Author Archives: amy main

Week Thirteen

This week as the last chapter in the textbook focuses on more recent issues that have resulted in large political change and the division of Latin America into left and right politics. But it is important to keep in mind that there was room for this political change because of the corruption and other issues within the state itself. Beginning with the earthquake in Mexico, when Mexico wasn’t even stable to begin with. But the government of Mexico could not handle the situation well and one side of the public called for socialist reform and the other for less emphasis on state.

As a result of poor economics, recessions, corruption many countries in Latin America went into right wing politics. Organizations like IMF and World Bank who, at first seem to be doing good by lending money to countries but the money comes with conditions.

After the collapse of the USSR confirmed that capitalism could defeat socialism and highlight free trade and markets. But this was detrimental to Cuba, as their economy relied on Soviet market and Cuba was sent into a downward spiral. Nations that were struggling had to change economics in hopes of improving. The new policies were tied to to a decline standards of living for the working and poor classes. Local markets became global markets because of cheap labor, better agriculture seasons and minerals in Latin America.

This new trend created a market for elites to be able to make more connections in North America, buying houses, educating their children there and withdrew from civil society in Latin America. Migrating to North America became popular for further opportunities. Creating what we know today to be a big issue between the US and Mexican borders.

However, this created a new generations of leftists who were able to catch the attention of the peoples by exploiting the negative dimensions of globalization. Many uprisings such as, Hugo Chavez’s in Venezuela were motivated by the negativity towards the elites or the uprisings in Bolivia regarding their gas industry. In Bolivia protesters created roadblocks to isolate La Paz which, resulted in who leaders resigning and then a socialist came into power.

I have really enjoyed these recent readings because they are easy to relate to. These are issue that even if you are not aware of Latin American history one is able have background information about. We are very fortunate that we have taken this class for an entire term and have been informed of its history. We are able to make inquiries as to why this has occurred from simply knowing the impacts of colonization, North American influence and now more recently globalization.

Week Twelve

This weeks readings and video lecture was incredibly moving. It reminded me of how important ones voice is in society. In this class we started with the studies of early colonization and the very beginnings of Latin America including the oppression of the Latin Americans and now we are finishing with Latin Americans voicing their beliefs and needs.

The cold war and the “dirty wars” created a whole new meaning to chaos in Latin America. Much of the military warriors continued to be funded by the allies in the West. This chapter focuses on those voices that began to be heard as their cry for help began to be seen globally. Dangerous authoritarian regimes came into power, often supported by its allies in the West.

Many were in a great amount of grief, as many deaths and disappearances were taking place. Many atrocities, denying basic human rights to many citizens left citizens very vulnerable within their authoritarian society. This search for a voice united Latin America against the full control of state. After a decade, the repressed media voices began to spill out into the public. This made it much easier for citizens to voice opinions, educate the public and search for change.

Resulting from the “dirty wars”, authoritarian states made many of their enemies disappear, tortured and denied any information regarding them. In Argentina it began with 14 mothers gathered in the Plaza de Mayo in 1977. Gathering weekly demanding for information about their missing children. Not to long after this issue came to public eye when body parts were found on the coasts of Uruguay and journalists became interested in the situation. The French Embassy and President Carter decided to put pressure on the state, limiting relations. The OAS was brought to investigate the missing peoples and found 6,000 disappearances that were able to be investigated officially. The junta invaded the Malvinas Islands and forces were beat creating protests throughout Argentina. In 1988, the Reagan administration came to the aid of the act of bringing the authoritarian regime.

Meanwhile, in Chile Pinochet had issues with the claims from mothers of disappeared children as well. Facing large opposition and general strikes within Chile, Pinochet feared the “No” vote. The “No” campaign stresses Pinochets crimes and emphasized democracy in the future.

These two examples are remarkable in a way that regular citizens collectively can make for change. Fighting for human rights in authoritarian run countries can be very dangerous, the bravery of the few people who took the risk and began this should be noted.

It is also important to note the importance of mass media during this time. Currently, our news sources are often under scrutiny but they need to be recognized for the positive impacts it has had on many lives. I agree that media is not doing its job to inform the public adequately but when the protests by the mothers was seen in media it changed the situation drastically. This is when being informed about history is important in our daily lives, we are reminded that we are lucky to have voices in our society but those voices were fought to be heard. We should not take those for granted.

Week Eleven

This week in our readings we were introduced to the horror stories that many of us know today as the “gorilla wars”. Coming straight from high school history we learn about the cold war, and the cuban missile crisis. this is what I immediately thought of. But I was not aware that this bloodshed was throughout Latin America.

This conflict was a result of the cold war leaving Latin American countries struggling even more so than before their involvement within this proxy war. The gorilla fighters were often found being supported by either side. The public knew that their own governments were corrupt, which created many movements in itself. Similar to the movements in the US, many leftists were joined by students. The famous Che Guevara became a figure in the movement, idolized by many wanting change.

The terror began with the gorillas bombs, murders and kidnappings, resulting in police brutality.

Whenever I am in Chile visiting my family I always hear stories about the Allende-Pinochet era. The stories continue to be told today at the dinner table or when walking around Santiago with my grandfather. One of my family friends even participated in the marches with the other women banging pots and pans demanding food. I know that one of our family friends sausage factory was taken over during the Allende time. And because of these impacts my family and friends in Chile are not the Americans biggest supporters.

It is very clear the American involvement in most of the movements throughout Latin America, especially when they are supporting the violent overthrow of presidents and supporting gorilla movements with money. I find it very difficult to not be very critical of the US involvement in Latin America, from what we have been learning recently it seems as if there has only been a large amount of harm done. We see this now because it is many years ago but it makes me reflect on the impacts of current American involvement in Latin America and throughout the world.

How much influence does the US have on Latin America today?

Will the US influence worldwide be as devastating as it was to Latin America?

If yes, than how can we either stop this or help?

Short Research and Writing Assignment

Source 1:

This analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations is an article written by 3 senior fellows in the subject of Latin America studies published in 2013. The article generally focuses on Chavez’s remarking that he was a transitional figure in Venezuelan history and as well as Latin America’s. His 12 years included increase of social inclusion, a political consensus for democratic means, and foreign policy of independence. The policy of independence emphasized the relationship with the United States. The article speaks of Chavez’s “unfulfilled dreams” but clearly argues that they wouldn’t have been attainable because of cost and cooperation of other countries in the region. The pipeline of the south, a South American Development Bank, continental- scale housing and highways would be included in this. The article also includes accomplishments by Chavez and gives him partial credit to the development in the institutional structure. “ALBA”, the 9 member association of Bolivarian countries, which is estimated to continue to influence the countries surrounding. A great deal of emphasis economically is put on the Cuban- Venezuelan relationship and of course, provoking the United States.

Revolutionaries, such as Chavez are very complex and have great impacts on society. Chavez was able to accomplish all that he did because of the chaos that he more or less contributed to with his “Bolivarian movement”. There are many mixed feelings toward Chavez, especially when western media has a prominent voice rather than the voices of South America that benefited from his leadership. Considering the state of many Latin American nations and the American influence in them, Chavez had the right idea to begin to move away from the US relations.

Sweig, J. Rockefeller, D & N. “Analysis: Hugo Chavez Saw Himself as a                         Transitional Figure in    Venezuelan History.” Council on Foreign Relations, 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Source 2:

Another article taken from Council on Foreign Relations regarding the future of Venezuela after the death of Chavez and the fate of the “Bolivarian Social Revolution”.”Venezuela’s Challenging Next Chapter”  addresses challenges that will need to be addressed will be: control of the countries oil reserves and relations with allies within the region and world wide. Chavez successor Maduro, only won the election with 50% votes. Analysts propose a very difficult administration for Maduro because of the various  issues currently in Venezuela such as, crime rates and domestic political visions and nebulous relationships worldwide. Predicaments about Maduro lead to a downward upcoming few years and that Maduro will not last his full 6 years in term. Mostly, the future challenges seem to be directed towards economic means.

There are many narratives of leaders such as Chavez tell a profile but do not predict the impacts that will continue to occur over time. Charismatic leaders such as Chavez have immense impacts on a population that can be good or bad. The following leader will have difficulties dealing with destruction that was created before him or deal with the pressure put on him. In Maduro’s case, there was immense pressure as he was Chavez’s successor and has lost much support since his election in 2013. Currently, there are protests in Venezuela due to high levels of violence, inflation and lack of general goods. But his government is under surveillance by UN and Amnesty International for crimes against humanity.

Lee, Brianna. “Issue Guide: Venezuela’s Challenging Next Chapter.” Council on Foreign Relations, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Week Ten

I was very excited when I began reading this chapter in our textbook. As a child I have watched the “Evita” musical many times and watched it before my recent trip to Argentina.

This week the reading focuses on the techniques  to reach the masses of political leaders. This became a very powerful political era and has continued to develop ever since. Every minor to major decision is available to the public now, I believe this is very special. It gets citizens involved in politics and it limits the opportunity for leaders to do major catastrophes. As a result of the publicity of political leaders since the very beginning of media leaders are held accountable and monitored by the citizens of its nation.

As we see the emphasis put on Evita Peron’s speeches in the documents 7.1, 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4. The title of Dawson’s chapter “Power to the People” is clearly seen in document 7.3 from August 22 1951. After reading this I was intrigued by her charismatic speeches and looked for videos on youtube.


It is absolutely incredible to see the masses of supporters who were attending but also that it was filmed at that today in 2015 I can watch her final speech is incredible.

Document 7.4 looks further into if her speech was similar to the script with all the screaming descamisados. Comparing both they seemed quite similar, which is very impressing since there was less than 1 million people gathered in a plaza. I cannot imagine that pressure she was under during this speech, declining such a powerful position that the crowd of people below her obviously care deeply about. Dawson states “a million people have a kind of power all their own.” This is a powerful sentence which summarizes this chapter but also explains many changes that continued to happen throughout Latin America.


Week Nine

I believe that this weeks readings was easy to make a connection to, as even more so we can see the American Empire has been spread globally. I remember when I first heard about the extreme American intervention in Latin American affairs and being absolutely shocked. How were they allowed to do that and how did the C.I.A get involved? Table 6.1 gives us the number of U.S. military interventions in Latin America between the dates of 1898 to 1959, it is hard to imagine the costs and time put in by the Americans to intervene in almost every Latin American country. To add to this there was 2 world wars that the Americans were both involved in.

“The U.S. government also hoped with the aid would thwart American enemies in Latin America by revealing the ways that capitalism could alleviate hunger and end poverty” (Dawson, 197). This quote summarizes the American notion towards intervention quite well, with the priority being the resources in Latin America.  America refused to be called an empire but I believe it has been a large power and quite honestly an empire since WWII. Through ideological domination (capitalism and democracy), physical domination and economic control over various territories. The results of the American imperialism in Latin America had very similar as the European colonists.

The intervention created political figures who were backed by the Americans to rule their nation and was ultimately very corrupt. After military and political puppets there is the agricultural market in Latin America. The banana creating the craze to sugar, coffee and potential for the canal. Looking to control this, the UFCO was created in 1899. This North American company gained somewhat of market control, with a result of eliminating smaller local producers.

The working conditions created a “banana zone” (Dawson, 188) where alcohol abuse, prostitution and violence were common. All results of low or no wages, living in company housing and moving around in the Caribbean in labor circuits.

The Americanization well known for its consumption hit Latin America just as much as it did the rest of the world. The appeal to American products grew larger and it changed local products. This is where we see the negative impacts of globalization, the American culture began to intertwine itself into Latin America and I feel that that is very scary. That makes me concerned about our future.

Latin America has obviously gained back control of its politics, social and economics but what is missing because of the intervention? If the intervention didn’t control as much as it did how different would Latin America be now?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


Week Eight

“In short, Latin Americans lived in a fragmentary world; one person’s boom was always another’s crisis.” says Alexander Dawson quite well. (p 141). This sentence sums up the events that followed the boom of modernity, using examples of the violent uprisings setting in countryside during the Mexican Revolution. A key concept in this chapter is that not everyone benefits from economic growth, to be honest a very small percentage of a population get benefits, usually the elites and owners. The crisis in the rural areas escalated quite quickly as elites began to control much of the land and political parties were controlled by a small oligarchy.

From this chapter I was intrigued by the Plan de Ayala a document written by Emiliano Zapata and villagers from the highlands of the Morelos. The fact that individuals who experience the very worst of the economy have a say in this document makes it more important. I find it very interesting that they actually set a “Liberation Plan”, usually many citizens will complain about  political leaders and if they fulfill their platform promises. But this group wrote this, denouncing the President Francisco I. Madero for his betrayal to the revolutionary concepts.

This document called on 15 key points but some of the main points were:

  1. Rejection of Madero’s rule and call for free elections.
  2. Pascuel Orozco as leader of revolution.
  3. The land and property owned by large “hacendados” be given to towns and citizens.
  4. Confirmation of agricultural nature of revolution.

As a result of an amendment, Zapata was put into a leadership role of the revolution. Zapata was able to overthrow Huerta with the help of allied northern revolutionary armies. This resulted in somewhat of an end to chaos in the country.

Mainly, a large concern is that this pattern continued in Latin America. Political leaders call for change and then they receive support from the people but do not come through with their promises. Another large factor it that there continuously is corruption and abuse of power. Authority and power differentiate by authority has the right to enforce power if needed but power can be used to force people to do something they wouldn’t usually do.

Imagine if these revolutions occurred without hidden agendas? or

How does one plan a successful revolution?

Looking forward to discussion in class!


Week Seven

This week our readings were on the advances towards modernity, immediately I expected to read 30 pages on economic growth, but I was wrong. There was most definitely quite a bit of information regarding economic growth, as it is a very strong factor in the comings of modernity. To my surprise, a significant amount was on culture and social features, there was quite a bit on photographs, which I found very interesting. In this chapter there are 5 pages that have pictures that represent significant views of history.

I would like to further focus on Figure 4.1 portrayal of two young indigenous boys, the are shown as poor and seem to be agricultural labourers. In the beginning of the 1860’s there would still be very much racism prominent in Latin America, generalizing the boys as labourers shows this. This photograph could be interpreted in many different ways, this is the beauty of a photograph, although we are at the hands of the photographer. This makes me wonder about what is the intentions of this photographer, or what is happening on the outsides of the corners of the photograph?

Another photo that intrigued me was figure 4.3, a photo of a peruvian man and his wife. This photo and its description below are very vague, which makes it more interesting to interpret. The couple’s body language seems to be nearly distrustful of the photograph, as their backs are hunched and they are merely looking into the photograph almost as if they were interpreting it as well. The fact that the man is wearing his uniform is important as well, perhaps he wanted to be photographed in it because he is proud of his contribution or maybe he was forced to wear it as a symbol to the military. This also made me connect to the traditional american “we want you” posters for the army, maybe at this time that this photograph was their version of the american poster.

Photographs are a huge part of history, it is a very special opportunity that we have today that we can interpret photographs from hundreds of years ago. Sometimes, a photograph can say much more than words can, this is why I choose to write this weeks blog on the photographs. It is one thing to read pages of statistics, historical facts and documents but the interpretation of a photograph from a different perspective than the photographer and the photographed can explain more than what is being said. Obviously, just as anything else there are flaws in this argument, such as it is a small frame and we cannot see beyond it.

See you all tomorrow!


Week Six

This weeks readings were very interesting, focusing on the challenging movements towards equality for all citizens. Beginning with The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizenthis document is better than nothing but it does not include women or slaves. This chapter focuses further into the impacts of independence and the race issues as a result, creating the issue of citizenship. Slavery was also a relevant issue during this time as many black slaves were brought from Africa to work in the plantations all over America. Racism resulted in what the textbook calls “the Color Line”, using the example of United States discrimination based on colour. This chapter gives us five very different documents written by Latin Americans about the views of these certain struggles.

This brings me into the two last documents, Maria Echenique’s “Brushstrokes” and Josefina Sagasta’s “Women: Dedicated to Miss Maria Eugenia Echenique”. These documents are examples of the challenges faced when moving towards equality, the contrast between “Brushstrokes” and “Women: Dedicated to Maria Eugenia Technique” highlights the complexity of this issue. Both have strong beliefs that women have roles in society, Sagasta directs her argument towards the traditional view of motherhood, she suggests that family and home would not function with women’s emancipation. This very much contradicts my beliefs, but this is why I found this document so interesting.

Does Sagasta realize that she is saying that a woman’s duty is solely to the family?

What makes Sagasta believe that a woman needs an education, but does not use it for anything but pleasure reading or writing?

Sagasta also ridicules North American educated women, she views that the liberty of our rights to be on an equal status to men erodes the privileges of motherhood, to be a good wife, and to make those around her content.

What bothers me about this document is a few times Sagasta uses the world partner as regards to a spouse, but what she is describing is not a partnership. When I think of a partnership, I see equality and sharing of opportunities or duties. When a woman is prevented from employment, when she is the soul caregiver, and it is considered her duty to be a wife…this is not a partnership nor equality.

Interested to hear your input!

See you all thursday.

Week 5: Caudillos Versus the Nation State

After many countries gained independence from the Colonialists, the Latin American countries set up independent governments. These Spanish colonies became republics, and as newly developed governments set up the institutions of caudillism. Charismatic military leaders were set up to control and rule a section of a country. These men were often stereotyped to be violent and unfair rulers, but part of their role was to be a mediator between both ends of society.

Until this week’s work, I had never heard of a Caudillo, however I formed the connection that it is somewhat similar to a noble in the old European empires or the Ottoman empire. The nobles would receive a piece of land, where they could create a little town and community, in which they would be able to use the land’s resources and make a profit for their warfare. This worked for the Ottomans just as well as it did in Latin America. Both had vast lands where Agriculture was an important element to their economic existence.

I am interested in the caudillo regarding their stance in between the elites and the poor, very much so the halfway point for both sides of society. A Guatemalan caudillo, Rafael Carrara in the nineteenth-century, not educated and a mestizo. He later pursued the conservative mindset as greed and wealth were exposed. I researched popular caudillos hoping to find a ruler who had a positive impact on a society, unfortunately, this proved to be very difficult.

Why is this?

I am sure there are many answers to this question and I hope to hear your input but, I feel as if there are many factors to why many of these caudillos were not beneficial to the entire society. I do not believe it is mainly because these men were military leaders, as there has been fair good leaders in the ranks. But I believe that it is incredibly difficult to find a “happy medium” in society, not everyone can be pleased and it is generally impossible for a ruler to humor two different groups in a society, especially when one is capitalistic.

All in all, the readings become more and more fascinating as we continue to acquire knowledge regarding Latin America, being able to make connections and gaining further understanding of this history.