Conditions arising from the Progress in Latin America and their Connection to Nationalism

The history of Latin America is one marked by key events that led to progress and its subsequent great leap forward. Originally an amalgamation of Spanish and Portuguese colonies, Latin America would soon break from their masters to establish independent nations that were autonomous in function. The Luso-Hispanic traditions that had been prevalent in this region for centuries were suddenly transformed by 18th century Creole elites whose primary objective was to introduce a new era in Latin America. The replacement of colonial powers introduces a new epoch for these nations, opening the region to trade and technology from industrialized countries. During the 1870s, liberalism was politically dominant across the region and affected every aspect of life. Old social hierarchies still existed where the Mestizos and Creoles occupied higher rungs in the societal ladder in comparison to their Indian counterparts. A dependence on the world trade system and involvement of the United States in the region only benefited the elites and wealthy merchants, resulting in an unequal society and conditions ideal for revolution. Thus, the industrial revolution, technological innovations and pervasive foreign influence of multinationals were conditions that led to the Nationalism period which was marked by the Mexican revolution.

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Rapid industrialization was a hallmark of Latin American life in the 1870s.  Mexico and Brazil thrived during this period owing to the adeptness to economic institutions and ideal market conditions there were present during this period. Nevertheless, massive changes would soon plague these Latin American countries, creating conditions that would later lead to revolution. It is vital to acknowledge that these the industrialization mentioned above mostly benefited the elite and middle-class in this region. Rich Mestizos and Creoles owned large tracts of land that produced coffee, sugar, and sugar. Moreover, the mining of precious minerals such as silver was also conducted in their properties at a time when exports had doubled from the early 1800s. As a result of this rapid development, Mexican trade grew by a factor of 900 percent by 1910 (Moya).  On the other hand, countries such as Brazil improved their standing in the world market at a time when it was producing two-thirds of all the coffee that was drunk in the world. Argentina exported close to 21 tons of wheat in 1876, a figure that rose by a factor of one thousand by 1900 (Moya 29). Generally, peasants and farmers from the lower classes complained of oppression by the rich urban bourgeoisie. Thus, the proletariat had no other option than to unite in a unique show of nationalism in a bid to topple the exploitative regime of General Porfirio Díaz while promoting an egalitarian social system.

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 The technological revolution that occurred in Latin America was also fundamental in the rise of Nationalism in the region. In particular, the railway was an invaluable development that was bound to transform every aspect of life for those residing in this region. The Mexican railroad is one such example. It was completed under a concession that saw its construction link Veracruz to Mexico City. Progress was affected initially by frequent upheavals in this region, although the government of President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada finally managed to inaugurate it in 1873. The arrival of the railroad soon marked a critical period in Mexican history. Its arrival mostly benefitted owners of large swathes of land and estates in the Mexican hinterland (Knight 78). As a result of this new innovation, property values skyrocketed to an all-time high that made life quite difficult for Indians. Mostly peasants, they were driven off from these regions since they could not afford the high property prices. In other instances, indigenous people residing in the high Andes lost their ancestral lands when they were required to pave way for technological advancements. Technological advancements and education swept across Latin America. Most notably, Uruguay and Argentina became the most urbanized and countries across Latin America. Ironically, it is this same railway that fueled nationalistic fervor across Mexico and used to transport rebel troops to the frontline.

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            The pervasive foreign influence of multinationals also played a key role in the development of nationalism and the revolution that followed soon after. President Diaz’s idea of developing Mexico was to open it to foreign investors as per his neoliberal ideology. His intention was to flood the country with a flood of investments that would enable the country to achieve its economic goals thus benefitting its citizenry. Nonetheless, Diaz failed to acknowledge that this seemingly noble act created a situation where he ceded a considerable of his country’s economic power to foreigners. European and North American capitalists were actively involved in the country since they viewed this as a unique opportunity to control the Mexican economy (Cockcroft 67). Mexico was expected to export its metal deposits and mineral to these powers at prices that were set by their partners. Multinationals also supported the president’s plan of privatizing indigenous lands since this would make them commercially viable for foreign enterprises. The government soon resorted to arbitrary taxation which pushed the common folk further towards nationalism and a brewing revolution. They developed a sense of identity that was unmatched by any Latin American country at the time and managed to fight the foreign influence of multinationals through their revolution.

 In conclusion, the conditions arising from the progress in Latin America have a direct connection to the nationalism that resulted in major events such as the Mexican revolution. The industrial revolution, technological innovations and pervasive foreign influence of multinationals were major conditions linked to this event. Even so, it is unfortunate that the 1929 stock market crash affected the progress made by these countries and a constant reminder to governments about the importance of preparedness and a contingency plan.

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