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Wars and Events in the History of Latin America


The conquest, savage beyond imagination. The wars of independence, populated by heroes, dreamers, visionaries and statesmen. Revolutions in Mexico and Cuba. Men and women in the jungle and mountains with rusty rifles, freedom fighters to some, brigands and criminals to others. The events that shaped Latin America also shook the world.
  1. Exploration and Discovery
  2. The Conquest
  3. Independence from Spain in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador
  4. Independence From Spain in Chile, Argentina and Peru
  5. Independence from Spain in Mexico and Central America
  6. The Texas Revolution
  1. The Mexican-American War
  2. The Mexican Revolution
  3. Wars and Battles
  4. Revolutions, Civil Wars and Domestic Strife
  5. Foreign Intervention in Latin America

Exploration and Discovery

When Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain in 1492, he was looking for a new route to Asia. He never did find it -- that honor would go to Ferdinand Magellan -- but what he did find was a new world, populated by cultures unknown to Europe. The hardy, intrepid men who followed in the Admiral's footsteps brought the world together...and opened the door for the savagery of the Conquest.

The Conquest

In the years immediately following the Discovery of the Americas, Spain and Portugal sparred over ownership of the New World. When the Treaty of Tordesillas settled who owned what, the Spanish and Portuguese got to work wresting the newly discovered lands from their real owners: the millions of people on two continents who lived there in blissful ignorance of their impending doom. The Conquest of the Americas is one of the most tragic episodes in the history of mankind.

Independence from Spain in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador

In northern South America (present-day Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador), Patriot General Simon Bolivar led the way. He fought the Spanish from the steamy Caribbean coast all the way to the chilly Peruvian highlands, eventually securing freedom for his people and earning himself the title "the Liberator."

Independence From Spain in Chile, Argentina and Peru

Meanwhile, in the south, Jose de San Martin and Bernardo O'Higgins fought the Spanish on both sides of the Andes, liberating Argentina and Chile before moving on to Peru to meet up with Bolivar for the final push for independence.

Independence from Spain in Mexico and Central America

In the north, Father Miguel Hidalgo kicked off Mexico's War of Independence with his famous "Grito de Dolores" or "Cry of Dolores" in 1810 in which he exhorted his flock to take up arms against the hated Spanish. Although Hidalgo did not live to see a free Mexico, others took up the fight and by 1821 Mexico was free. The nations of Central America would gain their own freedom in the following years.

The Texas Revolution

In 1835, rebellious settlers in the Mexican region of Texas revolted, taking up arms for independence. After the bloody Battle of the Alamo, these Texans won their independence at the Battle of San Jacinto. The sting of the loss of Texas would be felt in Mexico for years to come.

The Mexican-American War

Between 1846 and 1848, the United States of America and Mexico were at war. Tension over the statehood of Texas and the USA's desire for Mexico's western territories (such as California) were the primary causes of the war. The USA won every major battle and by September of 1847 was in control of Mexico City. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and resulted in Mexico losing nearly half of its national territory.

The Mexican Revolution

On November 20, 1910, Francisco I. Madero kicked off the Mexican Revolution by calling his countrymen to arms to topple the crooked regime of President Porfirio Diaz. Over one million Mexicans would die (including Madero) in the ensuing ten years of chaos and mayhem as powerful warlords like Pancho Villa and Alvaro Obregon fought over the fate of the nation.

Wars and Battles

Since Independence, the nations of Latin America have often become involved in wars: with one another, with the United States and with European powers. Although some of these wars were more devastating than others, each one had a profound effect on the nations involved.

Revolutions, Civil Wars and Domestic Strife

When the nations of Latin America have not been busy fighting each other, they have often been fighting themselves. Once Spain and Portugal were out of the picture, local politicians and leaders often could not agree on the path the new nations would take: this frequently resulted in bloodshed. Civil strife continues to this day as countries such as Colombia struggle with rebels and insurgents.

Foreign Intervention in Latin America

The many nations of Latin America have always had difficult relations with larger global powers, especially the United States. Foreign intervention has impacted the history of every nation in Latin America, bar none.

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