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Dictators in Latin American History

The history of Latin America is full of men who seized power and held it in an iron grip. Dictators and strongmen are as much a part of Latin American history as the revolutionaries who fought against them. Some brought stability, others horror and repression.

Biography of Jose Miguel Carrera
José Miguel Carrera Verdugo (1785-1821) was a Chilean general and dictator who fought for the patriot side in Chile’s War for Independence from Spain (1810-1826). Together with his two brothers, Luís and Juan José, José Miguel fought the Spanish up and down Chile for years and served as head of government when breaks in the chaos and fighting allowed.

Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O’Higgins (1778-1842) was a Chilean landowner and one of the leaders of its struggle for Independence. Although he had no formal military training, O’Higgins took charge of the ragged rebel army and fought the Spanish from 1810 to 1818 when Chile finally achieved its Independence. Today, he is revered as the liberator of Chile and the father of the nation

Biography of Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro is a Cuban lawyer, revolutionary and politician. Along with his brother Raul Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, he was the primary architect of the Cuban Revolution, which forever changed the face of world politics. He is still a highly controversial figure, as many Cubans love him and many loathe him.

Biography of Alvaro Obregón
As the Mexican Revolution turned into a bloody battle for survival, one man and his army rose to the top: Sonoran Garbanzo bean farmer Alvaro Obregón.

Crooked Politicians in Latin America
It was Mario Puzo who allegedly said "A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns." Well, if that's true, how much can you steal if you're President of a Latin American nation? A lot more than a lawyer with a briefcase, it turns out. Corrupt politicians in Latin America have been ripping off the citizens of their...

Biography of Porfirio Diaz
Porfirio Daz ruled Mexico like a king for thirty-five long years (1876-1911). During this time, he modernized the economy, improved infrastructure, and made Mexico an important player in the global economy. Why, then, did the people of Mexico rise up and begin the Mexican Revolution just to kick him out?

Biography of Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista was a Cuban army sergeant who took command of the military before being elected president for the term from 1940-1944. He returned to power in 1952 and is today best known as the man who was President when Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution took place.

Biography of Anastasio Somoza García
Anastasio Somoza García seized power in Nicaragua in 1936, beginning a dynasty of rule that would pass through his two sons and last until 1979. The dictatorship years were marked by corruption and repression, but the Somozas had the support of the United States government because they were fiercely anti-communist.

Biography of José Santos Zelaya
José Santos Zelaya was president of Nicaragua from 1893 to 1909. He left behind a very mixed legacy: although the country prospered, he was a harsh dictator and his enemies enjoyed little in the way of rights.

Biography of Rafael Carrera
In the years from 1821 to 1824, present-day Guatemala was ruled first by Spain, then by Mexico, and finally was part of the Republic of Central America. The chaos continued and civil wars broke out all over the region. Guatemala suffered until 1838 when Rafael Carrera set himself up as dictator, ushering in an era that was repressive yet stable.

Biography of Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) was a general in the Chilean military who also served as president and dictator for almost twenty years.

Biography of Alberto Fujimori
Alberto Fujimori, President of Peru from 1990-2000, is something of an enigma. Is he the one who controlled Peru's runaway economy, ending inflation and providing economic security for millions? Or is he the one who oversaw unheard-of levels of corruption that saw $600 million in skimmed funds over ten years? The answers are not easy to find.

Gabriel García Moreno: Ecuador's Catholic Crusader
Gabriel García Moreno was president and dictator of Ecuador for several years in the turbulent mid-nineteenth century. He is remembered primarily as a Catholic zealot who, in spite of his belief that Ecuador should be ruled by the church, managed to accomplish much during his tenure in office.

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's Firebrand Dictator
Venezuela's firebrand dictator is known for making waves. After leaping onto the public stage with a failed 1992 coup attempt, Chavez became president legally in 1998 and has not looked back. Loved by the poorest Venezuelans, Chavez has made many enemies over the years, many of them in the United States government.

Biography of Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna
Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna was president of Mexico eleven times from the 1830's to 1850's. He was the leader of the Mexican forces at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. He had a long and checkered political and military career and remains one of Mexico's most fascinating historical figures.

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