Twentieth Century Reform Movements


I.        An Era of Reform

A.      Motivated by social and economic changes

1.  Industrialization creates new working and middle classes

2. Immigration changes demographics, sometimes radically

3. Export-oriented economies in the Atlantic economy need new political strategies

4. Rapidly growing populations also required new politics

B.      Sought restructuring of political and social hierarchies inherited from colonial era

1.  Limited democracy and social mobility even after period of Liberal reforms in late 1800s

2. Professional middle classes increasingly sought political clout equal to their economic role

3. Industrial working classes influenced by socialist and union movements brought by immigrants

4. Democratization, social welfare, and improved living conditions for laborers among the main themes

C.      Reformers sought to work within the system to change it

D.      While not as violent as revolutionary movements, some episodes of violence associated with reform

E.       Largely associated with the most successful long-term democracies

II.      Uruguay

A.      A small place, caught between great powers

1. Colonial backwater, important mainly as a disputed border region between Spanish and Portuguese empires

2. Tug-of-war continues into national era, as both Argentina and Brazil struggle for control

3. British intervention helps Uruguay emerge as independent in 1828

B.      Kansas on the Rio de la Plata

1.  Rolling plains, mostly devoted to cattle and sheep ranching, some grains

2.  Montevideo the only major city

3. Most European of all Latin American countries, at about 95% of the population

C.      Divided but mostly amicable politics

1.  Two major parties

a.       Blancos (Whites)  - conservatives, primarily the ranchers and land owners

b.      Colorados (Reds) – liberals, more associated with Montevideo

2. Colorados dominate politics 1870s to 1960s

a.       Significant power sharing with Blancos

b.      Blancos controlled economy, Colorados controlled politics

c.       Colorado government promoted agro-export and massive European migration

D.      Reform under Jose Battle y Ordoñez (1856-1929)

1.  President 1903-7, 1911-1915, dominant until death

2.  Creates extensive social welfare program, including social security and numerous worker reforms

3. Universal suffrage for men (women in 1932)

4.  Government control of some elements of economy, like utilities, insurance, and others

5.  Less centralized presidency, with power shared between president and National Council

E.       Major weakness was dependency on agro-export

1. Depression and drop off in demand create social upheaval

2. 1934 Constitution strengthens the presidency in response

3. Efforts to diversify with industrialization limited by small size of internal market

4. Economy recovers after Depression, but steady decline in demand for agricultural products brings economic decline

5.  Blancos assert power in 1960s

a.       Leftist Tupamaros begin a (small) armed rebellion

b.      Will lead to military dictatorship in the 1970s

III.    Argentina

A.      Kansas on the Rio de la Plata – only much bigger

1.  Like Uruguay, and agro-export economy based on beef and wheat

2. Becomes one of world’s largest economies in early 1900s before the Depression

3. Politically and economically dominated by rapidly growing Buenos Aires

4. Second only to Uruguay in Europeanization of population

B.      A quickly changing society

1. Liberal dominate after consolidation of country in 1868

2. Promote agro-export model of development

3. Rapid economic growth attracts enormous numbers of immigrants, mostly Italian and Spanish

4. More industrialization that Uruguay, leads to growth of powerful and restive labor movement

5. Expanding middle classes and immigrant groups seek political participation

C.      Reform under Hipólito Yrigoyen (1852-1933)

1. Lead of the Radicals (Union Civica Radical, or UCR)

2. Promoted democratization, social welfare, and economic development

3.  Universal male suffrage (1912) allowed Yrigoyen to gain presidency in 1916

4. Implemented many reforms, but slowly, often tied to patronage

5.  Unions become more restive, and met by violent repression by military

6.  Depression batters economy

a.       Military coup ends Radical rule in 1930

b.      Concordancia government emerges

                                                                                                         i.            Based on cooperation between military and political elites

                                                                                                       ii.            Sham elections – “patriotic fraud”

                                                                                                      iii.            Notoriously corrupt

                                                                                                     iv.            Overthrown by military in 1943

D.      Rise of Juan Perón (1895-1974)

1.  Colonel who takes over Labor ministry as a result of coup

2. Develops support amongst unions, becomes power behind the throne

3. Growing power leads to arrest by rivals, but rescued by mass uprising of workers in Buenos Aires (October 17, 1945)

4. Leads to him being elected president in 1946

E.       Reform under Perón

1. Pursues corporatist economics and economic independence, isolationist foreign policy

2.  Bases power on organized labor (industrial and agriculture) and puts in place reforms designed to improve their standards of living

3. Increasingly intolerant of dissent, and builds cult of personality

4. Economic downturn provides opportunity for enemies, and is deposed in 1955

F.       Between Perón and the Dirty War

1.  Politics of post-1955 Argentina centered on effort to keep Peronists out of power

2. Perón had successfully politically activated laboring and lower-middle classes, and suppression proves impossible

3. Economy continues relative slide as values of ago-exports declines

4.  Political instability intensifies to point elites try bringing back Perón in 1974 to  try to bring order

5. His death in 1975 will trigger years of political violence and eventually return of military rule

IV.    Chile

A.      More mestizo and Amerindian than Argentina and Uruguay, but still heavily European

B.      Successful long-term democracy weakened by dependence on mining

1. Parliamentary style government with weaker president than in most of Latin America

2. Universal male suffrage suffrage built in stages 1890s-1917; women in 1931

C.      A three-pronged political system

1.  Chilean politics divided into three main branches by 1930s, Left, Center, Right

a.       Conservatives represent dominant economic leaders and traditionalists

b.      Christian Democrats emerge as Catholic-inspired moderate reformers

c.       Leftist parties emerge in 1920s and 1930s, become accepted in mainstream in 1940s – Socialists the largest

2. All governments from 1939 to 1973 would be coalitions of one kind or another

D.      Reform under the Christian Democrats

1.  Growing income inequality, poor living conditions, would produce increasing demands for poor

2. A brief period of military government in 1920s had imposed labor reforms, but reform had been modest since

3. Eduardo Frei (1911-1982) wins Presidency for Christian Democrats in 1964, pursues strong reform package

a.       Begins dismantling of enclave mining economy by nationalizing some of the mines

b.      Begins land reform to deal with huge imbalance in landownership in rural areas

c.       Promotes grass-roots political organization to increase support for reforms – which would helps leftist parties a lot

E.       Reform under Salvador Allende (1908-1973)

1.  Medical doctor, ran as Socialist candidate for President several times before 1970 victory

2.  Rightist parties, infuriated by Frei’s reforms, refused to cooperate with Christian Democrats in 1970 election

3. This enable Allende to win with 36% as leader of coalition of leftist parties

4.  Allende pursues significant economic and social reform

a.       Massive wage increases

b.      Expanded land reform

c.       Nationalization of mining and some other industries

5. At first has support of Christian Democrats, but as he, and particularly his leftist partners become more radical, they pull out

6.  Government reserves dry up as reforms prove too costly and foreign investors pull out

7.  Elements on the right carry out economic sabotage and terrorism, while an armed leftist group (MIR) contributes to violence

8. Economic downturn and increasing instability leads to military coup September 11, 1973, and Allende’s suicide

V.      Costa Rica

A.      Politics of a small country

1. Since mid-century, the most successful democracy in Latin America

2. Colonial backwater, but less socially stratified than other regions

3. Largely European and mestizo population, with less income inequality than rest of Central America

4. Coffee monoculture develops in late 1800s

B.      Democratization and early reform

1. Increasing suffrage from late 1800s

2. Elites tended to negotiate power-sharing arrangements

3. From 1880s, modest social reforms, including development of broad education system

4.  Under Rafael Angel Calderon (1900-1970), social welfare programs for working class in 1940s

5.  However,  electoral fraud under Calderon in 1944 and 1948 leads to brief civil war

C.      Reform under Jose Figueres (1906-1990)

1.  Wins civil war

2. Continues reform program based on his own eclectic social democratic views

a.       Abolished army

b.      Instituted suffrage for women

c.       Decentralized power

d.      Established civil service exam system

e.      Universal education and expanded social welfare

f.        And others

3. Stepped down after 18 months (would later serve as President 1953-58 and 1970-74)

4. Sets stage for stable multi-party democracy

D.      Continuing problems

1. Despite reforms, Costa Rica remains dependent on agricultural export, mostly coffee

2.  Also must deal with poor immigrants, mostly from Nicaragua

E.       20% of land in national parks – Costa Rica is an early adopter of eco-tourism model

F.    With tax incentives, has also attracted some foreign high tech manufacturing, which has become increasingly important