These past few weeks, we have been primarily focusing on the early stages of Latin America. For example, the landing of Christopher Columbus as well as the beginning of the colonial period. However this week, it seems that we have begun a more political chapter of Latin America. Personally, I’ve always found politics less interesting, especially in a social studies environment. This said, I do realize that politics are an essential topic in history and I am willing and excited to immerse myself more into this said subject.
As previously mentioned, politics can be at times monotonous. Hence, it was a bit more difficult for me to fully understand what I was reading and watching. I first read about Simón Bolívar and his famous “Letter from Jamaica.” From my understanding, Bolívar wrote a letter outlining his dream of a unified Latin America, under the guidance of a strong liberal nation. Fed up with unfair Spanish rule, he wrote and sent this letter to Great Britain, hoping for them to ultimately replace the Spanish. Despite his efforts, Bolívar was unable to receive any kind of assistance from Great Britain. After reading this letter, I did notice many metaphors, which was mentioned in the lecture video. Take for example the following line in Bolívar’s letter: “That wicked stepmother is the source of all our suffering.” This is obviously displaying his deep hatred for Spain, comparing it to an evil stepmother. In addition, the fact that Bolívar is still relevant today, as he is referenced by Hugo Chávez’s speech in 2004, is fascinating. This truly demonstrates the impact Bolívar had at the time as a leader.
The works of José Martí and his “Our America” were also quite interesting. To my knowledge, “Our America” is Martí’s take on Cuba’s struggle in becoming independant from Spain, as well as the threat that the United States could pose on the island. He tries to give a Latin American identity to his people. In the video, it is mentioned that there are many metaphors and allegories in his essay. Take for example: “Barricades of ideas are worth more than barricades of stones”. I was really interested about how the Americans were causing trouble to the Cubans, as they could potentially have wanted Cuba as a territory.
My question for the class is as follows: why did the British not help Bolívar in his conquest to end Spanish rule in Latin America? The abundance of valuable resources located in the Americas would seem appealing to European colonists, so why didn’t the British cease this opportunity?