Spain and Portugal claim the same South American land, so Pope Alexander VI draws a Line of Demarcation dividing the world: Spain gets all the land not held by a Christian ruler west of the line, and Portugal the land east of it. But after Portuguese protests, the next year Portugal and Spain sign the Treaty of Tordesillas, moving the line 930 miles west and placing the land that became Brazil in Portuguese hands.
Navigators and conquistadors hungry for glory and gold begin coming to South America. "We came here to serve God and the King, and also to get rich," says one. On the ships also come clergymen who attempt to convert New World inhabitants. By royal statute, Spanish conquistadors must establish a church in every part of the colonies with 300 or more inhabitants.
The Vatican creates the first American diocese. By 1600 five archbishoprics and 27 bishoprics exist in Spanish America. Catholic missionaries-primarily Dominicans, Jesuits, and Franciscans -pour in to convert, teach, and eventually defend the Indians against cruel treatment. The Jesuits, through their missions in Paraguay and northeastern Argentina, establish a quasi-collectivist society, prescribing rules for conduct, work, art, and recreation among the Guarani.
Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, governs Spanish territories from his base, Santo Domingo in Hispaniola, from 1509 to 1526; he creates there the first audiencia (royal court of justice). Spanish authorities also establish a traditional form of labor service, known in Spain as encomienda; Spanish settlers are supposed to care for, pay decent wages to, and instruct Indian workers in the Christian faith, but most ignore the law.
First slaves shipped from Africa to South America via Spain.
Dominican friar Antonio de Montesinos delivers a famous sermon warning the conquerors that they are "heading for damnation" for "destroying an innocent people." The sermon so moves Bartolome de las Casas that he renounces his encomienda and eventually becomes a Dominican friar.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa becomes the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, conquistadors have discovered most of the Atlantic coast of South America. They soon enslave many Indians and import black slaves from Africa. Until the 1540s about 94 percent of Spanish immigrants to the Indies are female. Spanish males depend mostly on native women for sexual relations, and Paraguay becomes known as "the paradise of Muhammad" because Spaniards there live openly with large numbers of women.
Francisco Pizarro sails south from Panama with 180 men and 27 horses to Peru and wins an easy victory over the Indians. By 1533 he has conquered most of the Inca empire. One of his officers, Pedro de Valdivia, conquers northern Chile and founds Santiago in 1541. His men cart off enough gold and silver to fill a 12' by 17' room to the height of a man's extended arm. Three years later, Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada overwhelms the Chibcha and founds the city of Bogota in Colombia.
The Spanish crown establishes a viceroyalty in Peru, but local officials have considerable flexibility and autonomy; occasionally they respond to royal decrees with "obedezco pero no cumplo" (roughly, "I accept your authority but will not execute this law"). The church teaches that man is fallible and only by God's grace are some less fallible than others. The goal of politics is to bring the less fallible to power so they can interpret and execute God's will in a superior way. The ruler, once in power, is responsible to his own conscience and to God-not to the will of the people.
Founders of San Marcos de Lima establish the first university in South America.
Diego de Losada founds Caracas; two years later Francisco Alvarez de Toledo becomes viceroy of Peru. A class and caste system dominates all of South America, with European-born Spaniards and Portuguese on top both in the government and the church. Criollos, those born in the New World from supposedly pure European descent, are next, while the mestizos, or mixed bloods, are far below the other two classes but ahead of Indians and Negro slaves.
The Spanish Inquisition establishes a tribunal in Lima.
Sir Francis Drake leads a British attack on Santo Domingo. Spanish viceroys and Portuguese aristocrats try to control trade for the benefit of their mother countries, but England, France, and the Netherlands, jealous of Spain's giant revenues from the lands and treasures in the New World, invade the Spanish Main.
Sao Paulo slave traders begin penetrating the interior of Brazil; soon, Portuguese Jesuits found missions in southern Brazil. The Portuguese are also major importers of slaves from Africa; over the next two centuries Brazil imports perhaps a million more slaves than all of Spanish America combined.
The Portuguese push out of Brazil forces from Holland that had occupied big chunks of the region.
Jesuit missions in Paraguay and Argentina set up the first South American printing presses with type the Guarani Indians make under Jesuit supervision.
Brazil's first printing press is set up, but the government soon shuts it down and does not replace it until 1808 when the King of Portugal transfers his court to Brazil.
French forces sack Rio de Janeiro and hold it for ransom.
Jesuits in Spanish and Portuguese colonies face political opposition. Portuguese King Joseph's chief minister, Pombal, drives 600 Jesuits from Portuguese domains in 1759 so as to fortify royal authority. In 1767, King Charles III of Spain expels 2,200 Jesuits from Spanish America, even though they led education and developed a profitable agricultural system. Seeing the Jesuits as a rival source of power and wealth, he auctions off their best properties and collects the proceeds.
Complaints about heavy taxes and corrupt officials lead to "the Conspiracy of Minas," a failed attempt to overthrow the Brazilian government.
South America's first daily newspaper-Lima's Diario Erudito, Economio y Comercial-begins publication.
Proud and independent criollos, colonial-born whites, grow increasingly resentful of the heavy taxes, restrictions on trade, and Spanish-born whites who sit atop the social and political hierarchy. The Declaration of the Rights of Man promulgated by the Constituent Assembly in Paris, translated into Spanish, and printed this year, also fuels the fire.
South Americans rise in rebellion when they hear that Napoleon is installing his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne. At first, Spanish royalists easily crush the rebellions.
The revolutions snowball into a series of successful wars that leave almost all of South America free of European rule by 1824. Simon Bolivar-called El Libertador (The Liberator)-leads the way to freedom for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela in the north, while the brilliant Argentine general Jose de San Martin leads an army to help win independence for Chile and Peru. Most countries eventually abolish slavery, Indian tributes, and mandatory tithes to the Catholic Church, and open up free commerce.
The Portuguese king, Joao VI, after residing at Rio de Janeiro with his court for 13 years, returns to Lisbon, leaving his son Pedro as regent of the colony. The Congress of Portugal orders Pedro to return to Portugal, but he makes the historic declaration "eu fico" ("I stay") on Jan. 9, 1822. He proclaims Brazil's independence and crowns himself emperor. The legislature forces him out in 1831, and his 5-year-old son, Pedro II, succeeds him. The Additional Act of 1834 gives the provinces autonomy and their own legislative assemblies.
U.S. President James Monroe issues the Monroe Doctrine, warning European powers to keep their hands off the new nations, most of which are unprepared for independent rule. Ransacked and bleeding from war, with little money, many countries resort to international loans-mostly from England-and run up debt. Most citizens are illiterate Indians, slaves, ex-slaves, and mestizos tied to the land by bondage or debt. Oligarchies of wealthy landowners rule many South American countries.
After a series of weak governments in Argentina, Juan Manuel de Rosas, a wealthy landowner with his own army, seizes power. General Justo Jose de Urquiza leads a rebellion to overthrow him in 1852 and becomes the country's first president. In 1862, General Bartolome Mitre becomes the first elected president, and for the first time the Republic of the Plata is called Argentina. The Mitre administration builds schools and railways and helps start mail and telegraph services.
In Chile, a new constitution establishes free elections but also installs on voters a property requirement and literacy test that last until 1874. Landowners hold firm political control for over 100 years after independence.
Millions of European settlers-from Italy, Spain, Poland, the Middle East, France, Russian, Austria-Hungary, and Germany-pour into South America, attracted by rich lands and familiar, temperate climate. From 1887 to 1948, 6 million Europeans, mainly Spaniards and Italians, land in Argentina alone. Many Germans, Italians, and Poles settle in southern Chile and Brazil. The economy picks up and the number of banks and railroads mushrooms.
The Ecuadorean Congress ratifies a new constitution making Catholicism Ecuador's only legal religion. In 1863, a concordat gives the Vatican undisputed control of all education, freedom to publish papal bulls without state interference, and restoration of ecclesiastical courts. In 1869, President Moreno grants citizenship only to practicing Catholics.
Chile joins Peru in a war against Spain, begun when Spain attacks Chile's main port of Valparaiso and attempts to exert control over the country. Spain quickly retires. In 1870, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay defeat expansionist-minded Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance.
Chile declares war on Peru and Bolivia over a longstanding dispute over control of nitrate fields that are mostly inside Peruvian and Bolivian territory but are mostly managed by Chilean interests. Chile wins the "War of the Pacific" in 1884, increasing its national territory by one-third and leaving Bolivia landlocked. Chile and Peru argue over their boundary until 1929.
After ending the slave trade in 1850 and in 1871 freeing all children born to slaves (the "Law of the Free Womb"), Brazil finally abolishes slavery, the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so. Brazil's 3 million slaves (out of a population of 7 million) had by then diminished to 750,000. Planters force Pedro II off the throne, and Brazil becomes a republic in 1889.
Brazilian Presbyterians gain independence from their U.S. parent denominations, responding to the rising current of nationalism. They lean toward emphasizing education rather than evangelism, while Baptists tip toward evangelism and pave the way for the future success of Pentecostals.
Argentine merchants, factory workers, and tenant farmers form the Union Civica and demand free elections. The union later becomes Argentina's largest political party, the Radical Party.
The United States and Latin America form the International Union of American Republics to prevent armed conflict within the Western Hemisphere and protect American states against outside attack. The organization creates the commercial Bureau of American Republics, renamed the Pan American Union in 1910, to create closer economic, cultural, and political relations.
Civil war erupts in Chile, pitting the executive branch (under President Jose Manuel Balmaceda) against legislators. Congress wins the brief but bloody fight when its military backers overwhelm supporters of President Balmaceda, who then commits suicide.
President Eloy Alfaro and his liberal followers welcome Protestant missionaries to Ecuador; they use Protestants to weaken the Conservatives' hold on power, while Protestants use the liberals to gain a foothold. The Catholic Church denounces Protestants as children of Satan and warns Ecuadorians that associating with the intruders will lead to eternal damnation.
While attending a revival meeting in South Bend, Ind., two Swedes receive "the call" to spread the word in Para, Brazil, at the mouth of the Amazon. They found Latin America's first Assemblies of God church, now the oldest and largest Pentecostal organization in Latin America. They also sponsor open-air prayer meetings and spread a network of satellite churches through urban neighborhoods and surrounding communities, eventually turning the Assemblies of God into Brazil's fastest-growing denomination. By 1964, the Assemblies of God claims 1 million Brazil believers and by 1984 they number 6 million-roughly half of Brazil's Protestants.
Brazil joins the Allies during WWI, and is the only South American country to send troops overseas. The Brazilian navy patrols the South Atlantic, and Allied demand for Brazil's food products temporarily boosts Brazil's prosperity.
Communist parties appear in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Peru in the wake of the Russian Revolution. Juan Bautista Justo founds the Argentine Socialist Party that promotes greater governmental power but also free trade, and advocates a redistribution of new income rather than wealth.
Ecuadorian workers' societies, originally dedicated to protecting members' welfare, gradually become radicalized as Ecuador's export economy suffers major losses. Increased unemployment and unfair labor practices lead to sporadic protests and strikes that culminate in a bloody massacre of striking workers in Guayaquil.
Chile's new constitution officially separates church and state. It recognizes the legality and historical relevance of the Roman Catholic Church but also allows freedom of religion and the right of other religious groups to own property and erect buildings. The government continues to support the Catholic Church for a five-year transition period while Catholics seek other revenue sources.
Army officers and some Conservative Party leaders seize control of Argentina's government; military regimes allow no free elections until 1958. Edelmiro Farrell becomes president in 1944, but the United States and many other countries refuse to recognize his government until he declares war on the Axis powers on March 27, 1945. This paves the way for Argentina to be a charter member of the United Nations.
The World Radio Missionary Fellowship and the Christian and Missionary Alliance found the Voice of the Andes, also known as HCJB (Heralding Christ Jesus' Blessings), the first evangelical radio station to operate outside the United States. The radio station's managers loan receivers so groups of listeners can hear the gospel in remote regions. In 1941 the Alliance starts broadcasting programs and religious services in the Quechua language; its programming grows to 100 hours per week and reaches 14 million listeners in Southern Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Northern Argentina.
Bolivia and Paraguay fight over the ownership of Gran Chaco, a massive, low-lying plain. Both sides are dissatisfied over the settlement in 1938 that gives 91,800 square miles of the disputed territory to Paraguay.
Peru defeats Ecuador in a war over the ownership of a wild, uncharted area between Ecuador and Western Brazil, annexing most of the territory.
During World War II, the Latin-American republics pledge their opposition to Germany, Italy, and Japan. Just as in World War I, Brazil is the only South American country to send soldiers to Europe; the Germans repeatedly sink Brazilian ships.
Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral-the literary pen name of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga-becomes the first Chilean, the first Latin American, and the first woman writing in Spanish to win the Nobel Prize for literature for her love poems (usually more spiritual than sensual).
Military leaders depose Brazilian dictator Getulio Vargas, who has ruled since 1930, and establish a democratic government with presidential term limits. In 1947, Brazil outlaws the Communist Party and severs diplomatic relations with Russia. Vargas wins the presidency in 1950 but postwar economic problems-skyrocketing living costs and striking workers-prompt the military to demand his resignation. He resigns and then commits suicide. Constitutional changes and military takeovers bring dictators to power again during the 1960s. The first direct presidential election is not held until 1990.
Juan Peron seizes Argentina's presidency. His wife, Eva, serves as his chief aide until her death in 1952. In 1948 Peron's government buys the British-owned railroads and the American-owned telephone system. In 1951 he seizes the newspaper that had criticized him, La Prensa, and revises the constitution so he can be "reelected" that year. In 1954 he accuses Roman Catholic Church officials of agitating against the government and proposes measures to separate church and state. Church leaders, the navy, and part of the army revolt in 1955; Peron resigns and flees into exile in Spain.
The United States and 19 Latin-American republics agree in the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, or Rio Treaty, to settle their differences peaceably, and that an armed attack against one is an attack against all. In 1948, they establish the Organization of American States to establish regional cooperation. Cuba's Communist government is expelled in 1962.
In Ecuador, Huaorani Indians brutally murder five missionaries from the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), a U.S.-based Protestant group seeking to translate the Bible into all languages. Years later, critics falsely accuse SIL of secretly collaborating with foreign oil companies that wanted the Huaorani to abandon their oil-rich lands. SIL criticism escalates until President Jaime Roldos expels the group from Ecuador in 1981.
In Peru, former philosophy professor Abimael Guzman founds Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla organization. His terrorist campaign to destroy Peru's government and install a Maoist Communist regime rolls through the countryside, gaining support from impoverished peasants, and eventually controls 20 percent of the country. Shining Path attacks urban areas in the early 1990s, bombing banks and power plants and assassinating government officials. Fighting between guerrillas and government forces kills about 30,000 Peruvians before Guzman is sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992.
Victor Raul Haya de la Torre, the famous and aging leader of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), wins the presidential election in Peru. The military, in a bitter feud with APRA, calls on President Manuel Prado to nix the elections. When he refuses, a military junta takes over and declines to hold elections until June 1963.
The Brazilian military overthrows the government. All Brazilian presidents come from the armed forces until 1985.
Father Camilo Torres, a prominent Colombian priest, takes up arms and dies as a leftist guerrilla. Many Catholic priests favor leftist social causes, and some 800 die for them, such as El Salvador's archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 by a rightist death squad while saying mass.
Protestantism explodes during the late '60s with perhaps 15 million Protestant adults in South America; that figure reaches 40 million by the late 1980s. Today there are more Protestant preachers than Catholic priests in Brazil, the world's largest Catholic country, and estimates of "born-again" Brazilians range as high as 30 million. Pentecostalism, in particular, mushrooms. Many passionate Latin Americans move from childhood Catholicism to speaking in tongues, emotional worship, faith healing, and belief in the imminent return of Christ. In 1936 only 2.3 percent of all Protestants in Latin America are Pentecostal. In the '60s, Pentecostals account for over a third of Protestants, and in the '80s well over half. In Chile, they account for over 80 percent.
The Ecuadorian military ousts President Velasco Ibarra and establishes a military government that during its seven-year reign squanders, through corruption and inefficiency, profits from oil exports.
After Chilean President Salvador Allende refuses the military's demand to step down, the army and air force attack and bomb the presidential palace. President Allende commits suicide during the assault and General Augusto Pinochet takes over.
Uruguay's military also takes control and rules until 1984, even though Uruguay was one of the continent's most stable and democratic nations. Meanwhile, former Argentine dictator Juan Peron returns from exile in Spain to win presidential elections by a large margin. His third wife, Isabel, becomes vice president and succeeds him when he dies in 1974, becoming the first female president of a nation in the Western Hemisphere.
In response to guerrilla activities by the Marxist People's Revolutionary Army and a rising tide of violence on the left and right, the Argentinean military wages the "dirty war"; thousands of people are killed or imprisoned. In 1985, high-ranking members of the military juntas that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983 stand trial for various human-rights violations. Several of them (including former Argentine presidents Jorge Videla and Roberto Viola) are sentenced to prison, but in 1990 Argentinean courts commute their sentences and halt trials of lower-ranking officers.
Peru and Ecuador fight a short war over a 165-year-old border dispute. Ecuador says it is not interested in territorial gains but in access to the Amazon River so it can ship goods through Peru to Brazil and Atlantic ports. The dispute is not settled.
Alan Garcia Perez becomes President of Peru. During his five-year term inflation reaches 1 million percent.
A new Brazilian constitution maintains Brazil's presidential system of government but grants more power to the legislature. In 1990 Fernando Collor de Mello wins the first presidential election under this constitution, but after a legislative report links President Collor to widespread corruption and tax evasion, the legislature votes in 1992 to begin impeachment proceedings. In 1994 the Supreme Court acquits Collor of a corruption charge but bars him from holding public office until 2000.
A military coup ends General Alredo Stroessner's 35-year rule of Paraguay; officers set up presidential elections.
Every South American country has an elected civilian government, although serious economic, social, and political problems remain. In 1992 long-stable Venezuela survives two attempted coups. Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori assumes near-dictatorial powers. Through the decade Colombia, Peru, and other countries battle guerrillas and drug cartels.
Brazilian voters choose to retain a presidential republic, and in 1994, for the first time, Brazil exports more to Latin America than to the United States. Former finance minister Fernando Henrique Cardosa wins the October 1994 elections-his economic program had drastically reduced inflation and stabilized the economy. He wins reelection in 1998 during an economic crisis sparked by capital flight from Brazil and other developing nations due to problems in Russia and Asia.
Catholic Bishops discuss the growth of Protestantism in South America at the first Latin American Bishops Conference. They contend that northern Protestantism ripped apart Latin America's traditional Catholic culture. Today more Catholics live in Latin America than in any other region on earth. Brazil has the world's largest national church, with more than 110 million members on its books and 350 bishops. But attendance is down; although 19 out of 20 Brazilians belonged to the church 50 years ago, its bishops estimate that only three out of four do so now.
Some 2 million Ecuadorians protest in the streets, demanding that President Abdala Bucaram resign because of his corruption and ineffectiveness. He flees the country. In 1997, under interim President Fabian Alarcon, Ecuador elects a National Assembly charged with rewriting the constitution and preparing for new elections.
Former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet travels to London to undergo surgery. While he recovers, a Spanish judge asks Great Britain's government to extradite General Pinochet to Spain to be tried by a Spanish court for crimes allegedly committed against Spanish citizens in Chile during the military dictatorship. In 2000, General Pinochet is freed from house arrest in London by order of British Minister Jack Straw. Straw said that British medical exams found the general physically and mentally unable to withstand the rigors of a trial. A Chilean air force plane carries Pinochet back to Chile.
Fujimori resigns the Peruvian presidency; Stanford-educated economist Alejandro Toledo is elected the following year.
Argentina plunges into economic and political turmoil; president resigns, interim president suspends foreign debt payments. Early the following year, Argentina's government devalues the peso, and unrest continues.
In Colombia, new president Alvaro Uribe declares a state of emergency to fight a "regime of terror" following a surge of war violence. In Venezuela, a coup fails to overthrow Marxist president Chavez, who emphasizes class antagonism and attacks attempts by the rich to "sabotage" the economy.
References: Lands and Peoples, Central and South America; Worcester Makers of Latin America; Skidmore, Modern Latin America; Henriquez-Urena, A Concise History of Latin American Culture; Castillo-Feliu, Culture and Customs of Ecuador; Handelsman, Culture and Customs of Chile; Rock, Argentina, 1516-1982, From Spanish Colonization to the Falklands War; Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America; Martin, Tongues of Fire, the Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America; Westmeier, Protestant Pentecostalism in Latin America; Chesnut, Born Again in Brazil, The Pentecostal Boom and the Pathogens of Poverty; Winn, Americas, the Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean; Burns, Latin America, a Concise Interpretive History; Burns, A History of Brazil; Langer, An Encyclopedia of World History; Timetables of History