Nation Building in Latin America



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Nation Building in Latin America

  • 21.4

Nationalist Revolts

  • Revolutionary ideas in Latin America were sparked by the successes of revolutions in North America.
  • In Latin American society, peninsulares controlled the political and economic systems of the colonies.
  • Creoles resented peninsulares and favored the revolutionary ideals of equality.
  • A slave revolt in Hispaniola led to the formation of Haiti in 1804.

Nationalist Revolts

  • In Mexico, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo roused the local Native Americans and mestizos to free themselves of Spanish control.
  • In 1821, Mexico declared its independence and became a republic in 1823.
  • Two men, known as the “Liberators of South America,” were heavily influenced by events in Europe and set South America on the path of freedom.

Nationalist Revolts

  • José de San Martín of Argentina fought the Spaniards and liberated Argentina in 1810 before crossing the Andes Mountains and liberating Chile in 1817.
  • Simón Bolívar, who had liberated Venezuela, arrived in Peru and helped San Martín’s forces liberate Peru in 1824.
  • In 1822, the prince regent of Brazil declared independence from Portugal.

Nationalist Revolts

  • In 1823, the Central American states declared their independence and eventually became the states of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
  • By the end of 1824, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile had all gained independence from Spain.

Nationalist Revolts

  • Latin American independence movements faced a major threat from European powers who favored the use of soldiers to restore Spanish control in Latin America.
  • American president James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 warning against European intervention in Latin America, and guaranteeing Latin American independence.

Nationalist Revolts

  • The British also favored Latin American independence and used their navy to deter any European invasion of Central and South America.

Nation Building

  • After they became independent, Latin American nations faced a staggering range of problems.
  • Most of the new nations of Latin America established republican forms of government, but soon caudillos gained power.
  • Supported by the landed elite, the caudillos used military power to rule. Some modernized the new national states by building schools, roads, and canals.

Nation Building

  • In Mexico, Antonio López de Santa Anna ruled Mexico from 1833 to 1855. Santa Anna misused state funds, halted reforms, and created chaos.
  • American settlers in the Texas region revolted against Santa Anna’s dictatorial rule and won independence from Mexico in 1836.

Nation Building

  • In 1845, Mexico was forced to give up nearly one-half of its land following defeat to the United States in the Mexican War.
  • Following Santa Anna, Benito Juárez came to power. He brought liberal reforms to Mexico, including limiting the power of the military and religious tolerance.

Nation Building

  • Although Latin American nations were politically independent, they were still economically dependent on the United States and Great Britain.
  • Britain dominated trade with the Latin American nations, and the United States became the primary source of loans and investment money.

Nation Building

  • Latin American economies were dependent on cash crops, and national economies were often reliant on a single cash crop.
  • A fundamental problem of all the new Latin American nations was the domination of society by the landed elites.
  • Landowners generally controlled the political and economic systems of the nation, and their devotion to cash crops left little tillable land for farming food products.

Change in Latin America

  • Many Latin American governments patterned their new constitutions after the United States Constitution.
  • The United States began to intervene in Latin America by making Cuba a protectorate and annexing Puerto Rico in 1898.
  • In 1903, President Roosevelt supported a rebellion that allowed Panama to separate from Colombia in return for the right to build the Panama Canal.

Change in Latin America

  • As Americans invested in Latin America, they demanded that these investments be protected. American military forces intervened in Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
  • In some instances, U.S. military forces stayed for decades, as in Haiti and Nicaragua, leading to Latin American resentment of North American intervention.

Change in Latin America

  • In Mexico, the conservative government of Porfirio Díaz (1877–1911) was ousted by the liberal landowner, Francisco Madero.
  • In northern Mexico, Pancho Villa’s armed bandits swept the countryside.
  • Emiliano Zapata called for land reform, and began to redistribute the land to the masses but refused to work with Madero.

Change in Latin America

  • Between 1910 and 1920, the Mexican Revolution caused great damage to the Mexican economy.
  • In 1917, a new constitution was accepted. Mexico would be led by a president, land reform would be enacted, and foreign investment would be limited.

Change in Latin America

  • The prosperity of trade after 1870 led to an emerging middle class comprised of teachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, and businesspeople.
  • The middle-class Latin Americans became a stabilizing force in the region, and once given the right to vote, often sided with the landed elite.


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