Week 5

Week five’s reading was based around caudillos. At the beginning for the video we discussed that independence in Latin America brought neither order nor stability. It also said that “..independent nations of Latin America prolonged the colonial project left incomplete by their former Spanish masters.” I found this idea to be quite ironic. It is suggesting that Latin America was keeping up the Spanish ways that they had so desperately been trying to escape. I understand that Latin America was still a young nation that was still dealing with the aftermath of getting rid of their colonists. This feeling of uncertainty surely took a toll on them and lead them to resort to violence in an attempt of feeling like they had some sort of control over their own affairs. This feeling of uncertainty and threat of increasing influence from the outside world is still present in Latin America today. It is often shared by nations that are rich in both culture and resources because it makes them a more desirable piece of land to other nations. It’s funny how Latin Americans wanted liberty and control but they never adopted the idea liberalism. However, I understand why this “misplaced idea” was not fitting for Latin American society. In the case of Brazil, it would’ve exposed slaves (just one example) to even greater threats (as if they weren’t under threat already) due to the increase in sale of labour power. I can see why their idea of “favor” (as described by Schwartz) was more appealing and seemed much more beneficial. The idea of benefitting from others reminded me of modern day networking (it’s a bit of a stretch I know) but the principle is the same. You meet people for your own benefit who may help you out in the future. This requires a lot of trust between both parties. It requires loyalty as well. It also created rivalry which could potentially put people in more danger than whatever security was provided to them by caudillos. I can’t speak for every Latin American country but unfortunately for mine, corruption and violence are still very much present. In fact, while I was reading about caudillos I was thinking about my home country (like I do in almost every reading). In my country, during the last election one of the political parties (the winning one in fact) was often seen giving “rewards” to people who voted for them (the worst part is, they didn’t even try to hide it). Unfortunately, this caused some people to justify the corruption and crimes committed by some of these politicians (or at least, turn a blind eye). The “rewards” were often in the form of money, food, etc and they were mainly used to target people in need. These rewards were both concrete and immediate, which coincidentally was how the benefits given by the caudillos to the public were described in the video. In a way, the relationships between caudillos and the people at the time can still be seen in today’s society as well.

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