Week 8: Signs of Crisis in a Gilded Age

When we focus exclusively as a way to understanding modernity in an economic way, then we can leave out even after the golden age of the export oligarchy ended there were people who did not beneficiated from such period. The cycles of inequalities have always been very close to the daily lives of Latin Americans and power relations and power struggles are the current result of disparities in the region. One of the big factors which can be seen as the consequence of the struggle of a few who have too much against a vast majority of at the bottom of the social scale who do not possess much, is the Mexican Revolution. After watching the video, I found very illuminating that there has been a constant nationalist rhetoric to claim ownership on history and how history has been created. I say that perhaps that Alexander Dawson was trying to say was that the way history is presented in to us in a dichotomy manner with winners on one side and loser on the other. However, I ask: can the lines of the revolution be so complicated that these lines are not so clear and therefore, can enemies get together or form a coalition to gain even greater power?

Politics and power are also at play in every central government and I think that presidents and government figures, if stay in power for too long, they will tend to lose focus of their political agenda and become self-involved. This is the case of the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) of Mexico which stood in power since 1929 until the year 2000. Is this what we call a healthy democratic process or is it more of an alienation with a majority of assembled power which it is hard to get rid of. Furthermore, I also find important to ask who are the winners or losers of a process like the Mexican revolution. For instance, we have learned that in Mexico, there was the oligarchy of few at the top who wanted to remain in power no matter what, but what about the indigenous people of the south of Mexico who after the creation of the Republic lost their land without any legal compensation. This is very unjust and is these kinds of abusive expression of power which lead to wars and conflict for years to come. Hence, indigenous movements like the EZLN use such rhetoric based on their iconic leader Emiliano Zapata to fight back against a government that does not fight fair. Another fun fact for me knew that this group, the EZLN and the Neo- Zapatistas were the first guerilla group ever to use the internet and other forms of telecommunication platforms to launch their rebellion internationally. What I also find interesting here is the scope and importance that NGO’s currently play in the international political arena and that they can be very powerful allies of small anti-government groups like the EZLN. Are NGO’s new forms of governmental bodies? Do we really need intervention from such bodies? I would say that in most cases ONG’s are very effective ways to do good in the world, such in the case like Doctors without Borders, but I also question the extend in which some governments and anti-government groups may find financial and political support.

Regarding our assigned reading for the week, I have to say that I enjoyed “To Roosevelt”, by Ruben Dario because I love its poetic emphasis of the encroaching of superpowers like the United States has over Latin America. It also reminds us that empires come and go, but their effects can last for years to come. On the other hand, I also find very relevant to read “El Plan de Ayala”, by Emiliano Zapata and for me, such document shows that Zapata was not a simple minded ranchero but someone who was very intelligent and a person with national identity.


  1. Interesting analysis on the relation power and politics. I like how you use Mexico as an example of these two. I would also say the same on “To Roosevelt” but I would argue that the poem echoes the concerns from Martí “Our America” essay we read earlier in the year. Both the use poetic language to express political concerns, especially with the raising power of US.

  2. Hi Jack,
    I also agree with your comment regarding “To Roosevelt” in the sense that there is an echo to the romantic idealism of Marti but Ruben Dario is a modern so, there are also different elements at play. Philosophically, both writers are trying to exalt Latin America over other imperialistic countries.

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