Revolution in South America

Clouds surround the Christ the Redeemer statue over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 9, 2016.  Brian Snyder/Reuters

A WAVE of revolutions has during the past six months swept over the Latin-American world, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and from the Peruvian highlands to the prairies of Buenos Aires. The backwash has been felt in Cuba, Chile and Ecuador, and even from Uruguay have come reports of threatened upheaval. It is a curious phenomenon, this epidemic of political violence. It has infected nations widely separated in the scale of political and social progress, states which are still semi-Indian in racial complexion and political deportment, and others where change of government by revolution has long been believed to be an anachronism. The contagion, after an early outbreak in the Dominican Republic, spread with startling celerity from Bolivia to Peru, to Argentina, and to Brazil. It has affected over three-fourths of the area of South America, and almost as great a proportion of its population -- fifty-eight million people in an expanse of five and a half million square miles.

To more than one observer it has recalled that distant revolutionary year of 1848 on the continent of Europe, or the toppling of monarchies at the close of the World War. The liberal revolutions of '48 had a common origin in the system of political repression which, after the overthrow of Napoleon, became the policy of the legitimist monarchies under the inspiration of the Austrian chancellor, Metternich. They reflected a common aspiration toward democracy and nationalism. The revolutions of 1917--18 in Germany, Austria, and Russia were the result of a crisis in world affairs too recent to require elucidation. And so it is natural to seek for some explanation which will fit all these South American upheavals, to try and discover some factor by which all are divisible or some general moral to be drawn. Newspaper reports have sometimes stressed the element of student agitation in the several countries concerned; and the revolutionary leaders themselves have invariably represented the uprisings as a liberal protest against the selfishness and egotism, the corruption

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