Week 13: Towards an Uncertain Future

Being at the end of the course, gives me a feeling of new beginnings. New beginnings because we have learned so much but still have so much more to learn. We learned a myriad of historical moments, from the figurative language of Columbus upon first contact with the new world, to the emerging new forms of protest that the Latin community has been experimenting with in the 21st century.

Originally, at the beginning of the semester, I choose Maradona, Machista, and Pride as the first three words that came to my mind. Now, at the end of the semester, the first three words that come to mind are becoming / evolving, pride, and love.  As I discussed in class, the feeling of becoming and evolving is strong when I think of the Latin people. The Latin community has as much external influence as it does internal, from the conquest and from it native origins, that there is always going to be a complex dynamic between the state and people, between their historical inheritance to their modern divergence; this is all product of people that have so much potential because they have so much depth to their being, thus, to myself, it seems that Latin America has an element of becoming.

Pride is something that we always be attached to the human condition and in the terms of Latin America, pride is rooted deep and superficially. The deep rooted pride that stems from historical figures that fought for the people, is something of a virtue. The superficial pride that can be seen the machista behaviour, is more of a curse. Pride is definitely apart of the Latin American palette.

Love is also apart of that palette. The thing about love is a phenomenon that is experienced rather not described, so it may be futile that I attempt to describe it but if anything, I think this course has had a lot of love throughout the readings. The love of pursuing happier means. The preserving of love through speaking against the oppression. Love shown through transparency in story telling. Love through resilience. So many examples of love that I had to mention it.

So the question that I would like to ask is, out of all the moments we read about, which one influenced you most and why?

Week 12: Speaking Truth To Power

The readings this week gave me a sense of the evolution of the people or el Pueblo. As the chapter displayed, the people of tyrannical states started to take action as seen with Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, and with Chile starting and maintaining a string the “No” campaign  against the continuation of Pinochet as leader of the state. Both factors had their own elements that prevailed in their respected situations, but I would like to mention the exterior factor of globalization, which would eventually become a common source of influence. Globalization serves as many outlets but most obvious, it serves as a platform for publication and the transfer of information. In the latter side of the 10th century, globalization was making information much more accessible through television, computers and eventually, through the internet. These mediums of massive accessibly to information can, if the situation is ripe enough, create a huge upset for the established systems. In a certain way, this is what happened with Chile, as the “No” campaign informed and enlightened the Chilean people about the atrocities that Pinochet committed. But at the same time, globalization can have a negative affect. For example, it can saturate elites with corruptive instincts as seen with the United Fruit Company.

Javier Sicilia’s, “Open Letter to Mexico’s Politicians and Criminals,” was written within a weeks time of his son’s murder. In this letter he confronts the two legal and illegal powers of his nation, that which are the Mexican government and the Mexican Drug Cartels. He discloses, with all the sorrow  and rancour of having lost his only child, that he and the people have had enough of being caught in the middle of their diabolical playground. He debunks the idea of their governance and power by demonstrating the losses the family of the victims has suffered. He also states, “The death of my son Juan Francisco has lifted up solidarity and a cry of indignation—that my family and I appreciate from the depth of our hearts—from the citizenry, and from the media,” which is a unifying statement with those other families and with the cause of fighting these atrocities. He continues by saying that they are tired of playing the witness to their recklessness, that their mismanagement will lead them to govern “mountain of ossuaries and of beings that are beaten and destroyed in their souls.”

His letter is his means of taking action and stepping in the shoes of a local politician. As he said, the death of his son was the birth of his action and solidarity.

So I ask, how could we learn how to speak out and act in solidarity for the ongoing issue we feel passionate about? And where could one find mentorship in solidarity outside of historical or popular figures?

Week 10: Power to the People

This weeks reading I had more of an emotional response than an intellectual like that of the Columbus’s journal. As an Argentine, I hold Evita and Peron in very high regards due to what they accomplished and what they mean to us Argentines. Since them, we have always been searching, either consciously or unconsciously, for another Evita and another Peron; subsequently, that leads the nation into offering too much blind faith towards the political actors that identify under the Peronista banner.

Personally it is a very conflicting question to ask how I feel towards the modern Peronistas. The majority of my family are Peronistas and they are very fanatical, a symptom of being Argentine whether that be in politics, fútbol, or religion. When I last visited Argentina in May 2019, the nation was facing a federal election and that only means that protests and national divide was on the horizon. When I tried to speak with my family about Cristina Kirchner and her past criminal allegations they rebuked me with lack of evidence and claims to conspiracies. I share this example because this is a lasting affect the Evita and Peron had on the Argentine people, though Cristina Kushner is not exactly Peronista, she still draws comparisons and tries to gain support under the Peronista populism and people, like my family, are fanatical about Cristina and consider themselves Kirchneristas.

This is were I find a conflict with populism, people are so quick to defend these political figures with out much of a rational filter, as seen in Argentina with the anecdote I mentioned above and also with the Trump supporters we have seen the last 4 years. Populism also has this touch of a Renaissance artist, where it paints a perfect picture of these political actors where they can do no wrong and that is very dangerous because being human is dangerous in itself; we are not still pictures or sculptures frozen in space, we are constantly moving, making decisions, acting upon instincts, and experimenting with unpredictable phenomenons which set the stage for failures and successes. We are bound to make mistakes but with populism, it can be such a dangerous stage to step onto.

Even Evita wasn’t as much as a Saint as she is proposed and I say that with all my honest love. After World War two, she is known to of helped some high ranking nazis escape europe and immigrate to Argentina in exchange for some of their gold and money to help Peron and his election campaign. She is human after all, or in her own words, “another descamisado”.

When it comes to populism, why do the populist have to be so extreme to get the people galvanized and empathetic to populists cause?

What is it about human nature that finds populism so attractive to the masses?

Week 9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire

This weeks reading raised a question which I often ask myself and others: has globalization been more beneficial or detrimental to the world? From this week’s readings, globalization came to Latin America in the form of aid and modernization with its intention set within a capitalistic agenda. But this is nothing new to Latin Americans or history repeats itself. The Bolivard dream of a united Latin America is so appealing to latin Americans because it is the only way Latin American’s could combat the American demagogue, which is primarily aimed to those of the upper class or with power. This week’s reading only encourage that thought of idealism but because of the global market and the western hemisphere’s dependency to the United States, that ideal will never come to pass unless everyone is willing to sacrifice everything. Again, easy to say from someone living in a country where the government gives out loans for this type of free speech to discussed. But, this is just how I feel.

The conformity factor is something we all must ask ourselves. Has the system influenced my being? It is a hard question to ask and be asked. I can empathize and sympathize with Carmen Miranda’s intersubjectivity with the capitalistic hydra of temptation, fame, and fetishization; furthermore, just as the hydra, the capitalistic monster of the global waters keeps surfacing more demagogic heads that lure global citizens more to the shore line while the high tide approaches.

In the end, I understand everyone wants to come live a more comfortable life. That is the reason why so many flee to the United States in an illegal manner. When I lived in Mexico, the life was hard. In one moment, I worked three jobs and still didn’t have enough money to save or to invest in small productive things. The thought of returning to Canada was of course very present, though I had intended to live in Mexico for the purpose of understanding more about my Mexican roots and also to understand how the people live. In the end, I still needed help to survive. That’s a huge part of the Latin American lifestyle and is also something that José Vasconcelos mentioned in last week’s reading, that Latin American’s possessed more spiritual virtue than of their Northern neighbours; this could be presented in several ways not just religiously but in the spiritual form of service and transparency with your fellow being. Knowing your neighbours is a virtue in Latin America, one that is not common in Canada, not sure about the United States. If only Latin American’s could only raise a bit of the spirituality, to raise their spiritual consciousness to confront with the “modern” methods of hegemonic and capitalistic systems, to understand that helping your neighbour can become a powerful method of solidarity, then maybe, just maybe, can the Latin American people claim their own land as their own.

Week 8: Signs of a Gilded Age

This week offered a necessary introduction to historical figures and intellects of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the 20th century, it would seem that for some nations, the peasants, aboriginals, and workers charged the government’s and administrations with negligence of a supposed liberated society by generation revolutions, strikes, and intellectual thought on the situation. The world in the first part of the twentieth century seemed rather remarkable with World War 1, the Mexican revolution, and the Russian revolution. I can understand why there was so much action that followed with the out cries, the world was simply still developing. In contrast, todays world seems fairly established with their ideologies and governance.

I think what strikes me most about the reading was the infiltration of Zapatistas and Villistas on Mexico City. It just amazes me to think of what it would of been like to see those rebel soldiers on the modern streets of DF, or in the restaurants of one of the most prominent neighbourhoods like Polanco. It would have been a beautiful sight. The intermixing of the free and tamed, though not quite that way. When I go back to Mexico and visit my family, I often ask for historical stories as oral history is a part of the Latin American experience. The stories may be different every time, they may be mostly fictional — creatively regurgitated from one story teller to another — but they also have the same meaning. I often told about Pacho Villa and how he would go into the United States territory with a band of his bandits and terrorize the American military during the nights and return with Yankee gear, turning it into sardonic contraband. When I read about them entering Mexico City, my admiration for them grew and it made me wonder if we all ever see men of their courage again.

José Carlos Mariátegui’s, “The Problem of the Indian,” was very intriguing and also made me very fond of his train of thought. The Peruvian people and their history, in my opinion, are paramount for Latin American sovereignty and composure. I believe the Incas were one of the longest lasting opposers to the Spanish conquest, and their population and cities still uphold their autochthonous traditions and languages. In comparison, Argentina is sullied in a way from our historical attachment to the land, though we are proud of our land, our blood does not glimmer with indigenous genes. Maybe sully was a strong word to use but my point is that most of our ancestors don’t necessarily relate to the Argentine indigenous complex due to several reasons, from wagging war on indigenous, to having mass immigration be the keystone for the past population.

What always troubles me is that socialism is still a strong ideology in South America, and superadded to that is communism, so why doesn’t any revolutions happen? Has Capitalism sunk so deep in the soil of society that everyone is too comfortable enough to risk everything? This is coming from a guy who lives in Canada, so I myself have my own trial to judge.



Week 7: The Export Boom of Modernity

At the turn of the Twentieth Century, the potential of Latin America seemed to be unfolding in a favourable way or at least by first glance. This is how I first viewed it when I read about it in books when I was trying to learn about Argentina and Mexico from afar. Argentina was within the world’s top ten richest countries and Mexico was reaching new economic limits by the years. What I didn’t know or learn about the manner in which way they were expanding their nation or modern culture.

Anyone who tries to modernize, in a way, loses a piece of the past or part of their character. When I think of modernization, I think of Japan, who went from a feudal state to a modernize reflection of the western world within a relatively short amount of time (I can’t remember how long but I assume it was around a century or less). They sacrificed their cultural heritage and practices for a more “civilized and industrial” lifestyle. Or course, their modernization couldn’t of happened without an internal conflict which was between the Samurais and the Empire. I bring the Japanese up because in a way they were really successful in modernizing the nation. So what happened to the rest of South America? Why didn’t they modernize as the Japanese did?

Though I don’t know much about Japanese history, I do know a bit about their culture and loyalty. They are a very respectful people that believes in community and it is their heritage that solidifies their beliefs. Almost the whole nation made an effort to modernize, where as in Latin America, only the elites and a few trickle downs attempted to modernize the nations but even then it was against the nations of some people. The fact is that the nations within Latin America we never united as a people and that will eventually lead to divides and stalemate in progress. Then again, one could question what is progress? There are various forms of progress like economical, cultural, humane, educational, etc., and these are all still subjective so it is hard to define progress when perspective is not objective and it probably shouldn’t be, because in general socio-political realities are never seen as a one way street. People should be allowed to live the way they want, wether that’s in the forest, on the ranch, in the city, or among the villages, but should they all be governed under one system that has nothing to do with their own? It is a matter of co-existence and liberty, not of demagogues and production.

Week 6: Citizens and Rights in the New Republics

The transition period for any person or collective is always a difficult one, especially when your don’t fully transition as you would when doing a 180 degree turn. She could argue that in the case of post-liberation, new nations and republics simply did a 360 degree circle, concluding where their initial actions begot.

In reading this weeks chapter, I would summarize my interpretation as the latter. I think this is most evident with rights for Afro-Americans, women, and the “in-betweens”. The in-betweens are possibly those who are like myself: half something / half something, while being born in a completely different region than those original halves; or, it could simply just be in-between identities, histories, birth origin, etc. In modern times, we are more holistic in culture and being than our ancestors a hundred years ago. I would just like to add the thought of how practices have also done a sort of recounter or full circle. The criollos and caudillos were sent to Europe to study the old world and come back an educated person and most of all to be civilized. One could also say they were sent off to learn about heir parents culture. In present time, some parents also send their children, if born in a foreign country, to their origin country to teach them their culture so they can be more educated with their intergenerational customs. I find it interesting we humans, in some ways, always share some of the same desires and traditions despite it having the same moral as it did thousands of years ago.

What struck out to me most about this chapter was how important slaves were to the economy and that being the defacto motive behind the newly appointed governments delaying the natural rights of freedom to slaves and their cohorts. I have read in other books that because there were so many revolts by slaves in the caribbean and later in brazil, the United States did not import as many slaves because they did not want that liability of having them rouse up a revolt, so they kept the importation of slaves relatively small compared to the Latin American countries. Bartolomé de las Casas was also controversial for the reason of not including the African slaves in his letter to the King when discussing the repulsing treatment of the Ingenious people in the Americas. I believe On De Las Casas, he repented not defending the African slaves because he knew how vital they were to the extraction and production of the Americas. There is just too much irony in the liberation efforts of the western hemisphere, and it all started with the declaration of independence. They say that all men are born free but also in that constitution they endorse slavery and practice it until their country is torn by ideologies.

The readings by Latin America women is important is paramount. In the 20th century, women started to get more of a predominant role in their lives and society but still were held back by machista customs which still exists today. What I enjoy most about what I read, was that the authors Echenique and Judith, say that women should take an active role as they are, and not become more masculine or try to mimic their opposite sex. I especially like how Echenique talks about philosophy. I think, at all time, we need philosophy, that moment of honest reflection that can ground us with responsibility. My favorite was when Judith said that an acclaimed writer said that, “women is the poetry of God, and Man his prose.” Really liked that.


Week 5: Caudillos Versus the Nation State

As they say about the Cuba and in state of the nation: Cuba is still in a state of euphoria due to the revolution. I am paraphrasing and the phrase, presently, is only applicable to very few Cuban’s, if any. I see this euphoria as similar to the identity of South Americans. In my opinion, the term and idea of liberation and liberty has, in itself, had more of an affect on the South Americans than the actual feat of liberating the continent from the colonial system.  I think this plays a part into why authority broke down after the independence. The people of the continent were freed by name (to an extent), but not by practice or by non-partisan means which allowed the colonial system to transcend into the post-independence era.

Liberalism is appealing because to offers you the right to your birth rights and gives you a sense of government which also seeks to protect and improve your personal freedoms. It is more of a long term fulfilment as I see it. Clientelism on the other hand is something focused on reward and temporal happiness. Materialism could connote clientelism. Something also similar with what you do with spoiled children or just children in general: reward for the smallest feats.




Week 3: The Colonial Experience

This week has once again proven to provide fascinating insight to the colonial world. Firstly, I believe that Catalina De Erauso’s story should be more recognized within the educational system, that is, within the junior and high school curriculum, for its reference to gender identification. In these progressive times regarding gender, there needs to be more historical references to transgressive stories as the human race naturally uses history as a catalyst for cultural evolution or at least attempts to. Aside from my personal opinion, her story is as remarkable as it is entertaining. Most readers enjoy a good rebel and Catalina was as rebellious as you can get. The fact that she defied her preordained fate of being a nun at an early age is a great start to life full of cascading adventures and transcendence. I use transcendence because it would seem to me that that is what her actions purpose, he recognized her state and decided to conquer her life by her will and her will alone. Some people have such a strong will that it almost seems to they almost escape death by confronting it with no remorse, and Catalina seems to be one of those people. It is interesting to think of Catalina and Joan of Arc. Both committed crimes against the church in certain respects, both fought for their country and God, but both had different outcomes. They would be a good juxtaposition to analyze if there was a moment to discuss transgressive women.

On the hand, the casta paintings are fascinating just as they are ridiculous in an ethnogenetic sense. It was important to for the conquistadors to segregate and divide the colonies and its people as to attempt to disempower the colonies greatest power: unification. Many of the colonizers were scared of bringing massive amounts of slaves at once because of the high risk it preposed in them revolting; therefore, the established hierarchy of the casta system was effective in deeming that risk as the people saw each other as more or less than. It is more so an effective example of the state’s heteronomy influence on the people. At the same time, it is very dehumanizing and horrible start to the people’s ethnogenesis, as a key part of enthogenesis is the race’s own recognition of self, without or with very minimal, outside or heteronomic influence.

I wonder how every class in the casta paintings during the times that the original paintings were produced, would paint the others classes using only their idiosyncrasy? I think that would give us more insight into the totality of the colonial world.

Week 2, The Meeting of Two Worlds

Long have I waited to read the diaries of Columbus and Cortes. Though there is much other research that is need to be investigated before I can have legitimate opinion about the transcripts and events, I go into this reading with a state of enmity and conflict. I think a lot of Latinos feel the same. On one had, the reading of our ancestors being so easily beguiled by the Spaniards is cause for natural resentment; on the other, due to that natural resentment I conceive a internal conflict since my cultural base is revolved around the Spanish inheritance. Thus is the historical and relative crossroad of an emotional and intellectual experience.

Upon reading Columbus’s diary, I could not help and feel that my sentiments romanticized that virginity of the naked aboriginals and their innocent curiosity. Though that sentiment appeared in fleeting waves of description, the narrative was clear with bigotry and exploitation. Though I had already entered the reading with my own and additional context due to the watching of the week two video, I could understand the that Cortes was a man with a mandate and with reputation to improve on. The human condition, which we all endure, was shown in this descriptions. He attempted to comprehend what was incomprehensible. He tried to factionalize the fictional with hypothesis and blind faith. All of which is rational and I believe it is safe to say that it would of been committed almost in the same way by anyone in that position.

I think what struck me the most of Columbus’s diary is the fact that the words can bring me to that moment and because of that, I feel like I would have to read it a few time so I could have a better intellectual understanding rather an emotional. One thing that I am always interested in is the religious factor. I left the Catholic church over ten years ago and one of the main reasons was because I could believe in a system that abolished something that my ancestors believed in because they were practicing the word of God, and saving souls from damnation. One of Columbus’s first idiosyncrasies upon seeing the aboriginals was that they would convert and make good Christians. It is interesting to think that that was one of his first conceptions and then in comparison to think about Nietzsche’s 19th century claim that God is dead.

It make’s me wonder if everything the Spanish did was all in vain in regards to saving the damned? Did they kill God by conquering the Americas? Are we saved by separating from our historical inheritance?