Week Four: Independence Narratives, Past and Present

I think the patterns explored this week were really interesting. To know that Bolívar’s letter was that influential, that it is still a major point of reference in the 21st century is incredible. A lot of the themes expressed in the letter were also mirrored in Martí and Chávez’ later contributions.

I’d like to take a look at these patterns, these repetitive themes that seem to capture the essence of what these leaders want Latin America to be. It’s especially interesting how separation and unity are so closely linked within all three primary sources.

Bolívar explicitly states on page 22 of the textbook chapter that “only a concept maintained [the tie between Spain and America] and kept the parts of that immense monarchy together. That which formerly bound them now divides them.” Here, he explains how the revolutionary spirit has been instilled in Latin America. It seems like he so badly wants separation in the form of Latin America’s independence from Spain, yet then advocates for unity within the Americas. Separation vs unity. Perhaps separating from Spain brings the former colonies of Latin America closer together, as they all must separate from European rule? Though all the colonies do differ from each other in multiple ways, as we’ve previously explored in class. From my understanding, unity in Bolívar’s case seems to be achievable through a “great [Latin American] monarchy” (24).

This brings us to Martí’s text. Martí also advocates for a Latin America-based government: “The government must be born from the country” he says as he explains how local representation is lacking in the colonies (26). Here, I want to identify a contradiction between Bolívar and Martí’s politics. Martí states that “a country’s form of government must adapt to its natural elements” (29). He also unifies the people of Latin America by classifying them as the “Hispanoamerican enigma” (28). Martí advocates for governments that can relate to the people they govern; it seems to me he wants a Latin America unified in spirit rather than a one-government Latin America like Bolívar. Still, they both want separation from Spain. Even within these similar documents, there is a separation between the separation vs unity narrative.

Finally, I found Chávez’ statement that “globalization has not brought so-called interdependence, but an increase in dependency” (32) very interesting. In more modern times, Chávez perpetuates the differences between North and South, urging the South to separate and find unity with each other. Though the South is already independent, he argues that it is not independent enough; though the independence conflicts have officially concluded, the themes still remain. He villainises the North using abundant statistical examples, giving the South all the more reason to unify against the “neo-liberalist” North. Though Chávez was the president of one Latin American country, he seems to value Bolívar’s political policies. His speech, to me, also had a lot of commonalities between Martí’s document: from the Latin American unifying spirit to a focus on literature and poetry, which was an interesting link between the two that I was not expecting!

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