Over the scope of history, Latin America has seen its fair share of influential leaders. There have been rebels, reformers, and dictators that have all left an impact on this region of the world. These five individuals are famous leaders that were able to create important positive differences in the world around them, and in doing so, were able to rise to levels of international importance.
1. Simon Bolivar
Bolivar is often referred to as being the Latin American George Washington. His work helped to lead the way or millions of South Americans to experience freedom. He is often remembered for his charisma, but it is his military genius that made him one of the greatest leaders in the fight for independence in Latin America. His work helped to create five independent countries and that is a rare claim for anyone in the history of humanity to be able to make.
2. Diego Rivera
Rivera might not have been a great military leader. He wasn’t a politician. He was simply a muralist. What he was able to do, however, is just as important. In Latin America, much of the art that was available to the general public was locked behind doors. You had to be a certain social class in order to see these great works of art. Rivera didn’t think that this was the best of ideas, so he made an effort to bring the art out of the museum and into the street. He left a lot of controversy with every footstep that he took, but there is no denying the social impact that his work was able to bring.
3. Fidel Castro
Not many people can say that they’ve had an enormous effect on world politics for five decades, but Fidel Castro is one of those people. Often considered an inspiration by those who think of themselves as anti-imperialists, Castro has been a thorn in the side of the leadership in the United States since he rose to power. A brilliant revolutionary, you don’t have to agree with his politics or his view of government to respect the fact that he is one of Latin America’s greatest statesmen.
4. Rigoberta Menchu
Living in a rural province of Guatemala, Menchu was a leading figure in the struggle to provide rights to the indigenous population. In 1982, her autobiography was written, and this brought her to a high level of Latin American influence. She took advantage of the international popularity that she received from her story and turn it into a platform that would allow her to be influential without needing to be violent. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and even today continues to be one of the world’s leaders in supporting the rights of indigenous people.
You can’t think about Latin America and not think about the sport of football, which some might call soccer. When you think of Latin America and the sport, one athlete comes to mind: Pele. Many consider this man to be the greatest player in the sport of all time. What makes him a famous Latin American leader is the fact that he has worked tirelessly since retiring from football to support the poor classes of Brazil. Much of the decrease in racism that has been experienced in his home country is credited to him.