One thing that I thought most interesting about this week’s lecture was the emphasis on the new technologies that had come about, and how politics during this time was heavily influenced by it. The wave of populists that emerged in Latin American politics were able to reach so many people through the use of technology in mass media. This meant that with the utilization of radio, political figures such as Juan and Eva Perón were able to mass market their voices and create an aspect of direct dialogue that made the people feel as though they were being spoken to on an individual basis. In a sense, it meant that politicians who dominated this era were the ones who proved most effective at taking advantage of the opportunities these new technologies afforded. Moreover, I think that it’s interesting to reconsider the relationship that politics has with the media nowadays, with it being a delicate balance between utilizing and manipulating the media for political benefit, to the media often being the downfall of a political figure or party.
As discussed earlier in the week, the populist leaders of this time would utilize idealist views to gain popularity and support from the masses. By promising them the world, they would be able to gain a strong following and create a discourse that involved a ‘us versus them’ notion. This method was used by the Mexican president Cárdenas and Argentinian President Perón, to establish a relationship of trust between the government and the people. I think a question that can be asked in relation to this aspect is to what extent are all political figures populists? I would argue that the very nature of politics itself is inherently populist, with leaders such as Julius Caesar being populist in their nature.
Finally, another interesting aspect of this week’s lecture was the role of Eva Perón (affectionately known as Evita). Prior to her name, it was very rare to come across such a powerful female figure in Latin America, particularly in politics. After reading the excerpt of Evita’s speech, I was struck by the pure affection and emotional attachment she seemed to have when speaking to the masses. I think that excerpt acts as a signifier of what it would have taken to be such a popularly supported figure in a quite volatile political environment in Latin America.
Thanks for reading,