Tag Archives: economy

Week 13 – Towards an Uncertain Future

Max Cameron is so positive this week! I feel like he was delivering his interview responses with a small smile and a twinkle in his eye. Though we definitely have to be cautious that we don’t paint the future with an overly optimistic brush (think Creelman), there are some encouraging developments since the 1980s. What I thought was most significant was that the indigenous seem to be gaining a measure of agency, or at least are able to speak more freely than ever before. Though violence and inequality is still there, the inequality gap is shrinking in Latin America, even as it widens in the United States. More and more states are attempting to help the poorest (often indigenous) and are addressing some of the humanitarian violations that have gone unchecked for centuries. Indigenous communities are able to voice their wishes for self-determination and basic rights. There is a long way to go before these wrongs are righted (if they ever truly can be), but the ability to speak without violent repercussions is a positive milestone.

One of the most encouraging aspects of this week’s material was the concept of “buen vivir,” a concept brought by the indigenous meaning that we should strive to live well in harmony with nature, as opposed to the Western model of progress, which emphasizes “getting ahead” and economic growth. This concept has even been written into the constitutions in Ecuador and Bolivia! After reading so many accounts of abuse, violence, and silencing of the indigenous, this development felt like finally taking a full breath. We’re getting somewhere.

Of course, we can’t let ourselves believe that the struggle is over. There is still massive corruption, violence, and power imbalance. But maybe we can allow ourselves to hope that things may be turning around in Latin America. With the example set by Hugo Chavez (that social programs can be effectively implemented) and in Brazil (redistributive policies can function in Latin America), the hope is that the Latin American narrative will change from one of corruption and hopelessness to one of strength and fairness. Gradually. These things take time (and are never fully realized).

My question this week is: If neither a drug economy nor an extraction-based economy are sustainable options, how can Latin America participate on even footing in the global market?

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Week 11 – The Terror

I was unfamiliar with the term “dirty war” before this week’s readings. But it does make sense that if there are vague terms, a lack of cohesion, and if the enemy is within your own nation, that the only way to describe this type of war is with a word like “dirty.” Sure, there were reasons for war thrown around, the threat of communism, that democracy was just another way for elites to control the masses, but ultimately there were no clear, defined, reasons for the brutal killings of this time. Personal agendas played into these wars, and whole groups were targeted because they were thought to be against whatever agenda was in play at the moment. In fact, in many cases, if you weren’t actively supporting the regime, or the players with power, you were seen as a threat to be removed. Economic crises in Latin America further strengthened these tensions, as well as a sort of spillover of the Cold War: the United States and the Soviet Union offered military support to parts of Latin America attempting to establish dominance in the area.

What I thought was most interesting about this week’s readings is the role that students and youth played in the unrest. Young people had been without a voice up until the mid twentieth century, and now that they were discovering their power, they used it aggressively. Che Guevara was a prominent rallying figure for youth during this time. Protesting the authoritarianism that was ubiquitous both in the political sphere and in the home, Latin American youths often used violence and fear to get their message across. While this unified them as a powerful group, it often alienated them from those who were older and more conservative. Not only that but even those who desired change were afraid of these young idealists and the terror they left in their wake. In response, governments tightened their own security measures in an attempt to subdue these left-wing idealists. The outcome was horrible violence, distrust, and fear.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the cocaine thing. Dawson mentioned that some people consider the violence of Latin America to be uninterrupted since colonization. It’s hard sometimes to disagree.


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