This week, we covered the violent wave of terror that swept through Latin America during the late nineteenth-century. Despite this being a very sad and tragic period for Latin America, I was interested in learning why and how these events occurred. Anyways, these are my thoughts on the subject, and what I understood from the reading:
I feel that every time I write my blog post, I begin by saying how unaware I am about the topic covered during the week. This tells me it was a very good idea to take this course. Anyways, as you can probably guess, I had absolutely no idea of the violence experienced by Latin America between the 1960s and 1990s. I was utterly shocked when I read the death tolls in the reading. It seems insane to me that over 69,000 people lost their lives in Peru (and more all over Latin America), and I had no idea this was even going on. In addition, civil wars broke out in countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador, which made for countless casualties and lost lives. This made me wonder why we usually associate the US with civil war, even though there have been many civil wars in the Americas. The violence unleashed on these countries were mostly from military/authoritarian governments on what they saw as a communist threat.
It is difficult to pin down exactly why these dirty wars occurred in Latin America. Once again, we are forced to question Latin America (referring to week 1). Some argue that Latin America is historically violent, and never fully became modern. Economic challenges such as expanding debt and increased inflations also could have played a big role. Others say that these acts were simply a follow-up to the Cold War, or it was from young idealists attacking the government. Personally, I was a bit confused about the American effect on this violence, and hope to learn more through the class discussion next week.
Sendero’s War was also interesting to read about. As I understand it, Sendero Luminos were basically a military group with communist views. They burned ballot boxes during Peru’s first democratic vote in quite a few a longtime. When I read that many peasants saw this group as an opportunity for a strategic alliance, it immediately reminded me of the caudillos that we saw several weeks ago.
My question for the class next week is the following:
The reading states that “modern death machines,” which I assume consists of military firearms and explosives, were used during these attacks. Therefore, was the modernization of Latin America a driving force for the terrors that ensued? In other words, would these disputes have occurred without rapid modernization?