164 1. In the 1950s and 1960s, many governments in Latin America encouraged industries to manufacture goods that had previously been imported. This is called import substitution. More recently, government policies have focused on producing goods for export. Governments have also tried to open more land to farming, but much of the bet land belongs to large agribusinesses. In many countries, a few people control the land and businesses, and wealth is distributed unevenly. Another problems is population growth, which has contributed to poverty. Many religious leaders have worked for justice and an end to poverty in a movement known as Liberation theology.
Because of poverty and inequality, democracy has been difficult to achieve in Latin America. Between the 1950s and 1970s, military leaders seized power in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and other countries. From the 1960s to the 1990s, civil wars shook parts of Central America. In Guatemala, the military targeted the indigenous population and slaughtered thousands of Native Americans.
The United States has had a powerful influence in Latin America. It has dominated the Organization of American States (OAS). During the Cold War, the United States backed dictators who were anticommunist. When socialist rebels called Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua, the United States supported the contras, guerrillas who fought the Sandinistas. The United States has also pressed Latin American governments to help stop the drug trade. MANY LATIN AMERICANS ALLEGED THAT THE PROBLEM WAS NOT IN LATIN AMERICA BUT WAS BASED ON THE DEMAND FOR DRUGS IN THE UNITED STATES.
By the 1990s, democratic reforms led to free elections in many countries. In Mexico, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had dominated the government since the 1920s. However, in 2000, an opposition candidate was elected president. Argentina experienced 50 years of political upheavals beginning in the 1930s. Juan Peron, Argentina's president from 1946 to 1955, enjoyed great support from workers but was ousted in a military coup. The military seized control again in 1976 and murdered or kidnapped thousands. Mothers whose sons and daughters were missing protested and became known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. By 1983, the military was forced to allow elections.
1. Why was democracy difficult to achieve in Latin America?