Week 13: Towards an Uncertain Future

I can’t believe how fast this month has passed! It feels like only last week we were being introduced to the complex dynamics of Latin America, and now we’re finishing up our finalĀ  projects. I hope everyone’s doing well in these busy last weeks.

As I expected, this week’s lecture and readings culminate with uncertainty, as the title suggests. Also, many of the themes we’ve tracked during the course show up here as well. I noticed a revival of extractive colonialism, power and corruption, and of course protest in the context of modern or recent Latin American events. We’re prompted to think about how these themes, embedded in the history and culture of Latin America, will affect the region in years to come.

Something I found quite interesting was how Latin America shifted to the right in terms of privatisation in the 80s and 90s after the brutality of the governing forces in decades previous. I’m also taking a course in American history this semester, and a similar thing happened in the United States around the same time. Largely influenced by their participation in the Vietnam War, the American population became disillusioned with the government. A shift to conservatism occurred in the 80s, exemplified by the election and administration of president Reagan. I think it’s interesting to compare this with Latin America. Latin Americans also became disillusioned with their government at this time. This is in part because of the devastation caused by brutal authoritarian regimes, but Dawson uses the example of the earthquake in Mexico City to show us that the governments were simply incapable of handling crises and catering to the needs of the people. In America, it seems like external forces shaped the shift to the right, and in Latin America, it was much more internal, when historically Latin America was the one to have been constantly influenced by the actions of other countries.

I think this leads us into discussing the current Left identity of Latin America. This week’s legal readings suggest that there still exists a power struggle between those who have traditionally held power (elites, the US, etc.) and those who rise up against traditional power and corruption to voice a common, popular issue. They highlight the power of democracy in allowing people to voice their concerns against institutionalised power. I think the autonomy that Latin America has now will largely influence democratic experimentation in the future of the region and I’m interested to see how these themes will continue to appear (hopefully in a positive sense) as Latin America continues to grow and develop.

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