Latin American Liberalism Analysis

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After the Wars of Independence in Latin America, liberals and conservatives engaged in a continent-wide struggle for control of the nascent states. Brazil, due to its monarchy, evaded the liberal-conservative civil wars entirely, yet most other Latin American nations experienced intense military conflict between the factions for control. Liberals won in most of Latin America and created governments inspired by the liberal-leanings of their independence leaders. By the 1830s, after economic collapse and social turmoil, conservatives took over until the 1860s and 1870s, when liberals returned to power. Yet, due to the nature of the liberal takeover and the policies such governments enacted, 19th-century Latin American liberals established a constitutional foundation for future authoritarian governments, sabotaged industry and economic stability by opening trade, and expanded class and racial inequality. Thus, while liberalism enriched and benefited the elite, it failed and harmed the lower classes: the peasants and the poor.
Latin American society, due to the nature of colonisation and Spanish ruling practices, long experienced the rule of strongmen, first as the conquistadores, then as caudillos. Liberalists initially fought back against
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The examples touched upon above illustrate key general points about the liberal legacy that one can apply throughout Latin America and that still impact politics and society, as seen through the Iguala massacre that echoes the brutality of liberal authoritarianism and through the strong influence of class and racial divides in local conflicts, elections, and
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