Hernan Cortes was the greatest of the conquistadors. With only 600 men he was able to bring down the Aztec Civilization, the mightiest of the New World Empires. Modern Mexicans don't think too highly of him, however.
Happy Birthday to Che Guevara! Everyone's favorite communist revolutionary would be 85 today if he had not been executed in Bolivia in 1967. In case you've never heard of him, Che was one of the leaders of the Cuban Revolution, in spite of the fact that he was not actually Cuban himself, but was actually born in Argentina. Che was key to the success of the revolution before and after the fall of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
On June 13, 1533, A Spanish escort left Peru with thousands of pounds of gold and silver looted from the Inca Empire. This Inca treasure was destined for Spain, where the King would receive his share: one fifth of everything. Francisco Pizarro, conquistador of the Inca, didn't trust just anyone with this loot: only his trusted brother Hernando would do.
Texas has been a part of the USA for so long that we tend to forget that it was once part of Mexico. The Texas revolution was a complicated mixture of Manifest Destiny, ambition and luck.
Ever since Christopher Columbus first encountered the New World, foreign powers have been meddling in Latin America. Spain, England, the Netherlands, France, the USA: these nations and others have been manipulating Latin America for centuries. Why are these countries so involved in Latin America?
For nearly a thousand years, the Olmec were the mightiest civilization in Mesoamerica. They had trade networks that reached all throughout present-day Mexico and down into Central America. They made aqueducts and artwork on a scale never before seen. Mighty kings ruled from San Lorenzo and La Venta. Then, around 400 B.C. the Olmec civilization vanished into the steamy jungles, their cities forgotten. What caused the decline of Mesoamerica's first great civilization?
Around about 1535, the European conquistadors of South America began hearing the rumors: there was a great, wealthy city hidden away, where the ruler was so rich he bathed himself in gold. For three hundred years, desperate, greedy men outfitted one expedition after another in search of the legendary city of El Dorado. Who were these men...and what did they find?
Today is Raul Castro's birthday. Fidel's kid brother has come a long way from tagging along in the Cuban Revolution: he has been president of Cuba since 2006 and his grip on power is firm. What do you know about the "other" Castro?
On May 24, 1822, patriots led by Antonio Jose de Sucre - Bolivar's greatest lieutenant - fought a royalist army on the slippery slopes of Pichincha Volcano just outside of Quito, Ecuador. The Battle of Pichincha would be a decisive one, liberating Quito and Ecuador forever from the Spanish.
May, 1819. A handful of warlords, some of them patriots, some of them royalists, fight over the ruins of colonial Venezuela. Simon Bolivar is cornered, his back up against the mighty Andes Mountains. He has perhaps the strongest of the warlord armies, but he is far from strong enough to end the stalemate. His enemies circle him warily, like a pack of hungry wolves, wondering when he will attack. They are only certain of one thing: he would never move west over the frosty Andes Mountains, to strike at relatively unprotected New Granada. To move his army across the frozen passes would be suicide. Surely even Simon Bolivar, famous for zigging when his enemies expect him to zag, would not consider such a reckless course of action...right?