Inspired by the American andFrench Revolutions, Latin American nationalists ledthe region to freedom in the1800s.
But while independence solvedsome problems, it did not solveall problems.
Many newly independent nationswere dependent on cash crops for export.
A cash crop is a crop that is produced for export. A countrythat exports coffee or sugaris dependent on the price ofthat crop.
If the price falls, an entireeconomy can be devastated.
Of course, relying on agriculturalexports started in the colonialperiod. Mercantilists believedthat colonies had to benefitthe mother country.
In addition, a few wealthy landowners owned most of theland.
Yes, a few wealthy, landowningfamilies and many poor landlesscampesinos or peasants createda great gap between the rich andpoor.
And with powerful militaries,democracies were regularlythreatened.
In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez,a former military man, becamePresident in 1998.
Chavez removed term limitsfor politicians and restrictedmany freedoms.
Chavez turned Venezuela intoa socialist state, nationalizingthe oil industries.
But with the state controllingoil revenue, Chavez was ableto provide free education andhealthcare to all Venezuelans.
Yes, Latin Americans haveexperienced many challengessince independence.
But in 1948, the Organizationof American States (OAS) was founded to promote regionalcooperation.
The OAS includes countries ofSouth America, Central America,the U.S.A., Canada, and the islands of the Caribbean.
The OAS tries to resolve disputes among membernations peacefully and triesto address issuesfacing the region.
Of course, the OAS was inspiredby Simon Bolivars, the great independence leaders, vision ofa Gran Colombia, a united region.