Revolutionary Ferment and Democratic Processes

February 4, 1959

Report Outline
Gains for Democracy in Latin America
Afro-Asian Reversion to Military Rule
Phases in the Struggle for Democracy

Gains for Democracy in Latin America

Two Political Currents have been moving swiftly, in different directions, in different parts of the non-Communist world. One has carried half a dozen newly independent nations of Asia and Africa away from the practice of democracy and into the custody of presumably benevolent dictators. The other, operating in the older nations of Latin America, has swept one military dictator after another into exile and restored democratic rights and processes long in suspense.

Widespread illiteracy, lack of public experience with democratic practices, leadership shortcomings, and other factors have contributed to the faltering of free government in the Asian and African countries where military chieftains have stepped in to exercise political control. In Latin America, on the contrary, peoples subject for decades to military dictatorship have been helped by disaffection within the military forces themselves to install governments dedicated to the principles and ideals avowed when the countries won independence from European over lordship nearly 150 years ago.

Ousting of Cuba's Dictator By Castro Forces

The latest Latin American nation to throw out a dictator was Cuba. Gen, Fulgencio Batista, who had ruled Cuba as president or from behind the scenes for 17 of the past 25 years, fled from Havana at dawn on New Year's Day. Forces of the young revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, who for two years had been challenging the authority of Batista from a mountain stronghold in eastern Cuba, entered the capital the next day. Manuel Urrutia, whom Castro named to head the provisional government, dissolved the Cuban Congress on Jan. 6 and announced that the country would be ruled by decree until free elections could be held; at least 18 months was expected to elapse before voters were summoned to the polls.

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