Domino Effect of Leftist Culture in Latin American Society, Essay Example

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Essay

During the twentieth century, Latin America has experienced a plethora of New Social Movements initially designed to improve the lives and welfare of its citizens.  Many Latin American countries became dissatisfied with their government and adopted a more left-wing political stance to promote an equal society.  Examples of left-wing political movements are communism, socialism, and anarchism.  Throughout the century, Latin America’s revolutions have been both success failures and have yielded both positive and negative results.  The concern is that the leftist movements, which are perceived to be radical, will spread throughout Latin American nations and cause citizens to overthrow their government.

Guerilla warfare tactics have often been used in Latin American revolutions.  These tactics use small groups, or “focos,” to conduct raids and ambushes against bigger entities such as the military.  Many times these efforts are not successful, simply because the focos do not have access to the resources of the government and military.  However, successful revolutions may inspire other countries to promote social change.  Two examples include the revolutions of Cuba in 1959 and Nicaragua in 1979.

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 showed the rest of Latin America that focos could achieve success.  Even though both their numbers and resources were smaller, many of the attacks against the Cuban military and government by the focos were triumphant.  The Cuban military was weakened by the United States’ impositions and embargos; the reduced resources, financial incentives, and less passion for their cause may have contributed to the Cuban military’s failure.

In Nicaragua in the 1920’s, guerilla warfare was made popular by Augusto Cesar Sandino.  He overthrew the presence of the United States military and government and inspired a group of Sandinista’s to defeat the Somaza dictatorship government in Nicaragua in 1979.  The guerilla forces were successful against the Somoza forces, which were trained by the School of the Americas.

These two successes caused concern that other countries in Latin America would be inspired from the success of Cuba and Nicaragua and convert to the left, resulting in a pink tide.  A pink tide is an increase in leftwing societies, though not as radical as the red tide of communism.  This Domino Theory prompted the involvement of the United States military support for the central governments in Latin America.  However, foreign involvement only increased the momentum of leftwing political groups, radical or otherwise.

This fear existed even though the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolutionaries stated that they would not try to convert neighboring counties to overthrow their government.  According to the NBC Broad in 1979 titled “Latin Dominoes: Will Nicaragua’s Revolution Spread Over Central America?.” many other countries were concerned in 1979 that the overthrowing of the Samoza government would cause rebellion in neighboring countries.  The Nicaraguan Sandinistas were supported and assisted by other Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, and Mexico.  The Sandinista revolutionaries were also supported by Fidel Castro and the Cuban government.

The countries that caused the most concern over a potential uprising were El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.  The chance of rebellion may have been due more to the conditions in the Latin America countries.  If conditions were better for the people, there would have been less chance of the Domino Theory from occurring.  In May 1979, El Salvador’s military shot and killed 23 protesters who wanted the release of political prisoners.  In Guatemala, many people were killed by the government, who forced its citizens to live in poverty.  The Guatemalan revolutionaries were attempting to incite international mercenaries for assistance.  The Guatemalan military prepared for any potential guerrilla revolutionary activity, mirroring its training after the United States Army.

.           An increase in higher learning and education in the 1960’s Latin America may have also given credence to the Domino Theory.  Latin American students were becoming aware of the degree of their oppression by their government.  The enforced poverty by the government prevented them from achieving success and improving their quality of life.

The Domino Theory may have inspired peaceful leftwing social changes as well.   Many leftist movements became more democratic and less reliant on military tactics.  According to Hudson (2013), The “New Left” is a combination of social justice and economic liberalism, for example, the Worker’s Party in Brazil.  In the process of democratization, Latin Americans are viewed to be empowered because they are able to have free elections without the threat of a military attack.  However, critics are concerned that without the government to care for its citizens, there is even greater social inequality.  Poverty is still rampant and there is no one to care for the day-to-day people.  Instead of guerilla tactics, peaceful New Social Movements and non-governmental organizations are arising. Many of the New Social Movements are based on location and founded around specific concerns.  Examples of these groups include the Progressive Catholic Church, women, unions, peasants, and indigenous people.  These non-governmental organizations help people and provide the care which they no longer have from the government.  These organizations may be more efficient than the government because their services are not forced and their funds are targeted towards specific groups and not spread out.

Even though the Domino Theory incites fear that Latin American countries will inspire other countries to use violence to promote a leftwing government, more peaceful means may also result.  Because of the constant stress between the governments of many Latin American countries and people, there is a necessity for change to be implemented.  But as peaceful movements gain momentum, the violence of the twentieth century may be lessened.

 

Work Cited

Brinkley, David, and Sandy Gilmour. “Latin Dominoes: Will Nicaragua’s Revolution Spread

Over Central America?.”. NBCUniversal Media, LLC. NBC Learn on Bb: 02 Aug 1979.

Web. 7 Apr 2013.

Hudson, Vanessa. “Left and Social Movements.” Population and Geography of Latin America. Florida International University Online. Miami. 18 Mar 2013. Lecture.

Hudson, Vanessa. “The State and the Military.” Population and Geography of Latin America. Florida International University Online. Miami. 04 Mar 2013. Lecture.

McSherry, J. Patrice. “Preserving Hegemony: National Security Doctrine in the Post-Cold War Era.” NACLA Report on the Americas. 34.3 (2000): 26-57. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. <https://fiu.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-1032517-dt-content-rid-8986364_1/courses/1131-GEA3400VC1131-20155/Course Content/Lectures/McSherry.pdf>.

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