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Welcome to the Caudillo web page! Here you will learn about the Caudillo dictators in Latin America and learn about how Latin American people suffered under their rule. For your information, this website does not give information about every Caudillo dictators. Just the major caudillos from the 1800's. To make your life easier, use the link menu on the left for easy navigation throughout this website.
The caudillos were dictators in Latin and South America that ruled many countries there during the mid 1800's. Posing as reformists with the goal of improving economy and improving life for the common people, the caudillos did little more than take over the government and take away rights from the people. The caudillos came to power immediately following Latin America's fight for independence from European control in the early 1800's, and were mostly made up of wealthy Creole aristocrats. Some caudillo dictators attempted to make improvements in their country, but the large majority of caudillos cared only for themselves, power, and their wealth. Changes in power usually occurred at bayonet-point, where one caudillo was forced to step down to another.
In Mexico, Porfirio Diaz was the ruling caudillo and was probably the only dictator to improve his country. Before Diaz came to power, he was best known for his efforts in three wars, the Mexican War; the Mexican Civil War, and the Patriotic War. After taking overthrowing the governments of two Mexican presidents using military power, Diaz finally took presidency in 1880 and ruled until 1911. During his presidency, Porfirio stabilized the finances of Mexico, developed and restructured the economy, gained foreign capital especially from the United States, promoted the country's minerals, installed railroad and telegraph lines, and increased foreign trade by 300%. However, foreign investing drained Mexico's wealth and caused discontent with the people. Mexico's citizens hoped to overthrown Diaz for a variety of reasons. For the lower class, their reasons were low wages, substandard working conditions, inflation, bad housing, and deficient social services. As for the middle and upper class, the general feeling was that there was cheating and corruption by the rich, who were aided by the government. The people's discontent prompted the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which involved almost the entire Mexican population including men, women, and children. In Venezuela, there were two important caudillos. The first caudillo was Jose Tadeo Monagas, who took power in 1846. Monagas was responsible for replacing the entire Venezuelan congress with Liberals, abolishing slavery in 1854, and attempting to form a new constitution in 1857 that extended the term of the president from four to six years with opportunities for reelection. The following caudillo was Antonio Guzmán Blanco, who came to power in 1870. Under his rule, public debt was secured, railroads were built, and communications were improved. Blanco also improved education by applying technology in the studies and rebuilding parts of the capital. However, Blanco took away the power of the Roman Catholic Church, by reducing its wealth and authority. Due to public discontent and violent demonstrations, Blanco retired in 1888. In Argentina, the ruling Caudillo was Juan Manuel de Rosas, who came to power in 1829. His achievements included overthrowing a mutinous general who had executed Buenos Aires' provincial governor the year before, and attempting to unify the nation. Back to top
In this map, it shows which Latin or South American countries were ruled by Caudillos. Orange means countries that became ruled by Caudillos by the 1800's. Green means countries that became ruled by the 1820's. Blue means countries that became ruled by the 1830's. Brown colored countries are nations untouched by the Caudillo dictators. White is the United States, which was unaffected by the events in Latin and South America.
What about the people?
During the rule of the Caudillo dictators, the Latin American people became forced into hard conditions, peasants became tied to the land and forced to work long hours, and middle class people virtually had no rights over their land or vote. Though the Latin American people tried to revolt against their rulers, most social uprisings were put down violently by the government. Most oftenly, men, women and children participated in the revolts. The ruling class consisted of the Caudillos, landowners and other social elites who controlled political life, and increased urban growth. Urban growth was defined as increasing the working class, which was the poor and middle class working in unbearable conditions. The dictators also took away power from the Catholic Church.
Bibliography Back to top
1. "Latin America to 1940."
URL: http://www.loyno.edu/~nicoll/worldcivII/14latinam.htm (5 Nov. 2000)
This source was extremely useful because it described the whole political situation in Latin America countries during the Caudillo rule, but most importantly discussed the condition of the people under the dictatorships.
1. "Argentina." Article. (Electric Library).
2. "As others saw Porfirio Diaz."
3. "Caudillo." World Book Online. 2000 ed.
4. Davis, Harold E. "Caudillo." Encyclopedia Americana. 1999 ed.
5. "Díaz, Porfirio." Encarta Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
6. Emerson, Edwin. A history of The Nineteenth Century Year by Year. New York: P.F. Collier And Son, 1900.
7. Herringshaw, Thomas W. "Porfirio Diaz." Prominent Men and Women of the Day. 1888.
(19 Oct. 2000)
8. "History of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920."
9. "Latin America." Encarta Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
10. Parkes, Henry Bamford. A History of Mexico. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969.
11. "Peru." Encarta Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
12. "Venezuela." Encarta Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
13. "Venezuela." Article. (Electric Library).
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