Poverty, civil war, and repressive governments led many people to flee their homelands. Many entered the country legally and eventually became citizens. A large number, however, were illegal immigrants. The earnings they sent home helped raise the standard of living for their families in Latin America.

Pressure rose within the United States to halt the flow of illegal immigrants. The United States tightened security along its border with Mexico. Congress debated immigration reform legislation. At the same time, Latin American countries like Mexico hoped to improve the quality of life and opportunities so fewer citizens left their homelands.

Photo of armed soldiers in combat uniforms outside of a distressed city building.

American soldiers entered Panama to arrest military dictator Manuel Noriega, a major drug dealer. The United States wanted to put an end to the drug trade and to restore freedom to Panama.

The Long Road to Democracy in Argentina

Argentina is among the most prosperous countries in Latin America. During much of the last century, it enjoyed a robust economy based on exports of beef and grain. But it also experienced political and economic upheavals. Since the 1980s, the country has worked to rebuild democracy and recover prosperity.

The Military Takes Control

From 1946 to 1955, nationalist president Juan Perón enjoyed great support from workers. He increased the government's economic role, boosted wages, and backed labor unions. Perón was helped greatly by his glamorous wife, Eva Perón, who used her influence to help the poor. While Perón wooed the urban poor, his authoritarian government stifled opposition.

When Perón's policies led to an economic crisis, he was ousted in a 1955 military coup. The military was in and out of power for more than two decades. To combat leftist guerrillas, the military waged a “dirty war,” torturing and murdering people it claimed were enemies of the state. As many as 20,000 people simply “disappeared.” The Dirty War lasted from 1976 to 1983.

In 1977, a group of mothers whose children had disappeared began to meet each week in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. They demanded to know what had happened to their missing sons and daughters. The nonviolent protests of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, drew worldwide attention.

In 1982, the military hoped to mask economic troubles by seizing the British-ruled Falkland Islands. In the brief but decisive war, the British retook the islands.

Photo of a man in military dress next to a woman in furs, standing in a car as it leads a parade of cavalry.

Juan Perón, shown here with his wife, Eva, made some improvements in Argentina. However, as his government became more repressive and corrupt, he relied increasingly on military force to hold on to power.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments