Dictatorships in South America

Latin America has traditionally been home to dictators: charismatic men who have seized almost complete control over their nations and held it for years, even decades. Some have been fairly benign, some cruel and violent, and others merely peculiar.

The countries of South America shared in the economic, political, and social problems that plagued Latin America after 1945. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and
Peru provide examples of these problems.


  • Nicaragua was ruled by the Somoza family for 40 years. It was supported by USA all this time.
  • Corrupted government.
  • 1979–> Carter, U.S president refused to give support.  “Sandinist National Liberation Front”
  • The SNLF won a number of military victories against government forces and gained virtual control of the country.
  • The Sandinistas inherited a poverty-stricken nation.
  • Sandinista National Liberation Front vs. “los contras” and USA.
  • 2001–> Sandinistas agreed to make free elections  but Sandinist Party lost.

1. Anastasio Somoza Garcia, First of the Somoza Dictators

Not only was Anastasio Somoza (1896-1956) a dictator, he founded a whole line of them, as his two sons followed in hsi footsteps after his death. For almost fifty years, the Somoza family treated Nicaragua like their own private estate, taking whatever they wanted from the treasury and granting favors to friends and family. Anastasio was a cruel, crooked despot who was nevertheless supported by the US government because he was staunchly anti-communist.
  • Oligarchy based on farming and army.
  • 1943 –>  fall of oligarchy
  • Juan Peron, secretary of military government,  supported working class called “the undressed”.  He gave vacations and made syndicates.
  • 1946 Peron chosen by workers as president.
  • Industry. Railroads. Nationalism. Authoritarian rule fascist-like. Finally he was exiled to Spain
  • 1973 Peron was asked to return and he was reelected.
  • 1982 Invaded Falkland Islands (British)
  • 1983 Raul Alfonsín and later 1989 Saul Menem became democratic presidentsof Argentina


  • 1970 Salvador Allende–> Socialist government. Nationalism, supported working class and industry.
  • He affected the American and the rich class interests based on the cooper industry.
  • 1973–>Pinochet took control and killed Allende. Established dictatorship.
  • Strict regime based on torture, oppression and he broke away from government and parliament.
  • 1989–> free elections ended with Pinochet’s regime, seeking for a more democratic government. 

Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s Modern Dictator

Another controversial dictator is General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) of Chile. He took control of the nation in 1973 after leading a coup that deposed elected leftist leader Salvador Allende. Over the course of almost 20 years, he ruled Chile with an iron fist, ordering the deaths of thosands of suspected leftists and communists. To his supporters, he is the man who saved Chile from communism and put it on the path to modernity. To his detractors, he was a cruel, evil monster who is responsible for the deaths of many innocent men and women.


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