Great Depression in Latin America

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The Great Depression which followed the US stock market crash of 1929 badly affected the countries of Latin America.[1]

Chile, Peru, and Bolivia were, according to a League of Nations report, the countries worst-hit by the Great Depression. The rise of fascism also became apparent in Latin American countries in the 1930s due to the Great Depression. Fascist governments were the result of a desire for nationalism, which rulers like Getúlio Vargas of Brazil played on through propaganda.[2] Haiti, for its part, came out of the Great Depression as an independent country after the US pulled out their troops in 1936.

Brazil was hardly hit by the great depression. Between 1929 and 1932, coffee exports fell 50%. Foreign investment in the country was reduced to zero. To keep coffee prices from falling even more, the government ordered the dumping of thousands of coffee sacks into the ocean. Entire coffee plantations were set on fire to reduce production and keep prices from hitting rock bottom. Sugar production became so cheap that many sugar mills in Brazil just halted production for years. In other Latin American countries such as Mexico, responses to the Great Depression also led to a strengthening of the industrialization process (begun in the nineteenth century). Brazil needed an economic alternative to the highly devalued coffee, its main commodity at the time. The Vargas government started to purchase and burn coffee from the farmers, in order to avoid their complete bankruptcy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paulo Drinot and Alan Knight. The Great Depression in Latin America (2014)
  2. ^ Rosemary Thorp, Latin America in the 1930s: the role of the periphery in world crisis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000)

Further reading[edit]

  • Drinot, Paulo, and Alan Knight (2014): The Great Depression in Latin America. Duke University Press Books. ISBN 978-0822357384.
  • Skidmore, T. E.. and P. H. Smith. Modern Latin America (6th ed. 2005)
  • Paolera, Gerardo della, and Alan M. Taylor. "Economic recovery from the Argentine great depression: Institutions, expectations, and the change of macroeconomic regime." The Journal of Economic History (1999) 59#3 pp: 567-599.
  • Thorp, Rosemary. Latin America in the 1930s: the role of the periphery in world crisis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000)