radical socialist unrest
(Bolivia, Guatemala, Cuba)

1930s – 2000: Mexico controlled by
Party of Institutionalized Revolution
1994: Zapatistas emerged (guerilla movement) but were put down by the
 PRI becomes corrupt and repressive

1994: Mexico joined the North
American Free Trade Agreement

 US; Canada; Mexico
 Make North American trade competition for

European markets; strengthen North
American markets

2000: Vicente Fox (National Action
Party: PAN) won national election

Guatemala’s struggles: illiteracy; poor health; high mortality; land and wealth unfairly distributed; economy depends entirely on bananas and coffee
President Jacobo Árbenz (1945-1951) used programs that conflicted with American companies in Guatemala (esp. United Fruit
 Decree 900: Guatemalan land reform act

(redistributed land to peasants; increased cultivation and moved Guatemalan economy to capitalism)

US CIA invaded Guatemala to overthrow
Árbenz and installed a pro-US government.
 Construed Decree 900 as communist threat

New American-backed military government reversed land reform.

Cuba was dependent on American imports and the export of sugar.
 US is leading trade partner with Cuba

Disparity between middle classes and lowest classes
 1952-1959: Fulgencio Batista ruled Cuba as military dictator.

 Little actual reform; opposition movements rise
 Fidel Castro (young lawyer) and Ernesto “Che”

Guevara (militant Argentinian revolutionary) joined in Mexico to create a small military force to overthrow Batista.
 Pledge real democracy, justice, freedom

 1959: “26th of July Movement” drove Batista from

power while rebels take Havana
 Support from students, labor organizations, and rural workers.

With Castro, Cuba now socialist state
 Achievements of socialism are

accompanied with restrictions on freedoms.
 Collective farms, confiscated property

1961: US and Cuba cut off relations with each other.
 Castro aligns Cuba with USSR

A U.S.-sponsored intervention by Cuban exiles failed
Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
 USSR installed missiles in Cuba to taunt the

 Tension between US (Kennedy) and USSR

Cuba became increasingly dependent on the Soviet Union throughout the
Cold War.

After WWI, US is dominant power in West.
 Private investments by U.S. companies and loans from the

government were the chief means of influence

The United States intervened periodically in Latin America to protect investments and contain communism.
 More than 30 interventions before 1933
 After interventions, US helped to create Banana Republics
 Conservative governments (often corrupt dictatorships) that would be friendly to the US and US financial interests.
 Called this because of dependence on export of tropical products
 Foreign intervention created a growing nationalist reaction.

1937: FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy
 Promised to deal more fairly with Latin America and stop

direct interventions; ignored during the Cold War.

1961: Alliance for Progress launched by US
 Aimed to develop regions and eliminate radical political


1970s: US cedes Panama Canal to Panama
 1990: Panama dictator overthrown by US

1989: US invasion of Panama ends Noriega dictator government  Notorious for human rights violations; involvement in drug


After 2000, US concerns with Latin America continued to focus on issues of commerce,