Topic 14: Political developments in Latin America (1945–1980)

This topic covers political developments in Latin America after 1945, including the rise to power of new leaders and their economic and social policies.

Specifically, this unit looks at:

  • The Cuban revolution and the rule of Castro including his impact on the region
  • The rise of power and rule of populist leaders in two countries; we have chosen to provide ATL and information on Getúlio Vargas and Juan Perón. However it should be noted that only the last part of  Vargas's rule is directly relevant given the time frame of this unit which is 1945 to 1980. It would be possible also to use Castro as a populist leader.
  • The reasons for success of one military dictatorship and the policies of this dictator
  • The reasons for and the consequences of guerilla movements in one country
  • Liberation theology in Latin America

    1. The Cuban Revolution

    Cuba had been a Spanish colony until 1898 and then, following three-and-a-half years of US military rule it gained formal independence in 1902. However, US influence remained strong; the Platt Agreement...

    2. Rule of Fidel Castro

    Castro had a clear agenda of bringing social justice to the people of Cuba, and his policies in education and health transformed the lives of ordinary people. More controversial were his economic policies,...

    3. Liberation Theology in Latin America

    This page examines Liberation Theology, a radical movement that developed in Latin America as a response to the poverty and the ill-treatment of ordinary people; it looks at the causes of the movement,...

    4. Populist leader: Getúlio Vargas

    This page examines the rise to power and rule of the Brazilian leader Getúlio Vargas, 1930 to 1945. Although he was member of the elite landed class (the gaucho-landed oligarchy) he became a 'populist'...

    5. Populist leader: Juan Perón

    This page examines the rise and rule of Juan Perón who was elected President of Argentina three times. Alongside his wife, Eva, he created a controversial political movement known as Peronism which...

    6. The rise of military dictatorships

    The 1960s and 1970s saw military dictatorships established in many states in Latin America. This page examines the general reasons for this phenomenon and focuses on Uruguay as a case study.

    Political developments in Latin America: Essay planning

    On this page you will find suggestions for essay questions and essay planning activities.

    Political developments in Latin America: videos

    On this page you will find some suggestions and links to videos that can be used as well as teacher notes with suggestions as to how the videos can be used with students.


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