Revolutions are defined as relatively rapid and deep attempts to radically alter the nature of a region or country. They differ dramatically from liberal or merely progressive reforms in that they go to the very root of the perceived problems or injustices and, therefore, attempt to change these fundamentally. Latin America has had more than its share of revolutions, and this course will examine the roots of these by looking at the European, largely Spanish and Portuguese, colonization of South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and its dire consequences for Amerindians and slaves of African descent. We will begin with an overview of early revolutions and independence movements led by well-known figures such as Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín and Bernardo O’Higgins. The course will then focus largely on more modern examples, primarily within the 20th century, involving countries such as Cuba, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This will feature the actions of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende, the Sandinistas, and others, as well as the writings of Michael Manley (Jamaica), Eric Williams (Trinidad and Tobago), along with the preaching of liberation theologians and religious progressives such as Bishop Oscar Romero (El Salvador).
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