Author Archives: adan barclay

Week Thirteen

I find week thirteen’s homework to be interesting as it focuses contemporary times and what the future holds for different countries in Latin America. In particular, I liked Maxwell Cameron’s conversation, “The Left Turns.”

Early in the video, Cameron mentions that, in the past as countries would transition from neoliberalism to the rise of the left, “Democracy often relied on elite agreements that certain issues would be ‘off the table.'” I find this to be interesting as it contradicts the values of a true democracy: in essence, being that democracy is a government that is by the people.

Cameron also mentions US relations among Latin America in recent decades. With more distractions the US faces, such as conflict risen in the Middle East, the US has lost most of its focus in Latin America. Unlike decades ago in Guatemala, countries in Latin America have finally had the opportunity to experiment with democracy, therefore developing a system most fitting. I also find it interesting that the United States obtains more inequality than many Latin American countries and that there are countries, such as Bolivia, that are recognized as anti-democratic, although have become prosperous.

On another note, it is interesting to see how peoples’ minds work. Cameron briefly explains the current protesting in Brazil and what it entails. The redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor benefits the poor as the wealthy continue to prosper. This angers the middle class because they see no benefits. Sometimes, people feel a sense of entitlement to things: that they deserve certain things “just because.” Cameron refers to a recent travel to Brazil, and how taxi drivers (recognized as people of the middle class) felt that the redistribution of wealth was unfair. People of the middle class, people who work hard and pay taxes, find it unfair that “lazy” people are getting better off. The redistribution of wealth will always anger people, regardless of which direction it goes, as certain groups are not accommodated.

Lastly, I would like to bring up Maxwell Cameron’s last comment. He mentions that there are times when democracy can take part in global issues as people ignore the impacts of their choices on future generations. I find this to be very interesting. As people vote based off of their self-interests, they can sometimes become part of “the” problem rather than a part of “the” solution. This issue can become very controversial as, stated earlier, a true democracy is labeled as a government that is by its people.

Week 11

After watching Cameron Maxwell’s conversation, I noticed many similarities between Peru in the 1960s and Guatemala a few decades prior. In both cases, coups were organized in order to proceed with land reforms, redistributing land to the peasantry. In Guatemala, land reforms were enacted by President Arbenz to redistribute the unused land that had been owned by the United Fruit Company, which was a foreign company. The redistribution was enacted to dispense the power throughout Guatemala rather than have it held in the hands of elites and in the hands overseas UFCO owners. This could have led to private ownership and competitive markets (capitalism). Agriculture Co-ops could have appeared in attempt to compete with big corporations, like the United Fruit Company. This could have then created a strong middle class, something Guatemala did not have.

In Peru, the land was redistributed by the military, although training and education on how to use it productively was not given. This led to the collapse of the rural production in Peru, leading to even more hardship than before. Going back to my earlier explanation on Guatemala, I have to rethink whether or not Arbenz’s Plan 900 (his land reform plan) would have been successful if the United States hadn’t intervened. The people of Guatemala did not have enough time to even attempt to cultivate the land that had been redistributed, but I now wonder if they would have even known how to without any training. Maybe farmers who worked for the seasonally paid jobs at the United Fruit Company, harvesting bananas, may have left their jobs to work on private property where they could then harvest more crops developing more income?

Maxwell also notes that “the typical peasant was less concerned with events in Lima or the nation,” but rather with [the] injustice and crime in local community[s].” Thankfully, the Shining Path helped these communities with the local injustices, but I have to believe that problems of local communities are planted in the central government. The reason for these injustices originate from the decisions made in Lima. I do believe that it may have been very difficult for the peasantry to reach contact with Peruvian officials and for their voices to be heard, but I still would have to think that many of the local injustices stem from the central government and that fixing the issues at the core would alleviate outward.

Sometimes, as I write these blog posts, I feel like I am contradicting what I say. When I think of different parts Southern California (where I am from and most familiar with), I realize that it has stable government and has laws that tame the social injustices. But I then think of different parts of Los Angeles, where crime rates of theft and whatever else exceed other surrounding areas. I know that this is different, but I feel somewhat related to a more contemporary time (or maybe just to me because I’ve never been surrounded by cattle or any type of agriculture for that matter). Obviously, political issues cannot be completely solved, so I guess thats the main reason to some of these social injustices found around the world.

Sorry for the rant.


Short Research and Writing Assignment (2)

“Banana Republic: The United Fruit Company,” offers a great run-down of the United Fruit Company’s origins till its fall, which took place from the 1870s to the 1970s. The article beings with the construction of the railroad in Costa Rica in 1871, led by 23 year-old Minor Keith from Brooklyn. With mass amounts of determination, he did anything to lead to his success. At a young age, he was given the title “The Uncrowned King of Central America” for his success.

As the construction of the railroad in Costa Rica progressed, he planted bananas alongside the railroad in hope that they would grow with success. Ten years later, as the bananas flourished, he owned as many as three banana companies, transporting the “new” fruit to the United States and Europe. Soon after, he then partnered up with a Cape Cod sailor and a Boston businessman, raising money to found the Boston Fruit Company. In 1899, their company merged alongside the United Fruit Company, forming the largest banana company in the world with plantations in seven different countries located in both Central and South America. Along with the company’s banana monopoly, the United Fruit Company owned eleven steamships (also known as the Great White Fleet) and 30 other ships that were used as rentals as well as 112 miles of railroad that linked plantations with ports.

The article mainly focuses on the United Fruit Company’s huge influence on Guatemala. Although other countries in Central and South america fell under the “thrall of the mighty UFCO,” the UFCO obtained its most power in Guatemala. In 1901, the Guatemalan dictator granted the United Fruit Company the exclusive right to transport postal mail between itself and the United States. This, alone, gave the U.S. massive amounts of power in Guatemala. It wasn’t long after until the United Fruit Company gained control of almost all means of communication and transportation in Guatemala.

The relationship between the UFCO and right-wing Guatemalan dictators grew unconditional, as the UFCO’s empire was located in Guatemala. Unhappy with an unfair and terrorizing government, the people of Guatemala overthrew their dictator of the time, Jorge Ubico, and held their first true elections in 1944, electing Dr. Juan Jose Arevalo Bermejo. As president, he created a new constitution based on the U.S. Constitution. In power, he made great progress, especially in education and healthcare.

In Guatemala’s next free election, Jacob Arbenz succeeded Arevalo. He continued Arevalo’s progress, proposing the idea to redistribute the huge amounts of unused land back to the Guatemalan people, but most of the land was held by the United Fruit Company. The U.S. State Department, alongside the United Fruit Company, started a campaign to convince Americans that Guatemala was becoming a Soviet “satellite” state. With success, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated a coup in 1954, replacing Arbenz with another right-wing dictatorship that would cooperate with the UFCO.

The United Fruit Company did, in fact, boost economies where they had plantations, building schools, housing, hospitals, and research laboratories, as well paid its employees better than other companies did, although showed detrimental aspects. If the UFCO saw unionism growing in areas, it would abandon the areas, tearing down all the housing and schools it had built. This left these areas desolate, with nothing.

In the 1970s, the UFCO lands were bought by the Del Monte Corporation, an existing and successful company. Del Monte does not engage in any political manipulations, like the United Fruit Corporation had in the past.

As partners, Nayid and I are doing our video project on Week 9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire. One of our main focuses is going to be the influence the United Fruit Company had on Central and South America, so I believe that knowing its roots will be very important in constructing a better video.

Short Research and Writing Assignment (1)

The segment “Walt Disney’s Latino Cartoon Characters” within the larger text of Pop Culture Latin America!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle, written by Lisa Shaw and Stephanie Dennison, gives more insight to Walt Disney’s perception of Latin America and what exactly he wanted to accomplish. Hollywood’s depiction of Latin American identity relied heavily on the cartoon representations Disney had developed. With the use of cartoons, Disney enforced the “Good Neighbor Policy,” which had been implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt and his administration in United States’ foreign policy towards Latin America. In short, the Good Neighbor Policy had been developed to potentially create new economic opportunities “in the form of reciprocal trade agreements,” although it did not convince many Latin American countries. The policy also promised “non-intervention and non-interference” in Latin America’s domestic affairs. Feeling the need to protect the west from Soviet influence, the Good Neighbor Policy came to an end in the rise of the Cold War.

Disney had created two films in the 1940s: “The Three Caballeros” and “Saludos Amigos,” with characters from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, and the United States. “Saludos Amigos” represented the travels of Walt Disney to South America in 1941 in attempt to capture authenticity of characters in which he believed would be a “principle feature of his ‘Good Neighbor’ projects.” The character Donald Duck would represent the tourist from the United States visiting the Andes. The film, “The Three Caballeros,” captured live action with animation, which was viewed as a “remarkable technical achievement” in the motion picture press. “The Three Caballeros” incorporated real human figures, such as Aurora Miranda (Carmen Miranda’s younger sister) dancing alongside the character Joe Carioca, a Brazilian parrot, who stood as a primary figure in the films. Author, Lisa Shaw, states that Joe Carioca epitomizes his country, Brazil, “more than any other nation depicted.” She also finds that the “essence of Hollywood’s version of Latin America in the 1940s as a source of pure spectacle, rhythmic exuberance, and carnal spontaneity,” a way in which many people around the world view Latin America as of today. Like seen in these cartoons, music videos, full-length films, and many other forms of pop culture depict the same personalities.

As partners, Nayid and I are doing our video project on Week 9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire. One of our main focuses is going to show how pop culture has influenced the United States’ view of Latin America as well as the implementation of the Roosevelt Administration’s “Good Neighbor Policy” in foreign policy among Latin America.

Week Nine

This week’s homework focuses on the influence that the United States had, both positively and negatively, on Latin America prior to 1959. Throughout the readings, I found many intersecting sections, one being the core periphery relationship between the United States and several countries within Central America and the Caribbean. Similar to cases in the past, the United States exploits these countries of their periphery, this time focusing on the banana, a difficult and specific fruit to breed. North American plantation and railroad entrepreneurs create the United Fruit Company in 1899, later becoming the largest banana company in the world, with plantations ranging in the Caribbean and different countries in Central America. On page 182 of this week’s readings, Dawson writes, “the United States was at its core an anti-imperialist nation” and a few lines down, concludes the paragraph by saying that the United States was “a nation dedicated to the principles of freedom and self-determination.” I feel as if these two statements, in a way, contrast the international monopoly over bananas that the United States had inflicted over the countries they had purchased land for banana farming: not that the U.S. necessarily had conquered these countries, but rather developed and held much power and money within them. The United Fruit Company would exploit the periphery countries as they would transport huge amounts of bananas (up to 45 million bunches a year by 1914) north and then artificially ripen them in American warehouses before further distribution. In essence, this has become to be known as the dependency theory: arguably a reason as to why some countries are less developed than others, creating this core periphery structure. In the readings, it was also noted that the United Fruit Company “controlled hundreds of miles of railroad in the Caribbean, employed tens of thousands of workers, operated stores, schools, hospitals, radio stations, breweries, banks, and hotels.” Not only was the North dominating the banana industry, but also had a major influence on different industries.

Something else Dawson mentions, also on page 182, states that during this time were the “halcyon days of American Imperialism, a time when one could image that U.S. hegemony as not simply Great White Fleets and U.S. Marines, but as Coca Cola, jazz, baseball, and movie stars, as things that people all over the world desire.” Like discussed in weeks earlier in “The Export Boom as Modernity,” Latin American elites wanted “the look and feel of modernity, rather than its philosophical or intellectual ethos.” This notion can pertain to another form of imperialism-cultural imperialism-unintentionally.

Maybe I’m just confusing myself now, I don’t know.

Week Eight

I find it very helpful how Dawson will define terms in a way that he will be discussing them. For example, he defines “revolution” in a way different from what I have ever heard. When I think of “revolution,” I think of a period of time of drastic change: a time of emancipation for specific group people. In the beginning of the conversation with Dawson, he states that “Revolution is a claim of ownership on history.” I find this to be very interesting along with his next statement, that “revolution” is used to define  “an attempt to shape a view of the past that organizes power in the present.” What exactly does he mean by this statement? Are we unable to locate revolution in during its time? Do we need to be in history’s hindsight to label “revolution.”

Anyways, on to something else. It is very strange to note that one’s power may be detrimental to another person or persons. As one gains power, they often strive for more. Noticing rapid development in surrounding countries, leaders feel the need to stay competitive and out of the periphery of surrounding countries. They do so by attempting to build a flourishing economy and by keeping up with new and modern infrastructure (railways, markets, education, etc.). As growth would occurred in certain countries, elites would flourish, widening the social gap. The richer elites would get, the poorer the peasant would get. This inequality often lead to violence, found in Latin America.

Lastly, I would like to mention Argentina. I find their ability to attract such a large number of immigrants crucial to their working class. It is quite interesting how they did not give these immigrants certain rights due to the facts that they “spoke foreign tongues, ate alien food, did not celebrate the national traditions or owe any loyalty to Argentina.” Argentines were afraid of losing their jobs to immigrants, which is the same argument some Americans tend to have in the bordering states with Mexico. Some Americans believe that a reason for tightening the border is that illegal immigrants from Mexicans are stealing jobs from American citizens. Although this may be an issue for some Americans, I have a difficult time believing that this is a crucial reason for tightening the border.

Week #7

In the video that Dawson narrates, “Golden Age of the Export Oligarchy,” he mentions that people living in periphery countries feel certain anxieties different from people living in the “center:” countries that are more modern. He explains how countries of the periphery are countries in which their people feel a sense that they are behind and not on the “cutting-edge.” He uses a more contemporary example by listing Mexico and Cuba as examples of peripheries to the United States, but also mentions Canada being a periphery as well. Growing up near the coast of California and now spending my second year in Vancouver, I do not completely feel this to be true. Maybe I have yet to spend enough time in Canada to feel this sense of anxiety, but I cannot seem to find this to be true as I can believe people of Mexico or Cuba do about their own countries. I come from a pretty modern and industrial city in Orange County, California located just south of Los Angeles, which may often be referred to as the mecca for many things. As I have lived in Vancouver, there has never been a time where I have not been able to find something I was in search of, let alone felt that Canadians were behind in any matter.

I actually feel a little bit of the opposite. I feel, instead, that Canadians would not appreciate being considered a periphery nation to the United States. I think that Canadians are aware that they depend on their southern neighbor for different things as well as export many things to the United States, but I do not think that they feel the sense of anxiety of being “left behind.” When I speak to the Canadian friends I have met through UBC, who range in coming from the east coast to the west coast, I have never once felt that they think I am more modern by any means or come from a more modern country. They seem as if they favor many of the things their country has rather than things the US has to offer, including their governmental system. I think that this sense of anxiety is more a feeling that may develop domestically within Canada as a country or even the United States.

Maybe if you are from a small town in Saskatchewan, you may feel this sense of not being on the “cutting-edge” because your town may not offer functional public transportation or an Apple store that a metropolitan city like Vancouver or Toronto does. I have an uncle who lives somewhere in Kentucky and whenever we speak on the phone, he always mentions this joke of how it takes Kentucky six years to receive all of the “latest” things. I don’t know the exact joke but it is something like that. He is partly kidding when he says it, but he is definitely implying something. To the United States, Kentucky and many more states and cities are the peripheral to places like Los Angeles or New York City. To many, like my uncle, it is a choice of his to live in the peripheral.

Now on to another part of this week’s homework. I found the invention and use of photographs in Latin America to be quite interesting. Photographs seemed to have had a huge influence on modernity in Latin America. Photographs had the ability to show things; they showed documented progress, which then showed modernity through artistic and scientific thought. I found the image of Mexican President, Benito Juarez to be quite interesting. He could use a photograph of himself to “erase” his indigenous past, which would be done and shown through his dress, manner, and profession as president.

Homework #6

I found this week’s homework to be very interesting, which focuses on how people viewed each other in Latin America from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. I say the nineteenth century because this is how far our homework extended, although I feel that racial disparities are still apparent in Latin America. I found many similarities between racial conflicts in Latin America and mid-twentieth century United States. Instead of living in society where a hierarchal level of standing was present, people who fulfilled the lower portion of the social ranking favored a society that was horizontal, of rather equal citizenry. “Indian” villages had a difficult time revolting, due to the lack of access to weapons and technology.

By the nineteenth century, John Locke’s labour theory is visible in these “indian” villages. Being a part of these villages, you had certain obligation to the state, but you also received some benefits and legal privileges. You received the right to land, and the right to petition for more land, in the circumstances where your community was growing. Another major privilege was the right to grant access to the Spanish, who they believed could take their land. Like Locke’s labour theory of land, the indigenous people of these villages could provide labour to their land and consider it theirs.

Something I found very interesting was the idea of “scientific racism,” stating that people are placed on the social hierarchy based on their “whiteness.” Scientific racism also includes that these “whites” contained the “cleanest” blood that had been carried within the Old Christian ancestry. “Scientists” built theories as to which biology was destiny, that European whites were at the top of the chain because there was something inherent in their bodies. These “theories” question who were the actual savages of the time. From all that we have read, the indigenous people of the Americas seemed quite modest and, in many ways, thought in a more modern and contemporary way as did the European colonialists.

In the case of crossbreeding, whether it was between a European and an African, an African and a Native American, or any other mix, it did not contribute to a more “proper” and “prosperous” society. These groups were listed as “subjects for extermination,” which reminded me to a more present time: the Holocaust of World War II. It is apparent that racial inequality is still apparent for reasons as absurd during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century.

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.

Homework #4

From week four’s homework, I found the video of political science professor, Maxwell Cameron, quite informative. He focuses on the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, making connections with Venezuelan political and military leader of the late18th-early 19th century, Simón Bolivar. Cameron begins the interview by saying that “The tensions between continuity and change is one of the major themes in Latin America.” I really think that there is something to be said about his statement. When I think about present day Mexico, I cannot help but think about what Cameron says. I know that is a whole other subject, so I will veer away from going on a tangent.

Back to Chávez and Bolivar. Chávez seems to be an advocate of change versus continuity throughout his presidency. Being the one to plant Venezuela’s existing congress and rewrite its constitution, I support this notion. Though there are things that make me want to disagree. Although he did rewrite the constitution, it was mentioned that he did not change much and that it was actually very similar to the original. Chávez was afraid to be a leader because he did not want to be anything like the recent leaders, whom made no positive change for the people. In this sense, Chávez seemed to have been in the right mindset. It was also mentioned that once in power, he had a “remarkable ability” to talk to the Venezuelan people, allowing his people, some whom felt left out of politics, to feel as if they were being spoken to individually and included, rather than having to be a politician to understand. All of these things put Chávez on top, as he gathered more and more followers.

Chávez seems to have a goal in mind: to finish what he believes Simón Bolivar had started. Chávez looks back and believes that Bolivar began the start of an incomplete revolution and feels that he needs to finish what had begun. He may have the right idea in mind, although he seems to have the wrong understanding of who Bolivar actually was. Bolivar stood as the liberator of the creole group, rather than a representative of the Native American.