The map shows European and U.S. possessions in Latin America in the early 1900s. Imperialists often acted to protect business interests. What explains the strong U.S. interest in Latin America?
Most Mexicans lived in desperate poverty even as they worked on haciendas or in the new factories. Many children died in infancy. Other children worked 12-hour days and never learned to read or write.
What reforms did Juárez achieve to help Mexico attempt a more stable government and society?
Under colonial rule, mercantilist policies made Latin America economically dependent on Spain and Portugal. Colonies sent raw materials such as cash crops or precious metals to the parent country and had to buy manufactured goods from them.
Strict laws kept colonists from trading with other countries. Other laws prohibited the building of local industries that would have competed with the parent country. Overall, these policies kept the colonies from developing their own economies.
After independence, this pattern changed very little. The new Latin American republics did adopt free trade, welcoming all comers. Britain and the United States rushed into the new markets, replacing Spain as Latin America's chief trading partners. But the region remained as economically dependent as before.
Economic dependence occurs when less developed nations export raw materials and commodities to industrial nations and import manufactured goods, capital, and technological know-how. The relationship is unequal because the more developed nations control the prices and terms of trade.
In the 1800s, foreign goods flooded Latin America, creating large profits for foreigners and for a handful of local business people. Foreign investment, which could yield enormous profits, was often accompanied by local interference. Investors from Britain, the United States, and other nations pressured their governments to take action if political events or reform movements in a Latin American country seemed to threaten their interests.
After 1850, some Latin American economies did grow. Industrial countries needed increasing quantities of raw materials and other products from Latin America.