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The Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas

Latin America is a group of countries and dependencies in the Western Hemisphere where Romance languages such as Spanish, French and Portuguese are predominantly spoken; it is broader than the terms Ibero-America or Hispanic America. The term originated in the Napoleon III French government in the mid-19th century as Amérique latine to consider French-speaking territories in the Americas, (French Canadians, French Louisiana, French Guiana, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy) along with the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed, including the Spanish-speaking portions of the United States (southwestern United States and Florida) Today, areas of Canada and the United States (with the exception of Puerto Rico and Miami) where Spanish, Portuguese and French are predominant are typically not included in definitions of Latin America.

Geographical type: Region

Area: 19,197,000 km²

Featured Places

  • Argentina - Territory in southeast South America, ruled since 1861 by the República Argentina
  • Chile - Territory in southwest South America, ruled since 1980 by the República de Chile

Notable Places

  • Bolivia - Territory in western South America, ruled since 2009 by the Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
  • Colombia - Territory in northwest South America, ruled since 1991 by the República de Colombia
  • Costa Rica - Territory in Central America, ruled since 1949 by the República de Costa Rica
  • Cuba - Island in the Caribbean Sea, ruled since 1959 by the República de Cuba
  • Dominican Republic - Territory in the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea, ruled since 1961 by the República Dominicana
  • Ecuador - Territory in northwest South America, ruled since 2008 by the República del Ecuador
  • El Salvador - Territory in Central America, ruled since 1983 by the República de El Salvador
  • Guatemala - Territory in Central America, ruled since 1985 by the República de Guatemala
  • Honduras - Territory in northern Central America, ruled since 1982 by the República de Honduras
  • Mexico - Territory in south central North America, ruled since 1917 by the Estados Unidos Mexicanos
  • Nicaragua - Territory in Central America, ruled since 1987 by the República de Nicaragua
  • Panama - Territory in south Central America, ruled since 1903 by the República de Panama
  • Peru - Territory in western South America, ruled since 1993 by the República del Perú
  • Uruguay - Territory in southeast South America, ruled since 1828 by the República Oriental del Uruguay
  • Venezuela - Territory in northern South America, ruled since 1999 by the República Bolivariana de Venezuela


An Aristocracy of Pull?, by Thomas M. Wilson, The Freeman, Aug 2001
In Spanish America, it should be recalled, the wars of independence in the early nineteenth century were not revolutions. They were reactionary rebellions led by native-born elites, known as criollos, aimed at restoring the monarchial system toppled by Napoleon's invasion of Spain and ouster of Ferdinand VII.
Related Topic: Achievement
The Authority of a Foreign Talisman: A Study of U.S. Constitutional Practice as Authority in Nineteenth Century Argentina and the Argentine Elite's Leap of Faith, by Jonathan M. Miller, American University Law Review, Jun 1997
Examines the history of Argentine law prior to adoption of the 1853 Constitution, the arguments in Alberdi's Bases and the influence of the U.S. Constitution during the remainder of the 19th century and up to 1930
According to Borón and many others, Latin American societies were unprepared for liberal constitutional models at the time of independence. Latin America, with a colonial history of Hispanic authoritarianism, huge landholdings and little self-government, lacked the traditions needed to support constitutions based on liberal values, and as a consequence, the new constitutions lacked the necessary psychological acceptance.
Capitalism and Statism in Latin America, by Manuel Ayau, 4 Oct 1997
Speech given to The Philadelphia Society, San Antonio, Texas regional meeting
South and Central America have suffered and lived under ... mercantilism, inherited from Spain and Portugal since colonial days, with the few exceptional decades in the end of last century and beginning of the present ... Those few decades were followed by the combination and succession of the unfortunate events that dominated most of this century, and Latin America abandoned the successful capitalistic policies prevailing in the leading countries, and reverted to mercantilism under one name or another, some times under elected governments and other times under dictatorships.
Give Freedom Its Turn in Latin America, by Manuel F. Ayau, Imprimis, Nov 1984
Paper delivered as part of a seminar in the Center for Constructive Alternatives; argues that problems in Latin American countries are systemic and are due to a "lack of understanding of the economic principles and ethics of a free society"
Latin America is well known for its endemic political instability, coups d'etat, widespread underdevelopment, monetary instability, disproportionate foreign debts, corruption, violence, and recently, the implausible scenario of oil-rich countries going broke ... Yet the image that these countries project does not correspond to the character of their people. By far the overwhelming majority are decent, hard-suffering people, trying to make good in a constantly decreasing sphere of free or less hampered activities.
A Modest Proposal for the Next Drug-War Shootdown, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Aug 2001
Offers recommendations (some tongue in cheek, later serious) after the shootdown by the Peruvian air force of a Cessna carrying American Baptist missionaries (but claimed to carry traffickers)
[H]undreds—if not thousands—of innocent Latin American civilians have been killed in the drug war in the last decade ... The CIA wizards were not fluent in Spanish ... Spanish has been the dominant language in Peru for the past 300 or 400 years. If the CIA cannot even post people who speak the language to the narco-war-zones, what chance is there that its contract employees will be competent in other ways? After all, with all the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on the drug war, can't they spare a few hundred for Spanish lessons for CIA officials operating in Latin America?
Non-Marxist Theories of Imperialism, by Alan Fairgate, Reason, Feb 1976
Examines writings of critics of imperialism that are not based on Marxist analysis
This analysis of the impact of imperialism could be usefully supplemented by Stanislav Andreski's discussion of domestic class structures in Latin America in Parasitism and Subversion ... Andreski analyzed in detail the various institutional forms of parasitism endemic to the semi-feudal societies of Latin America, and focused on the characteristic 'parasitic involution' of capitalism. While he tended to dismiss the role of external intervention in reinforcing such parasitic structures, his work nevertheless complements Liggio's focus on imperialism as the imposition of a double layer of exploitation.


Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America
    by Ted Galen Carpenter, 2003
Partial contents: Thirty Years of Failure - Forging the Bad Neighbor Policy - Escalating and Militarizing the Drug War - Plan Colombia - A Mix of Flawed Strategies - Washington's "Ugly-American" Tactics - Reaping the Whirlwind - Mexico: The Next Colombia?
Related Topic: War on Drugs

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Latin America" as of 2 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.