How did foreign influence and investment affect Latin America?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Latin America has been dominated over the past few centuries by foreign influences, starting with its colonization by Spain and Portugal, and in the last century by the American Empire.  The small number of Spanish descendants who inherited the land even after independence (The 1%) acted as plantation and landlords over the larger population of poor people.  They did business with large American companies such as United Fruit.

When populist revolts in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia and Chile threatened the landholders, American companies and mining interests, assassinations were engineered to remove those governments in favor of leaders more business friendly to the United States -- as long as they were anti-communist, human rights was largely ignored.

While in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela had their oil and natural gas resources developed by foreign investment, most of the benefits associated with that investment did not make it to the general population.  Bolivia under Evo Morales is one notable exception.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This was both a blessing and a curse for the countries of Latin America.

Take, for example, Mexico.  During the reign of Porfirio Diaz (1870s to 1910), Mexico was able to build its infrastructure to a remarkable degree through foreign investment.  It was able to build railroads and ports and improve its mines, for example.

But this blessing was a curse as well.  Because the foreign countries had so much money invested in Mexico, they meddled in its affairs, doing things like helping to overthrow presidents that they did not like. (Like Francisco Madero.)

This basic theme has been repeated in other countries of the area.