Category Archives: Week 5

Authority in Post-Independence Latin America

I felt the description in this weeks lecture of 19th century post independence Latin America as [“Independent nations prolonging the colonial project”] to be interesting and apt. Bolivar and his contemporaries instigated a self serving independence in Latin America. It served a specific group of people. largely the ruling elite. Thus it was a very incomplete independence and the holes became obvious as the presence of colonial powers lessened.

At this point what we now know as “Latin America” entered an identity crisis. We see this in the large political masses that broke into smaller independent countries. It was up to those who remained to determine a new cultural, economic and political landscape.

There was an undeniable power vacuum left in Latin America post independence. Figureheads of the independence movement were never necessarily going to be accepted without question. Without even considering the power struggles among the political elite, the masses were finally getting a chance to assert visions and ambitions for their countries. Even those of Spanish descent who had been born into Latin America had never had freedom from colonial rule. It was only natural that the race for domination of the political landscape would intensify as colonial rule retreated.

It is typical to the nature of man that the pursuit of power is almost always accompanied by conflict and in this case bloody war. Latin America had to discern which colonial structures were to be dismantled and which parts of history were to be preserved. Political units that had been held together by the glue of imperialism naturally disintegrated and thus new countries were born. Out of these new countries came all new economic and cultural systems that to this day are distinct and unique to each area her people and her history. The hierarchical nature of colonial society remained.  As it was an elite class who pushed for independence this is a natural sequence of events. Unfortunately this resulted in an arguably even more cruel oppression of the least privileged classes. The numerous campaigns against indigenous peoples that dot Latin American history are a black mark on our heritage that cannot ever be erased.

Despite political turbulence and extreme violence within countries, across borders and even from North America. Latin America has emerged vibrant and extraordinarily varied. The first week of class I chose in our discussion to associate Latin America with resilience. I feel that though the scars of not only colonialism, but internal destruction are widely felt they do not define the character of Latin America.


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