United States and Latin America Essay

Submitted By FelixAzcona1
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Pages: 18

Chapter 38

Latin America: Revolution and Reaction in the 20th Century
Chapter Summary. Latin American nations in the 20h century shared problems with Third World countries relating to matters of economic development and relations with more powerful economic societies. The earlier political independence of Latin America and its Western-influenced political and social structures gave it distinct characteristics. Their economies, dependent upon Western investment and exports, were vulnerable to fluctuations in the world system. Economic dependency accompanied political and cultural dependency in national life. Latin Americans struggled to gain social justice, cultural autonomy, and economic security through either adopting foreign ideologies or formulating indigenous responses. Although agricultural and mineral production continued, industrial development increased worker organization, immigration and urban growth. An urban middle class appeared to join the political process. Economic expansion and preservation of the political status quo alternated with crisis periods when efforts were made break or political patterns and provide social justice. Despite the surface changes Latin America remained relatively unchanged as old institutions adapted to new influences. Very few revolutions resulted in marked political changes, but there have been significant alterations in social and economic matters. The Mexican Revolution and the Great War. Two major events influenced 20h-century Latin American developments,. the Mexican Revolution and World War I. Although most nations remained neutral, the war disrupted traditional markets and caused a realignment of national economies. A spurt of manufacturing occurred among nations forced to rely upon themselves. At the end of the war all had to face the emergence of the United States as the region's dominant foreign power. Mexico's Upheaval. Mexico had been ruled since 1876 by Porfirio Díaz. Great economic changes had occurred as foreign concessions helped to develop railroads and mining and brought prosperity to the elite. Foreigners controlled much of the economy. The political system was corrupt and opponents among workers, peasants, and Indians were repressed. In 1910 moderate reformer Francisco Madero proposed to run against the elderly Díaz but was arrested as the president won a rigged election. A general rebellion followed led by Madero, Pancho Villa, and peasant rights proponent Emiliano Zapata. Díaz was driven from power, but the various factions could not agree. Zapata wanted sweeping land reform and revolted. In 1913 Madero was assassinated. General Victoriano Huerta unsuccessfully tried to restore a Díaz-style regime until forced from power in 1914. Villa and Zapata continued in control of their regions while more moderate leaders controlled the national government under General Alvaro Obregón. The Mexican revolution resembled other outbreaks in agrarian societies undergoing disruptive modernization. All had received large investments of foreign capital and became dependent on world financial markets. The world banking crisis of 1907-1908 then caused distress and stimulated rebellion. Civil war in Mexico ended by 1920; Obregón was the first of a series of elected presidents who tried to consolidate the regime and to rebuild from the serious losses of the civil war. A new constitution of 1917 promised land reform, limitation of foreign ownership, workers' rights, restriction of the role of the church, and educational reform. President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) distributed over 40 million acres, mostly as communal holdings (ejidos), and extended primary and rural education. Culture and Politics in Postrevolutionary Mexico. Nationalism and the concern for Indian culture stimulated many of the reforms. Education stressed Mexico's Indian heritage and denounced Western capitalism. Artists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco recaptured the past and offered a program for the