Communism: Latin AmericaLatin America in the 1890s was a culture primed because that the circulation of socialist ideologies. It to be ruled by autocrats and also oligarchs who were exploiting an significantly discontented peasant populace and also perpetuating a sharply split two-class society structure. During this time, enhanced productivity and foreign investment ushered in the earlier stages of exploitative capitalism as well as a tide of European immigrants advocating the Marxist ideologies upon which socialist and also communist motions were being constructed in Europe. The spread out of this ideological background was acutely confirmed by that is recurrent presence in Latin American literature and art, most notably in the mexico mural movement in the 1920s and also 1930s. Led by famous artists such as Diego Rivera (1886–1957), José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), and also David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974), the mural movement initiated decades of controversialsocialist and revolutionary expressions in arts and culture throughout the continent.

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Anticommunism in Latin America

A period of boosted productivity and also foreign investment in Latin America throughout the latter component of the nineteenth century attracted a wave of Italian, German, and Spanish immigrants who spread out Marxist principles throughout Latin America. This feudal, medieval, Catholic, and also patrimonial region translated these concepts into a movement against its ordered two-class agrarian-based system. Complying with the great Depression of the 1930s, leftist politics parties emerged that advocated a strong role for the state in directing change, a leftist ideology, and anti-American nationalism. The following two decades were significant by instability and conflict together authoritarian, democratic, and also communist teams vied for power.

In 1954 the United states intervened in Guatemala to fall a leftist regime that the united States claimed was communist. Four years later on Fidel Castro led the effective Cuban Revolution. Cuba became the first openly socialist country in Latin America, the first to allied itself through the Soviet Union, and also the first to openly rotate its ago on the unified States. As a result, anticommunism in the region gained an effective U.S. Military, political, and covert backing. Cuba included a brand-new Marxist-Leninist "model" for Latin America and also consequently do the prevention of "another Cuba" the main focus of United says policy. The united States made decision time and also again to support anticommunist armed forces regimes over rough democracies that believed in liberty for leftists. As workers, peasants, and also guerrillas mobilized throughout the region, the classic elite power-holders turned to their armies for support and also received the backing the the unified States, in order to ushering in 20 years of conflict and military–authoritarian rule.

The most famous U.S. Anticommunist engagements in Latin America contained the 1961 just of Pigs fiasco, in i m sorry the CIA trained and also financed 1,400 Cuban exiles who were an alleged to incite a popular revolt against Castro, yet were instead arrested ~ above arrival. In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis lugged the world to the brink of nuclear war, as soon as the united States found that the Soviet Union was attempting to assemble nuclear missiles in Cuba. In 1965, the United claims intervened in the Dominican Republic to prevent what it thought was a communist uprising.

Internal anticommunist movements additionally emerged transparent the region. One notable instance of this remained in Chile. In 1973 basic Augusto Pinochet, head the the Chilean army, overthrew democratically elected, but Marxist, Salvador Allende in an effort to conserve the nation from communism. Leftist parties were banned and their supporters exiled, tortured, or killed. Pinochet consequently shut under the old politics system and established a personalist dictatorship that kept power with violent repression for more than a decade.

In Nicaragua, a Marxist guerrilla movement recognized as the Sandinista Liberation Front acquired much domestic and international support by the late 1970s. It forced the powerful Somoza household from power and also established the 2nd openly socialist routine in Latin America. The contras emerged as an armed anti-Sandinista resistance movement and were strongly supported by the united States. The contras" resistance, combined with a U.S. Boycott that ruined the economy, undermined Sandinista control. Around the world supervised poll were organized in 1991. Together in the bulk of Latin American claims that had democratized due to the fact that the 1970s, the Marxists did not win a bulk of the vote in Nicaragua yet continued to participate as a significant player in the democratic political process.

Revolutionary socialism seemed to "fit" Latin America"s two-class society, however it was strongly opposed by the roman Catholic Church, the armed forces, and also the oligarchy. Meanwhile, the great Depression introduced a series of changes that put power in the hands of the center class, started an era of arranged labor"s politics influence, and also fostered the appearance of Marxist-socialist politics movements and parties. The 20 years that complied with were plagued withinstability as communist, authoritarian, and also democratic teams vied because that power.

The Cuban Model

In 1959 the Cuban Revolution, led through Fidel Castro, developed the an initial Marxist-Leninist program in Latin America and collection an instance for like-minded motions throughout the region. Cuba came to be an energetic participant in local politics and also engaged in considerable revolutionary work abroad. The alliance through the Soviet Union caused the Cuban Missile dilemm of 1962, v the American discovery of Soviet atom missiles being assembled in Cuba resulting in the brink of atom war.

Like other Latin strongman leaders (caudillos) that his generation, Castro, a socialist caudillo, claimed to personify his country, led v repression, and also had no yongin for politics dissidence. He ushered in attractive changes in health, education, and social mobilization, however his bureaucratic mistakes, combined with the autumn of communist abroad and a ongoing American boycott, have actually left Cuba"s increasingly declining economy with small prospects for recovery. What began as a popular change deteriorated into the last communist dictatorship in the region, one mired in poverty and oppression.

Guerrilla Insurgents

However, in the 1960s, in ~ the elevation of its regional influence and revolutionary appeal, Cuba joined with the Soviet Union in funding and training Marxist guerrilla groups throughout Latin America. Following Cuba"s lead, these motions chose equipped conflict over electoral competition as a means to your deliverance indigenous exploitation. What followed in countless countries to be two decades of civil wars and also military-authoritarian dominion as an effective elites rotate to your armies, and also to the anticommunist tactics of the united States, to repress the guerrilla insurgents. The many successful guerrilla insurrection was the Sandinista Liberation former in Nicaragua, i beg your pardon eventually developed the 2nd officially socialist regime in Latin America. Although this routine was ousted with elections in 1991 with the aid of an economic boycott and support of anticommunist Contra forces by the unified States, Marxists remained a an effective force in the newly autonomous system. As a wave of democracy began to overtake the continent through the late 1970s, countless communist and also guerrilla activities transitioned right into political parties and contested because that power with the democratic process.

Diverse creates of Marxism and communism occurred in other countries, reflecting their diverse histories, sociologies, and levels of development. Certainly that to be a significant problem for Marxist movements, just how to adapt a quite rigid ideology system formula to various nations and circumstances. In Peru the socialist Aprista movement and also the more rigid communist groups were bitter opponents for decades. Nicaragua had Christian socialists as well as independent Marxists and also Leninists. Colombia has actually four various Marxist and also guerrilla movements. Throughout the continent, rivalries between socialists and communists, and various types of each, have actually been intense.

Democratic Transition

As the twenty century came to a close, a phenomenal transition occurred in Latin America indigenous authoritarian and—in the situation of Nicaragua but not yet Cuba—communist regimes come incomplete democracies. Through the fall of the Soviet Union and also the bad economic and also social problems of the four remaining communist states in the human being (China, phibìc Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba), the Marxist-Leninist model was less appealing 보다 ever. The nineteen Latin American democratic states, through Cuba staying the just nondemocratic one, each had actually a unique experience with a free transition, but the region as a whole changed from a landscape peasant-agricultural culture to a modern, urban, industrial, and diversified one. While it experienced improved financial conditions, much better human civil liberties records, and also political liberalization after its transition from authoritarianism, Latin America to be still much from stable in the at an early stage 2000s.

The gap between rich and poor to be the biggest in the world and also still widening. Economic advance was proceeding at a slow-moving pace, with major collapses in numerous states. Political participation and also civic engagement to be not totally free; patrimonialism, cronyism, and corruption continued, with many governments closely monitoring and regulating politics parties and associational life. In the check out of most Latin Americans, democracy had yet to provide on its promises, and polls indicated decreasing support because that it. This disillusionment, exacerbated through the continued two-class system and also the dire straits the the poverty-stricken masses, make a return to authoritarianism increasingly appealing to countless Latin Americans and led to a resurgence of Marxist language, however a revival of communist or communist parties is highly unlikely. With globalization, new openings in free trade, and also numerous successful models of free economic and also political equipment worldwide, it is unlikely the Marxism-Leninism will be restored or that also the Cuban routine will stay communist for lengthy after the eventual passing of the resilient Fidel Castro.


While the revolve of the nineteenth century introduced a wave of socialist ideological background that got much momentum in the art, culture, and politics of Latin America, with the new millennium came a waning tide for socialist ideals and also movements. The twenty century witnessed ranges of communist movements in Latin America, including international Marxists, Fidelistas, guerrilla insurgents, and also communist next participating in the political process. Back democracy seems to have outlasted the alternatives, the book is not closed top top the future the the partially consolidated and also still transitioning democratic regimes that the region. With ongoing economic and also political instability and an exceptionally large income gap, Latin America might be ripe because that renewed Marxist appeals, as it remained in the late nineteenth century. Return guerrilla insurgents and socialist next remain and also leftist coalitions may be securing strength in claims such as El Salvador, the future may likely see a climb in new forms the statism and authoritarianism, yet a go back to the failed design of Marxist-Leninism or also a resurgence of solid Marxist activities is unlikely.

See likewise Authoritarianism ; Democracy ; Dictatorship in Latin America ; Marxism .


Alexiev, Alexander A. Marxism and Resistance in the third World. Santa Monica, Calif.: edge Corporation, 1989.

Huntington, Samuel P. The third Wave: Democratization in the late Twentieth Century. Norman: university of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

Kryzanek, Michael J. U.S.–Latin American Relations. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1996.

Löwy, Michael, ed. Marxism in Latin America indigenous 1909 to the Present: one Anthology. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: humanities Press, 1992.

Wiarda, Howard J. To compare Democracy and also Democratization. Ft Worth, Tex.: Harcourt college Publishers, 2002.

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Wiarda, Howard J., and also Harvey F. Kline, eds. Latin American Politics and also Development. Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 2000.