unit 15: modern latin america. where is latin america? latin america is defined as central and...
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- UNIT 15: MODERN LATIN AMERICA
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- Where is Latin America? Latin America is defined as Central and South America. The term Latin stems from the language spoken in the region being of Latin descent (Spanish, Portuguese, French)
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- A Brief History of Latin America before WWII Home of indigenous tribes like the Maya in central America (250 A.D), and the Aztecs in Mexico and the Inca in Peru (both around 1200). Conquered by the Europeans in 1500s to 1700s, especially Spain, Portugal, and France. Independence was first achieved in Haiti in 1808, and this inspiration (and an end to European colonialism in the new world) led to independence for most Latin American nations by 1825. Following the exit of the Europeans, the Americans had tremendous influence on the region
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- Key Issues in Modern Latin America in the 20 th Century Developing Economies Nations struggle in how to shift from agricultural society to developed nations following WWII. Issues with Industrialization As nations industrialize, challenges with population growth, the environment, and social classes take hold. Political and Social Issues Shifting from autocratic to democratic nations is a long and often bloody process.
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- Developing Economies Many countries have monocultures, or are based on just one or two crops. Venezuela and Mexico = Oil Colombia and Central America = Coffee Leads to economic roller coaster when prices rise and fall. Debt is a large economic problem in Latin America. Trying to expand their economies, many nations like Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil have taken large loans and struggled to repay them in the past. Governments are forced to produce more money. This leads to inflation and social class struggles.
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- Becoming Economic Allies Many Latin American countries depend on the U.S. and each other for trading. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994. Mexico, the U.S., and Canada all trade free of tariffs. Has led to many multinational corporations, or foreign- owned businesses. Many other countries in Latin American have similar agreements to reduce dependency on larger nations.
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- Key Question What are some of the effects of having multinational corporations? Who do they really benefit?
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- Industrialization Before industrialization, most nations have a high birthrate and high death rate. Industrialization lowers death rates as living conditions improve. Generally leads to a population boom. Latin Americas population has more than tripled since WWII to almost 590 million people. Leads to increased poverty and a move to cities to find employment. Leads to the building of makeshift towns on unowned streets. Leads to the cutting of rainforests to develop more land for people to live in.
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- Key Question: Is overpopulation a problem that should be addressed, or is it just life? Slums in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
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- Political and Social Issues Military led dictatorships and wealthy rulers have long been very influential in Latin America. Latin America has the sharpest divide between wealthy and poor in the world. Latin America was also a battleground of political ideas during the Cold War. Communism vs. Capitalism leaders. Example of Fidel Castro in Cuba. Today, many countries remain with unstable leadership.
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- MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA Latin America Day 2 Notes
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- Mexicos Economic Issues Huge oil reserves are discovered in Mexico in the 1970s. Mexican leaders borrow huge loans without fear of being able to repay them. World oil market slumps in the 1980s and leads to disaster and inflation. Around the same time a massive earthquake hits Mexico City. Mexico suffers its worst economic collapse in history in 1994. Politically and economically it has been trying to recover ever since.
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- Immigration Issues Around the same time as Mexicos economy collapsed, the population was growing. Many people begin looking for work but there was none to find. Thousands of Mexicans begin crossing into the U.S. to find work. The trend has continued into today. As Mexicos economic problems continue close to 7 million illegal immigrants from Mexico are inside the U.S. as we speak!
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- Key Question If there is no work to be found in Mexico, why do we hold it against people for coming to the U.S.? Wouldnt you do the same?
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- Mexicos Drug Issues Since 2000 Mexicos drug war has dominated headlines. Presidents Vicente Fox (2000- 2006), Felipe Calderon (2006-2011), & Enrique Pena Nieto (currently) have called on military and police officials to stop drug cartels. The result has been a substantial increase of terroristic attacks. Over 11,000 people died from drug cartel related attacks in 2010, and things are getting worse.
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- What should the role of the U.S. be concerning Drugs in Latin America?
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- Central America as a Cold War Battleground. The Cold War powers (the U.S. and the Soviet Union) divided Latin America based on the leaders view of government. The idea that all people should be economically equal scared U.S. leaders. U.S. leaders considered it a communist way of thinking. The U.S. tried to prevent revolutionary groups from taking power in many countries. Sometimes they supported oppressive dictators that they knew would be allies with the U.S.!
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- Central America Cold War Case Study By the late 1970s, revolutionary groups were trying to oust oppressive dictators in countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador. In Nicaragua, an oppressive dictator named Anastasio Somoza ruled the country. As people starved, a revolutionary group named the Sandinistas took control of the country. Led by Daniel Ortega, the Sandinistas forged ties with Castro and leaned towards Communism.
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- The U.S. Interferes in Nicaragua The U.S., led by Ronald Reagan, is concerned with Nicaragua becoming communist and decides to step in. Reagan funds contras, or a counter-revolutionary group, to overthrow the Sandinistas. The contras essentially start a civil war inside the country, as they recruit people to rise up against the Sandinistas and even kill leaders secretly. By 1990, the Sandinistas were forced to conduct free elections. Yet the problems of high inflation, unemployment, and political instability remain.
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- Key Question Does the end (democratic country) justify the means (civil war, instability). Who is the U.S. to decide the fate of another nation? Is it all done in the name of a greater good or is the U.S. playing God?
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- South America Case Study: Brazil Brazils military has had a huge influence on its government. Beginning around 1965, the military government forced businesses to pay people less and pressured labor union leaders into accepting it. They also encouraged foreign companies to use the cheap labor for their benefit. The policy was great for Brazils economy as it grew so fast it was called The Brazilian Miracle.
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- Sacrifices for the Brazilian Miracle Civil Rights were lost. Not allowed to criticize leaders or form political parties. All opposition was outlawed. Brazil in heavy debt. By 1980 Brazil had more debt than any other developing nation in the world. In 1990, Brazil became a representative democracy. Debt was reduced and workers had more rights. The results have been mostly positive in Brazil.
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- Brazil Today Remains South Americas largest country in terms of population (190 million) and land mass. One of the fastest growing countries in the world. One of the few countries in Latin America with political stability. Not yet a world economic power, but by far the closest in Latin America.
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- Other Issues in South America Argentina, South Americas second largest country, has had similar ups and downs politically. Led by the Peron family, including Juan Peron and his wife, celebrity hero Eva Evita Peron, Argentina was a dictatorship after WWII. When Evita died in 1952, the military was unafraid to overthrow Juan. Political instability with heavy military influence was in place until the mid 1980s. Inflation and debt have plagued the country since, but today they have high economic growth despite corruption, poverty, and a large gap between wealthy and poor.
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- Drug Issues in South America Following WWII, Colombia was considered a model for democracy in Latin America. Drugs have changed their fortunes since. Marijuana and cocaine cartels have overtaken the country since. In the 1980s the Columbian government tried to fight back, but it led to open warfare on the streets. By 1995, the Cali cartel controlled about 70 percent of the world trade in cocaine. Corruption, even from political leaders like former president Ernesto Samper, have not helped the situation.
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- Common Characteristics in South America All countries in South America are democracies. A couple leaders have expressed concerns about the U.S.s influence in the region, which is as great as ever, including... Bolivias president Evo Morales Especially Venezuelas recently deceased president Hugo Chavez Most countries have high literacy rates (over 90%) and life expectancies in the 70s.
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- Lasting Issues in Latin America Which lasting issue is most important for many Latin American countries to address to improve the world? Drugs? Political corruption? Economic struggles? Immigration?