Monthly Archives: November 2015

Week 13

For this week, the video by Hanna Dandarell and Cody Alba “Towards an Uncertain Future”. I was impressed by the level of information the video presented, going extremely in depth about a variety of issues and explaining the causes and effects of situations in Latin America. I felt I learned a lot about a variety of situations and concepts that I was previously unaware of, beginning with the concept of making sense of the lack of stability resulting from renewed economic growth.

The first discussed the ideas discussed in Albert Hirschman’s book “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty”. The book aims to describe the behavior of members in a society after a crisis. Hirschman states that citizens usually either opt out or engage in he crisis. The reactions of citizens vary by the structure of the state and the capabilities the citizen has within the region. A response can be created based off of the state’s ability for reform and other times by impossibility of exit. I found Hirschman’s thoughts to be a good way to begin the discussion about people’s responses to changes within their region. The video then applies how the concepts of exit, voice and loyalty play out in different situations in Latin America, beginning with the example of the earthquake in Mexico City.

Mexico City was an interesting example of a situation where the dissatisfaction among citizens created by deficiencies within the state was emphasized by a natural disaster. With the 8.1 earthquake that occurred in 1985, the conditions in Mexico City went from bad to worse. Many factors leading up to the earthquake unfortunately made the people’s ability to recover afterwards exponentially more difficult. The economy was already in a crisis, making the government ill prepared to aid in the response to the earthquake. Additionally, many buildings built after 1940 collapsed due to poor construction. This was a result from corruption within the construction industry, where construction companies would use bribes to avoid close inspections of their buildings. When the earthquake occurred, the poor conditions of the buildings were revealed. Unfortunately, these were the buildings that stood for progress and prosperity, including hospitals and schoolhouses. I was shocked by the statistics of the damage, with 100,000 people left homeless, 10,000 killed and 412 buildings collapsed. For many, the level of destruction left in the wake of the earthquake and the state’s inability to support the people drove citizens to exit, either physically or mentally.

Overall, the topic of this week was interesting, especially considering the events discussed are relatively recent. I am enjoying expanding my knowledge on occurrences that I would not have known of without this course.

Week 12

This week’s reading on the situation in Argentina highlights the power of the people. What started as a small gathering of people with a common grief turned into an impactful movement. The mothers of those who disappeared as a result of the Argentinian government discovered a way to bring attention to a largely ignored human rights violation. The universal component of motherhood and loss of one’s own child made those unaffected by the disappearances connected and more emotionally invested in the matter. It is shocking to me that the government was able to cover up the story for so long and that the allegations against them were disregarded until the family members made a public outcry for justice and the return of their taken family.

It was interesting to see how the government responded to the open protests, especially since the outside attention the issue received made it more difficult for them to take their usual aggressive stance against opposition. However, it did not restrain them from attempting to spread fear through the group by kidnapping and killing some of the protestors. As a government trying to contain bad press, it was not in their best interest to hide past murders by committing more. The killings drew even more attention and sympathy from the media.

The government’s next actions to contain the issue reveal the power officials can have on media and public perceptions. They displayed the mothers as terrorist sympathizers, skewing foreign observers’ opinion on the matter. Since many looked at the issue from the outside, they had to rely on secondary sources to receive information and form their opinions. This information can be very susceptible to manipulation, delaying the mothers from fully conveying their concerns and call for help.

The government once again made the mistake of relying on killing to solve the issue. Their negligence led them to kidnap thirteen individuals linked to the mothers, two of whom were French nuns. This received a lot of international attention, with the French embassy demanding the government to return the two women, even though the government continually denied involvement. When the bodies of the nuns were found months later disposed of in the common manner of the Argentine government, public scrutiny increased even more. More investigations followed, revealing the astounding number of disappearances and reducing any credibility the Argentine government held among other nations.

The eventual downfall of the corrupt government leads back to the initial actions of brave individuals. It demonstrates even those without a great political standing or influence can make change and fight against the injustices within a nation. The mother’s realization of their power drove them to not stray from their cause, no matter the consequences or violence it brought upon them.

Week 11

This week, I was very interested in the topics discussed in the lecture video “Peru’s Civil War”, especially the formation of the Shining Path and the profound effects the group had on Peru. In the 1960s, they began their formation and recruitments. Many of the leaders were those living in the city with a connection to rural people who then traveled back to rural areas to work with the indigenous people. This started their following and they continued to expand by helping areas that have been neglected by the government. The Shining Path came into these areas and protected the people, making a statement about their presence through public displays of punishment to those committing injustices within the community. This situation reminds me of our discussions in class where we talked about how leaders of groups see populations lacking support and structure as an opportunity. They can provide their protection and either gain volunteers for their cause or ask for service in return.

The government did not support the Shining Path taking leadership in these areas and sent the army to punish those associated with the group. Unsurprisingly, this did not solve the issue and led to a cycle of violence between the military and the Shining Path.

When the Shining Path made their first public display against the military as a unified group in the 1980s by burning down election ballot boxes, the situation, in my opinion, seemed to escalate quickly from then on. Much of the population in Peru was in a state of fear, with acts of terror taking place on the streets. The military’s official force only seemed to convince more people to fight against the government. This is when the new president, Fujimori, came in. I was amazed by the actions he was willing to take and the general population’s support of his approach to the issue. He changed the system to favor himself as a dictator where he could now tell the military to complete questionable tasks in the fight again Shining Path and not receive any of the blame.

I found it ironic, in a unamusing way, that after all the change Fujimori made to take a more forcible stance against the terrorism, the leader of Shining Path was brought in as a result of the investigations of the police. Even though Fujimori’s military force did not have a significant role in capturing the leader, I believe Fujimori’s actions still had an important impact on the people. He provided a sense of strength and stability that the people needed during this time, and his approval was made clear by the large amount of support he received.

Sources for Week 4 Video

Source 1: Simon Bolivar

The document “Simon Bolivar” provides a summary of the lifespan of Bolivar, from his adolescence to his death. The summary is written by Manuel Perez Vila who is a Venezuelan historian and professor, making it a reliable source. The source is useful because the chapter in the textbook only briefly describes Bolivar’s upbringing. This document provides a more in depth insight into the origins and development of the historical figure.

From early in life, Bolivar’s lifestyle was constantly changing. His father passed away before Bolivar turned three years old. He was homeschooled by his mother until he was nine when she too passed. He then lived and was taught by his grandfather, who also died soon after. Unhappy in the care of his uncle, Bolivar ran away and eventually game into the care of Don Simon Rodriguez, an elementary school headmaster. Bolivar soon became his pupil and began a critical period of his education in which he discovered his love for knowledge. At fourteen years old, Bolivar found success in the Battalion by combining his military knowledge with his subject knowledge. It is evident these were the early developmental stages of Bolivar becoming a leader.

His education continued in Spain in both the arts and subjects. Here he met his future wife with whom he decided to return to Venezuela with after getting married. She passed away after only a year of marriage, leading Bolivar to leave Venezuela once more and return to Europe. His used this time to continue expanding his political and literary knowledge. It was during these years he realized his dream of ending Spanish rule in South America. A series of actions derived from this realization, including returning to Venezuela and beginning discussions of independence with others.

Many initiatives followed, beginning with joining the military service. He took part in the raid of Valencia in 1811, freeing the Magdalena River and the beginnings of liberating Venezuela. During this time, he published “Memorial to the Citizens of Neva Granada by a Caraqueno”, an important documentation of his beliefs, and he also earned the title of “the Liberator”.

After losing La Puerta battle, Bolivar and other patriots were forced to leave Caracas. After multiple political struggles, Bolivar leaves his position of command and stood by in Jamaica until he found a new movement to fight for. It is here he wrote the famous “Letter from Jamaica”. His next important moment was after the formation of the Second Venezuelan Congress where he proposes a Constitution and delivers one of his most memorable speeches. The efforts of this congress, lead by Bolivar, results in the independence of Venezuela in 1821. He goes on to liberating Ecuador, becoming dictator of Peru, creating a nation called “Bolivar Republic” (now Bolivia) and escaping an assassination attempt. His death occurs shortly after stepping down from his position of power.

The document contains great detail about the momentous endeavors in Bolivars political and military career and will be extremely useful in providing relevant background information in the video presentation.


Source 2: Latin American Icon Simon Bolivar Gets Biopic Treatment In ‘Liberator’

One goal for our video presentation is to share present day perceptions and interpretations of Simon Bolivar. Bolivar is an extremely important historical figure to many in Latin America and the article explains a unique way in which Bolivar is displayed as an icon.

In 2013, the movie “The Liberator” was released. It tells the story of Bolivar’s political and military feats in the nineteenth century and aims to reach both local and international audiences. The movie shares a significant time in Latin American history while promoting the land and culture. It is clear the quality of the film is of great importance as it is one of the most expensive productions in Latin American history. A goal in making the movie was remaining true to the nation and its culture. They achieved this by getting finance from Spanish and Venezuelan producers, hiring a Venezuelan actor to play Bolivar and the using music by a Venezuelan conductor.

While the article emphasizes the positive outcomes of creating a movie that informs others of such an iconic figure, it also criticizes the interpretation of Bolivar. Marie Arana, a biographer of Bolivar, explains the historical inaccuracy of the film. The most obvious issue was the physical appearance of the actor playing Bolivar. He was tall, handsome and strong while Bolivar was known to be a small, skimpy man. She stated there also lacked some depth in the storytelling of Bolivar’s life and accomplishments, which she claims is a common mistake that needs to be resolved. His legacy has been left open to interpretation and manipulated over time, so

Arana feels Bolivar’s true story needs to be clarified to the public. However, Bolivar’s biographer notes the historically correct facets of the film. The display of race, inequality and hierarchy in the colonial systems was well represented.

The article continues by relating the issues of colonial Latin America to the similar ones that exist today. Bolivar fought for liberty and equality for the people within Latin America and hoped for a future in which society would not be separated by social standing. Unfortunately, as the actor Edgar Ramirez says in the article, a gap still exists between the rich and the poor, with the past systems having a major effect on how modern Latin America developed. The movie “The Liberator” is an opportunity to spread the messages of Bolivar and raise awareness of the imbalances that remain to this day.



“SIMON BOLIVAR.” SIMON BOLIVAR. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“Latin American Icon Simon Bolivar Gets Biopic Treatment In ‘Liberator'” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Week Ten

The podcast “Music and Nation in Latin America” provided a unique way to observe unity in a nation. History in many different cultures demonstrates music’s capability to connect people in a deep way through mutual love for a certain sound. This connection doesn’t only exist in one’s community, but worldwide. It is truly amazing the reach it can have and the impact it has on a person’s life.

I thought Dawson made an interesting note when he acknowledged in the past, different areas were extremely distinguished by the style, sound and instruments that made up their music. It is definitely a huge contrast from today, where some music, no matter the language or style, is recognized worldwide. It is true there are still differences in music depending on where you go, but it is still highly unlikely to find a place where the people don’t recognize at least one song from popular culture.

This expansion in musical recognition is mainly due to the advances in recorded music, and more specifically, the transmission of recorded music. The radio spreads popular music worldwide and plays a major role in defining and identifying a particular area’s style of music. Dawson brings up the example of the tango in Argentina. He comments on difference between what tourists view as an authentic representation of a foreign country’s musical traditions versus what locals actually view as authentic. I’ve never personally experienced this coming from Florida, where we don’t have any stereotypical dance or music style; however, I have noticed this occurrence when traveling. It is obvious the displays are for tourists’ entertainment and I often wonder how locals feel about them.

After listening to the podcast, I now understand how the radio contributed to this misconception. At one time, the style may have been extremely evident in a culture. The radio displayed this style to the world, who then came to accept it as the norm in that specific area. So now if the style has changed in the locals’ minds, outsiders have already associated them with the old one.

One of the band examples that I found most interesting was the one from Cuba. They practiced “Cuban” music but were not well liked in Cuba. They then found popularity in the US, and were later accepted back into Cuba. The most ironic part is when they returned to Cuba, it wasn’t to play for a Cuban audience. Their primary gig was at a hotel where the majority of guests are foreign. It seems like even though locals may not personally want to listen to that music, they are using the misconception to their advantage to please outsiders who expect that style of music.

Week Nine

Out of the primary documents studied this week, I found Political Manifesto by Augusto Sandino extremely fascinating. From the first line, it is apparent Sandino is intensely passionate about his home country, Nicaragua, and Latin America as a whole. He explains his local heritage, role in society and his right to openly fight for what he believes his homeland deserves. Sandino begins the manifesto this way to position himself as a patriotic, dedicated individual whose connection to the land and culture proves his genuine concern for the well being of Latin America.

Sandino’s tone throughout the manifesto is very assertive. He is forthright about his opinions of those who he feels have wronged Latin America and what should be done to repair the damage that has been done. I found it interesting how he addresses both the crimes of people of the same nationality and the United States. The United States is the most obvious culprit in Sandino’s mind; however, he does not ignore the fact that there has been corruption within Latin America. He also expresses anger towards those who do not fight for what he believes Latin America needs, desperately trying to get the “cold-hearted Nicaraguans, the indifferent Central Americans, and the Indo-Hispanic race” to understand that the fight should not be with those within the borders, but with the external forces that repeatedly take advantage of their land and people.

This leads to what I consider the topic of most concern in the manifesto, the urgent need to fight against United States interference. Sandino uses the same argument that we have seen in previous chapters, that external involvement prevents Latin America from advancing as a self-reliant, strong region. It is evident he fears the United States may one day monopolize the sources of profit that Central and South American land provides. It is interesting how he proposes to solve the issue with the example of a potential canal in Nicaragua. While he does not seem to like foreign involvement, I thought it was rational for him to acknowledge their participation is still important in certain matters, as long as the home country has majority control.

Overall, I found Sandino’s manifesto successful at conveying the message that he vehemently wants Latin America to be successful on its own terms. He remains focused on his goals until the end, unwavering from his position no matter the influences that may persuade him otherwise.