Blood and Fires Notes: Progress & Neocolonialism in Latin America

Notes taken from: Born in Blood and Fire, A Concise History of Latin America John Chasteen
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
W.W. Norton & Company New York, London Copywright @ 2001

6. Progress

 (Review first half 149-168 of Chapter for Exam)

  • As often happens, war became a catalyst for change. (169)
  • Catalyst: : 1. a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly. 2 a person or event that quickly causes change or action.
  • Disillusionment: a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.
  • “The contradiction was too obvious” What does that mean?
  • A Liberal manifesto of 1869 called for reform of the imperial system, to make it more democratic, and for the gradual emancipation of the slaves. (172)
  • Although Brazilian conservatives ruled through most of the 1870s and 1880s, Progress gradually conquered hearts and minds. (172)
  • In November 1889, the military proclaimed a republic. (Pedro had to leave) (174)
  • By century’s end, liberalism served, in one form or another, as the official ideology of every Latin American country. (174)
  • Bolivia’s defeat in the Chaco War was another bitter blow for a country on the losing side of two earlier wars fought on the Pacific Coast. The War of the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation (1836-1839) resulted from the unification of Peru and Bolivia under the mestizo caudillo Andres de Santa Cruz. (176)
  • Chile repeated its victory a half century later in the War of the Pacific (1879-1884). (176)
  • In 1879, conflicts over these mining concessions led to a Chilean offensive against Peru and Bolivia. Both Peru and Bolivia lost territory, including Bolivia’s only outlet to the sea. Chile, on the other hand gained territory rich in mining resources. (177)
7. Neocolonialism
  • The liberal plan to make Latin America like Europe or the United States partly succeeded. But “Progress” turned out differently in Latin America. (179)
  • Major Latin American cities lost their colonial cobblestones, white plastered walls, and red-tiled roofs.
  • They became modern metroplises, comparable to urban giants anywhere. (179)
  • To the contrary, agrarian capitalism laid waste to the countryside and destroyed tradition lifeways, impoverishing the rural people spiritually and materially. (179)
  • Where once Peninsular Spaniards and Portuguese had stepped ashore with their irritating airs of superiority and their royal appointments firmly in hand, notw it was an English-speaking mister who arrived with similar airs of superiority and princely sums to lend or invest in banks, railroads or port facilities. (180)
  • Ninety percent of their wealth came from what they sold to European and U.S. markets, and their own social pretensions, their own airs of superiority at home, came from their Portuguese complexions, their Austrian crystal, their son’s familiarity with Paris. (180)
  • Elite and middle-class Latin Americans had a lot to gain from Progress. First and foremost, they stood to profit from the great export boom: over half a century of rapid, sustained economic growth, never equaled in Latin America before or since. (180)
  • In fact, the total value of Mexican trade grew by 900 percent between 1877 and 1910. (180-181)
  • Progress opened cultural horizons and brought material enrichment. (181)
  • Coffee also grew in the tropical sun and crisp mountain air of Colombia and Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean. (183)
  • In Guatemala, El Salvador, and southern Mexico, indigenous people became workers on coffee plantation often owned by foreigners, especially Germans. (183-184)
  • Sugar production and mining, in contrast, were always massive, industrialized operations that divided societies ruthlessly into rich and poor. (184)
  • Cities and towns were chiefly commercial, administrative, and service centers. Now they bustled as landowning families spent the profits of the export boom. (187)
  • Money from crops, livestock, and mines bought mansions, pianos, fine furniture, china, artworks, and eventually cars.(187)
  • All over Latin America, landowning families began the 1900s with an exhilarating sense of new cultural horizons. (187)
  • Because education was a scarce, prestigious commodity, nonelite Latin Americans rarely got it—but when they did, it opened doors. (189)
  • This phenomenon—by which a landowner in Chile or Brazil or practically anywhere in Latin America took his clients to the pools on election day to “vote them” –was the backbone of every strong government in the region. (190)
  • Such “managed elections” were essential to the political system of neocolonialism.
  • “best and brightest” “richest and whitest” (191)
  • Positivism, a French social doctrine that prescribed authoritarian medicine to achieve order and progress and made European norms into universal standards. (191)
  • Oligarchies and dictatorships provided stability, the virtue always most desired by foreign investors. (193)
  • The rule of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911), called the Porfiriato, was the very epitome of neocolonial dictatorships in Latin America. (193)
  • Diaz kept up constitutional appearances, but only his candidates ever won elections. (193)
  • Neocolonial thinking, like neocolonial economics, was characterized by its links to things outside Latin America. (196)
  • Neocolonialism meant the absorption of Latin America into an international system dominated by Britian and the United States. (198)
  • Competition, Competition, Competition
  • To fulfill Mahan’s vision, Roosevelt helped separate Panama from Colombia and then bought the canal rights from the new Panamanian government only a few days later. (201)
  • In the early 1900s, having asserted military power in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean basin generally, the United States gradually overthrew Britain’s old position of dominance in Latin American trade and diplomacy. (201)
  • According to Senator Alfred J, Beveridge, a key architect of U.S. forgein policy, “God has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead to the regeneration of the world.” British imperialists had always been more pragmatic and less peachy.” (202)
  • Pragmatic: dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.
  • Peachy: unusually fine :  dandy
  • Under the Roosevelt Corollary it became U.S. policy to discipline Latin American countries militarily when “required”. (203)
  • By the close of the neocolonial period in 1929, 40 percent of all U.S. international investments were in Latin America. (203)
  • By1928, Latin American diplomats had much to protest. In addition to interventions in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama, already described, U.S. soldiers had occupied Nicaragua (1912-1933), Haiti (1915-1934), and the Dominican Republic (1916-1924). (203-204)
  • Although neocolonial Latin America had grown economically, it had developed much less. (205)
  • The external supports of neocolonialism had disappeared, and its internal supports would soon crumble, as nationalists toppled oligarchies and liberal dictators from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego. (206)
  • Southern Brazil was second to Argentina as an immigrant destination in 1870-1930. (210)
  • Crass: having or showing no understanding of what is proper or acceptable : rude and insensitiv3
  •  a :  gross 6a; especially :  having or indicating such grossness of mind as precludes delicacy and discrimination
  •  b :  being beneath one’s dignity <crass concerns of daily life>
  •  c : used as a pejorative intensifier <crass flattery> <crass propaganda>
  • 2:  guided by or indicative of base or materialistic values <crass commercialism> <crass measures of success>


Neocolonial Exports and Immigration (according to diagram major European immigration coming in along Brazilian and Argentina coast.) Latin American Neocolonial Exports as listed: Coffee

Yerba Mate



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