Monthly Archives: September 2015

Week Four

Out of this week’s readings, I enjoyed “Speech by President Hugo Chavez, at the opening of XII G-15 Summit” the most. From the beginning, I could tell he was an extremely charismatic and passionate leader with obvious pride for his culture and people. It was interesting how he used Bolivar, a nineteenth century political figurehead, and his ideas of a free Republic as a starting point for his own proposition of making a change towards independence in the twenty first century.

In this speech, he gave a wide range of statistics as evidence of this ongoing trend of poverty, hunger, death and lack of education. I thought he was extremely successful in his effort to expose and address this everyday imbalance of wealth and creating his basis for why he feels there is a dire need for change, not just in Latin America, but also all over the world.

The end of the speech was particularly inspiring. He begins to move away from acknowledging the issue of dependence on other countries to improve conditions and starts his proposal on how to make their own change. I found the aim of this speech was to be both informative and motivational with mentions of both worldwide/Latin American problems and the encouraging “Why not” propositions.

The second lecture video provided much insight on the intentions of Hugo Chavez and his effect on the people. I can understand why people felt a strong connection with him and how he may have made them feel less excluded from the world of politics. It was nice to get some insight as to why Chavez chose Bolivar as a historical figure. It was a way to honor the independence attempts from the past and use it as a motivator to complete this unfinished revolution that Bolivar began.

From the second lecture video, I also learned that while much of Latin America excluded their indigenous people there were also efforts by countries to create the conditions for citizenship and full participation. Even though this was mainly because those countries had smaller indigenous populations and lacked natural resources, it was nice to see an attempt at a more inclusive government.

Overall, I found all of this week’s readings very fascinating, especially because I will be doing my video presentation on this topic. I look forward to doing more research on the people mentioned and sharing the knowledge in our lecture video.

Week Three

After watching the lecture video, I have a much greater understanding of why Christopher Columbus’s journey was understated at the time. His travels seemed to take place at a very significant time for Spain in which they really came together as a unified political power. It was interesting to learn that this unity resulting from the Fall of Granada and the Alhambra was disrupted by Columbus’s discovery. People began to leave the nation in search of the wealth promised in the Americas and a whole new issue of how to manage this extension of land was introduced.

The Spaniards’ view of the indigenous people was surprising to me, and in the case of Las Casas, somewhat ironic. One would think the wipe out of the natives and the destruction of the Indies would be viewed as an extreme loss, however, Las Casas criticized it as a missed opportunity. He saw the indigenous people as potential converts to Christians and the idea of “easily” converting this group of people was sabotaged by their deaths. Others saw this as a loss of a resource, now replacing this lost labor force with Africans. I was shocked that by 1800, there were six times as many Africans that Europeans in the Americas. I was also surprised by the ratio of ethnicities in Latin America, 28% of the population being mestizo.

This beginning of a mixed-race population introduced the Casta Paintings. I don’t think I have ever seen them before, but if I have, I never realized the complex story and message they carry. From a first glance, I could see the obvious skin color differences but initially missed all of the other variations and their meanings. I enjoyed reading about what different parts of the painting meant, such as housing, landscape and even the occupation of the male figures. Then, when I looked at the series of scenes, I picked up on those details that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. The lecture video mentioned how you can visually see the frustration of the drive to classify these people in the paintings. I understand that these paintings were an effort to separation the various racial mixtures, but I feel I would need further explanation along with a painting to pick up on this “frustration” mentioned. I found the point about how these painting produce differences as well as contain people a very insightful statement that I completely agree with after learning more about these paintings. In the effort to classify and acknowledge the racial mixtures, they were also limiting the population’s view of themselves.

The Meeting of Two Worlds

“The Meeting of Two Worlds” lecture provided an excellent introduction to the mythical beginnings of Latin America. In previous courses, I learned about Christopher Columbus’ journey and its significance as an entry into the Western world. However, we never fully associated it as a key moment for Latin America.

The first reading of Columbus’ personal journals from his voyage was interesting. With only brief knowledge of what occurred during his trip across the Atlantic, I enjoyed reading his first hand experiences of their time on the ship, their initial impressions of the Native Americans and how they interacted with this new land. I was surprised by the many accounts of lying to his crew about the distance they traveled, as if he was trying to assure himself more than anyone else that they were making progress. The journal entries reveal his obvious confusion in what he eventually located. His dedication to the belief that he found what he was originally searching for was astounding, repeatedly trying to convince himself that more people, profitable supply and gold were close by. The various drawings of the various new encounters such as the hammock or an iguana are fascinating, seeing how simple, now commonplace things were a source of awe for Columbus. I liked how in his last entries, he expressed interest in exploring the land more, but with only one vessel, would have to do so on his own. I am curious as to what he would have done or accomplished if he stayed.

The second reading was all new information for me. The reading from p.370 caught my interest. I am not sure if I understand it correctly since this is a translated text, but I tried my best to comprehend it. After just reading about Columbus’ encounters with the Native Americans, I was intrigued to read about experiences from the Incas’ perspective. There was obvious miscommunication between the Incas and foreigners. They wanted to know more about the Spaniards, curious about something as simple as what they ate. The Spaniards, partly because of language barrier and party because of their current focus, responded by saying gold and silver, an objective of their conquest. It is comical the Native Americans took it quite literally, giving them gold dust and silver and gold utensils. Candia’s reiteration of his experience with the Indians was primarily centered around silver and gold and seemingly an exaggeration of what he actually witnessed. The last paragraph of this entry seemed to express the new incomers’ dissatisfaction with what they actually found when they searched for this kingdom Candia spoke of.

There are still gaps in my understanding of the second reading, but I still enjoyed trying to make sense of the different accounts. I look forward to discussing them more in class and hopefully gaining a better understanding.


Comments on 2014 Video Presentations

Overall, I was impressed with the videos made by last year’s students. They all presented interesting information about the chapters in the book. I found that there were similarities between the good videos and similarities between the bad videos. The better videos used similar features to present their information in a well constructed manner and the weaker videos were lacking on certain aspects. I believe “Towards an Uncertain Future” and “The Terror” are the best videos and “Caudillos Versus the Nation State” and “The Meeting of Two Worlds” are the worst videos.

I was very impressed with the “Towards an Uncertain Future” video. I feel like there was a lot of effort put into making the video visually pleasing. There were relevant photos, videos and smooth transitions that occurred at appropriate times. There was also text to go along with the speaking when important terms were discussed to make sure the viewer paid attention to the particular subject. The speaker of the video had a very clear voice and spoke smoothly with little accidental pauses or breaks. Also, there was music accompanying the visual and auditory commentary to make the entire video come together. “The Terror” had similar strengths to “Towards an Uncertain Future”. It presented relevant footage of the topics discussed and the photos were well selected to match the commentary. The commentary in this video was also clear and concise, with background music to fill in the breaks of commentary and help the video flow well. The general components of both of these videos that led me to believe they were the best are good photos and videos, complimentary music, clear commentary and smooth transitions.

On the other hand, “Caudillos Versus the Nation State” and “The Meeting of Two Worlds” missed some of these important components. In “Caudillos Versus the Nation State”, they simply recorded themselves talking. Even though the information being shared was valuable, the setup of the video made it hard for me to feel engaged in the presentation. There were not any visual accompaniments and the audio was difficult to hear. The same issues and others arose in “The Meeting of Two Worlds”. The two presenters recorded separately in their own rooms and it was obvious they were reading off of paper. There wasn’t any background music so when there was a pause to show a picture, there was an awkward silence.

Even though some had issues, I still think the content of the videos was good! But when analyzing the quality of the video construction, there were definitely issues in a couple of the presentations.


Hi everyone! My name is Cennedi Mills. I moved here from Saint Petersburg, Florida but have also lived in Phoenix, Vancouver, Montreal and Beunos Aires. I am currently studying in the Sauder School of Business. I enrolled in the Latin American Studies class because I have a genuine interest in learning about Latin American culture. My high school courses covered little to nothing about Latin America so most of the material we go over this term will be new to me. Also, having lived in Buenos Aires when I was a baby makes me want to learn more about the culture and people I was surrounded by that year. I am excited to expand my knowledge of Latin America and can’t wait to begin!