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Liberalism in Latin America

Part 1

Liberal and conservative politics were the two main ideologies that shaped Latin America in the nineteenth century. There were conflicting ideologies and points of view in these two discourses. There are differing tenets and advocates between liberalism and conservatism. While most liberals were in support of democracy as a form of government, this system would cause tremendous disruptions and confusion for populations in Latin America at the start of the nineteenth century. For most of the nineteenth century, liberalism controlled political discussion in Latin America (Rivera 1). In Latin America, liberalism encompasses the idea that an inherited royalty gives ground to a republican system founded on democratic rule. Liberal intellectuals were well-known individuals who took up the cause of liberal principles to change their new countries. The existing institutions and hierarchies were upheld by conservatism. From this perspective, conservatism constitutes a philosophical, social, and political perspective that aims to uphold and safeguard established institutions, practices, and principles.

The Catholic Church was the focal point of life and society; there was a strong, consolidated government; authority was concentrated in the hands of one person; the current land-owning system was maintained; stability and order were the primary objectives; and there was a feudal economic system (Class Notes N/A). These were some of the key ideals and principles of conservatism. Conversely, liberals had their main worries and beliefs. The fundamental goal of the initiative was to establish secular democracies based on citizen sovereignty in place of the religious-motivated monarchical system of administration. Liberal ideals included popular rule, equal justice for all people before the law, individuality and civic duty, decentralized authority, press and thinking freedom, church-state separation, and free marketplace capitalism.

Part 2

Mexico’s crushing defeat by the United States in 1848 prompted a reevaluation of the country’s fundamental principles. Additionally, it gave authorities more confidence to step up efforts to either transform Mexico into a contemporary democratic republic or fortify colonial-era institutions that had maintained stability and unity in the face of regional and cultural diversity (Vanderwood &Weis 1). The disparities between liberalism and conservatism’s philosophies emerge as a result. With widely divergent views on the scope and rate of change, liberals sought to modernize the nation. However, they came together behind three main ideas: capitalism, the separation of church and state, and democracy. They claimed that these ideas would enable Mexico to move past the effects of colonialism. Liberals suggested eliminating the legal advantages enjoyed by aristocrats, clergy, and the armed forces in the name of achieving equality before the law (Vanderwood &Weis 2). They aimed to push corporate entities—especially the church—to sell their property to private owners to help the economy. Ultimately, liberals aimed to establish the state’s supremacy by giving civil authorities power over the church.

Conservatives, on the other hand, contended that Mexico’s Hispanic Catholic tradition was being attacked by liberal ideology and its foreign ideals and that doing so would only make the country weaker. The liberal agenda alarmed conservatives because they believed it would lead to an increase in racial tensions, peasant uprisings, and concerns of regional replacement that had plagued the country since its independence. Their goals were to preserve the armed forces and the Catholic Church, restore the monarchy, and limit political engagement (Vanderwood &Weis 2). Mexico was a newly formed nation that was internally battling to become a nation. The political environment in Mexico was unstable throughout the ensuing decades. In thirty years, Mexico saw fifty different governments, nearly all of them were the product of military takeovers, with General Santa Anna serving as the head of eleven of them. This century saw a significant deal of development and conflict. Mexico was sharply split politically between the Liberals and the Conservatives, each of whom desired a distinct kind of government for the country. The transition from a colony to an independent nation was gradual and occasionally challenging. The Liberals desired a system akin to that of the United States, while the Conservatives suggested governing Mexico under the antiquated Spanish model. Conservatives and Liberals differed on practically everything, including work, schooling, the role of the church, the army, and the form of authority.

Work Cited

Class Notes. “Conservatism and Liberalism in 19th Century Latin America”. (2024). Wk 3 MLA Con Lib. Power point.

Rivera, Faviola. “Liberalism in Latin America.” (2016). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Pp 1-10.

Vanderwood, Paul, and Robert Weis. “The Reforma Period in Mexico.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. 2020. Pp 1-18. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.013.581


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