The scars of slavery are present and it fact remain deeply gashed into the fabric of North America. For me the most alarming thing is the lack of accountability and reconciliation on the part of many Latin American countries. I’ve been educated in both Canada and Chile and while Canada has huge stains on its history (more prevalently regarding the oppression of our indigenous peoples and the use of residential schools). The approach in terms of taking responsibility. While at long last reconciliation has and continues to become a vital part of Canadian curriculum, Chilean history classes barely mentioned a history of slavery. This lack of accountability has led to fractures in the culture and makeup of Latin American society.
The most disturbing detail about the lack of Latin American acknowledgement for its involvement in the slave trade is that lack of acknowledgement does not equate to lack of responsibility. The majority of Latin America engaged in the sale and then abuse of people-slaves. Yet it is not highlighted as a blemish on the history of many nations. Chile abolished slavery in 1823 but there were those who continued to illegally make use of slave labour for years afterwards. In addition to this, thee Latin American assault on the indigenous peoples of the region is all too often disregarded. Families, cultures, and groups were devastated and as reconciliation fails to provide for the damage done, populations at this moment continue to struggle. The devastation of colonial rule has not laid off for many of these people groups.
The degree of education reflects on the general sentiment of much of Latin America. Canada, though it continues to struggle to entirely disregard the constraints of segregation calls itself a multicultural society. The United States refers to itself as a melting pot. I don’t think many inclusive labels could be applied to a lot of Latin American countries as a whole. An especially unnerving part of this is that I sometimes wonder about how many in the country I know, Chile, would embrace a fully integrated society. In Chile the walls are built high and strong. Distinct ethnic populations largely keep to themselves, the use of racially charged and thus derogatory language is commonplace. Race is much more readily used as an identifier of value or personality. I worry when I see the way the indigenous populations continue to be treated while reconciliation does not consistently present itself as a political talking point. For me the redeeming quality is the youth, I truly believe young people across countries are leading the push for equality and justice.
3 Responses to Post Slavery Latin America
Hi Isabel! Thank you for shedding a light on the complicated history & race relations of Chile. I think this relates to what Jon said in lecture, something along the lines of we’re dealing with a past that isn’t really “past.” So many historical concepts we’re looking at in class certainly still relate to and have a major impact on Latin American mindsets.
One important thing to note is that, in the case of Canada and our legacy, this current government as well as most political parties during this 2019 federal election have helped the reconciliation process, and have vowed to continue taking concrete steps. Namely, Justin Trudeau has accepted the conclusions of a public report saying the violence inflicted upon Indigenous women and girls can be qualified as genocide, and the federal NDP, Green Party and Conservative Party have made Indigenous reconciliation and issues a big part of their platforms.
I love hearing the perspectives of those who have actual cultural ties with the topics we’re looking at! Your point regarding Latin America and its lack of reconciliation is interesting to hear about. What do you think would be the first step towards reconciliation in Latin America?