Bilbao_America in Danger_1862_on cul of dictatorships

Bilbao_America in Danger_1862_on cul of dictatorships -...

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[Downloaded 20110130 from] Chapter 7: Aftermath of Independence Keen, Benjamin (ed.) Readings in Latin American Civilization. 1492 to the Present. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955. From Francisco Bilbao, La América en peligro. Santiago de Chile , 1941. Dictators and revolutions AFTER THE WINNING OF INDEPENDENCE Spanish America began a long uphill struggle to achieve stable, democratic government. The new states lacked a strong middle class, experience in self-government, and the other advantages with which the United States began their independent career. The result was an age of violence, of alternate dictatorship and revolution. Its symbol was the caudillo, or "strong man," whose power was always based on force, no matter what the constitutional form. Whatever their methods, the caudillos generally displayed some regard for republican ideology and institutions. Political parties, usually called Conservative and Liberal, were active in most of the new states. Conservatism drew its main support from the landed aristocracy, the Church, and the military; liberalism attracted the merchants and professional men of the towns. Regional conflicts often cut across the lines of social cleavage, complicating the political picture. As a rule the conservatives regarded with sympathy the social arrangements of the col nial era and favored a highly centralized government; the liberals, inspired by the success of the United States, advocated a federal form of government, guarantees of individual rights, lay control of education, and an end to special privileges for the clergy and the military. Neither party displayed much interest in the problems of the landless, debtridden peasantry that formed the majority of every nation. After the middle of the nineteenth century a growing trade with Europe helped to stabilize political conditions in Latin America. The new economic order demanded peace and continuity in government. Old party lines dissolved as conservatives adopted the "positivist" dogma of science and progress, while liberals abandoned their concern with constitutional methods and civil liberties in favor of an interest in material prosperity. A new type of "progressive" caudillo--Diaz in Mexico, Nunez in Colombia, Guzman Blanco in Venezuela--symbolized the politics of acquisition. The cycle of dictatorship and revolution continued in many lands, but the revolutions became less frequent and devastating. As the century drew to a close, in a number of countries dissatisfied middle-class and laboring groups combined to form parties, called Radical or Democratic, that challenged the traditional domination of political affairs by the landed aristocracy. But the significance of this movement, like that of the small socialist groups that arose in Argentina and Chile in the 90's still lay in the future. "There is no good faith in America," wrote Bolivar in 1829, "nor arnong the nations of America. Treaties are
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2011 for the course HIST 131 taught by Professor Jacobmelish during the Winter '11 term at University of Cincinnati.

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Bilbao_America in Danger_1862_on cul of dictatorships -...

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