Coups d'état and Latin American populisms

De Baripedia


The rise of populist ideologies in Latin America after WWI was due to a number of factors, including the failure of liberal democratic governments to address the economic and social needs of the masses, widespread poverty and inequality, and widespread political instability. The Great Depression of 1929 had a devastating effect on the region, exacerbating these existing problems and leading to widespread unrest and political violence.

In Colombia, the period was marked by the rise of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán and his populist movement, which promised to address the needs of the poor and working-class. However, Gaitán's assassination in 1948 sparked a period of political violence known as "La Violencia," which lasted for over a decade.

In Cuba, the 1930s saw the rise of the populist leader Fulgencio Batista, who promised to address the needs of the poor and working-class. However, his regime was marked by widespread corruption and political violence, and he was eventually overthrown by Fidel Castro and the communist movement in 1959.

In Brazil, Getúlio Vargas came to power in 1930, promising to address the needs of the working-class and the poor. Despite initially implementing a number of reforms, including a minimum wage and labour laws, Vargas's regime became increasingly authoritarian and was eventually overthrown in 1945.

This article will provide a comprehensive examination of the political, economic and social changes in Latin America between the First World War and the Great Depression of 1929 that led to the emergence of populist ideologies. It aims to examine the effects of the Great Depression on Latin America as a whole, while subsequently focusing on three specific case studies - Colombia, Cuba, and Brazil.

The 1920s: A Turning Point in Latin American History[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In the 1920s, Latin America saw significant economic, political, and social changes. The region's economies experienced a boom after World War I that lasted until the late 1920s. The prosperity was driven by factors such as increased demand for Latin American goods and favourable global economic conditions.

This period in Latin American history is referred to as the "dance of the millions" due to the rapid growth of the gross national product in many countries and the influx of foreign investment, particularly from the United States, into South American countries. The term reflects the apparent prosperity and optimism of the time, as the region's economies boomed and many saw an opportunity for wealth and success.

During the "dance of the millions," foreign investments into Latin America increased significantly, and the region's economies continued to rely heavily on exporting agricultural products and minerals to acquire the foreign currency needed for importing manufactured goods. The decline in European imports due to the Great War created an opportunity for industrialisation in many Latin American countries. Sectors such as textiles, food and beverage production, building materials, and instrument manufacturing saw significant growth during this period. This marked a turning point in the region's economic development and signalled a shift towards a more diversified and industralised economy.

The Great War in Europe also marked the beginning of US imperialism in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. The United States saw the conflict as an opportunity to extend its influence and control over the region, particularly in sectors previously dominated by the British. This marked a shift in the balance of power and the emergence of the United States as a dominant player in the politics and economics of Latin America. The US intervention in the region brought about significant changes, including the establishment of US-friendly governments, the introduction of American-style democracy, and the expansion of US economic interests. This period marked the beginning of US hegemony in the region, which would have lasting effects on Latin America's political and economic landscape.

These changes in Latin America's political and economic landscape during the "dance of the millions" profoundly impacted society. They continued the trends that had begun in the 1850s, with the decline of small peasantry in favour of large haciendas, and the concentration of the labour force in certain sectors, such as plantations, mines, factories, transport, administration, civil service, and services. The progressive mechanisation of agriculture, along with the massive immigration of Europeans to countries like Argentina and Brazil, led to the displacement of many small farmers and sharecroppers, who were forced to migrate to cities in search of new opportunities. This migration from rural to urban areas is known as the "rural exodus." These social changes contributed to the growing poverty and inequality in the region. They set the stage for the rise of populist ideologies that would offer solutions to the challenges faced by the working-class and poor.

The rapid industrialisation and urbanisation of the region led to a significant shift in the population structure of Latin America. The percentage of the population living in rural areas declined dramatically, from 75% in Argentina to 90% in Peru and Central America, as rural migrants flocked to the cities in search of new opportunities. The growing populations of the cities presented new challenges for the traditional elites, as it became increasingly difficult to maintain social order in the face of poverty and inequality. The shift from rural to urban societies was a defining feature of the period, and would have lasting effects on the political and economic landscape of the region.

The changes brought about by the "dance of the millions" and the shift towards urban societies were further compounded by the development of trade and communication networks. This allowed for the exchange of ideas and ideologies across borders and the arrival of new groups of immigrants. From Mexico, new political and social ideologies were introduced, as well as from socialist and fascist Europe and Bolshevik Russia. The arrival of Jewish immigrants also brought new perspectives and ideas to the region. All of these factors contributed to a growing sense of social and political ferment, as the traditional elites struggled to maintain control in the face of these new challenges. The intersection of these forces set the stage for the rise of populist ideologies that would define Latin America's political landscape in the years to come.

The influx of new ideologies and perspectives challenged the dominant control of the traditional elites and the Catholic Church. The arrival of these new ideas threatened the existing order, and the regimes of order and progress that had been in place for decades could no longer maintain their grip on power. The impact of these developments was felt throughout Latin America, as the political and social landscape of the region was transformed. The rise of new ideologies, combined with the growing poverty and inequality brought about by industrialisation and urbanisation, set the stage for the populist movements that would come to define the region in the years to come.

The massive influx of rural migrants transformed Latin America's cities and urban culture. In every country, people from different cultural regions were brought together in the capitals and large cities, creating a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and traditions. The impact of this migration was felt in all aspects of urban life, from the growth of slums and shantytowns, to the transformation of cultural norms and values. The arrival of these rural migrants brought new challenges and opportunities, as they struggled to adapt to the unfamiliar urban environment and find a place in the region's rapidly changing social and economic landscape.

Despite often facing rejection and discrimination, these rural migrants played a significant role in national integration. Their presence in the cities brought their regional traditions and cultural heritage with them, enriching the urban fabric. The need for literacy in urban life led to a growth in education, with schools becoming more widely available, resulting in a more literate population. Additionally, the advent of radio and cinema in the cities during the 1920s added a new dimension to urban life and provided new avenues for communication, entertainment, and cultural expression. These developments brought new challenges and opportunities, and helped shape the emerging national identity of Latin America in the years to come.

During the 1910s and 1920s, other significant social changes took place in Latin America. A new middle class emerged: intellectuals, small business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers, and civil servants from the capitals and large cities. This group sought stability and a place in society, but they no longer wished to be controlled by the traditional elites or foreign capital. The rise of this new middle class brought new perspectives, ideas, and aspirations, and helped shape the region's political, social, and cultural landscape. This group played an important role in the growing sense of national identity and developing a more democratic and inclusive society.

During this time, the number of university students was also growing, primarily consisting of young men from the upper middle class. These students brought new energy, ideas, and ambitions to the universities, and helped shape the region's intellectual and cultural life. The growth of the student population also reflected broader social and economic changes, as increasing numbers of families sought to provide their children with higher education and greater opportunities in the future. The growth of this intellectual elite helped to create new avenues for political and cultural engagement, and played an important role in shaping the future of Latin America.

In 1918, students emerged as a political force in Latin America. They called for university autonomy and were influenced by various ideologies, including socialism, anarchism, the Mexican Revolution, and indigenism. This awakening of student political activism reflected a growing interest in their respective countries' development and the working classes' education. The students saw themselves as agents of change and sought to use their newfound political voice to shape the future of Latin America. This period marked the beginning of a new era of regional political and intellectual engagement. The students would continue to play an important role in shaping its future.

In the 1920s, workers in various industrial sectors began to organise themselves into unions and showed interest in socialist, anarchist, and communist ideologies. This trend was largely influenced by European immigrants who brought these ideologies with them to Latin America. Sectors such as state mines, factories, oil, and cigarette factories were particularly affected by this trend as workers in these industries sought to improve their working conditions and wages through collective action. This was a significant development as it marked the beginning of organized labour in Latin America and signalled a growing awareness among workers of their rights and the importance of collective action in achieving their goals.

The military, an important source of employment and political influence, became a major actor in Latin America's political and social evolution during this time. With increasing frequency, military coups d'état occurred, often led by young officers who sought to modernise their countries, but also to assert their own power. The rise of populist ideologies, such as those of the military regimes of Mexico and the populist government of Getulio Vargas in Brazil, reflected the growing discontent of the urban working classes and rural populations with the existing political and economic systems. These changes would have a profound impact on Latin America in the years to come, including the devastating effects of the Great Depression of 1929.

In response to the changing social and economic landscape, the army increasingly positioned itself as a political force, breaking free from the control of traditional parties and the Catholic Church. This shift marked the emergence of the military as a potential alternative to the status quo in Latin America.

This leads to the emergence of a new political force, the military, which aims to present itself as an alternative to traditional political parties and the Catholic Church. The officers, primarily from the middle class and from provincial towns, seek to have the army play a more active role in the country's economic development.

This leads to a shift towards a more democratic political system and the participation of previously marginalised groups, including women and working-class individuals, in the political sphere.

The influence of extreme right-wing ideologies is growing among Latin American politicians and military personnel. With the advent of new technologies such as cinema and radio, these politicians can now extend their reach and spread their discourse to a wider audience, shaping the nation's political landscape.

Latin American populisms[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Latin American populisms, characterised by a charismatic leader, a mass base, and a focus on the needs of the common people, emerged in the 1920s and dominated politics in the region from the 1930s to the 1950s. This period saw numerous coups d'état, as military leaders sought to overthrow populist governments. Despite the challenges, Latin American populisms left a lasting legacy, shaping the political and social landscape of the region.

Juan Domingo Perón in Argentina is often associated with populism in Latin America. Still, he rose to power in the 1940s and surfed on the wave of populism that had already been established in the region since the 1920s and 1930s.

During the 1920s and 1930s in Latin America, populism was a political movement that aimed to integrate the working class into national politics without fundamentally changing the social order. It targeted urban masses, workers, petty bourgeoisie, rentiers, rural migrants, students, intellectuals, and soldiers, and focused on addressing their needs and concerns through government intervention and social programs. This type of populism sought to reconcile the interests of different social groups while maintaining the existing power structures.

The urban classes in Latin America were seen as a threat to the existing social order due to their potential for radicalisation. To prevent this, populism aimed to reject the class struggle and instead promote class solidarity by advocating for a corporatist state. This state was seen as a way to hierarchically rule the national family through vertical coalitions of patronages, thus maintaining the existing power structures and avoiding social revolution. Populism aimed to reconcile the interests of different social groups in order to preserve the social order.

Rafael Molina Trujillo.

Populism in Latin America was often characterised by a charismatic leader who had a strong emotional connection with the people. This leader was often seen as a macho figure, characterised by strength, authoritarianism, and a sympathy for the needs of the people. The charismatic leader was seen as the embodiment of the popular will, and their personal appeal and emotional connection with the masses were key elements of the populist movement.

The populist leader in Latin America was often seen as a benevolent and paternalistic figure who understood and protected the people. At the same time, he was not tolerant of opposition and could be authoritarian in his approach. He used mass media to gain popular support and build his personal brand, but the movement itself did not have a complex ideology. Instead, it was centred around nationalism and a vague promise of development with social justice. The leader was seen as the embodiment of the popular will, and the emotional connection with the masses was key to the movement's success.

The strong state intervention in economic and social affairs was a key aspect of Latin American populism. To distract from internal social conflicts, the populist leader often sought to unify the masses against a common foreign enemy, such as US imperialism, Chinese immigrants, Afro-Caribbean immigrants, or Jewish immigrants (in the case of Argentina). This helped to build a sense of national unity and solidarity, but also served to distract from the underlying social and economic tensions within the country.

Rafael Trujillo's rule in the Dominican Republic is considered one of the most extreme examples of Latin American populism. Trujillo was trained in the National Guard by the US Marines and remained in power for many years, ruling with an iron fist. In 1937, he ordered the massacre of 15,000 to 20,000 Haitian peasants by the army on the border, which is considered one of the worst human rights atrocities in Latin American history. Despite this, Trujillo maintained popular support among certain sectors of the population, due in part to his use of mass media to build a cult of personality and his claims to be a strong and benevolent leader who was working to protect the nation from foreign threats.

The Great Depression's Impact on Latin America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Economic Consequences[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Great Depression significantly impacted Latin American economies, especially for countries that were heavily reliant on exports to the US or Europe. The drop in demand for their goods and declining commodity prices led to a sharp contraction in their economies and a decreased standard of living. The effects of the depression were felt for several decades and played a role in shaping the political and economic landscape of the region.

The US consumption fall had a cascading effect on Latin American economies, leading to a decrease in demand for their exports and a decline in their income. This, combined with the decrease in commodity prices, resulted in a sharp contraction of their economies and a decline in their standard of living. The economic instability caused by the Great Depression had long-lasting effects on the region and contributed to political and social unrest in many countries.

Social Implications[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The economic downturn caused by the Great Depression resulted in widespread job loss and unemployment, particularly in the rural areas where many people were employed in agriculture and mining. The workers who lost their jobs migrated to cities searching for work, leading to increased urban poverty and overcrowding. The rise in unemployment and underemployment also significantly impacted families and communities, causing dislocation and social unrest. The Great Depression had far-reaching social consequences, contributing to the widening of the income gap and the decline in living standards for many people.

The effects of the Great Depression were felt differently in different countries depending on their economic development and poverty levels. In Latin America, where poverty was already widespread, the increase in poverty and unemployment caused by the depression was severe. However, it may not have been as noticeable as in the US, where the contrast between pre- and post-depression prosperity was more stark.

Political Fallout[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The economic crisis caused by the Great Depression had significant political repercussions in Latin America. Between 1930 and 1935, many countries in the region experienced regime changes, some of which were peaceful and others violent. The widespread poverty, unemployment, and social unrest fuelled by the depression created a politically unstable environment that was ripe for the emergence of authoritarian leaders who promised to restore order and stability. These political upheavals contributed to the decline of democratic institutions and the rise of authoritarian or military regimes, which had long-lasting consequences for the region.

The United States, which was facing its own economic crisis during the Great Depression, could not provide the financial support and intervention it had previously offered to Latin American countries. The policy of "good neighborliness," which aimed to foster friendly relations and avoid intervention in other countries' affairs, was insufficient to prevent political upheavals and coups d'état in the region. The political instability caused by the depression and the absence of US support created a conducive environment for the rise of authoritarian leaders who promised to restore order and stability. This period marked a turning point in the relationship between the US and Latin America and had far-reaching consequences for the region.

The case of Colombia: crisis absorbed by coffee growers[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Economic Factors[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Colombia was one of the countries in Latin America that was heavily impacted by the Great Depression. Its economy depended largely on coffee exports, with 75% of its exports going to the United States. Despite the severe economic crisis brought on by the fall in export demand, Colombia did not experience a sudden change in power, unlike many other countries in the region. Instead, the crisis was absorbed largely by the coffee growers, who faced declining prices and income as a result of the depression. The economic and social impact of the depression was felt acutely in the coffee-growing regions of Colombia and had far-reaching consequences for the country.

After the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the world price of coffee plummeted, leading to a significant decline in income for coffee growers in Colombia. This resulted in a decrease in imports and a contraction of the economy, but compared to other Latin American countries, Colombia was relatively better off. The volume of exports fell by only 13%, and the Gross National Product (GNP) declined by only 2.4%. Unlike many other countries in the region, Colombia did not experience a coup d'état or revolution during this period. Instead, there was a historic transfer of power from the Conservative party to the Liberal party, as a result of a political system that marginalised the Liberal party and allowed the Conservatives to maintain control for more than 50 years. This transfer of power occurred after the division of the Conservative party and the election of a Liberal president in 1930.

The experience of Colombia during the Great Depression can provide valuable insights and lessons for understanding similar events and reactions that may occur in the present or future. Studying countries' historical experiences during times of economic crisis can help shed light on how different countries and regions respond to similar challenges and can inform decision-making in the present.

The transition in Colombia's economy during the Great Depression was influenced by how coffee was produced. The shift towards small-scale coffee farming and the transfer of ownership from large landowners to small farmers helped the country to absorb the economic shock of the Great Depression to some extent. By decentralizing the coffee industry and spreading the risk among many small farmers, the country was able to mitigate the impact of declining coffee prices and export income on the overall economy. This shows how a diversified economy can be more resilient in times of crisis.

During the Great Depression, the small coffee farmers in Colombia were hit hard by the fall in prices. The former large landowners, who had shifted to buying and exporting coffee, could weather the crisis better because they did not have to bear the direct costs of producing coffee. On the other hand, the small farmers had to continue working hard to produce coffee despite the low prices, resulting in their exploitation and further economic hardship. This shows how economic shocks can disproportionately impact vulnerable communities, perpetuating cycles of poverty and inequality.

This semi-autarky helped small coffee farmers in Colombia to some extent during the Great Depression. By having their own vegetable garden, they could produce some of their own food, which reduced their dependence on the market and allowed them to survive despite the low coffee prices. This shows how local communities and households can adopt self-sufficient strategies to cope with economic shocks and external pressures. Still, it also highlights the limitations of these strategies and the need for broader systemic solutions to address the root causes of economic instability.

Politics Dynamics[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Alfonso López Pumarejo, President of the Republic of Colombia from 1934 to 1938, then from 1942 to 1946.

This division of the Conservatives led to the transfer of power to the Liberal party in 1930 and marked a shift in Colombian politics. Despite the economic hardships faced by the country during the Great Depression, there was no major political unrest or coups, which was in contrast to the experiences of many other Latin American countries.

Alfonso Lopez's populist program and reforms addressed the social and economic impacts of the Great Depression in Colombia. He introduced measures such as universal suffrage for men, education programs, unionisation, and recognition of indigenous communities to improve the standard of living and reduce inequality in the country. This marked a shift towards more progressive policies and reforms aimed at addressing the widespread social and economic difficulties faced by the people in Colombia due to the Great Depression.

It wasn't until 1934 that Alfonso Lopez was elected and initiated a populist program known as "revolución en marcha". This program was inspired by the Mexican revolution and included a small constitution reform, universal suffrage for men, and education and unionization programs. There was also a small recognition of the indigenous communities in Colombia.

Lopez's "Marching Revolution" was an attempt to address some of the social and economic issues that had arisen in the wake of the Great Depression, including poverty, inequality, and unemployment. While his reforms were limited, they represented a significant step forward for the country and marked a shift towards a more progressive political landscape.

In 1938, Lopez was removed from power in a military coup, ending his populist and reformist agenda. The extreme right-wing military regime that took over would go on to suppress political opposition and labour unions and reverse much of the progress made under Lopez's administration.

Under President Alfonso Lopez, liberalism garnered support from a portion of the urban and working-class populations. Despite this success, however, rural areas, particularly the small coffee-growing communities, were largely unaffected by Lopez's efforts. These small farmers had been suffering from self-exploitation for an extended period, and the pressure from their circumstances eventually culminated in a civil war during World War II, referred to as the "violencia," which resulted in the deaths of over 250,000 peasants and a mass rural migration.

Cuba: Revolution and Military Coup d'état[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In the 20th century, Cuba became increasingly dependent on the US, which imported more than 80% of Cuban sugar. The Cuban economy was marked by social and political inequalities, with a small wealthy elite and many poor workers. In 1959, a revolution led by Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and established a socialist regime. The new government nationalised American-owned property, including sugar plantations, and implemented land reforms to improve rural workers' lives. This caused a breakdown in US-Cuban relations, leading to a trade embargo and a series of attempts by the US to overthrow the government, including the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Despite the difficulties, the Cuban Revolution led to significant improvements in education, healthcare, and social equality, and Cuba remains one of the few socialist states in the world today.

This created a situation of extreme inequality and poverty for the majority of the Cuban population, leading to social and political unrest. In 1933, a military coup led by Fulgencio Batista overthrew the government, and he established a dictatorship that lasted until 1959, when a revolution led by Fidel Castro and the 26th of July Movement succeeded in overthrowing Batista and establishing a socialist state in Cuba. This revolution had significant impact on the country's economy and political landscape, leading to the nationalisation of American-owned businesses and the introduction of major social and economic reforms aimed at reducing inequality and improving the standard of living for the Cuban people.

During the period of 1929 to 1933, the Cuban sugar industry experienced significant turbulence as a result of the Great Depression. The sharp decline in sugar prices, which fell by over 60%, led to a corresponding decrease in exports of over 80%. Large landowners took drastic measures to mitigate the impact of this economic downturn, including reducing production levels and slashing agricultural wages by 75%. This resulted in the massive layoffs of thousands of seasonal workers from Haiti and Jamaica and the bankruptcy of hundreds of small factories and stores. The ripple effect of these events was far-reaching, as by 1933, one quarter of the working population was unemployed, and a staggering 60% of the population was living below the subsistence minimum.

Gerardo Machado came to power in Cuba in 1925, after winning the presidential election. At the start of his presidency, Machado pursued nationalist and liberal policies to modernise the country. He initiated several infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, and buildings, and introduced education, agriculture, and labour reforms. These efforts earned him popularity and support among the Cuban people.

However, as his presidency progressed, Machado became increasingly authoritarian and paranoid, suppressing political opposition and violating human rights. He established a secret police force to monitor and intimidate his critics, and used his army to quell protests and dissent. He also enriched himself and his allies through corruption and embezzlement, further alienating the Cuban people.

By the early 1930s, Machado's regime was deeply unpopular, and he faced widespread opposition from various sectors of society. In 1933, he was forced to resign and flee the country, marking the end of his rule. Although both progressive initiatives and brutal repression marked Machado's presidency, his legacy is primarily remembered as a period of dictatorship and abuse of power.

Machado's presidency became increasingly authoritarian, the opposition to his rule became more radical and organized. Political opposition, labour strikes, and protests against his regime became more frequent, and some opposition groups resorted to acts of sabotage and violence to challenge his rule. At the same time, the Communist, Socialist, and Anarchist movements in Cuba were growing in strength, fuelled by popular discontent with Machado's policies.

In response to this growing opposition, Machado's regime became even more repressive and violent, using the army and secret police to quell protests and crush dissent. This repression became increasingly brutal, with widespread human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings. The growing political instability and repression fuelled popular anger and further radicalised the opposition, leading to widespread unrest and instability in the country.

In the face of growing political instability and unrest in Cuba, the United States government tried to intervene by sending a negotiator to mediate a solution. However, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In August 1933, a general strike brought the country to a standstill, and the army released Machado, who went into exile.

A coalition of various political and civil society groups then took power, but the coalition was heterogeneous and lacked a clear leader or direction. The coalition could not govern the country and control the general anarchy effectively, as various armed groups and militias roamed the streets, vying for power and influence. The coalition's inability to restore order and stability led to further political instability and violence in the country, and set the stage for further conflict in the coming years.

Fulgencio Batista in Washington, D.C. in 1938.

The period following Machado's ouster was characterised by widespread chaos and violence, including riots, strikes, and the takeover of sugar plantations by workers who sought to establish a socialist or Bolshevik-style collective.

Additionally, soldiers and officers at a barracks in Havana, led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista, mutinied against the government. This military uprising further destabilised the already chaotic political situation in the country, and Batista emerged as a key figure in the country's political landscape, ultimately leading a coup that established his own dictatorship in 1952.

The military mutiny led by Batista received unexpected support from civilians, who transformed the uprising into a military coup. The coup resulted in a 100-day revolutionary government governed by decree and sought to "return Cuba to Cuba" and free the country from US control. The revolutionary government aimed to implement sweeping reforms and address popular grievances, such as social inequality, poverty, and political repression.

However, the revolutionary government was short-lived and faced opposition from various groups, including the military and other vested interests. The government was eventually replaced by another military dictatorship, marking the beginning of a long period of political instability and violence in the country.

The 100-day revolutionary government introduced several reforms to address the country's social and economic inequalities. One of the key reforms was granting universal suffrage to women, giving them the right to vote for the first time.

The government also implemented reforms in the education sector, granting university autonomy and increasing access to education for all. In addition, workers, including cane cutters, were granted a minimum wage and other social benefits, such as paid time off and improved working conditions.

Another important reform was the start of agrarian reform, which aimed to address the unequal distribution of land and improve the lives of rural farmers. These reforms represented a significant step forward for Cuba. Still, they were ultimately short-lived, and many of the gains made during the revolutionary government were lost during subsequent periods of political instability and violence.

The reforms introduced by the 100-day revolutionary government were seen as too radical by the right and far-right groups in Cuba, who opposed the changes to the existing political and economic system. At the same time, the Marxist left considered the reforms to be too timid and insufficient, as they did not go far enough in addressing the underlying issues of poverty, inequality, and political repression.

Furthermore, the reforms were unacceptable to the United States government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who saw them as a threat to American interests in the region. The United States was concerned about the spread of Marxist ideas and influence in the region, and saw the reforms in Cuba as part of a larger trend of leftist movements and governments in Latin America. This opposition from the right, the left, and the United States contributed to the eventual downfall of the revolutionary government and the establishment of another military dictatorship in Cuba.

The United States did not intervene militarily in the aftermath of the 100-day revolutionary government, but instead chose to influence events through diplomacy and political manoeuvring. The US government convinced Batista to take power through a series of civilian presidents and later as a dictator.

Batista ruled Cuba with an iron fist, suppressing political dissent and opposition, and aligning himself closely with US interests in the region. He maintained this grip on power until the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro, which overthrew Batista and established a socialist government in Cuba. The Castro revolution represented a significant turning point in Cuban history, and marked the beginning of a new era of political, economic, and social reforms in the country.

The Case of Brazil: Military Coup and Fascist Regime[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In 1930s Brazil, a military coup led to establishing a fascist regime known as the Estado Novo (New State). The country's military leaders staged the coup and was supported by conservative elites who were dissatisfied with the democratic government's handling of the country's social and economic problems. The new regime was characterised by authoritarianism, censorship, suppression of political opposition, and government control over the economy. Despite some initial popular support, the Estado Novo ultimately became widely unpopular, leading to its downfall in 1945. The Brazilian military dictatorship that followed lasted until 1985.

Economic Context[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Brazil has a mixed economy, with a diverse range of sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, services, and resource extraction. Coffee has long been a significant export crop, but the country's economy has become more diversified over time. Large landowners dominate the coffee industry, and coffee workers, including seasonal workers, European immigrants, and Brazilian migrants, have limited bargaining power. This has contributed to unequal distribution of wealth and income in Brazil.

In 1930, Brazil was ruled by the First Republic of Order and Progress, a government marked by political instability and economic crisis. Despite its name, the government failed to address these issues effectively. The crisis was exacerbated by a conflict over the presidential election, as only a small portion of the population had the right to vote and participate in the election. This led to widespread discontent and contributed to the eventual military coup that established the fascist Estado Novo regime in the same year.

Three out of 17 states in Brazil refused to accept the results of the presidential election, leading to uprisings and unrest. In response, the military staged a coup and overthrew the civilian government, giving power to Getúlio Vargas, a cattle breeder and governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. This marked the beginning of the Estado Novo regime and an era of authoritarian rule in Brazil.

Political Landscape[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Brazil's political power has shifted over time, reflecting changes in its economic landscape. In the early days of Brazilian history, the sugar industry in the northeastern region was the dominant economic force and exerted significant influence over the country's political system. Over time, the centre of power shifted to Rio de Janeiro in the south, where cattle breeding and production of commodities like coffee became more important. This concentration of economic power in the south led to the rise of influential figures like Getúlio Vargas and contributed to the region's political stability.

Once in power, Vargas pursued a policy of repression and consolidation of his own power. He first targeted the socialist and communist left, suppressing their political activities and suppressing opposition voices. He then turned his attention to the fascist right, known as the Integralists, who Mussolini's Italy secretly funded. Vargas used his power to silence his political opponents, creating an authoritarian regime that was characterised by censorship and suppression of political opposition. This helped establish his dominance over the country and solidify his power.

In 1937, Vargas launched a second coup and imposed the Estado Novo, a fascist regime modelled after Mussolini's Italy and Salazar's Portugal. As part of this effort, he banned all political parties and relied on direct support from the military to consolidate his power. The Estado Novo was a corporatist state that sought to regulate and control all aspects of society, including the economy, politics, and culture. The regime was characterised by authoritarianism, censorship, and suppression of political opposition, as well as government control over the economy. The Estado Novo lasted until 1945, when it was overthrown following widespread opposition and unrest.

The Brazilian dictatorship of the 1930s, also known as the Estado Novo, was characterised by several key features. The regime promoted nationalism and emphasised the role of the military. The state intervened heavily in the economy, exerting control over trade unions and private enterprise. Censorship and political repression were also central features of the regime, as Vargas sought to suppress opposition and maintain his grip on power. These policies helped to create a highly centralised and authoritarian state in which individual freedoms were limited and the government exerted extensive control over all aspects of society.

The Estado Novo dictatorship in Brazil lasted until 1954. Despite being in power throughout the Second World War, the regime faced growing opposition and unrest. In the end, the army staged another coup and forced Vargas into exile, marking the end of his rule and the beginning of a new era in Brazilian politics. Despite the end of the dictatorship, its legacy lived on for many years, with the country undergoing a series of political and economic changes in the decades that followed.

Conclusion: Understanding Coups d'état and Populisms in Latin America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The global financial crisis of 1929 had a profound impact on American businesses, not just those located in the United States, but also throughout Latin America. The effects of the crisis were far-reaching and devastating, pushing many companies to the brink of failure.

The crisis of 1929 exposed the limitations of economic liberalism, which was a form of relative liberalism characterised by state support for landowners, industrialists, corporations, banks, while suppressing the rights and freedoms of workers.

The 1929 crisis exposed the flaws of the relative form of economic liberalism, as it primarily aided the hacendados, industrialists, corporations, banks and repressed the workers. The crisis highlighted the substantial inequalities present in these societies, leading to the need for a strong and charismatic leader to unite and reassure the population. This trend was not limited to Latin America, as even the United States, under President Roosevelt, resorted to nationalist policies.

This helps maintain the social peace and avoid social unrest, but it also often results in only limited and insufficient reforms. Populism can also provide an illusion of change, but in reality it reinforces the existing power structures and perpetuates inequality.

The rural small peasants and urban working class, represented by socialist and communist parties and trade unions, were negatively impacted by the crises and political shifts towards populism. These groups often faced suppression or were integrated into a larger national party that claimed to offer social benefits.

The Great Depression of 1929 exposed the flaws and shortcomings of economic liberalism, characterised by a tendency towards state intervention in the favor of the wealthy elite including hacendados, industrialists, corporations, banks, and suppression of the working class. This crisis spotlighted the persistent inequalities in societies across the Americas and the need for a charismatic leader to unify and comfort the population, often through nationalist ideologies.

To quell social unrest, populist movements were adopted as a means to avoid or suppress revolution, such as in Cuba in 1933. Nevertheless, these efforts required the implementation of social legislation to protect the rights of workers and the poor. However, while tensions may have been temporarily suppressed, they have not completely vanished and reemerged with greater force following the conclusion of the Second World War. The repercussions of the Great Depression continue to be felt, particularly by the small peasant farmers in rural areas and by socialist and communist parties and trade unions in urban areas, which faced suppression and integration into larger national parties with limited social welfare provisions.

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