Since the end of World War II, the political situa-tion of many latin american countries has been unstable, and many have experienced periods of rule by military dictators. These military govern-ments have generally pursued policies of government intervention in the economy and have been marked by their extreme brutality in the suppres-sion of political opponents. The situations in argentina, chile, and peru are good examples of these tendencies. Until world war ii, the economy of argentina was controlled by a small group of people who owned the impor-tant wheat and cattle farms.
When the military seized control in 1943, juan peron encouraged the growth of labor unions, increased job benefits, and created new jobs by pursuing a policy of industrialization. Under his influence, the government took over major banks and the shipping and communications industries. To prevent protest over these actions, peron organized fascist gangs who used violence to terrify his opponents. The military regime that followed him killed as many as 36,000 people. In chile, a marxist government took control through peaceful elections in 1970. The new president, salvador allende, increased workers wages and nationalized the copper industry and some foreign-owned corporations. He also allowed groups of radical workers to seize control of the estates of wealthy landowners.