South American Current Events

Lauren, Rachel, Hetal, Emilie



South America has a vivid history. It is a beautiful continent with a fascinating past. Its rain forests are unique and colorful, and its mountains are the home to many unusual (and furry) creatures. It was once home to amazing ancient civilizations.

In contrast, today the countries of South America have weak governments and economies. The drug trade is a growing issue, and though they have mostly good intentions, the government leaders often attract negative attention from the world. Fortunately, many of these countries are beginning to rebuild after centuries of unrest.

After reading this page, we hope you understand what has caused this unrest, and how it is improving.

Emilie and Rachel's Essential Questions:

What common problems did South American countries share over the course of the past century? How did the governments of each country deal with these problems?

What is the place of South America in the world economic order?

The drug trade is a problem in South America. Why is this? How can it be solved?

Lauren and Hetal's Essential Questions:

Compare the governments of South America in the last century. Note any similarities.

How have other countries and world events affected South America in the last century?

The drug trade is a problem in South America. Why is this? How can it be solved?

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Homework for Period 3:
Watch the first video (Drug Trade In Bolivia) and write a response to it on our discussion board under the discussion called "Homework Video". Also look over all the info on our page so you are prepared for class.

News Videos:
New York Times: Drug Trade in Bolivia Video (Period 3 Homework)
New York Times: Venezuelan Conflicts Video

Governments of South America 1900-Present

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1. Peru's Shining Path and Cocaine
2. Chilean Protest
3. Brazil and World War II

The Dirty Wardirty_war.jpg

Juan and Eva Peron
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  • has lost more than 1/2 its territory
  • Chaco War (1932 1935)
    • dispute between Bolivia and Paraguay over ownership of the Gran Chaco a large lowland plain bordering the two countries
    • Bolivia was defeated
    • Gave up land in settlement made in 1938
  • The Revolution of 1952
    • 1936 to 1952- 10 presidents (6 were military officers)
    • tin miners formed unions and held strikes for better working conditions supported a political party called National Revolutionary Movement
    • overthrew the military rulers then in power
    • gov took over the largest tin mines, broke up large estates and gave the land to Indian farmers
  • Signing of agrarian reform law (August 2, 1952)
    • Recognized property regimes
    • Intended to stem growing disparity in access to land, allow the sate to reclaim lands, modernize land reform agency, seize lands to protect biodiversity, ensure collection of land taxes
  • Economy
    • 1994- mostly agriculture
    • self sufficient in oil and natural gas
    • tourism
    • New Economic Party (1985)
      • Break down barriers to capital flows & strengthen the state
      • Lead to privitization of other concerns
  • Trade
    • 1994
      • oil, natural gas, mineral exports 50%
      • agriculture and lumber 30%
  • Government
    • constitutional republic
    • influence from many political parties in 1980s and 1990s
  • 1992- 37% illiterate

  • Economy
    • investment in industry – World War II (1939-1945)
    • double exports during 1960s and 1970s
    • mid 1970s- used ethanol instead of oil (high priced) to make petroleum
    • coffee
    • after war ended- demand for products ended
  • Vargas dictatorship (1934)
    • New constitution
      • Better for people
    • Economy suffers during Great Depression (1930s)
  • 1937- dictatorship established
    • New constitution
      • censored the press external image pc200846.gif
      • banned political parties
      • took over Brazil's labor unions
  • WWII- demand for goods
  • 1942- war on Germany and the other Axis powers
    • Allied with Italy
  • 1946- new constitution
    • Gave back individual rights
    • 1960s- São Paulo became major industrial center (image from Worldbook)
  • 1964- General Castelo becomes head of government
  • 1979- much inflation and labor unrest- strikes for higher wages
  • 1985- constitutional amendment for direct election of future presidents by people (after military rule ended)
  • 1986- New Congress and legislatures
  • Many presidents

  • During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Chile had an unstable government
  • Chile returned to constitutional rule in 1932
    • Reelection of President Arturo Alessandri
  • 1970—Socialism gained support
  • Salvador Allende became the first freely elected Marxist president in South America
  • Economy soon began to fail
  • 1973—General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte led a military coup
    • Aided by the United States
    • Built a productive economy
    • Led a dictatorial government and committed human-rights abuses
    • Deaths or disappearances of at least 3,150 dissidents
  • 1988—held a national vote to gauge his popularity
  • Defeated by Patricio Aylwin Azocar
    • Azocar becomes first elected president since 1970
  • Chile "was becoming one of the most prosperous [South] American countries”
    • Anti-poverty programs
    • Maintained political balance
    • More spent on education
    • Closer economic ties with North and South America
    • Reduced military influence
  • Focused on:
    • Building economy
    • Finding those lost during Pinochet’s regime

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  • Between 1830 and 1948, Ecuador had 62 presidents, dictators, and military leaders
  • 1941—Peru and Ecuador fought over ownership of southern Amazon region
    • Was controlled by Ecuador
  • 1942—treaty granted Peru most of the territory
    • Treaty denied Ecuador access to large mineral wealth and the Amazon River
    • Ecuador later rejected it
  • Hostilities continued for over 35 years
  • 1948—Galo Plaza Lasso became the first freely elected president to serve a full term
  • There were short-lived civilian and military governments in the country for the next 20 years
  • 1979—New constitution created; allowed for a freely elected president
  • January 1995—Clash over border lasted for several days before international observers settled it
  • October 1998—A treaty was signed
  • Granted Ecuador a small portion of land as well as navigation rights on some rivers in Peru
  • 1996—elections marked Ecuador's "fifth consecutive peaceful government transition"
  • Abdalá Bucaram (known as “the Madman”) became president,
    • Promised to help Ecuador's poor
  • 1997—Congress voted to remove Bucaram for “mental incapacity”
    • Charged with corruption
  • Jamil Mahuad—elected president in 1998
    • Overturned by a military coup in 2000
    • Replaced by his vice president, Gustavo Noboa
  • 2002—Lucio Gutierrez was elected and began to stabilize Ecuador's economy
  • 2006— Congress voted Gutierrez out of office
  • The country is currently unstable politically
  • Border issues nearly solved as of last week (May 2007)

Chaco War: disputed area
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  • 1933— Constitution created
  • Mandated:
    • Peru be governed by:
      • 1. A president
      • 2. A legislature
        • Both elected to six-year terms
  • In actuality, military leaders and dictators presided in Peru until the 1960s
  • An election was held in 1963
  • Fernando Belaúnde Terry was elected president.
  • Military deposed him in 1968
  • Ruled for 12 years (a time called la dictadura)
  • In 1980, military returned control to the people
  • Belaúnde reelected
  • Economic trouble remained
  • Economy improved during Alán García's presidency (1985–90)
  • 1980—the Maoist group Shining Path arose (BBC)
  • Shining_Path_Leader.jpgStarted a campaign of guerrilla warfare
  • Aim: overthrowing the government
  • Responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the 1980s and 1990s
  • Paid drug traffickers for protection and the right to operate in Peru
  • Country maintained democratic institutions and free elections
  • Returned recently, primarily as a drug trafficking organization (May 2007)

  • 1990—Alberto Fujimori was elected president
  • Promised:
    • Government reform
    • To mend economy
    • To end terrorist violence
  • Suspended the constitution, dissolved Congress, took emergency powers, cut down on individual rights
  • 1993—approved a new constitution
  • Outlined a democratic government
  • Free-market economy
  • 1995—Fujimori reelected, and his party gained a majority in Congress.
  • Fujimori's successes:
    • Successful economic reform
    • 1992 capture of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán Reynoso
  • Resolution of Peru's border dispute with Ecuador
  • May 2000—Fujimori was elected for a third presidential term
  • Was accused of misuse of power
  • Fled to Japan
  • November 2000— Fujimori resigns
  • In 2002—Arrest warrants are created for Fujimori who allegedly committed human rights violations
  • 2000—Alejandro Toledo was elected as the nation's first president of indigenous heritage
  • Challenges:
    • Reduce threat from Peru's rebel groups
    • Reduce government corruption
    • Make economic reforms to aid Peru's many poor


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Period 2 Homework:

Period 3 Assessment: Flashcards
Period 3 Lesson Plan:

Works Cited:
Ember, Melvin, and Carol R. Ember. "Bolivia." __Countries and Their Cultures__. Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. 245-54.
Ewell, Judith. "Venezuela." __Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia__. __Grolier Multimedia__ __Encyclopedia__. Scholastic Lib. 8 May 2007 .
Galloway, J. H. "Bolivia." __World Book Online__. __World Book Online Reference__ __Center__. World Book. 8 May 2007 .
Galloway, J. H. "Brazil." __World Book Online__. __World Book Online Reference Center__. World Book. 11 May 2007 .
Harrison, John P. "Latin America, History of." __Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia__. __Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia__. Scholastic Lib. 7 May 2007 .
"History of Chile." __CultureGrams__. __CultureGrams World Edition__. ProQuest. 10 May 2007 .
"History of Ecuador." __CultureGrams__. __CultureGrams World Edition__. ProQuest. 11 May 2007 .
"History of Peru." __CultureGrams__. __CultureGrams World Edition__. ProQuest. 13 May 2007 .
Kent, Robert B. "South America: The Southern Cone." __Encyclopedia Americana__. __Encyclopedia Americana__. Scholastic Lib. 8 May 2007 .
McCoy, Jennifer L. "Venezuela." __World Book Online Reference Center__. __World Book__ __Online Reference Center__. World Book. 12 May 2007 .
Rojas, Cristina. "Colombia." __World Book Online Reference Center__. __World Book__ __Online Reference Center__. World Book. 11 May 2007 .
Snaden, James N. "South America." __Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia__. __Grolier__ __Multimedia Encyclopedia__. Scholastic Lib. 3 May 2007 .
Wiley, James, and Brian P. Owensby. "South America." __World Book Online__. __World__ __Book Online Reference Center__. World Book. 4 May 2007 .