In my last blog post, I said that politics were boring and unappealing to me. However, although this week mainly focused on politics, I was super interested and captivated by the readings and videos. I was actually intrigued by the content. This week, we learned about the effects that independence had on Latin American countries, as well as political systems in said countries; specifically the infamous power of caudillos.
First of all, I found it strange how independence did not bring order nor stability in Latin America. Naturally, you would think that with independence, a nation becomes stronger and united. However, this is obviously not the case for Latin America. Many wars and battles took place in these countries after the end of Spanish rule, making them very dangerous and hostile areas in the nineteenth century. In North America and Europe, liberalism (right to vote, freedom of expression, etc.) became normal, however it never really developed in Latin America. This surprised me, as the majority of hispanics and latinos living in the United States are mostly in favour of democrats.
Rather, liberalism in Latin America becomes favour, instead. In other words, the people’s wellbeing totally depended on their relations and connections to powerful patrons. These patrons provided these people with favours and/or protection. These patrons are called caudillos, with caudillaje power. This system causes corruption throughout communities since rather than treating people with equality, their fate is decided by the connections they have. For example, if you are a caudillos opposer you are automatically subject to a brutal and unfair treatment. Perhaps even death. In the reading, I learnt about the caudillo ruler Juan Manuel de Rosas. De Rosas was an extremely cruel leader, ruling through the fear of citizens. He would confiscate his opposers land just to pay his soldier or provide recompense to the poor. I could see why many desperate people would be in favour of the caudillaje system: they are able to receive immediate rewards. They are able to cling to a powerful figure, as they live in dangerous conditions.
Esteban Echeverría, a famed unitarian, was a strong opposer of caudillos in Latin America. He wrote the book “The Slaughterhouse,” demonstrating his anger through an allegorical story. I read parts of his book, which was really interesting. The language he uses is very violent, almost shocking to some extent. For Echeverría, caudillaje was a type of barbarism that blocked civilization as a whoel. It was interesting learning about what he had to say. All in all, his book was really intriguing.
My question for the class this week is as follows: would it have been more beneficial in the end for Latin American countries to stay dependent to the Spanish crown? Was independence their own downfall?