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Preview Main Idea / Reading Focus Argentina Brazil Chile Other Dictatorships. The Rise of Dictatorships. The Rise of Dictatorships. Main Idea Spiraling economic and social problems and political turmoil in Latin America led military leaders to seize power and install repressive regimes.

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Main Idea / Reading Focus




Other Dictatorships

The Rise of Dictatorships

The Rise of Dictatorships

Main Idea

Spiraling economic and social problems and political turmoil in Latin America led military leaders to seize power and install repressive regimes.

  • Reading Focus
  • How did life change under dictatorships in Argentina?
  • What changes occurred during the dictatorship in Brazil?
  • What was life like in Chile during Pinochet’s dictatorship?
  • How did dictatorships affect life in other countries?

Radical Changes


  • Juan Peron rose to power following military coup, 1943
  • Had great deal of help from wife, Eva
  • Proved to be populist, supporter of rights of common people, not the elite
  • Wife Eva took charge of labor, social programs
  • Peron created minimum wage, eight-hour workday, paid vacations
  • Built schools, hospitals, shelters
  • Tried, failed to boost industrialization
  • Placed cattle, wheat industries under government control; farm production plunged
  • Became dictator


After World War II, Argentina and other Latin American countries saw a rise in dictatorships. Social and economic conditions allowed them to take tremendous power at the expense of people’s freedoms.

Dirty War

Military Dictatorships

  • 1976 to 1983, government carried out “dirty war” against suspected dissidents
  • Secret war carried out in middle of night
  • Soldiers took people from homes to detention centers, tortured, sometimes killed
  • 10,000 to 30,000 victims vanished during this time
  • Peron’s downfall, 1955, followed by decades of economic, political turmoil
  • Right-wing military dictatorships ruled for many years
  • Struggled with declining industry, rising unemployment, inflation, foreign debt
  • Cracked down on dissent, limited personal freedoms


Victims of “dirty war,” critics of government and those falsely accused of being critics

Desperate relatives tried to find out what happened to loved ones

Plaza de Mayo

Square outside government buildings in Buenos Aires

Group of mothers of disappeared marched every week

Did not get wanted answers

Brought national, international attention to tactics of Argentina’s military dictatorship


Find the Main Idea

How did dictatorships affect society in Argentina?

Answer(s): people lived in fear; economy suffered

  • Followed path similar to Argentina’s, though more stable for a time
  • Juscelino Kubitschek elected president in free election, 1954
  • Promised “fifty years of progress in five”
  • Foreign investment flowed in, helped him achieve goal
  • Brasília
  • Results of economic progress seen in capital city, Brasília
  • Built in three years, cost $2 billion
  • Symbol of pride, modernity, but bankrupted Brazil’s economy
  • Military rulers seized control, 1964
  • Under Military Rule
  • Military rulers achieved success, creating “Brazilian miracle” of 1968 to 1973
  • Industrial exports, farming, mining grew
  • Economy grew faster during this time than any other in the world
  • Rapid Growth Achieved at Cost
  • To achieve rapid growth, military dictatorship froze wages
  • Living standards declined sharply
  • People who complained about government risked government death squads
  • Opposition Grew to Military
  • As opposition grew, economy spiraled into debt, hyperinflation
  • Extremely high level of inflation; economy growing too rapidly, too quickly
  • 1990 inflation rate more than 2,500 percent
Identify Cause and Effect

What caused Brazil’s economic problems?

Answer(s): foreign investment, excessive domestic spending, dependence on imported petroleum products

Allende’s Presidency

Trouble for Allende

  • Salvador Allende elected, 1970
  • Tried to improve lives of workers, stimulate economy
    • Spent money on housing, education, health care
    • Broke up large estates, distributed land to peasants
    • Nationalized foreign-owned companies
  • After a time, industrial, farm production fell, prices rose, food shortages spread Allende’s leftist policies alienated business owners, worried U.S. government.
  • CIA led opposition, economy failed, military rebelled
  • Allende, 3,000 others killed in coup, September 11, 1973


As in Argentina and Brazil, economic problems led to drastic changes in Chile’s government.

  • The Pinochet Regime
  • Augusto Pinochet appointed commander in chief of army a few weeks before coup
  • General Pinochet closely involved in coup
  • Destroyed Opposition
  • Pinochet took command of military junta following coup
  • Became president, 1974
  • Moved quickly to destroy opposition
  • Pinochet’s Tactics
  • Disbanded congress, censored media, suspended constitution, banned opposition parties
  • Arrested thousands who opposed government
  • Period of Growth
  • Despite political crackdown, economy experienced several periods of rapid growth
  • Government promoted capitalism, exports grew

How did events in Chile lead to a dictatorship?

Answer(s): economic problems, socialist-style policies, CIA provided funding and training to opposition, a coup took place

Other Dictatorships
  • Haiti
  • One family headed dictatorship for 28 years
  • 1957, Francois Duvalier elected president, began to repress opposition
  • After his death, son carried on dictatorship
  • From Bad to Worse
  • Duvalier’s corruption made Haiti’s bad economy worse
  • 1986, riots broke out, Duvalier forced to flee
  • 1990, Jean–Bertrand Aristide elected president after years of turmoil
  • Aristide
  • Popular, but military coup ended presidency after only seven months
  • U.S. troops invaded, Aristide returned to power, 1994
  • Unable to solve economic problems, eventually pushed from power again
Panama Canal

U.S. Action

  • U.S. controlled since construction
  • Scheduled to be handed over to Panama, 1999
  • Important to worldwide shipping
  • Noriega’s misrule threat to worldwide economic interests
  • U.S. sent troops to arrest Noriega, 1989
  • Noriega arrested, imprisoned in Florida for drug trafficking
  • Democratic elections, 1994
  • Canal transferred smoothly, 1999


During the 1980s, Panama was controlled by Manuel Noriega. Noriega brutally crushed enemies and used the country as a base for drug smuggling.

  • Challenges
  • 1990, Peru faced challenges of poor economy
  • Shining Path, guerrilla group terrorized countryside
  • Alberto Fujimori won presidential election
  • Fujimori
  • Took drastic measures to improve economy, stop Shining Path
  • Congress complained about abuse of power
  • Fujimori disbanded congress, suspended constitution
  • Elections
  • Fujimori had become dictator, yet won election in 1995
  • Booming economy, progress against guerilla activity reasons for victory
  • Scandals, fraud forced Fujimori to resign following election of 2000

What did the dictators in Haiti, Panama, and Peru have in common?

Answer(s): abuse of power, economic problems, repression of opposition