Diverging Identities in the Twentieth Century

       I.            Latin American Politics in the Twentieth Century

A.    A  general but halting and uneven move towards broader political participation

B.      Early introduction of universal male suffrage in a few places in late 1800s, early 1900s

1. Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay)

2.Costa Rica

3.Colombia (interspersed with serious violence)

4.Notably, these are areas that were peripheral in the colonial period

5.Elsewhere, dictatorship, limited democracy, and in Mexico, a one-party state resulting from the 1910-20 revolution

C.     Great Depression brings and end to this early wave of democratization

1.Almost all Latin American countries go through regime change in wake of Depression

2. Mostly authoritarian, with military government emerging in may places

a)       New military dictatorships in Nicaragua, Cuba, Dominican Republic

b)      Chile, which had been under a military government in late ‘20s, actually moves towards democracy, bucking the trend

c)      One-party state in Mexico becomes more populist and interventionist

D.    A general cycle back to democracy during and immediately after WWII

1.Most Latin American countries allied to United States and nominally at war

a)      Argentina stays out until the very end

b)      Only Brazil actually sends troops (to the Italian campaign)

2.Participation in the “war for democracy” helps push authoritarian and military regimes out

3.Personalistic dictatorships, generally military backed, persist in parts of Central America and the Caribbean

E.     The Cold War (1945-1991)

1. Concern over leftist infiltration leads U.S. to back away from promoting democracy, focuses instead on combating insurgency

a)      Left-leaning revolution in Bolivia (1952-64) makes U.S and neighboring countries nervous

b)      Left-leaning government in Guatemala (1951-54) overthrown with U.S. assistance

2.Cuban Revolution (1959)

a)      Inspires leftist movements in a number of countries

b)      Also triggers a strong reaction from U.S. and a wave of military regimes

c)      Only Venezuela, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico do not have military regimes by mid-1970s

                                                                                                        i.            Mexico continues to be a one party state

                                                                                                      ii.            Costa Rica had abolished its military in 1949

                                                                                                    iii.            Many of these military regimes engage in significant oppression and murder

3.U.S. gives strong support to anti-Communist governments in this period, with little promotion of democracy

4.Cold War polarizes politics, making reform of any kind difficult

5.Pursuit of social justice and equality transformed into an East vs. West conflict

F.      Post Cold War democratization

1. Military regimes begin to break down in early 1980s

2. End of Cold War and economic crisis of 1980s accelerates move towards democratization

3.All but Cuba more—or—less  democratic by early 1990s

4.Mexico one-party government ends with election of Vicente Fox in 2000

5.Despite concerns of U.S. and Latin American elites, democratization does not lead to radicalism

a)      Most countries elect center-right or leftist governments that are reformist, not radical in nature

b)      Leftists elected in the 1990s shed their radical agendas of previous decades

c)      Most governments pursue a neoliberal agenda of deregulation and free trade

6.Starting  with Hugo Chavez (Venezuela, 1998)  a few countries begin a more leftward movement

    II.            Economics in Twentieth Century Latin America

A.    Growth, with poverty

1. Average annual growth rates of about 4% across the twentieth century

2. However, significant disparities in distribution of wealth

3.“Rich land of poor people”

B.     Latin America works through cycles of government intervention in economy

1.Government policy has been in most cases the most important element in Latin American economies

2.Modestly interventionist before 1929

3. Strongly interventionist from 1930 to mid 1980s

4.Neoliberalism and free trade since late 1980s

C.      Prior to Great Depression,  a focus on modernization and export growth, with modest economic intervention

1.Government intervention focused mostly on infrastructure

2.Also worked to control labor force,

a)      Push to fully commercialize agriculture, replacing subsistence agriculture

b)      Efforts to control growing unrest among labor and fight or control unionization

c)      Encouragement of European immigration to change demographics of labor force

3.Most Latin American economies are monocultures by 1900, and many will remain so for a long time

D.     Great Depression sparks corporatist and protectionist policies that will last until mid-1980s

1.Corporatism sees society divided into functional groups, such as labor, agriculture, industrialists, civil employees, etc.

a)      Corporatist governments seek to negotiate relationship between groups and harmonize them for maximum economic efficiency

b)      Places like Mexico and Argentina promote unions, which are then used to support the government and control labor

c)      Governments manage the economies through alliances with business groups, unions, and the like

d)     Significant growth in state-controlled industries

2.Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI)

a)      High protectionist tariffs used to discourage imports

b)      Government investment for local industry to replace imported goods

c)      Most prominent in largest economies (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina)

d)     Produces significant growth and employment

e)      By 1980s, becomes a drag on economy because of corruption, inefficiencies brought on by political patronage

E.     Debt crises of 1980s brings interventionist stage to an end

1.Oil shocks of 1970s forces Latin American governments to borrow heavily to support ISI

2. Further rises in oil prices in early 1980s, combined with a world wide recession, make this borrowing impossible

3.Economies stagnate as governments and private businesses unable to borrow or receive international investment

4.International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lenders demand dismantling of ISI in return for new loans and investment

a)      ISI industries seen as bloated, inefficient, a drain on economy and national budgets

b)      Privatizing these industries and removing government subsidies will result in massive layoffs and further economic hardship

F.      Neoliberal stage begins in 1990s

1. Encouraged by the U.S. and international lenders, Latin American countries once again promote free trade and limited government intervention

a)      Trade barriers reduced

b)      Industries privatized

c)      Foreign investment and even ownership encouraged

d)     Emphasis on globalization and expanding export economies

2.Free trade policies accompanied by development of trading blocs

a)      Countries band together to greatly liberalize trade and integrate economies

b)      Free trade within groups, but effectively protectionist against countries outside these groups

c)      Most important are NAFTA (U.S, Canada, Mexico) and Mercosul/Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay)

 III.            The Demographics of Growth

A.    Poverty and plenty

1.Twentieth century growth in Latin America has produced the worst distribution of wealth in the world

2.Democracy and the spurt of growth in the last twenty years has not changed this

3.Significant variation between countries

a)      On average the wealthiest twenty percent own 15 to 20 times what the poorest twenty percent do

b)      In Brazil, 32 times; in Costa Rica, 11 times (8 in the United States)

4.Middle classes have grown, but still small (10-15 percent of the population compared to 65 in the U.S.)

5.Thus Latin American countries are hard to classify

a)      The most developed countries have wealthy, first world cities

b)      These cities surrounded by often immense slums and poor rural areas

c)      Even the poorer countries exhibit similar patterns, though on smaller scale

d)     Cuba is much more equitable, but this results from shared poverty

B.     Changing demographics

1.Rural poverty pushes Amerindians into the cities, changing the culture of both

2.End of slave trade in early 1800s (except Cuba and Brazil)has meant a significant decline of self-identifying Afro-Latinos in many countries

3.Large European and Ottoman Empire immigration has significantly reduced the size of Amerindian and Afro-Latinos as a percentage of the population

4.Modest but important Asian immigration, primarily in Pacific coast countries

C.     Growing nationalism and supranationalism

1.Communication and transportation have worked to bind countries and regions together

2.Growth of cultural industries (music, telenovelas, soccer leagues) have further strengthened national identities and helped shape an international identity for Latin America

3.Governments increasingly inclusive in identifying non-white groups as key parts of national identities

4.These trends and more have also fostered regional identities, such as Caribbean,  Latino, and other broad based identities