Countries America became dependant on foreign imports

Countries throughout Spanish America suffered from political
instability during the first half-century after independence. Many factors
contributed to this, including economic weaknesses, civil wars, violence, disorder,
caudillismo and so on.

 

One of the most critical aspects of the political
instability suffered throughout Spanish America was an unstable economy,
perhaps caused by the mid-century stagnation suffered from 1820 through to
1850. Latin America became dependant on foreign imports from Britain
especially, replacing Spain as the prevalent force economically exerting
influence over the area. This showed a lack of significant reform economically
and instead seemed to reinforce colonial methods of bringing in finance. Reforms
were attempted between 1820 and 1830 trying to break these colonial methods, in
favour of adopting European trends. However, civilisations existing in Latin
America were unwilling to accept these reforms, with elements of the old
colonial system such as church, landowners and the army remaining prevalent. Crucial
sectors to the economic success of the continent, such as the mining sector,
were hit hard and remained undeveloped due to the lack of exportation of raw
materials. Additionally, wars across Latin America destroyed various industries
and infrastructures such as roads, lands and the agricultural industry. Money spent
on repairing and attempting to revive industry cost the Spanish American
economy dearly.

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An example of economic collapse effecting political
instability is seen in Mexico. Consecutive Mexican leaders had hoped to move
Mexico out of depression and restore its economic stability by fortifying
foreign loans from foreign investors. President Benito Juarez had taken foreign
loans but was unable to pay them back, and so suspended repayments in 1861. In
reaction to this, French forces invaded Mexico and started taking raw materials
in order to forcefully start re-collecting their loan. This led to an
administration crisis and plunged Mexico in to political instability. Elite
groups put restrictions on the power of the political arrangement so that no
economic reforms could be created. Reforms such as sufficiently increasing taxes
and newly rehabilitated property rights could be used to fund investments in infrastructure
and public services which were essential for economic development during the
nineteenth century.

 

Another main cause of political instability was the turbulence
in leadership and the lack of permanency from a political faction or leader. National
governments altered continuously within the majority of Latin America, which unfortunately
elongated the weakness of the new political structures. A reason for the
turnovers in leadership was that they did not respect constitutions that were
accepted as guidelines for the country as a whole. In some cases, the leaders
that had themselves constructed the constitution broke the rules present in
them in order to maintain control and power over their governments. Actions
such as these became common components of Spanish American politics.

 

In this case, politics throughout amalgamated around two
opposites knows as the liberals and the conservatives comprised of elite
members of society, sharing the view that the rest of society were not ready
for democracy. In this way, the government constructed was made to be for the
people, in no way by the people. This allowed for the pursuit of personal
interest over the interest of the people, which resulted in prolonged political
instability. Liberals stressed the rights of the individual and staunchly
opposed the structure of old colonial society. Liberals favoured a secular
society with a federalist government close to that of the United States. In
all, they wanted to copy the economic and social tendencies of Western Europe.
Liberals provided a polar opposite to the beliefs of the Conservatives, who
wanted to keep the main aspects of the old colonial ways of life. This centralised
around the Catholic religion and keeping the Church as a prevalent part of
society.

 

In addition to this, the political climate and the role of
violence revealed a militarisation created by the years during the wars of independence.
In most cases, militaristic rule failed in forming a permanent group, and in
numerous countries politicians were able to control the influence and reduce
the size of their national armies. Although leadership by professionally
organised armies proved fruitless, militias and individual military leaders
proved far more effective. The caudillo were examples of martial men who rose
to prominence through the use of violence, imposing themselves on society through
the use of force and through the use of alliances with elite members of
society. These caudillo leaders heavily relied on their personality to win the
loyalty of their comrades and key politicians in order to influence the most influential
and powerful political leaders in Latin America.  Caudillos contributed to the political
instability of Spanish America through taking away basic human rights, nepotism
and using extreme levels of violence in order to get what they wanted. 

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