A Brief History of Latin America Ancient Civs., Europeans, and

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A Brief History of Latin America
Ancient Civs., Europeans, and Independence
Once Upon a Time
(before Christopher Colombus)

Three Native American empires in present-day Latin
America
 Maya
 Inca
 Aztec
Maya

Dominated Southern Mexico & northern Central America

AD 250-800

City of Tikal: present-day Guatemala

Greatest Mayan city

Priests and nobles ruled

Skilled in mathematics

Calendars (end of the world, 2012??????)

Predicted solar eclipses using astronomical obs.

Glyphs: picture writings carved in stone to honor deities & record
their history

POLYTHEISTIC society: Belief in multiple gods
So, What Happened?

Abandoned cities for unknown reasons



Ideas of collapse: drought, warfare led to sharp decline in pop.
Spanish took over in 1500s
Now: archeologists are studying this area


Uncovered ruins of roughly 40 cities
Glyphs, however, remain largely untranslated 

Temple ruins = popular tourist attractions

Today: descendants live in S. Mexico, n. Central America, practice
subsistence farming

Subsistence farming: producing just enough food for a family or village to
survive (not for profit)
Chichen Itza: Maya temple
Aztec

Central Mexico, 1300s

Capital: Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City)

Aztec farmers grew crops on chinampas, or floating islands made
from large rafts covered with mud from the lake bottom

Structured class system

Headed by emperor & military officials

Priests: performed rituals to win deities’ favor & ensure good harvests

Majority at the bottom: farmers, laborers, and soldiers

Maize (eventually corn), tomato, xocoatl (chocolate)

Defeated by Hernan Cortes (1521), beginning of Spanish Mexico
The Aztec performed sacrifices to the Sun
God, Huitzilopochtli,each day. The
“sacrificed” were mainly prisoners
Inca

Also around 1440s Andes Mountains (South America)

Ecuador to central Chile

Capital: Cuzco (Peru)

Ruled through central government headed by an emperor

Built massive temples, fortresses, system of roads, irrigation systems

All roads went through the capital city of Cuzco!

Domesticated the alpaca & llama, used for wool

No written language, used oral storytelling

System of record-keeping: quipu, or a series of knotted cords of different
colors & lengths; each knot represented a different item or number

Conquered by Francisco Pizarro (1535)
Original
Incan road
Machu Picchu
Invasion of the Europeans!



Spanish & Portuguese began colonizing after Christopher Colombus’
discovery of the “New World”

God—spread Christianity throughout new areas

Glory—competition among European countries

Gold—riches!!
European colonies eventually arose

Hernan Cortes (1521): Aztecs

Francisco Pizarro (1535): Inca
Both men were
CONQUISTADORS: conquerors
Brought with them diseases; as this killed Natives, Africans were
transported to the area to cover labor shortage
Characteristics of
European Colonies

Spanish: highly-structured political systems under royally appointed
officials (also known as a viceroy)

Spanish + Portuguese colonies = Roman Catholic Church


conversion of natives to Catholicism

Hospitals & schools set up by missionaries
Ecomomies

Natural resources (Spanish: gold & silver mining; Portuguese: metals
made into Brazilwood)

Cities & towns built, served as trade centers & government seats

Native Americans used to work in plantations & ranches. Eventually
replaced by African slaves
Colombian Exchange
Independence Movements

Began in the late 1700s because resentment against
European rule was building

Wealthy European colonists wanted self-rule, lower-class
wanted more rights

Native Americans & African slaves wanted freedom

Revolutions in the US (American Revolution! Yay America!)
and France (with Napoleon) inspired them

Napoleon defeating Spain Spain weaker  VIVA LA
REVOLUCION!!!
Latin
American
Revolutions
Sources of DiscontentLate 1700s
1.
Viceroys- Spanish governors
2.
Peninsulares- Spaniards living in LA
3.
Creoles- straight Euro. descent
4.
Mestizos- Native + Euro.
5.
Mulattoes- Afn. + Euro.
6.
Zambos- Native + Afn.
7.
Amerindians- Natives
ALL distrusted one another
Haiti’s Struggle

French-ruled

Sugar & coffee plantations = 1/2 million slaves lots of $ for France

25,000 free (but not equal) mulattoes
Haiti’s Struggle

Revolted in 1791

Led by Toussaint L’Ouverture

Former slave, but educated

1804: Complete independence

Haiti became the FIRST
country to abolish slavery in
the western hemisphere
Mexico’s Fight

Father Hidalgo: El Grito de Dolores
 1810: cry for independence
 encouraged lower class (mestizos) to fight for indep. and more rights
 Hidalgo was executed Fr. Jose Morelos led fight (later executed)

Creoles (pure Span. descent) against rebels at 1st

1820: new govn’t in Spain  scared Creoles  fought with rebels 
won in 1821

Set up monarchy 1st, later a republic long road to stability…
Simón Bolívar

1810: Bolivar led revolt in Venezuela  form
republic

Went on to Ecuador, Peru, & Bolivia
republics

Joined Jose de San Martin

Leader in Argentina & Chile

Wars ended in 1824

Tried to unite lands into Gran Colombia 

Biggest problem: Power struggles caused huge
civil wars turn to military
Panama Canal

Isthmus perfect place to connect oceans

Ferdinand de Lesseps (Suez Canal) tried but failed


Disease, geography, $
Bunau-Varilla asked US pres TR (1901) to aid building
Panama Canal

Panama was part of Colombia at time

Col. refused to give up land

Panamanians revolted, US helped them

Panama gained independence (1903)

Canal began in 1904, until 1914

US owned until 1999
Dictatorships: Pattern

As the countries fought for indep., power went to new people

European & indigenous hist. stressed rank & privilege

So ppl of power and strength were natural fit

Enter the era of CAUDILLOS (dictators)
Dictatorships

People are unhappy REVOLT

Option A: the military puts out revolt and resumes power to keep order

Option B: rebels win & put in someone military/wealthy don’t like  military
coup
Dictatorships

Chile
 Military coup over threw dem. socialist govn’t in 1973
 Led by Augusto Pinochet
 Ruled harshly, human rights violations
 Over 100,000 either killed, imprisoned, or tortured
 Ruled until 1990! (remained in charge of army)
 Died in 2006 while awaiting trial
Cuba
Fidel
Raul

Like others, ppl were discontent with govn’t

Cuba- gap b/w rich and poor
 Revolution led by Fidel Castro set up Communist State with military
dictator (1959)

Ruled until 06-08 left Raul (brother) in power
Change


Venezuela:

Coups lasted into 90s,
one even by current
leftist Pres. Chavez

Electorate voted him in
b/c he was a strong
ruler in a time a of
crisis

2012: re-elected again!
Mexico:

Mid-90s gave rise to
Zapatista rebels


Fight for indigenous
rights spreads
2000 marked PAN take
over (Vicente Fox)

Felipe Calderoncurrent
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