Latin America

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Posted by pompos 03/20/2009 @ 18:11

Tags : latin america, americas, world

News headlines
A/H1N1 flu continues to spread in Latin America - Xinhua
by Zhou Jianxin MEXICO CITY, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the outbreak of influenza A/H1N1 has risen to 61 in Latin America, with 60 in Mexico and one in Costa Rica, as the flu continues to spread in the continent, according to news reaching...
mocoNews - Earnings: Telefonica Profit Up As Latin America Offsets ... - Washington Post
Latin America came to Telefonica's rescue again, helping offset shrinking sales in its European operations, and boosting the company's first quarter profits. Europe's second largest phone company reported first quarter net income rose 9.8 percent to...
Telefonica's 1Q Latin American Wireless Subs Up 20% On Year - Wall Street Journal
MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica SA (TEF) said Wednesday it gained 1.3 million wireless customers in Latin America in the first quarter, taking advantage of the region's buoyant mobile phone market....
Economic Crisis Could Deepen Latin America's Energy Woes - Wall Street Journal
(Dow Jones)--The current economic crisis may exacerbate the slow growth of Latin America's crude oil and natural gas output, which has lagged as the region has struggled to exploit its abundant energy resources. Venezuela and Mexico missed out on the...
Brazil and Argentina: Latin America Bond and Currency Preview - Bloomberg
By Renato Andrade May 14 (Bloomberg) -- The following events and economic reports may influence trading in Latin American local bonds and currencies today. Bond yields and exchange rates are from the previous day's session. Brazil: Retail sales may...
BM&FBovespa, Petrobras, TV Azteca: Latin Equity Preview - Bloomberg
By Hugh Collins May 14 (Bloomberg) -- The following companies may have unusual price changes today in Latin American trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses and share prices reflect the previous close. The MSCI Latin America Index fell 4.2 percent to...
Argentina and Mexico: Latin America Bond and Currency Preview - Bloomberg
By Renato Andrade May 13 (Bloomberg) -- The following events and economic reports may influence trading in Latin American local bonds and currencies today. Bond yields and exchange rates are from the previous day's session....
Fiat Said to Study Use of Designs From GM's Opel for Chrysler - Bloomberg
The prospect of a GM alliance was broached last week by Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who said in a May 6 interview he was interested in an as-yet-undefined venture with GM in Europe and Latin America. He also said he's interested in...
Mobius Says Latin America Commodity Producers Are 'Attractive' - Bloomberg
By Michael Patterson May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Shares of Latin American commodity producers are “attractive” investments and the region's banks are in “good shape” because they hold few bad loans, Templeton Asset Management Ltd.'s Mark Mobius said....
Telefonica First-Quarter Net Rises on Latin America - Bloomberg
By Paul Tobin May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Telefonica SA, Europe's second- largest phone company, said first-quarter profit climbed 9.8 percent as it added more Latin American customers. Net income rose to 1.69 billion euros ($2.31 billion) from 1.54 billion...

Latin America

Colombians dancing "La Pollera" in the Carnival of Barranquilla,the second largest in the world after Brazilian Carnival

Latin America (Spanish: América Latina or Latinoamérica; Portuguese: América Latina; French: Amérique latine) is a region of the Americas where Latin culture is prominent, including the prevalent use of a Romance language, and dominancy of Roman Catholicism, which contrasts with its Anglo-Protestant counterpart.

The distinction between Latin America and Anglo-America, and more generally the stress on European heritage (or Eurocentrism), is simply a convention by which Romance-language and English-speaking cultures are distinguished, currently being the predominant languages in the Americas. There are, of course, many places in the Americas (e.g. highland Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Paraguay) where American Indian cultures and languages are predominant, as well as areas in which the influence of African cultures is strong (e.g. the Caribbean, including parts of Colombia and Venezuela, coastal Ecuador, and coastal Brazil).

U.S. influences shaped the cultures of Latin America, especially those of Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory. In addition, the U.S. held a territory in a swath of land in Panama over the 20-mile-long Panama Canal from 1903 (the canal opened to transoceanic freight traffic in 1914) to 1979 when the U.S. government agreed to give the territory back to Panama.

The Americas are thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge, now the Bering strait, from northeast Asia into Alaska more than 10,000 years ago. Over the course of millennia, people spread to all parts of the continents. By the first millennium AD/CE, South America’s vast rainforests, mountains, plains and coasts were the home of tens of millions of people. The earliest settlements in the Americas are of the Las Vegas Culture from about 8000 BC and 4600 BC, a sedentary group from the coast of Ecuador, the forefathers of the more known Valdivia culture, of the same era. Some groups formed more permanent settlements such as the Chibchas (or "Muiscas" or "Muyscas") and the Tairona groups. The Chibchas of Colombia, the Quechuas of Peru, and the Aymaras of Bolivia were the three Indian groups that settled most permanently.

The region was home to many indigenous peoples and advanced civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, Caribs, Tupi, Maya, and Inca. The golden age of the Maya began about 250, with the last two great civilizations, the Aztecs and Incas, emerging into prominence later on in the early fourteenth century and mid-fifteenth centuries, respectively.

With the arrival of the Europeans following Christopher Columbus's voyages, the indigenous elites, such as the Incans and Aztecs, lost power to the Europeans. Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec elite's power with the help of local groups who disliked the Aztec elite, and Francisco Pizarro eliminated the Incan rule in Western South America. European powers, most notably Spain and Portugal, colonized the region, which along with the rest of the uncolonized world was divided into areas of Spanish and Portuguese control by the Line of Demarcation in 1493, which gave Spain all areas to the west, and Portugal all areas to the east (the Portuguese lands in South America subsequently becoming Brazil). By the end of the sixteenth century, Europeans occupied large areas of North, Central and South America, extending all the way into the present southern United States. European culture and government was imposed, with the Roman Catholic Church becoming a major economic and political power, as well as the official religion of the region.

Diseases brought by the Europeans, such as smallpox and measles, wiped out a large proportion of the indigenous population, with epidemics of diseases reducing them sharply from their prior populations. Historians cannot determine the number of natives who died due to European diseases, but some put the figures as high as 85% and as low as 20%. Due to the lack of written records, specific numbers are hard to verify. Many of the survivors were forced to work in European plantations and mines. Intermixing between the indigenous peoples and the European colonists was very common, and, by the end of the colonial period, people of mixed ancestry (mestizos) formed majorities in several colonies.

By the end of the eighteenth century, Spanish and Portuguese power waned as other European powers took their place, notably Britain and France. Resentment grew over the restrictions imposed by the Spanish government, as well as the dominance of native Spaniards (Iberian-born peninsulares) over the major institutions and the majority population, including the colonial-born Spaniards (criollos, Creoles). Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1808 marked the turning point, compelling Creole elites to form juntas that advocated independence. Also, the newly independent Haiti, the second oldest nation in the New World after the United States and the oldest independent nation in Latin America, further fueled the independence movement by inspiring the leaders of the movement, such as Simón Bolívar and José de San Martin, and by providing them with considerable munitions and troops.

Fighting soon broke out between the Juntas and the Spanish colonial authorities, with initial Creole victories, including Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Mexico and Francisco de Miranda in Venezuela, crushed by the Spanish troops. Under the leadership of Simón Bolívar, José de San Martin and other Libertadores in South America, the independence movement regained strength, and by 1825, all Spanish Latin America, except for Puerto Rico and Cuba, gained independence from Spain. Brazil achieved independence with a constitutional monarchy established in 1822. During the same year in Mexico, a military officer, Agustín de Iturbide, led conservatives who created a constitutional monarchy, with Iturbide as emperor (followed by a republic, 1823).

The population of Latin America is a composite of ancestries, ethnic groups, and races, making the region one of the most – if not the most – diverse in the world. The specific composition varies from country to country: Some have a predominance of a mixed population; in others, Amerindians are a majority; some are dominated by inhabitants of European ancestry; and some countries' populations are primarily of African descent. Most or all Latin American countries have Asian minorities. Europeans are the largest single group, and they and people of part-European ancestry combine for approximately 80% of the population. In addition to the following groups, Latin America also has millions of triracial people of African, Amerindian, and European ancestry. Most are found in Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil, with a much smaller presence in a number of other countries.

The aboriginal population of Latin America, the Amerindians, experienced tremendous population decline, particularly in the early decades of colonization. They have since recovered in numbers, surpassing sixty million, though they compose a majority in only two countries: Bolivia and Peru. In both Ecuador and Guatemala, Amerindians are large minorities comprising two–fifths of the population, while the next largest minority is in Mexico, with more than one–sixth the population. Most of the remaining countries have Amerindian minorities, in every case making up one–tenth or less of the population. In many countries, people of mixed Amerindian and European ancestry make up the majority of the population (see Mestizo).

People of Asian descent number several million in Latin America. The first Asians to settle in the region were Filipino, as a result of Spain's trade involving Asia and the Americas. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese or Chinese ancestry and reside mainly in Brazil and Peru. Brazil is home to 1.49 million people of Asian descent, which includes the largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan itself, numbering 1.5 million. Peru, with 1.47 million people of Asian descent, has one of the largest Chinese communities in the world, with nearly 1 million Peruvians being of Chinese ancestry. The Japanese community also maintains a strong presence in Peru, and a past President and a number of politicians are of Japanese descent in Peru. Indians, Koreans, and Vietnamese are also among the largest ethnic Asian communities in the region. In the Panama Canal zone there is also a Chinese minority, who are mostly the descendants of migrant workers who built the Panama Canal.

Millions of African slaves were brought to Latin America from the sixteenth century onward, the majority of whom were sent to the Caribbean region and Brazil. Today, people identified as black compose a majority in Haiti, significant minorities in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Belize, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras, Panama and Puerto Rico, and small minorities in Guatemala, and Peru.

Intermixing between Europeans and Amerindians began early and was extensive. The resulting people, known as mestizos, make up the majority of the population in half of the countries of Latin America: Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Additionally, mestizos compose large minorities in nearly all the other mainland countries.

Mulattoes are biracial descendants of mixed European and African ancestry, mostly descended from Spanish or Portuguese settlers on one side and African slaves on the other during the colonial period. The vast majority of mulattoes are found in Brazil, and mulattoes form the majority in the Dominican Republic. Cuba and Colombia are the other countries with large numbers of mulattoes. There is also a small presence of mulattoes in other Latin American countries.

Beginning in the late fifteenth century, large numbers of Iberian colonists settled in what became Latin America — Portuguese in Brazil and Spaniards elsewhere in the region — and at present most white Latin Americans are of Spanish or Portuguese origin. Iberians brought the Spanish and Portuguese languages, the Catholic faith, and many Iberian traditions. In absolute numbers, Brazil has the largest population of whites in Latin America, followed by Argentina and Mexico (see White Latin American).

Millions of Europeans have immigrated to Latin America since most countries gained independence in the 1810s and 1820s, with most of the immigration occurring in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the bulk of the immigrants settling in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile. Italians formed the largest group of immigrants, and next were Spaniards and Portuguese. Many others arrived, such as Germans, Greeks, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Irish, and Welsh.

Latin American countries attracted European immigrants to work in agriculture, commerce and industry. Many Latin American governments encouraged immigrants from Europe to 'civilize' the region. Despite their different origins, these immigrants integrated in the local societies and most of their descendants only speak Spanish or, in Brazil, Portuguese. For example, people of Italian descent make up half of Argentina's and Uruguay's populations, but only relatively small percentages of them are able to speak Italian. However, in Venezuela, where the population of Italian descent makes up about 400,000, about 1.5% of the total, there is still a tendency of the communities to preserve the language, as do Germans and Portuguese. Also there are some communities of Germans and In Brazil, which has the biggest population of Italians outside of Italy (São Paulo city alone has more Italians than Rome, the most populous Italian city), Italians in the country's predominantly white south still preserve their languages.

Immigration from the Middle East took place also since the 19th century and consisted largely of Christians of Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian origin. Some countries have populations of Iranian and Pashtun descent (see Pashtun diaspora). They have generally assimilated into the European-descended population.

Slaves often ran away (cimarrones) and were taken in by Amerindian villagers. Intermixing between Africans and Amerindians produced descendants known as Zambos or (in Central America) Garinagu. This was especially prevalent in Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil.

The following table shows the different racial groups and their percentages for all Latin American countries and territories. For some countries, like Chile and Costa Rica, the white and mestizo percentages are combined in some sources.

Spanish is the predominant language in the majority of Latin American countries. Portuguese is spoken primarily in Brazil, the most populous country in the region. French is spoken in some countries of the Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana and Haiti. Dutch is the official language of some Caribbean islands and in Suriname on the continent; however, as Dutch is a Germanic language, these territories are not considered part of Latin America.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include: English, by some groups in Argentina, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico; German, in southern Brazil, southern Chile, Argentina, and German-speaking villages in northern Venezuela and Paraguay; Italian, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela; and Welsh, in southern Argentina.

In several nations, especially in the Caribbean region, creole languages are spoken. The most widely spoken creole language in the Caribbean and Latin America in general is Haitian Creole, the predominant language of Haiti; it is derived primarily from French and certain West African tongues with some Amerindian and Spanish influences as well. Creole languages of mainland Latin America, similarly, are derived from European languages and various African tongues. Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and to a lesser degree, in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile. In absolute numbers, Mexico contains the largest population of indigenous-language speakers of any country in the Americas, surpassing those of the Amerindian-majority countries of Guatemala, Bolivia and the Amerindian-plurality country of Peru. In Latin American countries not named above, the population of speakers of indigenous languages is small or non-existent.

In Peru, Quechua is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador, while holding no official status, the closely related Quichua is a recognized language of the indigenous people under the country's constitution; however, it is only spoken by a few groups in the country's highlands. In Bolivia, Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní hold official status alongside Spanish. Guarani is, along with Spanish, an official language of Paraguay, and is spoken by a majority of the population (who are, for the most part, bilingual), and it is co-official with Spanish in the Argentine province of Corrientes. In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country's Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama also hold official status. Colombia recognizes all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these. Nahuatl is one of the 62 native languages spoken by indigenous people in Mexico, which are officially recognized by the government as "national languages" along with Spanish.

The vast majority of Latin Americans are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics. Membership in other denominations, like Protestantism, is increasing, particularly in countries such as Guatemala, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

Indigenous creeds and rituals are still practiced in countries with large percentages of Amerindians, such as Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. Various Afro-Latin American traditions such as Santería, Candomblé, Umbanda, Macumba, and tribal-voodoo religions are also practiced, mainly in Cuba, Brazil, and Haiti.

Brazil has an active quasi-socialist Roman Catholic movement known as Liberation Theology, and Brazil is also the country with more practitioners in the world of Allan Kardec's Spiritism. Practitioners of the Jewish, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and Bahá'í denominations and religions exist.

Due to economic, social and security developments that are affecting the region in recent decades, the focus is now the change from net immigration to net emigration. About 10 million Mexicans live in the United States. 28.3 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican as of 2006. According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombians currently live abroad. The number of Brazilians living overseas is estimated at about 2 million people. An estimated 1.5 to two million Salvadorans reside in the United States. At least 1.5 million Ecuadorians have gone abroad, mainly to the United States and Spain.. Approximately 1.5 million Dominicans live abroad, mostly in the US. More than 1.3 million Cubans live abroad, most of them in the US. It is estimated that over 800,000 Chileans live abroad, mainly in Argentina. An estimated 700,000 Bolivians were living in Argentina as of 2006.

Remittances to Mexico rose from $6.6 billion to $24 billion between 2000 and 2006, but stabilized in 2007. Much of the reported increase between 2000 and 2006 may reflect better accounting, but the slowdown in 2007 may reflect tougher U.S. border and interior enforcement.

Inequality and poverty continue to be the region's main challenges; according to the ECLAC Latin America is the most unequal region in the world. Moreover, according to the World Bank, nearly 25% of the population lives on less than 2 USD a day. The countries with the highest inequality in the region (as measured with the Gini index in the UN Development Report) in 2006 were Bolivia (60.1), Haiti (59.2), Colombia (58.6), Paraguay (58.4), Brazil (57.0) and Panama (56.1), while the countries with the lowest inequality in the region were Nicaragua (43.1), Uruguay (44.9) and Mexico (46.1). One aspect of inequality and poverty in Latin America is unequal access to basic infrastructure. For example, access to water and sanitation in Latin America and the quality of these services remain low.

Crime and violence prevention and public security have become key social issues of concern to public policy makers and citizens in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In Latin America, violence is now among the five main causes of death and is the principal cause of death in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. Homicide rates in Latin America are among the highest of any region in the world. From the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, intentional homicide rates in Latin America increased by 50 percent. The major victims of such homicides are young men, 69 percent of whom are between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. Many analysts agree that the prison crisis will not be resolved until the gap between rich and poor is addressed. They say that growing social inequality is fuelling crime in the region. But there is also no doubt that, on such an approach, Latin American countries have still a long way to go. Countries with the highest homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants were; El Salvador 55.3, Honduras 49.9, Venezuela 48, Guatemala 45.2, Colombia 37, Belize 30.8, Brazil 25.7, and Mexico 25.

The major trade blocs or agreements in the region are the Union of South American Nations, composed of the integrated Mercosur and Andean Community of Nations (CAN). Minor blocs or trade agreements are the G3, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). However, major reconfigurations are taking place along opposing approaches to integration and trade; Venezuela has officially withdrawn from both the CAN and G3 and it has been formally admitted into the Mercosur (pending ratification from the Brazilian and Paraguayan legislatures). The president-elect of Ecuador has manifested his intentions of following the same path. This bloc nominally opposes any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, although Uruguay has manifested its intention otherwise. On the other hand, Mexico is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Chile has already signed an FTA with Canada, and along with Peru are the only two South American nations that have and FTA with the United States. Colombia's government currently awaiting its ratification by the US Senate.

According to Goldman Sachs BRIMC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, USA, India, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico; Two of the top five economies in the world being from Latin America.

The following table lists all the countries in Latin America indicating a valuation of the country's GDP (Gross domestic product) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP), GDP per capita also adjusted to the (PPP), a measurement of inequality through the Gini index (the higher the index the more unequal the income distribution is), the Human Development Index (HDI), the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), and the Quality-of-life index. GDP and PPP GDP statistics come from the International Monetary Fund with data as of 2006. Gini index, the Human Poverty Index HDI-1, the Human Development Index, and the number of internet users per capita come from the UN Development Program. The number of motor vehicles per capita come from the UNData base on-line. The EPI index comes from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Quality-of-life index from The Economist Intelligence Unit. Green cells indicate the 1st rank in each category, while yellow indicate the last rank.

Income from tourism aids development in Latin America. Mexico receives the largest number of tourists, with 21.4 million visitors in 2007, followed by Brazil, with 5.0 million; Argentina, with 4.6 million; and Puerto Rico, with 3.7 million.

Places such as Machu Pichu, Cartagena de Indias, Los Cabos, Acapulco, Rio de Janeiro, Margarita Island, Cancún, São Paulo, Punta del Este, Santo Domingo, Labadee, San Juan, La Habana, Panama City, Iguazu Falls,Puerto Vallarta, Poás Volcano National Park, Viña del Mar, Mexico City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, and Patagonia are among the most visited places in the region.

Pre-Columbian cultures were primarily oral, though the Aztecs and Mayans, for instance, produced elaborate codices. Oral accounts of mythological and religious beliefs were also sometimes recorded after the arrival of European colonizers, as was the case with the Popol Vuh. Moreover, a tradition of oral narrative survives to this day, for instance among the Quechua-speaking population of Peru and the Quiché of Guatemala.

From the very moment of Europe's "discovery" of the continent, early explorers and conquistadores produced written accounts and crónicas of their experience--such as Columbus's letters or Bernal Díaz del Castillo's description of the conquest of Mexico. During the colonial period, written culture was often in the hands of the church, within which context Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote memorable poetry and philosophical essays. Towards the end of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th, a distinctive criollo literary tradition emerged, including the first novels such as Lizardi's El Periquillo Sarniento (1816).

The 19th Century was a period of "foundational fictions" (in critic Doris Sommer's words), novels in the Romantic or Naturalist traditions that attempted to establish a sense of national identity, and which often focussed on the indigenous question or the dichotomy of "civilization or barbarism" (for which see, say, Domingo Sarmiento's Facundo (1845), Juan León Mera's Cumandá (1879), or Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertões (1902)).

At the turn of the 20th century, modernismo emerged, a poetic movement whose founding text was Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío's Azul (1888). This was the first Latin American literary movement to influence literary culture outside of the region, and was also the first truly Latin American literature, in that national differences were no longer so much at issue. José Martí, for instance, though a Cuban patriot, also lived in Mexico and the U.S. and wrote for journals in Argentina and elsewhere.

However, what really put Latin American literature on the global map was no doubt the literary boom of the 1960s and 1970s, distinguished by daring and experimental novels (such as Julio Cortázar's Rayuela (1963)) that were frequently published in Spain and quickly translated into English. The Boom's defining novel was Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad (1967), which led to the association of Latin American literature with magic realism, though other important writers of the period such as the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes do not fit so easily within this framework. Arguably, the Boom's culmination was Augusto Roa Bastos's monumental Yo, el supremo (1974). In the wake of the Boom, influential precursors such as Juan Rulfo, Alejo Carpentier, and above all Jorge Luis Borges were also rediscovered.

Contemporary literature in the region is vibrant and varied, ranging from the best-selling Paulo Coelho and Isabel Allende to the more avant-garde and critically acclaimed work of writers such as Diamela Eltit, Ricardo Piglia, or Roberto Bolaño. There has also been considerable attention paid to the genre of testimonio, texts produced in collaboration with subaltern subjects such as Rigoberta Menchú. Finally, a new breed of chroniclers is represented by the more journalistic Carlos Monsiváis and Pedro Lemebel.

The region boasts five Nobel Prizewinners: in addition to the two Chilean poets Gabriela Mistral (1945) and Pablo Neruda (1971), there is also the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez (1982), the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), and the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz (1990).

Beyond the rich tradition of indigenous art, the development of Latin American visual art owed much to the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and French Baroque painting, which in turn often followed the trends of the Italian Masters. In general, this artistic Eurocentrism began to fade in the early twentieth century, as Latin-Americans began to acknowledge the uniqueness of their condition and started to follow their own path.

From the early twentieth century, the art of Latin America was greatly inspired by the Constructivist Movement. The Constructivist Movement was founded in Russia around 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin. The Movement quickly spread from Russia to Europe and then into Latin America. Joaquin Torres Garcia and Manuel Rendón have been credited with bringing the Constructivist Movement into Latin America from Europe.

An important artistic movement generated in Latin America is Muralismo represented by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco and Rufino Tamayo in Mexico and Santiago Martinez Delgado and Pedro Nel Gómez in Colombia. Some of the most impressive Muralista works can be found in Mexico, Colombia, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is one of the most known and famous Latin American artists. She painted about her own life and the Mexican culture in a style combining Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism. Kahlo's work commands the highest selling price of all Latin American paintings.

Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero is also widely known by his works which, on first examination, are noted for their exaggerated proportions and the corpulence of the human and animal figures.

Latin America has produced many successful worldwide artists in terms of recorded global music sales. The most successful have been Roberto Carlos who has sold over 100 million records, Carlos Santana with over 75 million, Luis Miguel, Shakira and Vicente Fernandez with over 50 million records sold worldwide. One of the main characteristics of Latin American music is its diversity, from the lively rhythms of Central America and the Caribbean to the more austere sounds of the Andes and the Southern Cone. Another feature of Latin American music is its original blending of the variety of styles that arrived in The Americas and became influential, from the early Spanish and European Baroque to the different beats of the African rhythms.

Caribbean Hispanic music, such as merengue, bachata, salsa, and more recently reggaeton, from such countries as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama has been strongly influenced by African rhythms and melodies. Haiti's compas is a genre of music that draws influence and is thus similar to its Caribbean Hispanic counterparts, with an element of jazz and modern sound as well.

Another well-known Latin American musical genre includes the Argentine and Uruguayan tango, as well as the distinct nuevo tango, a fusion of tango, acoustic and electronic music popularized by bandoneón virtuoso Ástor Piazzolla. Equally renown, the samba, North American jazz, European classical music and choro combined to form bossa nova in Brazil, popularized by guitarrist João Gilberto and pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Other influential Latin American sounds include the Antillean Soca and Calypso, the Central American (Garifuna) Punta, the Colombian cumbia and vallenato, the Chilean Cueca, the Ecuadorian Boleros, and Rockoleras, the Mexican ranchera, the Nicaraguan Palo de Mayo, the Peruvian Marinera and Tondero, the Uruguayan Candombe, the French Antillean Zouk(Derived from Haitian Compas) and the various styles of music from Pre-Columbian traditions that are widespread in the Andean region.

The classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) worked on the recording of native musical traditions within his homeland of Brazil. The traditions of his homeland heavily influenced his classical works. Also notable is the recent work of the Cuban Leo Brouwer and guitar work of the Venezuelan Antonio Lauro and the Paraguayan Agustín Barrios. Latin America has also produced world-class classical performers such as the Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau, Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire and the Argentine pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.

Arguably, the main contribution to music entered through folklore, where the true soul of the Latin American and Caribbean countries is expressed. Musicians such as Yma Súmac, Chabuca Granda, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa, Jorge Negrete, Luiz Gonzaga, Caetano Veloso, Susana Baca, Chavela Vargas, Simon Diaz, Julio Jaramillo, Toto la Momposina as well as musical ensembles such as Inti Illimani and Los Kjarkas are magnificent examples of the heights that this soul can reach.

Latin pop, including many forms of rock, is popular in Latin America today (see Spanish language rock and roll).

More recently, Reggaeton, which blends Jamaican reggae and dancehall with Latin America genres such as bomba and plena, as well as that of hip hop, is becoming more popular, in spite of the controversy surrounding its lyrics, dance steps (Perreo) and music videos. It has become very popular among populations with a "migrant culture" influence - both Latino populations in the U.S., such as southern Florida and New York City, and parts of Latin America where migration to the U.S. is common, such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Latin American film is both rich and diverse. Historically, the main centers of production have been México, Brazil, Cuba, and Argentina.

Argentine cinema has been prominenent since the first half of the 20th century and today averages over 60 full-length titles yearly. The industry suffered during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship; but re-emerged to produce the Academy Award winner The Official Story in 1985. A wave of imported U.S. films again damaged the industry in the early 1990s, though it soon recovered, thriving even during the Argentine economic crisis around 2001. Many Argentine movies produced during recent years have been internationally acclaimed, including Nueve reinas (2000), El abrazo partido (2004) and El otro (2007).

In Brazil, the Cinema Novo movement created a particular way of making movies with critical and intellectual screenplays, a clearer photography related to the light of the outdoors in a tropical landscape, and a political message. The modern Brazilian film industry has become more profitable inside the country, and some of its productions have received prizes and recognition in Europe and the United States, with movies such as Central do Brasil (1999), Cidade de Deus (2003) and Tropa de Elite (2007).

Cuban cinema has enjoyed much official support since the Cuban revolution and important film-makers include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

Mexican cinema in the Golden Era of the 1940s boasted a huge industry comparable to Hollywood at the time. Stars included María Félix, Dolores del Rio and Pedro Infante. In the 1970s Mexico was the location for many cult horror and action movies. More recently, films such as Amores Perros (2000) and Y tu mamá también (2001) enjoyed box office and critical acclaim and propelled Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñarritu to the front rank of Hollywood directors. Alejandro González Iñárritu directed in (2006) Babel and Alfonso Cuarón directed (Children of Men in (2006), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in (2004)). Guillermo del Toro close friend and also a front rank Hollywood director in Hollywood and Spain, directed Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and produce El Orfanato (2007). Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are also some of the most known present-day Mexican film makers.

It is also worth noting that many Latin Americans have achieved significant success within Hollywood, for instance Carmen Miranda and Salma Hayek, while Mexican Americans such as Robert Rodriguez have also made their mark.

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History of the Jews in Latin America

Great Synagogue of Santiago, Chile.

The history of the Jews in Latin America dates back to Christopher Columbus and his first cross-Atlantic voyage on August 3, 1492, when he left Spain and eventually "discovered" the New World. His date of departure was also the day on which the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon decreed that the Jews of Spain either had to convert to Catholicism, depart from the country, or face death for defiance of the Monarch.

There were at least seven Jews (either crypto-Jews, Marranos, or sincere Jewish converts to Catholicism) who sailed with Columbus in his first voyage including Rodrigo de Triana, who was the first to sight land (Columbus later assumed credit for this), Maestre Bernal, who served as the expedition's physician, and Luis De Torres, the interpreter, who spoke Hebrew and Arabic, which it was believed would be useful in the Orient - their intended destination.

In the coming years, Jews settled in the new Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Caribbean, where they believed that they would be safe from the Inquisition. Some took part in the conquest of the "New World," and Bernal Díaz del Castillo describes a number of executions of soldiers in Hernán Cortés's forces during the conquest of Mexico because they were Jews.

By the mid-seventeenth century, the largest Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere were located in Suriname and Brazil.

Nevertheless, several Jewish communities in the Caribbean, Central, and South America flourished, particularly in those areas under Dutch and English control. By the sixteenth century, fully functioning Jewish communities had organized in Brazil, Suriname, Curaçao, Jamaica, and Barbados. In addition, there were unorganized communities of Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese territories, where the Inquisition was active, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, however, these Jews generally concealed their identity from the authorities.

Today, Latin American Jewry is composed of more than 500,000 people, most of whom live in Argentina and Brazil.

Jews fleeing the Inquisition settled in Argentina, but assimilated into the Argentine society. Portuguese traders and smugglers in the Virreinato del Río de la Plata were widely considered Jews but no organized community emerged after independence. After 1810, Jews, especially Jews from France, began to settle in Argentina in the mid-19th century. In the late 1800s, just as they did in the United States, many Jews arrived from Eastern Europe, fleeing persecution; they were called "Rusos" (Russians).

Today, around 195,000 Jews live in Argentina, mostly in Buenos Aires, comprising the third largest Jewish community in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. They are legally granted the two days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first two and last two days of Passover as legal holidays.

Jewish presence in Bolivia started at the very beginning of the Spanish colonial period. A safe haven destination for Sephardic Conversos during the Spanish Colony was Santa Cruz, Bolivia. In 1557 many Crypto-Jews from Paraguay and Buenos Aires joined Ñuflo de Chávez and were among the pioneers who founded the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

During the 16th century, several marranos settled in Potosi, La Paz and La Plata, but soon gained economic success in mining and commerce and faced persecution from the Inquisition and local authorities. Most of these marrano families also moved to Santa Cruz for it was the most isolated urban settlement and because the Inquisition did not bother the Conversos of Santa Cruz for this frontier town was meant to be a buffer to the Portuguese and Guarani raids that threatened the mines of Peru. Several of them settled in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and its adjacent towns of Vallegrande, Postrervalle, Portachuelo, Terevinto, Pucara, Cotoca and others.

Several of Santa Cruz oldest Catholic families are in fact of Jewish origin; some traces of Judaic practices are still alive among them and have also influence the rest of the community. As recent as the 1920s, several families preserved seven-branched candle sticks and served dishes cooked with reminiscing kosher practices. It is still customary among certain old families to light candles on Friday at sunset and to mourn the deaths of dear relatives on the floor. After almost five centuries, some of the descendants of these families still acknowledge their Jewish origin, but practice Catholicism (in certain cases with some Jewish syncretism).

From independence in 1825 to the end of the 19th Century, some Jewish merchants (both Sephardim and Ashkenazim) came to Bolivia, most of them taking local women as wives and founding families that merged into the mainstream Catholic society. This was often the case in the eastern regions of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando, where these merchants came either from Brazil or Argentina.

During the 1900s, substantial Jewish settlement began in Bolivia. In 1905, a group of Russian Jews, followed by Argentines, settled in Bolivia. In 1917, it was estimated that there were only 20 to 25 professing Jews living in the country. By 1933, when the Nazi era in Germany started, there were 30 Jewish families. The first huge amount of Jewish immigrants was in the 1930s, and there were 7,000 of them estimated at the end of 1942. During of the 1940s, 2,200 Jews emigrated however from Bolivia. But for the ones who remained, have settled their communities in La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Tarija, and Potosi. After World War II, a small amount of Polish Jews came to Bolivia. By 1939, Jewish communities gained greater stability in the country.

Today, there are approximatelly 600 Jews living in Bolivia. There are sinagoges in the cities of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and La Paz. Most Bolivian Jews live in Santa Cruz.

Jews settled early in Brazil, especially when it was under Dutch rule, setting up a synagogue in Recife - the first synagogue in the Americas - as early as 1636. Most of these Jews had fled Spain and Portugal to the religious freedom of the Netherlands during the re-establishment of the Inquisition in first Portugal, Spain, and again Portugal. In 1656, following the Portuguese reconquest of the area, they left for the Caribbean and New Amsterdam, later to become New York.

The Census of 2000 lists approximately 87,000 people who follow Judaism (estimates put the Jewish population at 96,000). Brazilian Jews play an active role in politics, sports, academia, trade and industry, and are overall well integrated in all spheres of Brazilian life. The majority of Brazilian Jews live in the state of São Paulo but there are also sizeable communities in Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais and Paraná.

Despite being a relatively small community and accounting for no more than 1% of the country's religious minorities, Jews in Chile have achieved prominent positions in the Chilean society and have played a key part in the diverse composition of the country's culture both before and after its independence in 1810. Most of Chilean Jews today reside in Santiago and Valparaíso, but there are significant communities in the north and south of the country. Some of the country's most recognised personalities are Jews. The famous host of Latin TV sensation and longest running TV show in the world 'Sábado Gigante', Mario Kreutzberger - otherwise known as "Don Francisco" - is a Chilean Jew of German origin. Among the Chilean Jews who have achieved recognition in the field of Arts and Culture are Alejandro Jodorowsky, now established in France and best known for his literary and theatrical work. Others include Nissim Sharim (actor), Shlomit Baytelman (actress) and Anita Klesky (actress). Volodia Teitelboim, poet and former leader of the Chilean Communist party is one of the many Jews to have held important political positions in the country. Others include Tomás Hirsch, leader of the radical green-communist coalition and former Presidential candidate in 2005 plus two current state ministers, Karen Poniachick (Minister for Mining) and Clarisa Hardy (Minister for Social Affairs). In the field of Sport, Tennis player Nicolás Massú (gold medallist in Athens 2004 and former top-ten in the ATP rankings) has Jewish background. Many of the country's most important companies - particularly in the retail and commercial field - have been set up by Jews, for example, Gendelman and Hites (commercial retailers) and Rosen (Mattress and Bed Industries).

The first wave of practicing Jews came from Jamaica and Curaçao. These Jews started practicing their religion openly at the end of the 18th century, even though it was not officially legal to do so. Once Judaism was made a legal religion, the government granted the Jews a plot of land for a cemetery.

During the early part of the 20th century a large number of Sephardi immigrants came from Greece, Turkey, North Africa and Syria. Shortly after, Jewish immigrants began to arrive from Eastern Europe. A wave of Ashkenazi immigrants came after the rise of Hitler in 1933. From 1939 until the end of World War II immigration was put to a halt by anti-immigrant feelings in the country. The Jewish population grew dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s, when several institutions such as synagogues, schools and social clubs were established throughout the largest cities in the country.

In the present, most of the Jews in Colombia are concentrated in Bogota, with about 5,000 members. There are small communities in Cali, Barranquilla and Medellin and some Jewish presence in resort cities such as Cartagena, Santa Marta and the Island of San Andres. The size of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi population is about the same. There are nine official synagogues throughout the country. In Bogota, the Ashkenazi, Sephardi and German Jews each run their own religious and cultural institutions. One organization, Confederacion de Asociaciones Judias de Colombia, located in Bogota, is the central organization that unites all Jews and Jewish institutions in Colombia.

Due to the unstable economy and violence against Jews, many have left Colombia. Most have gone to settle in Miami and other parts of the United States.

Jews, have lived on the island of Cuba for centuries. Some Cubans trace Jewish ancestry to Marranos who fled the Spanish Inquisition, though few of them practice Judaism today. There was significant Jewish immigration to Cuba in the first half of the 20th century. There were 15,000 Jews in Cuba in 1959, but many Jews left Cuba for the United States after the Cuban revolution. In the early 1990s, Operation Cigar was launched, and in the period of five years, more than 400 Cuban Jews secretly immigrated to Israel . In February 2007 the New York Times estimated that there are about 1,500 Jews living in Cuba, most of them (about 1,000) living in Havana .

Curaçao has the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas - dating to 1651 - and the oldest synagogue of the Americas, in continuous use since its completion in 1732 on the site of a previous synagogue. The Jewish Community of Curaçao also played a key role in supporting early Jewish congregations in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, including in New York City and the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island.

Sephardic Jewish Merchants arrived in southern Hispanola during the 16th and 17th Centuries, fleeing the outcome of the Spanish Inquisition. Over the centuries, many Jews and their descendants assimilated into the general population and some have converted into the Catholic Religion, although many of the countries Jews still retain elements of the Sephardic culture of their ancestors.

Sosua, meanwhile, is a small town close to Puerto Plata was founded by Ashkenazi Jews fleeing the rising Nazi regime of the 1930s. Rafael Trujillo, the country's dictator, welcomed many Jewish refugees to his island mainly for their skills rather than for religious persecution, and with a hidden motive on his part to encourage European and Middle Eastern immigration instead of Haitians. Present-day Sosua still possesses a synagogue and a museum of Jewish history. Descendants of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews can still be found in many other villages and towns on the north of the island close to Sosua.

Many Jews are from the Sephardi ancestry. Some assume that they were one of the settlers in Ecuador. They came from Germany in 1939, on a ship called the "Koenigstein". During the years 1933-43, there were a population of 2,700 Jewish immigrants. In 1939, the Jewish population, mostly German and polish Jews, were expelled by a decree of the Italian influenced government of Alberto Enriquez Gallo. The antisemitism spread in the population, but was stopped by the intervention of the American embassy. In 1945, there was a population of 3,000. About 85% of them were European refugees. The rise of Jewish immigration to Ecuador was when the Holocaust started. In 1950, there was an estimation of 4,000 persons living in Ecuador. Most of the Jewish communities in Ecuador are from German origin. The majority of Ecuadorian Jews live in Quito and Guayaquil. There is a Jewish school in Quito. Today the number of Jews in Ecuador is less than 700.

Alsatian-born Bernardo Haas, who was has came to El Salvador in 1868, was believd to be the country's first Jewish immigrant. Another Jews, Leon Libes was documented as the first German Jew in 1888. Sephardic families also arrived from countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, and France. De Sola helped to found the first synagogue and became an invaluable member of the Jewish community. In 1936, World War II caused the Jewish community to help their ancestors escape from Europe. Some had their relatives in El Salvador. But some where forced to go into countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Panama. On July 30, 1939, President Martinez barred an entry of fifty Jewish refugees Going to El Salvador on the German ship Portland. On Sept 11, 1948, the community started and continues to support a school "Colegio Estado de Israel".

Jews arrived in French Guiana by the way of the Dutch West India company. Later on September 12, 1659, came Portuguese Jews from Brazil. The Company appointed David Nassy, a Brazilian refugee, patron of an exclusive Jewish settlement on the western side of the island of Cayenne, an area called Remire or Irmire. From 1658 to 1659, Paulo Jacomo Pinto began negotiating with the Dutch authorities in Amsterdam to allow a group of Jews from Leghorn, Italy to settle in the Americas. On July 20, 1600, more than 150 Sephardic Jews left Leghorn and settled in Cayenne. The French agreed to those terms, an exceptional policy that was not common among the French colonies. Nevertheless, nearly two-thirds of the population left for the English colony of Suriname. Over the decades, the Leghorn Jews of Cayenne immigrated to Suriname. In 1667, the remaining Jewish community was captured by the occupying British forces and, moved the population to either Suriname or Barbados to work in sugarcane production. Since the late 1600s, few Jews have lived in French Guiana. In 1992, 20 Jewish families from Suriname and North Africa attempted to re-establish the community in Cayenne. A chabad organization exists in the country and maintains Jewish life within the community. Today, 80 Jews live in French Guiana, predominately in Cayenne.

The Jews in Guatemala are immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe. that arrived in the 19th century. Many immigrated during World War II. There is approximatley 1,200 Jews living in Guatemala today. Most live in Guatemala City, Quezaltenango, and San Marcos. The group of Jews are Sephardi. Today, the Jewish community in Guatemala are made up of German and Eastern European Jews.

When Christopher Columbus arrived in Haiti, he had an interpreter, Luis de Torres. Luis was one of the first Jews to settle on Haiti in 1492. When Haiti was conquered by France in 1633, many Dutch Jews came from Brazil, who has arrived in 1634. In 1683, the Jews were expelled from Haiti, and the other French colonies. But a few has remained as leading officials in French trading companies. In the mid-1700s the Jews that were explelled returned. When the slave revolt happened (Toussaint L’Ouverture), many people of the Jewish community was murdered, and some were expelled. A few years later, Polish Jews arrived due to the civil strife in Poland. Most Jews attempted to settle in port cities. It was a few years ago when archaeologists discovered a synagogue of Crypto-Jews in Jérémie. In Cap-Haitien and Jacmel, a few Jewish tombstones have been uncovered. By the end of the 19th century, Jewish families immigrated from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. These Jews brought their Sephardic culture. In 1915, there was a population of 200 Jews in Haiti. During the 20 years of American occupation, many of the Jews left to the United States. In 1937, the government issued passports and visas to Eastern Europe, to escape the Nazi persecution. During this time, 300 Jews lived on the island. Most of the Jews stayed until the late 1950s. Today, only 25 Jews remain, mainly in Port au Prince.

During the 1800s-1980's, Jewish immigrants came to the Honduras, mainly from Russia, Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Romania. There were also immigration from Greece, Turkey, and North Africa, who are from from Sephardi origin. Throughout the 1970s and 80's, it has been absorbed a huge number of Jewish immigrants from Israel. Through the past two decades, the Honduras experienced a resurgence of Jewish life. Communities in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula grew more active. In 1998, the hurricane Mitch destroyed the synagogue, which was part of the Jewish community center in the Honduras. But the Jewish community contributed money to re-build the temple. Most Honduran Jews live in Tegucigalpa.

There have been Jews in Mexico dating back to as early as 1521. Many Sephardic Jews fled Spain to escape the Inquisition, but no infrastructure was left by them in what is the modern day Mexican Jewish community. Due to the strong Catholic Church presence in Mexico, few Jews migrated there after the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. Then, in the late 1800s, a number of German Jews settled in Mexico as a result of invitations from Maximilian I of Mexico, followed by a huge wave of Ashkenazic Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. A second large wave of immigration occurred as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, leading many Sephardic Jews from Turkey, Morocco, and parts of France to flee. Finally, a wave of immigrants fled the increasing Nazi persecutions in Europe during World War II. Today, there are more than 50,000 Jews in Mexico, the third largest Jewish community in Latin America.

The first Jewish immigrants to arrive in Nicaragua came from Eastern Europe after 1929. The Jews in Nicaragua were a relatively small community, the majority lived in Managua. The Jews made significant contributions to Nicaragua's economic development while dedicating themselves to farming, manufacturing, and retail sales. The Jewish community encountered anti-semitism by individuals, the majority who claimed that Nicaraguan Jews were responsible for Israeli arms sales to the Somoza regime. Many of these individuals were part of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). There was much hostility between the Sandinista government, which came into power in 1979, and the Jews. This was mostly due to the Sandinista governments close relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

It was approximated that the highest number of Jews in Nicaragua reached a peak of 250 in 1972. However, in fear of persecution and imprisonment by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, all the remaining Jews fled Nicaragua, they went into exile mainly in the United States, Israel, and other countries in Central America.

After the Daniel Ortega ran and lost the presidential elections in 1990 a small amount of Jews returned to Nicaragua. The current Jewish population is estimated at around 50 persons. Prior to 1979 the Jewish community had no rabbi or briss. The Jewish community now includes 3 brises, however, as of 2005, the community does not have an ordained rabbi or a synagogue.

In Peru, there have been Jews since the Spanish Conquest. At first, they had lived without restrictions because the Inquisition was not active in Peru at the beginning of the Viceroyalty. Then, with the advent of the Inquisition, Jews began to be persecuted, and, in some cases, executed. In this period, Jews were called "marranos", and the converts, "cristianos nuevos" or new Christians. In modern times, before and after the Second World War, some Ashkenazic Jews, south and west slavic and Hungarians mainly, migrated to Peru, mostly to Lima. Today, Peruvian Jews represent an important part of the economics and politics of Peru.

Like in many former Spanish colonies founded soon after the Spanish Inquisition, there are some Puerto Ricans who are crypto-Jews (some prefer to be called anusim, means 'forced ones' in Hebrew), descendants of forcibly converted Jews. Some of them maintain elements of Jewish traditions, although they themselves are, or were raised as Christians; this may include ancestors or members of families with last names like Gómez, Delgado, Méndez, Hernandez, Rodríguez, Toledo, Ramirez, Saez, Cardoso, Espinoza, Sabat, Machado,Abrams, Sharron, Perez, and Aguilar.

Suriname has the oldest Jewish community in the Americas. During the Inquisition in Portugal and Spain around 1500, many Jews fled to Holland and the Dutch colonies to escape torture and condemnation to the stake. Those who were converted to the Catholic fate were called "Marranos". The stadtholder of the King of Portugal gave those who wanted to depart some time to let them settle, and supplied them with 16 ships and safe conduct to leave for Holland. The Dutch government gave an opportunity to settle in Brazil. But most found their home in Recife, and merchants became cocoa growers. But the Portuguese in Brazil forced many Jews to move into the northern Dutch colonies in the Americas, The Guyanas. Jews settled in Suriname in 1639. A few years, when World War II arrived, many Jewish refugees from Holland and other parts of Europe fled to Suriname. Today, 200 Jews live in Suriname.

The history of Venezuelan Jewry most likely began in the middle of the 17th century, when some records suggest that groups of marranos lived in Caracas and Maracaibo.

At the turn of the 19th century, Venezuela and Colombia were fighting against their Spanish colonizers in wars of independence. Simon Bolivar, Venezuela's liberator, found refuge and material support for his army in the homes of Jews from Curaçao.

According to a national census taken at the end of the 19th century, 247 Jews lived in Venezuela as citizens in 1891. In 1907, the Israelite Beneficial Society, which became the Israelite Society of Venezuela in 1919, was created as an organization to bring all the Jews who were scattered through various cities and towns throughout the country together.

By 1943, nearly 600 German Jews had entered the country, with several hundred more becoming citizens after World War II. By 1950, the community had grown to around 6,000 people, even in the face of immigration restrictions.

Currently, there are more than 35,000 Jews living in Venezuela, with more than half living in the capital Caracas. Venezuelan Jewry is split equally between Sephardim and Ashkenazim. All but one of the country's 15 synagogues are Orthodox. The majority of Venezuela's Jews are members of the middle and upper classes.

1 Anais da Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro; v. 74. Rio de Janeiro: Departamento de Imprensa Nacional, 1953.

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History of Latin America

Countries in Latin America by date of independence

Latin America refers to countries in the Americas where Latin-derived (Romance) languages are spoken; these countries generally lie south of the United States. By extension, some, particularly in the United States, apply the term to the whole region south of the United States — including non-Romance-speaking countries such as Suriname, Jamaica, and Guyana.

This region was home to many indigenous peoples and advanced civilizations, including the notable Aztecs, Inca and Maya, before the arrival of Europeans in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Most of Latin America was colonized by European emigrants, primarily by the Spanish and the Portuguese, and, to a lesser extent, by the French. In the early 19th century most of the countries in the region attained their independence, although a few small colonies remain.

Latin American history extends back many centuries, possibly as long as 30,000 years. Precise dating is difficult because there are few text sources. However, highly-developed civilizations flourished at various times and places, such as the Andean Inca and Mesoamerican Maya and the Aztecs.

Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Americas in 1492. Subsequently, the major sea powers in Europe sent expeditions to the New World to build trade networks and colonies and to convert the native peoples to Christianity. Concentrating on the central and southern parts of the Americas allotted to them by the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Spanish and Portuguese built large colonial empires in California, Mexico, and Brazil.

Following the model of the U.S. and French revolutions, most of Latin America achieved its independence by 1825. However, Europe and the United States continued to play major roles.

The independence of Latin American countries rendered many of the older colonial power structures obsolete and helped create a new, self-consciously "Latin American" ruling class and intelligentsia. It should be noted, however, that even post independence, the dominant culture remained exclusively European, Catholic and "Western", with little input from remaining indigenous peoples until recent times.

In many cases this restructuring of economic and political realities resulted in a sizable gap between rich and poor, with landed elites controlling the vast majority of land and resources. In Brazil in 1910, for instance, 85% of the land belonged to 1% of the population. Gold mining and fruit growing, in particular, were monopolized by these wealthy landowners. These 'Great Owners' totally controlled the local activity and furthermore were the principal employers and the main source of revenue. This led to a society of peasant workers with little connection to larger political realities who remained in thrall to farming and mining magnates.

After the efforts of Gran Colombia, the Central-American Republic and of the United States of South America the confusing nature of the borders provoked a number of interstate conflicts, whereas the interior of the countries was often plagued by the fights between federalists and centrists who finally asserted themselves only by action and military repression of the opponents. There remained a difficult to define national space, a nation resembling a state, since these states even were identified only by their European (Spanish or Portuguese) roots and their official population sharing the same language and origins.

Continuing instability in the Latin American states caused the recurring emergence of Caudillos, military chiefs whose hold on power depended on their abilities in battle.

The regimes were either presidential, a little liberal and rather democratic; or Parliamentary that is to say more liberal, less democratic and more oligarchic. In both cases, the opinion of the average-man was devalued.

The political landscape was occupied by the conservatives and the liberals, neither of whom had a social policy. Popular insurrections were often influential and repressed: 100,000 were killed during the suppression of a Colombian revolt around 1890.

Only some states managed to have some semblance of democracy: Uruguay, and partially Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia. The others were clearly oligarchist, sometimes with a major support.

Latin America was economically dependent on Europe (mainly England) and the United States; independence left a place for an increased dependence especially in the nineteenth century which saw an increase in the dependence on the investment provided.

A few agreements were signed with the American intervention in Cuba in 1898 and Platt Amendment in 1902, which authorized the U.S. to intervene in Cuba if necessary. The old Monroe Doctrine, which impeded European interventions, was therefore replaced by the Big Stick Doctrine, a more interventionist doctrine aimed to defend U.S. interests.

In Colombia, the concession of the Panama Canal was repurchased in 1903, but the Colombian elites opposed this American seizure. A Panamanian insurrection then occurred, armed with military material marked with the "U.S." sign, independence was imposed, and Panama became an ally of the United States.

In Mexico, Porfirio Díaz promised that he would withdraw from power in 1908. Francisco Madero, a moderate liberal whose aim was to modernize the country calmly in order to avoid a socialist revolution, launched an election campaign in 1910 to defend liberal ideas. But Díaz organized a seventh faked election, which prompted the Mexican Revolution. Riots were organized and some key leaders appeared: Pancho Villa in the north, Emiliano Zapata in the south, and a more moderate Francisco I. Madero in Mexico City. The United States finally released Porfirio Díaz in 1911, who resigned on May 27, and fled, leaving the scene to Madero, who become President on November 6, 1911. Madero undertook a democratization process, but little was made in relation of the agrarian claims while Zapata continued the revolution. In February 18, 1913 Adolfo de la Huerta, a conservative general organized a coup d'état with the support of the United States: Madero was killed on the 22nd. Other revolutionary chiefs: Pancho Villa, Zapata, and Venustiano Carranza rejected this "usurper," who was soon thereafter released by the United States, dissatisfied with his dictatorial behavior. Allies Zapata and Villa took Mexico City in March 1914, but in this working city they were not on their ground and withdrew to their respective bastions. This allowed Carranza, after the escape of Huerta in July 1914, to carry out a battle for victory. He then organized the repression of the rebel armies of Villa and Zapata, in particular by general Álvaro Obregón who gained decisive victories in 1915, took Mexico City and became a de facto president in October 1915. The Mexican constitution of 1917 was proclaimed, but little enforced.

Under the orders of Carranza and with the American military support, Obregón continues his military pressure on the rebels. Zapata is finally assassinated in April 10, 1919. Carranza, the president, is assassinated in May 15, 1920, leaving the place to Obregón, who becomes an elected president. Finally in 1923, it is Pancho Villa who is assassinated.

Mexico finally becomes pacified by the accession of that liberal president, but agrarian aspirations of the work force remain unsatisfied.

The arrival of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 gives way to his Good Neighbor Policy and allows certain nationalizations and attainments of American interests. The Platt Amendment is repealed, liberating Cuba. Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas nationalizes certain large American companies, creates Pemex, and redistributes a quantity of land.

Since 1860, Cuba had focused on the cultivation of sugar, of which 82% was now feeding into the American market. Cuba was described however as being the brothel of the U.S., where one finds all sorts of pleasures provided he is rich. The U.S. intervened many times to suppress popular uprisings, and to maintain Cuban governments favorable to its own interests. The latter country had a socially advanced constitution whose execution was, however, deeply corrupt, and a large part of the goods and exploits of sugar were at the hands of American companies. Since 1933, Fulgencio Batista was the key autocrat of Cuba. His authoritarian coup in 1952 did not end with an ignoble dictatorship, but it did not change much; corruption endured, and the American presence grew. Certain revolutionaries, such as Fidel Castro, organized a revolution to reestablish a democratic state and free itself from the American influence.

Having left Mexico on a yacht christened Granma December 2, 1956, the 82 sailors are finally reduced to 13, and lead a guerilla coup of the mountain, of which the principal conflict was a work of propaganda, for example via Radio Rebelde. More and more powerful against an unmotivated Cuban army, the guerillas conquered Cuba between October 1958 and January 1, 1959.

Castro, who first declared himself as a non-socialist, eventually embarked his country on a program of agrarian reforms and nationalizations in May 1959 and especially December 1960 which pushed John Kennedy to intervene, an event known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, April 16, 1961. But instead of taking Cuba back to the American modus operandi, this radicalized its position, and Cuba proclaimed its character definitively socialist, making friends with the USSR, and arming itself, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

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Source : Wikipedia