Throughout the 20th century, the emergence of authoritarian dictatorships in Latin America coincided with periods of social convulsion and economic uncertainty. This book covers 15 dictators representing every decade of the century and geographically from the Caribbean and North and Central and South America. Each chapter covers their personal information (childhood, education, marriage, family...), assumption of power, relationship with the United States, oppression of civilians, and collapse of their regimes. The book also investigates inherent contradictions in U.S. foreign policy: promoting democracy abroad while supporting brutal dictatorships in Latin America. Such analysis requires multiple perspectives and this work embraces an evaluation of the influence of military dictatorships on cultural elements such as art, literature, journalism, music and cinema, while drawing on data from documentary archives, court case files, investigative reports, international treaties, witness testimonies, and personal letters from survivors. The dramatic experiences of courageous individuals who challenged these 15 oppressors are also recounted.
Javier A. Galvan is a professor of Spanish and Latin American history at Santa Ana College in Orange County, California. He has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, most of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. He lives in Garden Grove, California.