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Latin American History Essay

According to Chasteen (2006), Latin America can be regarded as either having a single history or not. The twenty countries can be said to have a common history due to them being similar in more ways than one. When looked at from a different perspective, they can also be said not to have a single history because these countries’ history cannot be accurately and fully described in one story. This article will explore Chasteens’ views with the aim of establishing if his views are accurate.

Jose Maria Caicedo was the first one to refer to this geographical region as ‘Latin America” The introduction of this name encompassed both the Spaniards and French speaking people occupying the lands. Latin America is comprised of countries found in the south of the United States of America and maybe sub-divided into regions namely; Carribean, Central America, South America and North America. Latin America is the 4th largest Continent on planet Earth. History shows that the entry and exit of regions into and out of Latin America was a gradual transition that cannot be traced to specific dates.

One common feature of these countries is the European conquest and colonization. Christopher Columbus arrived there in 1942, consequently opening them up to the world. Eventually, the region was taken over by European powers comprised of Portugal and Spain, who introduced diseases such as small pox in order to weaken the indigenous populace. Many died, while the survivors were subjected to forced labor. Eventually independence was attained between 1810 and 1830 through a string of freedom fighters.

The Latin American republics also share a religion because during the period of colonization, the Roman Catholic Church was introduced in order to override the traditions of the natives. It became the major economic – political power and the authorized religion of the land. Most of the republics of Latin America, spoke the languages of romance, which were French and Spanish, with Spanish being the main dialect. Another language that was spoken is Portuguese. These dialects existed because these countries were colonized by Spain and Portugal.

Some countries e. g. Guyane speak English, Suriname speaks Dutch and Brasilia speaks Portuguese. The Latin American nations possess a rich ethnicity in the make-up of the populace. We find the Amerindians who are the Aborigins, then there are the Blacks who were slaves brought in from Africa, the Asians who were traders from Japan and China, Mestizos were as a result of inter-marriage between the Europeans and the Amerindians and the Mulattoes from marriages between Europeans and Africans.

The Whites were composed of the Spaniards and French and last but not least were the Zambos who came up as a result of mixed marriages between Africans and Amerindians. Another common trait was the signing of the International Human Rights Treaties by the 20 Latin American countries and the 28 Post Communist countries. The treaties addressed civil liberties, freedoms of speech, assembly, association, movement, religion and the independence of courts. Civil liberties of Latin American countries had been smothered by the Communist rule, which eventually collapsed between 1989 and 1991.

Human rights and democratic self governance rights significantly improved across the countries after the fall of communism. This improvement was triggered by the increased shining of the spotlight on conduction of open and just elections. Personal integrity privileges remained explosive as they were for the most part affected by the struggle involving government and guerrilla movements. Crowley (1993) says the rights experienced a stunted improvement but nevertheless started showing progress as from 1991. The Latin American countries went through a state of dependency and neo-colonialism.

Grandin (2004) wrote that in order to safeguard its economic interest, USA provided fiscal, military and moral support to the non-independent countries. Liberalization was initiated from 1989, though the Soviet and Yugoslav conflict continuously hindered growth. However, progress could by 1993 because there were more liberal and semi-liberal countries, and an increased show of respect for individuals’ rights to own property. In conclusion, it can be said that not only are the Latin American countries unified geographically, but across the cultural, economic, religious and historical background.

Their masters without knowing united these countries, creating a wealthy people, empowered to transform their continent into a resourceful and culturally rich continent. References Chasteen J. C. (2006). Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Crowley, W. and Timothy P. (1991). Guerrillas and Revolution in Latin America: A Comparative Study of Insurgents and Regimes since 1956. New Jersey: Princeton: Princeton University Press. Grandin, G. (2004). The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War. Chicago: Chicago University Press.


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