South America

By | January 13, 2023

Latin America History

The history of Latin America began when Columbus, in an attempt to reach India by sailing west in 1492, reached the Caribbean. Over the next few decades, the Spaniards established themselves on several Caribbean islands; the first real colony, Santo Domingo, was established on Hispaniola in 1496. With the Spanish discoveries in the west, the need quickly arose for a division of the world between the two great European seafaring powers, Spain and Portugal. In the Treaty of Tordesilla of 1494, a demarcation line was agreed upon approximately 2400 km west of the Cape Verde Islands; all discoveries west of this were reserved for the Spaniards, while the Portuguese had a monopoly on discoveries in the east. It was not until 1500 that it was discovered how far east South America stretched, and that Portugal thus had a right to Brazil.

Early Latin America in particular was predominantly a Spanish America, and it grew ever larger; 1519-21 Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec Empire in Mexico, and 1532-33 followed Francisco Pizarros conquest of the vast Inca Empire in the Andes. Although Spanish America and thus Latin America approximately 1650 formally stretched from the southern tip of South America to nearly a third up in the present United States, from California in the west to Florida in the east, the real control was largely limited to coastal areas where plantation operations were established with extensive use of African slaves, as well as to the two large former Native American empires, where one could have taken over parts of an already existing highly developed community organization, and where Native American labor could be used on large estates and in mining. Diseases of the old world, chickenpox and measles, the Native American population decimated violently. According to AbbreviationFinder, the largest countries in South America are Brazil and Colombia.

Eventually, the monopolies of Portugal and Spain were challenged. Spain was under increasing pressure in North America until only Mexico remained, and in the Caribbean it succeeded, among other things. in the 1600’s. France and England to take over respectively. present-day Haiti and Jamaica. During the same period, England settled in Belize in Central America and Guyana on the north coast of South America, where France and the Netherlands also gained possessions (French Guiana and Suriname).

Inspired by the independence of the United States and the French Revolution and with the Creole elites whose interests had become increasingly incompatible with the Spanish colonial power, the rebel leadership won virtually all the Spanish colonies in America their independence in the early 1800’s. Simón Bolívar’s (South America’s great liberation hero) attempt to create a large Colombia consisting of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela quickly failed, as did similar efforts in Central America, and state borders largely came to follow the administrative division from the colonial era. Brazil’s independence in 1822 was gained more peacefully and was more a result of developments in Europe.

Since independence

Especially in the 1800’s. For example, the political life of almost all of Latin America was marked by strife between the conservatives who wanted protectionist economic policies and based on the pro-church landowners and the liberal, anti-clerical free trade supporters.

The great economic interests and political influence of the United States are another common feature of most Latin American countries defined by Since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States has, with varying ability and intensity, denied the right of non-American states to interfere in American affairs and, by extension, asserted its own right to influence. This has been reflected in the good neighbor’s policy, but also in strong interference in the internal affairs of the Latin American countries, sometimes in the form of military intervention or support for strongly right-wing military regimes and coup plotters, etc., when the United States has considered its interests threatened (see it big stick policy). However, the neighborhood has also meant that Latin America was only insignificantly involved in World War I and II, which here became periods of general economic progress. The relationship with the United States is consequently very ambivalent; on the one hand, for example, Cuba’s Fidel Castro is a popular figure in many circles because he has been able to resist the powerful neighbor’s many attempts at interference, on the other, the United States represents prosperity, which results in large emigration to the United States and in that American products and American culture have become increasingly important in Latin America. Almost all Latin American states and the United States have been united in the Organization of American States (OAS) since 1948.

The colonial legacy, the conflict between conservatives and liberals, and the interests and sensitivity of the United States towards especially socialist-colored governments are important explanations for the fact that Latin America’s recent history for many countries has been an endless series of civil wars, military coups and corrupt dictatorships. Banana Republic has been seen as the epitome of Latin America. However, after the end of the Cold War and especially after the violent economic problems of the 1980’s, large foreign debts and strong inflation, there are many indications that the trend has reversed. Latin America has been characterized by economic progress since the early 1990’s, although the values ​​are still very unequally distributed. Oppression of the Native American peoples in particular remains a problem in many places.

Drama and theater in United States, North America

American drama developed relatively late into an independent art form and was very little influenced by developments in other literary genres. American playwrights have rarely made any successful attempts in poetry or storytelling.


The actors and producers were far more interesting people than the writers of the 19th century theater audience, who loved magnificently staged melodramas with lots of people on stage and spectacular scenic effects. The plays were often imported English and French audience successes or dramatized popular novels, e.g. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Life Among the Lowly” (1852; “Uncle Tom’s Cabin or the Negro Life of the American Slave States”). When American writers like William Dean Howells wrote original dramas, they often chose traditional forms from the father to the blank verse drama.

A certain vitality characterized the popular vaudeville theater. By the middle of the century, Minstrel shows had evolved into a traditional form of entertainment with a uniform regime pattern. A variant of these were the burlesques (burley cues), which mainly offered dialect and slapstick comics, travesties on popular theater plays or current events, lightly dressed ballet girls and song and dance numbers.

The 1900’s and 2000’s

When the Little Theater movement reached the United States in the 1910’s, conditions were created for a decisive break with the commercial theater conventions. Among the role models were André Antoine’s Parisian experimental scene Théâtre Libre (1887–94) and Strindberg’s naturalistic drama. Around the US, small groups of theater-loving amateurs and professionals were formed who wanted to try a new kind of drama on stage – the shorter and easier plays the better. One such group, The Provincetown Players, was formed in 1915 by a summer colony of theater people, artists and writers in Massachusetts. The following summer, young Eugene O’Neill joined the group and soon became one of its leaders. O’Neill was the son of a well-known actor of the old school and had learned theater skills from the ground up. All the plays he wrote until 1925 were performed by The Provincetown Players at their theater in Greenwich Village, New York. Other writing members of the group were Edna Ferber and Edna St. Vincent Millay. O’Neill’s work illustrates the main trends in the new drama. Particularly striking is the combination of a deliberately colorless realistic prose and a boldly innovative expressionist technique. O’Neill gained great influence in the American theater, which he dominated until the late 1940’s.

During the 1920’s, the playwright Maxwell Anderson emerged as a significant competitor to O’Neill. Other dramas during the interwar period include the experimentalist Elmer Rice and the politically radical Clifford Odets, who in dramas such as “Waiting for Lefty” (1935) and “Golden Boy” (1937) aroused opinion with their anti-capitalist themes.

New York became the home of the new drama from the beginning, and the theater street is called Broadway. There, postwar great playwright Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller celebrated their greatest triumphs, the latter most notably with “Death of a Salesman” (1949; “The Death of a Traveler”). However, the stiff economic climate on Broadway, with increasingly costly sets as the main means of competition, soon tended to make producers reluctant to invest in untested theater forms. Safe cards were comedies of e.g. Neil Simon (from the 1960’s) and musicals by Stephen Sondheim (1970’s and 80’s). The experimental theater had to seek other scenes alongside Broadway: off-Broadway. Edward Albee debuted off-Broadway in the late 1950’s, and his most naturalistic play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) Also became his first Broadway success in 1962. Off-Broadway gained more attention with experimental plays such as Jack Gelber’s “The Connection” (1960), a brutally realistic study of a group of drug addicts. Often, successful off-Broadway productions were moved to Broadway. This applies, for example. David Rabe’s “Sticks and Bones” (1971), which is about a Vietnam veteran, and Douglas Turner Ward’s “The River Niger” (1973), which depicts the downfall of a black family. Female playwrights like Wendy Wasserstein, Marsha Norman and Beth Henley have also been able to assert themselves off-Broadway. In the 1980’s, off-Broadway’s role as a nursery for Broadway in association with a generally more conservative political and economic atmosphere gave rise to an off-Broadway for the avant-garde theater.

The vitality of the American theater avant-garde, represented in the 1950’s and 1960’s by the happening movement and the environmental theater led by Richard Schechner, may have diminished over the years. Pioneer Age groups, such as Living Theater and Bread and Puppet Theater, are seeking their counterparts today. In return, the Community Theater movement and the often locally funded regional theater defend its position; a leading group is the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. On Broadway, they often dominate spectacular musicals. If David Mamet was one of the 1970’s and Tony Kushner one of the 1980’s leading dramatists, Tracy Letts can be said in recent years to defend an American tradition of O’Neill and Tennessee Williams. Among younger female playwrights is Naomi Wallace.


Ever since the performance of a play in 1598 near present-day El Paso, there has been a lively, folk-based theater tradition in areas of Hispanic population, of ambulatory type and on a large number of fixed scenes, especially in California and Texas. During the 19th and 20th centuries, this theater played an important role in preserving and strengthening one’s own cultural identity in one of Anglo-American dominated societies. The modern chicano theater, including the internationally renowned Teatro Campesino founded by Luis Valdez in 1965 with a strong connection to trade union movement and social struggle, has developed and renewed this tradition.

African American theater

A self-conscious African-American theater began in the 20th century; an early proponent of his own dramatic culture was William DuBois. The first success on Broadway was Langston Hughes’s “Mulatto” (1934). The civil rights movement of the 1960’s increased the interest in its own, politically conscious theater and the Apollo Theater in Harlem became a center. From that time a playwright like LeRoi Jones can be mentioned.