Week 5

The first thing that I would like to comment on is the ongoing theme of the Western liberal overstepping its boundaries. There seems to be a reoccurring phenomenon that could be called the “White savior complex”. In the case of post-colonial Latin America, it was the liberals who hoped to enforce a strong central power that would seize resources from everyone, including the peasants and indigenous people, and distribute it for the prosperity of the nation as a whole. Although this idea is widely accepted in many nations, as Jon states in his video, these liberal ideals do not appear in Latin America. In fact, the peasants and indigenous people “flourished” when these “liberal enemies” were absent.

The “kinship” between the caudillos and the poor and indigenous people reminds me of the current situation in Bolivia. The president, Evo Morales, is the first indigenous president elected in Latin America. I also may mention that he did not finish his college degree. He has been president of Bolivia since 2006 and is an opponent of neoliberalism and the strong influence of the U.S.  His presidency is controversial to many Bolivians because he has been known to favor uneducated indigenous workers over qualified workers in the government. Like the caudillos, he has generated wide-spread support in exchange for jobs and extra (possibly unjustified) privileges.

It is important to note that different places require different means of rule. Using this document as a reference, it is easy to criticize the method of the caudillos, however as Dawson points out in the podcast, there are shocking similarities between the caudillos and the leaders of western democracy today. This ties back in to my point of the liberal overstepping its boundaries. Clearly the power of the caudillos was corrupt, but I think the post-colonial Latin Americans and Indigenous people needed a new strong figure that could fill the void that the crown left.

Obviously the Federalist regime under Rosas was corrupt and violent. What struck me was the humiliation that was bestowed upon not only the Unitarians, but also the animals, who represented the Federalist. The Rosas rule was described in excruciating simile. This brutal interpretation of caudillos contrasts the description that Dawson gives in the pages before “Slaughterhouse”. Dawson portrays the caudillos in a positive light- giving indigenous people and peasants a voice. In “Slaughterhouse”, the people’s voices are taken away and they are dehumanized.

2 Thoughts.

  1. I like your idea that Caudillismo filled the void that the Spanish crown left. Echeverría’s writing and the dehumanization of the rural people seems like a continuation of tensions (such as the struggle to “civilize” the continent) from the colonial era that have carried through to the national era.

  2. I like the point you make in your third paragraph referring to Dawson. I feel like some often forget that we are not speaking of contemporary times. Rule under caudillos may have been corrupt, although, like you said above, a strong figure was needed to “fill the void that the crown left.” Because liberal ideas did not flourish and seemed “misplaced” in Latin America, the caudillo system, in some cases, worked as a functioning alternative.
    Nice job!

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