Concluding Latin America

The first thing that this course asked is

What is Latin America?

After twelve weeks of learning, I can confidently say that I do not know. Latin America isn’t just a collection of stories started in 1492, it is significantly more than that because although Latin America as we know it was formed in 1492, there was a history before that and there will be a future after today.

Latin America isn’t just violence, it is people fighting for their freedom, fighting for their agency. It is the Madres who knit in the town square, it is the No campaign where people fought for their right to independence over the airwaves. It is Ruben Dario calling President Eisenhower an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar and not caring about the consequences. It is Catalina de Erauso, proving that she is not just as good as any man but better.

But even this narrative is contrived because we all want the narratives we contrive to end with a happy ending. Just as the United States had no problem painting Fidel Castro as the enemy, it is easy to remember all the good that has happened in Latin America.  Despite all the inspiring hopeful stories that we have learnt about and experienced during this semester it is still important to remember the disappeared, to remember those who suffered as a result of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

This course had made me not only think about the complexities of Latin America but history itself, the stories we tell and why we tell them. History cannot be defined and neither can Latin America.

The Power of the people

I cannot imagine what it would have been like for the mothers and sisters of the disappeared. The Madres to me is a prime example of why Latin America is not full of helpless people who cannot fight for themselves. Despite the fact that many of the Madres had never worked outside their homes, the fact that they openly defied the government on behalf of their families is admirable, especially in a time where “traditional family values” were being reinstated by Military rule.

I also can’t imagine how heartbreaking it is for people who are told to trust their governments only for their governments to be the ones kidnapping their family members. It must be so upsetting to know that the people who are supposed to be protecting you are killing you.

Image result for the madres de plaza de mayo

I think the ways in which the Madres fought their government is particularly potent when looked at with their “perceived place” in society. By knitting,  they were displaying non-violence and the appearance of “decent folk”. The way they chose to dress is also reflective of this, by wearing “white headscarves”, they weren’t just representing purity but also modesty. These are traits expected of women and exacerbating these particular aspects of idealized motherhood was perfect in getting people to sympathize to their plight and believe that they were not stepping out of their social spheres in a “feminist-type agenda”. This was really important as people believed that.  However, in spite of this, they were also openly defying their government, organising mass protests and mobilizing their communities and that to me is incredibly remarkable.

To Roosevelt – An Analysis (Week 8)

Image result for ruben dario

The North American superiority complex is fought again in “To Roosevelt”, out of all the excerpts we read in the duration of this course, “To America” is definitely one of my favourites. Dario plays Roosevelt as his own game, with a littering of biblical connotations and religious undertones.


You are an Alexander-Nebuchadnezzar,

breaking horses and murdering tigers


Echoing the notions of Marti, but in a less “Impointingthefingeratyouway”, Dario shows us as readers that although The United States might seem progressive and desirable, the country too is not without its problems.


You are primitive and modern, simple and complex


The word “primitive” is incredibly important here, this is what the United States thinks of Latin America, even to this day. The fact that the United States feels like they have to often interfere with events shows how patronisingly paternalistic they can be, even if it’s not helpful. By turning around this notion onto them, it shows that although this is what current notions are about Latin America, they are truly one and the same, both primitive at heart. This is what the juxtapositions mainly showcase, that one cannot fundamentally group people into categories, by saying that he is “simple” and “complex” shows that the American people can be either.


But our America, which has had poets

since the ancient times of Nezahualcoyolt

which preserved the footprint of the great Bacchus,

and learned the Panic alphabet once,

And consulted the stars;


“Our America”, really encapsulates them into the same group. As Latin America is just as much America as North America, he shows that Latin America is just as educated, against popular belief and that just like North America, Latin America has a history and is worthy of respect.


These are just some of the reasons I love this poem.