History of LatinAmerican people is a struggle against colonialism, imperialism and their localsupporters such as local bullies and local collaborators. This democraticrevolution is an ongoing process. European civilizationmet a new world with the discovery of the American continent in 1492. This NewWorld was exposed to the exploitation of European countries of the time. Spanishand Portuguese colonists who reached Central America in the early 16th centuryafter Christopher Columbus shared the southern part of the new mainland amongthem. The Vatican intervened and gave Latin America except Brazil to theSpaniards.
The North American region was generally occupied by the British andFrench, while South America was under the exploitation of the Portuguese andSpanish. The roots of leftist and rebellious groups against colonialistcountries and the capitalist system in Latin America date back to this period. The left-wing groups say that they have been exploited and destroyed for threehundred years since the whites came to the continent. The Spanish colonists, who destroyed the indigenous civilizations (Aztecs, Incas) by resorting to thebloodiest roads, impose their cultures and beliefs in Latin America. TheCatholic Church has backed the Spanish and Portuguese colonies by providinglegitimacy to bully orientations and providing a basis for social and culturallife.
If we look briefly atLatin American history, the Mayan population living in the area when Mexico isdiscovered is described in scientific sources that fall from about 25 millionto about a half million due to the massacres and whites brought about in about40 years. The whites became the only force in the region with the immigrationthey had made to Latin America over time. In such an environment, white alienswith superior weapon power have begun to use societies and hybrids as slaves. Imperialist colonistcountries have plundered especially silver and gold mines in Latin America. Onthe other hand, the colonies built a feudal structure called Latifundium whilebuilding the new ports and trade towns on the shores of Latin America, givingthe lands in the inner areas to their feudal lords.
Latifindium comes fromlatin word latifùndio which means large land area owned by a single person. Latifindium lands cannot be legated, however, hacienda lands can be legated toheir of landowners. These lands are called as estancia specific to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Southern Chile and fazenda specific to Brazil. Outbreaks andmassacres and the number of locals declining over time were inadequate for theprocessing of the newly acquired lands. Slave trade began from Africa toAmerica during this process.
The Spanish colonial empire carried hundreds ofthousands of African people as slaves to the sub-continent. Indigenous peopleand Africans in the Latin American region were seen as wild wolves and wereemployed in heavy jobs. Education rights were hindered in later periods. Landreforms were opposed and political rights were hindered in the last period. Inaddition to these problems, the economic crises, neoliberal policies and theincrease of pressure on the people and the inability to benefit fromunderground and above sources are the origin of the rebellious groups today. For example, the Zapatistas who oppose liberal politics in Mexico and thattheir sole purpose is to achieve democracy, justice and freedom are voicingthat they are a 500-year history of rebellions. The intellectualpioneer of nation-states in Latin America is the French Revolution. The FrenchRevolution broke off the authority of the Spanish and Portuguese colonialstates over Latin America, both by exporting revolutionary thoughts to thismainland and by walking on the Iberian Peninsula with the Revolutionary army.
This has flared up the firing of independence in Latin America. Simon Bolivarfounded the intellectual-operational link between the French Revolution andLatin America. Bolivar came to theworld in 1783 in Caracas as the son of a Venezuelan noble family with Spanishroots. He found himself in the French Revolution when he was on the way toEurope to complete his studies. He was very impressed by his revolutionarythoughts.
In those days he put on his mind the launch of the liberationstruggle in Latin America to overthrow the colonial regime that the Spanishcolonists had established in Latin America. He crossed the Atlantic and becamethe head of the struggle for independence of Latin America. After Napoleon’sattack on Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish authorities weakened in Latin Americancountries and this accelerated the fight for independence in the Latin Americancountries. Bolivar fought alongthe Ant Mountains and provided the emancipation of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru andlands of Bolivia, which would carry their name from the colonial governments. These countries gathered national congresses and lead the constitutionalmovements.
He fought the Spaniards in many regions. Opposed to France, Britain, and the United States to interfere with the internal affairs of the countriesthat gained independence in Latin America. The Great Colombian Republic, founded by Bolivar in 1819 and covering present-day Venezuela, Colombia andEcuador, failed to maintain its integrity after the death of the Founder(1830), due to internal conflicts. Latin America has watchedthe developments in 19th-century Europe by a distance even though they influencedby developments in the United States and Europe. The bipartisan politicalsystem consisted of conservatives and liberals was gradually sprouted as acondition to the traditional local despots called caudillos system. While theConservatives took the Church behind them, the Liberals sought a more liberal, more secular policy.
But the liberal bourgeoisie was not strong enough to carrythe democratic revolution. The archaic order that revolution of Bolivar couldnot wipe off evolved into the oligarchic political and economic structures. The Monroe Doctrine, which US President Monroe unveiled to keep European forces away from theAmerican mainland in 1823, initially was in favor of Latin America however infavor of the United States.
The US became the de facto neighbor of LatinAmerica by tearing up Texas in 1945, California in 1948, New Mexico and Arizonafrom Mexico. Pacific and LatinAmerica became one of the main focus of the United States and capitalist orderwhich is getting stronger and stronger day by day. They accepted theseterritories as their own. The idea of America belongs to Americans in theMonroe Doctrine started to turn into America belongs to North Americans whichhas an aggressive attribution. Later on, the United States started to involvebusinesses of Latin American countries since the idea of superiority of theWhite-Anglo-Saxon man sprout in the United States and they believed they areleading to Latin American countries to civilization arrogantly. The two sides of theAtlantic were joined by another revolution once more after nearly a hundredyears the Great French Revolution and American Revolution.
Even though thedemocratic character of the revolution had not changed, but its effectsextended to the Pacific. In 1905 Russian Revolution erupted and this movementfollowed by the Constitutional Revolution of Iran in 1906 and reached Turkey asa constitutional revolution in 1908, then sprout to China in order to demolishthe three thousand-year empire in 1911. Between these, Mexico was also affectedin 1910. The MexicanRevolution, which lasted about 10 years and became a bloody civil war in someplaces, is one of the most important social events of the 20th century. Thepeasants whose numbers reached around 80% of the population in those timesrevolted. Population of Mexico was around 15 million at that time. A fight fordemocratic rights against the dictator Diaz started especially in the cities inthe content of this rebellion.
The motto of the revolution was “ Land andFreedom”. There were bloody and hard fights occurred in the content ofrevolution which was based on anti-feudal, nationalist, liberal ideas at thecountryside of Mexico. Famous peasant leaders Zapata, Pancho Villa were inthese fights and draw attention on their selves. The Mexican Revolutionis a continuation of the liberal, positivist, anti-church revolution in the19th century. The Civil War ended in 1920. Owners of New Mexico established theIntuitional Revolutionary Party in 1929. The socialist movementrevived in the south of America after the Soviet Revolution. Strikes thaterupted in Buenos Aires in 1919 and in Brazil between 1917 and 1921 led tostiff clashes.
In 1929 the first Latin American Communist Conference was heldin Montevideo. However, the hopes of a revolt around the whole Latin America territoryredeemed quickly. The establishment of Communist International in Russia acceleratedthe socialist-communist dissociation. The Confederation of Latin AmericanSyndicates, which encompassed nearly 60, 000 members in twelve countries, wasshaken economically during the 1929 Crisis, while some governments oppressed them. It was the devastatingeffects of the 1929 Crisis in Latin America. For example, the cut-off ofexports, the “ import-substitution industry” developed, the peasantpopulation flowed faster to the cities, the peasant uprisings became harder tosuppress.
The soldiers began to leave the barracks more often in order tomaintain order. Latin America lived between its two world wars in its ownbosom. The spoils of the Soviet Revolution had diminished the influence of theChurch and the feudal lords. The 1940s, the 1950s were in search for LatinAmerican countries.
After the World War II, the major countries of the mainland started an industrialization fray. However, when the Cold War bloc led the United States to increase control over theSouth, the movement did not improve. The Peronist movement in Argentina, basedon unionism and public power, has had an impact on Latin America but has notspread. In the Cold War environment, Washington has often tied secretlybilateral agreements to South American states to provide weapons andanti-communist combat; Raw materials were directed primarily to the UnitedStates. After World War II, liberal and conservative terms were integrated on the right wing, whilesocial-democratic parties were established. The power of the communist partiesestablished after the 1920s were limited. There were 30, 000 communists in Cuba, 40, 000 in Chile and 50, 000 in Brazil who carry a party card. The import substituteand statist policies followed in the 1960s paved the national bourgeoisie.
Thenational bourgeoisie against the monopolistic tendencies of the United Statesrarely rose in voice, but often subjugated to external forces. Despiteeverything, an economic accumulation has been made in these years. The Cuban Revolutionchanged the fate of Latin America. Castro and his friends who entered Havana inthe last days of 1959 opened a new horizon in front of the fights of LatinAmerica people.
The Cuban Revolutionwas not too socioeconomically strong; because Cuba was ultimately a smallcountry with a population of 10 million in the Caribbean, but it managed tobreak the hegemony of the US in the political plane. It proved that LatinAmerica could do it without the US. The 1962 Cuban Crisis was the first majorsign of this quest. The US could exploit Soviet weapons in the aftermath of thecrisis, but could not resist against determination of Cuba. Movement in Cubagave hope to whole Latin America. The events of 1968revived anti-imperialism, the anti-US sentiment increased. In August 1968, thousands of people gathered at Constitution Square of Mexico City with therequest for freedom and advocating solidarity with Cuba. There is a fire openedon them.
It was an attempt to suppress the popular movement supporters of anti-USsupporters, but it did not work. Allende elected president of Chile in 1970. His death in 1973 during the coup and suppression operation towards LatinAmerican people cost tens of thousands of lives. Left-wing groups thathave rebellion as a rooted tradition began to have a say in the politicalsystems of their countries later on. The left-wing parties in Latin America hasmanaged to find significant support from the people as a result of thepolitical crises that are happening further by the economic crises.
Thecountries of the region, organized in the past under the leadership of the US, have begun to work together to organize themselves against the United States, which is now regarded as the greatest and the biggest representative of thecapital system, in the end. These developments can be seen as a significantdevelopment in breaking the rooted effect even if they do not cause great harmto US interests in the region. The revolutionarymovement in Latin America was a major factor in the return of Latin America toits original history and authenticity.
Hugo Chavez is the leader who accomplishedthis. Hugo Chávez learned lessons from the past. Conservative currents weremainly under the influence of US liberalism, authoritarian ideas and theChurch. Social democrats relied on external forces.
Chavez settled hisrevolutionary quest on the historical basis in Latin America. He found SimonBolivar’s, Latin America’s founder, revolution program and put it back topracticeAccording to this, theaim of the revolution was the US imperialism and collaborators who blocked thedevelopment and legitimized exploitation. The proprietor of the revolution isthe nation, made up of workers, peasants, intellectuals, and people.
Chavez’s first goalwas to take control of the oil industry in Venezuela. Shortly afterwards, hetook media under control by issuing a law. He lead the establishment of the” Telesur” TV channel, which was broadcast across Latin America. Hesupported Latin America’s own Mercosur project against the proposal of the USregional cooperation organization. And finally, he was heading to create an oilregion around Latin America.
As a result, Chavez, who owns national values, have led the resources of the economy to the nation, has gained great support and trust of the people of the world, especially thepoor. The head, the trunk, the arms and legs came together and found thedirection of the revolutionary army. The Latin America started running towardsrevolution. In the second step, Chávez stepped forward to reform the land in order to move the revolution torural areas, while at the same time taking radical measures for the nationaleducation and health system to reach the poor. The struggle against poverty isof paramount importance in Latin America, where about 20% of the totalpopulation is forced to live for $ 1 a day and nearly half of the populationlives on the poverty line. Chávez’s program is a radical and coherent programthat established by the leftist Latin America. The other Left movements arealso heading for more or less similar programs. Common features of theseprograms are the opposition to US and IMF and the national orientation based onthe strength of the people.
The Bolivarian program(briefly referred to as ALBA), co-operated by Chavez and Cuba, spread rapidlythrough Latin America. As Bolivia entered the revolutionary core thatimplements this program in early 2006, governments in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Mexico have become threat to United States.