Latin American people have a rich and enduring history that has shaped many nations within that region. Key people that impacted this region understood the current conditions of their country and where it was heading into their future. The following presentation will showcase the Top 10 Latin American historical figures that shaped Central and Southern America.
List of Top 10 Latin American Historical Figures
10. Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez was a serious supporter of the former Simon Bolivar who liberated his people hundreds of years in the past. Chavez became a passionate political reformist for his country. He even attempted to overthrow the government but failed in his attempt. He was a part of the army and had the ability to carry out this action. He was jailed for his coup.
After he was released, he went on to win the country through politics. Once in power he started to reform the country. His reforms were solid. Many of his people flourished. However, he was extremely hard on the middle and upper classes of the nation. Many of them left Venezuela to avoid problems. Chavez actions might not have always been the best but his intentions did help to improve the life of his people. He died in 2013.
9. Oscar Arnulfo Romero
Oscar Arnulfo Romero was a famous Catholic priest that used liberation theology to help change the condition of his people in Latin America. Many people in this part of the world were suffering from U.S. backed leadership in the area. They did not want the U.S. or their policies around. The U.S. feared the spread of communism which a problem then.
So, they aided just about anyone who would keep communism out the region. Romero knew that this was leading to the suffering of his people. Long story short, he and his other religious associates began to preach a doctrine that would help the people to rise up against their unjust rulers. They fought hard against U.S. and U.S. backed troops. The U.S. then started to target many clergy and church members. In the end Romero had lost his life because of his beliefs.
8. Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet was an American back dictator of Chile. He literally overthrew the Chilean government and took over the country. Once in power he brought his nation up to speed with the U.S. However, his people did not like what he had done to gain power. Pinochet allowed the U.S. and Britain to influence his economy and society. While this helped his people to grow economically it also isolated them. Pinochet continued to rule for many years but eventually became a senator for life. Eventually, he was tried for his crimes from the previous years. Pinochet was died of a heart attack.
7. Rafael Trujillo
Rafael Trujillo was known as “the Generalisimo”. He started off as a good liberator for his people but ended up becoming a ruthless dictator. He trained as a soldier under the U.S. Marines. He was a superior warrior who quickly rose through the ranks of his army. Soon, he was powerful enough to contend for leadership of the Dominican Republic.
Once he ran for president he began to oppose those who went against them. He eventually captured the presidency and then became dictator of the country. Trujillo made things better for his people but he was also a ruthless dictator that killed thousands of people. He was also a very foul political leader that used ruthless tactics to ensure the loyalty of his political parties. Eventually, he was assassinated.
6. Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Ernesto “Che” Guevara used to be a doctor before he became a revolutionary. After he took a trip throughout South America and seeing his people suffer, he gave up his profession to become a revolutionary. He realized that the Americans were responsible for his people’s problems so he decided to take up arms against them.
Che was a contemporary of Fidel Castro and both of them crossed each other paths while heading toward their own particular destinations. They even fought together at the Cuban Sierra Maestra and won. After that they parted. Che killed off a lot of people who were pro-America. Many people criticized him for this action. Eventually, Che lost his life in Bolivia. He was trying to liberate the place but he failed to realize what he was up against. He was caught and executed at 39-years-old.
5. Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro was one of the world’s most polarizing and powerful figures. Castro was a physically big man but knew an important lesson. Size does not matter as long as a person has a plan of action and the faith to carry it out. Castro made this claim because he started his revolution in the Latin world with only 82 people following him.
The U.S. controlled Cuba during Castro’s youth. Castro wanted them out. He also wanted to remove any person that was cooperating with the Americans. He planned to eliminate Cuba’s president, Fulgencio Batista. This is because Batista was a puppet for the Americans and not a real ruler for his people. He failed in his attempt and was sent to jail for his effort.
Once Castro left jail he formed a military group. They were an extremely small group of peasants but they had a lot of great victories over Batista forces. Eventually, they defeated Batista. Then Castro took over as the new leader. He became the dictator of Cuba. He killed off hundreds of people who supported Batista. Many people fled Cuba and headed to the U.S. to avoid death. Then Castro told the Russians that they could set up nuclear missiles in their territory. This led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After the missile crisis was over, the Soviet Union had dissolved. Cuba was on their own in the world. However, Nelson Mandela was Cuba’s only ally. Castro had sent troops to various parts of Africa to help people to get free. Castro has done many great things for his people in terms of healthcare and education. His heavy-handed government caused a lot of problems along the way. Castro passed away in 2016 and his legacy will never be forgotten.
4. Simon Bolivar
Simon Bolivar was a European educated Venezuelan man who conquered Venezuela and other territories for his people. He was a very rich person and had power within his homeland. He longed for the independence of his people. So, he set out to crush the Spaniards. He relied heavily upon cavalry units that he used to against the Spanish within his home country. He eventually defeated them and liberated his homeland. He later convinced General San Martin to give up his positon as general.
San Martin had been defeating many Spanish forces in Peru and Chile but his army had become extremely weak from the confrontations. He needed General Bolivar to help him out. Once San Martin resigned, Bolivar continued the fight and won. He named a part of Peru called Bolivia. He then tried to establish a system of government that was like the United States of the time. However, it did not work. The people in those territories rebelled. He had no choice but to divide the territory into three states called Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia.
3. Jose de San Martin
General Jose de San Martin was a famous general from Argentina. He was too was fed up with Spanish rule and he raised a powerful army to march against their oppressors. San Martin’s army was strong enough to remove the Spanish out of Argentina and then Chile. He even drove them out of Peru. However, the Spanish army had regrouped and prepared to take out San Martin. The general knew that his army had grown too weak to stand up to the challenge so he called Simon Bolivar to aid him. Bolivar was another general who helped to free Venezuela. San Martin resigned the fight to Bolivar once he arrived to help.
2. Tupac Amaru II
Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui is also known as Tupac Amaru II. His name Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui was his Spanish name but Tupac Aramu II was his birth name. He was a famous nobleman from the Inca empire. He came from a long line of rulers. He was the last heir to the throne. Tupac was considered a wealthy, charming and sophisticated man. Amaru kept in touch with the ruling viceroys of the day and the powerful members of his society. He was a part of them while living under the Spaniards.
Then it started to slowly dawn onto Tupac that his people were being killed off under the viceroys. He was even responsible for some their deaths since he too had a position of great power. The people were being forced into labor in fields and mines to make the viceroys rich. Soon he decided to rebel against the Spanish. He eventually amassed an army of 6,000 soldiers and started to liberate his people and fight against Spanish rule. The Spaniards killed him and his family as the result of his actions toward them.
1. Bartolome de las Casas
Bartolome De las Casas wrote an important book during the 16th century when the Spaniards started to invade Southern America. He told of how the Spaniards deceived and abused the native peoples in those territories. He also described in detail the genocidal acts that the Spanish conquerors were inflicting upon the native population. During his time his book was not well received by the Spanish people that settled into various areas of South America. Hundreds of years after Casas had passed away, his book became an important piece of literature. It helped modern man to understand how the Spanish came to conquer the lands that they were exploring.
The Latin American historical figures mentioned in this presentation has done a lot to change the lives of their people and to impact the world. They fought to ensure that their people would be free to govern themselves. They showed the world that they should be treated with equality, diginity and respect.