Homework #5

In this week’s lecture, it was once said that “The governing Latin America was like trying to plow this sea.” I have a much better understanding of why this seems to be the case after this weeks lecture. With the rise of liberal ideas in the nineteenth and twentieth century, it gained acceptance in Europe and North America. People from these continents¬†found that working along a social contract, where they gave power to the authority to mediate in exchange for protection and other rights, reasonable in order to live a sustainable life under a systematic government. In Latin America, this was not the case.

Latin America was a very violent place, as it searched for independence and proper governments. In the context of Latin America, Brazilian Cultural Critic, Roberto Schwartz compares liberal ideas to “ornaments,” that they were decorative ideas rather than anything else. He goes on to explain how liberalism is a “misplaces idea” in Latin America. He understands how liberal ideas could properly fit within Europe under industrial capitalism, in a place they are free to sell their labour power, but not in a place like Latina America. He later makes the point that slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1888. This being the circumstances, that men and women could still be bought and sold, liberalism in Latina America was rather “decorative,” or in other words unrealistic and impossible.

Because liberalism or any other types of government did not flourish in Latin America, it was inevitable for the military to go into rule. This is where the Latin American Caudillos come into play, where men in the military ruled countries in the early twentieth century in the wake of long armed conflicts. Professor Murray asks, in the video lecture, why caudillos were especially popular among the poor and powerless. Being that you can enlist in the military with any financial background, it gave chance to the poor and powerless to rise up. I would believe that people with money and more assets would not be the people to make up the military population, allowing me to think that this was the reason as to why caudillos were popular among the poor and powerless. Schwartz mentions that the caudillos represented as “favor,” but I have to disagree. Instead, it seems as if the caudillos were happy to be placed in the position they grew to become. According to the conflict theory, where all societies have a way of managing with conflict, I believe that the twentieth century caudillos were Latin America’s way of fighting for independence and structure.

1 thought on “Homework #5

  1. Haroun Khalid

    I agree that caudillos likely became popular among the powerless because they offered opportunity that wasn’t unrealistic given their circumstances. In the void of power that the retreating colonial forces left, it isn’t unexpected that power would be concentrated locally.


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