For my final course for this course ( although I know I am posting this a bit late), first I want to talk about the documents in Dawson’s text and then talk about the course as a whole.

One thing I noticed comparing the two documents, document 11.1, the summary of Judgment & Order of Superior Court of Nueva Loja, seemed to be more structured and organized than the opinion by judge Kaplan. This may be because one is a summery of another text and the other is an excerpt from the original text but I found this really fascinating especially since both parties state at one portrays the Ecuadorian judicial system as corrupt and unfit to reach a fair verdict. Also, compared to the court in New York, I had the impression that the Ecuadorian court had a more objective perspective, denying quite a few of the plaintiff’s claims. This again seems to be trying to imply that the judicial system of Ecuador is not as biased as it is said to be and possibly even fairer than the court in New York. This case reminded me of Erin Brockovich and the case she fought against PG&E. Maybe it’s b\just because both involve suing a powerful American company for polluting the environment. ( the movie is excellent so it’s worth watching if you’re interested.)

I’ve always had a strong interest in Latin America. I especially loved Mexican culture and it was the reason why I studied Spanish for three years. Yet at the beginning of the course, I had absolutely no knowledge of Latin American history, politics, or racial diversity, and when asked to chose 3 words to describe Latin America, I said something like passionate and colorful. Although I still think Latin Americans are more passionate in general, now I realize that these words were only scratching the surface. The complex history of the region makes describing it with only a few words extremely difficult. As professor Jon has mentioned a couple of times the more I learn about Latin America the more difficult it becomes to describe. Every week we could see a new dimension of the region which is also somehow interconnected by the history of colonialism and racism. However, I think this is what makes Latin America so captivating. The pandemic as well as the ever-changing political situation, such as chilians decision to rewrite the constitution, makes it very difficult to predict what lies ahead for the content, just as Creelman was unable to predict the Mexican revolution. I wonder if we were to accurately predict the future would that change anything? Or would we end up with the same results anyway?

This course was very eye-opening and made me ponder concepts or ideas I had never thought of before living in Japan and I’m really glad I took it this semester. Thanks everyone:)

Week12: Speaking Truth to Power

This week’s lecture made me realize the large role media technology plays in politics. Last week, in a similar sense, we were able to witness how much of an impact a politician can make when they use technologies such as the radio and how the people were starting to be able to get their demands through. However, the documents and videos for this week really showed how the weaker side of the social hierarchy; the people(especially the mid to lower class), the opposition party of a dictatorial regime, etc., were able to get there voice through not only throughout the nation but to an international audience as well. Also, Dawson talks about how the full unedited video of the Augas Blancas Massacre was able to “lift the veil from government secrecy”. This reminded me of the videos of police brutality. At a glance, it may seem like the number of cases of police brutality seems to be increasing in recent years but I’ve come to realize that’s not entirely true. It’s just that more cases are being recorded. I think the video of the massacre is a very good example of how modern technology became a tool for civilians to fight for their rights and expose corrupt governments.

The document I want to focus on is the video of La Alegria ya viene from the No campaign in Chile. I saw a couple of versions that were linked to the page for this week. The video seemed to stand out from the others. While the other videos and texts, such as the interview of the Madres, address tragedies and the pain which follows them, as well as their strong anger towards the corrupt and indifferent government, this music video is so bright and hopeful. The videos of the Madres and the Massacre being the reality for the people, although staged, the light-hearted, optimistic message of the no campaign must have been very appealing to the Chilean people. On another note, I thought the video for the “artisras” version of the song looked very similar to USA for Africa-We Are the World. Since the We Are The World came out in 2015, it could be possible that the campaign took inspiration from the song. If so, it would be an indicator of how much of an influence not only the US government but the US culture had on Latin American politics.

Discussion questions:

Do you think video recording of events that are not staged can be biased?

Would the no campaign in Chile have been as successful as they were if they took a more political, structured approach?


Caudillismo: Identity Landmark of Hispanic American Authoritarian Political Culture

The second source is by Alina Titei, Caudillismo: Identity Landmark of Hispanic American Authoritarian Political Culture. Titei presents three arguments made by scholars, including William H. Beezley mentioned previously, to explain the origins of caudillismo, “the Spanish monarchy, the colonial period, and the independence wars” (Titei. 286). Charles E. Chapman offers the first argument that the Spanish monarchy is the root of caudillismo, stating that similarities can be found in the attitudes of the conquistadors. Richard M. Morse, on the contrary, believes that the two Catholic monarchs Isabela and Ferdinand and their two distinct ideologies, “medieval and Renaissance, Thomistic and Machiavellian.” (qtd. in Titei. 287). He connects the birth of caudillos amid the chaos in Latina America with the emergence of condittieri’s in 15th century Italy. The second interpretation by William H. Beezley is as discussed in the first source. The third argument, considers caudillos a as the products of the war for independence, which created the perfect ground work for them to gain power. John Lynch, a supporter of this perspective caudillismo is one of the unique factors which forms the characteristics of Latin America and something that is “not by all means a natural descendant of the Spanish legacy”. The independence wars paved the way for clientelism, which was an advantage for caudillos with a unique position as a strong military leader. They were also the only ones who could manage the ethnic groups demanding for freedom. Tetai also presents a religious patron-client relationship, such as a child and a godfather, which are unique to Latin America. This text offers different ways of interpreting the emergence of caudillismo other than that of Beezley’s. By using this information, we will be able to demonstrate a multidimensional approach to the origins of caudillos and clientelism. However, although the three perspectives mentioned in the article seems to be most popular among scholars, it is important to note that other factors such as the Unitarian’s attitude towards the rural folk could have played a role in the emergence of caudillismo. This text also demonstrates characteristics of caudillismo specific to Hispano America. Through reading and writing about this document, I have become very interested in what makes Latin American Caudillismo unique. Comparing Latin American caudillos with other leaders considered to be caudillos in other parts of the world, such as Spain, is something I am planning to research further to present in the final video project.


Titei, A., & Alina Titei. (07/01/2013). Caudillismo: Identity landmark of hispanic american authoritarian political culture University Press.

Caudillismo: An Interpretive Note

The first source is Caudillismo: an Interpretive Note by William H. Beezley, included in the Journal of Inter-American Studies. In the section, he first discusses the Spanish Empire’s system of rule by “theory and practice”. This created room for a relatively flexible government in the colonies which gave immense power to a single person governing the region. Thus, the colonial period “contributed to the centralistic rule, undivided authority, intense mental system that left the gap between theory and practice to be manipulated at the discretion of officials in the enforced legal restrictions” (Beezley. 346). However, independence from Spain, meaning the absence of a king to be loyal to, resulted in a divided nation. Charismatic Caudillos who could captivate the loyalty of the people were perfect figures to unite the divided communities. It was also essential that these individuals had control over the military, and ties to other branches of the government as well. Caudillos had four elements of society, the clergy, the military the haciendas, and political groups, which they could side with to secure their positions and attract further popularity. Since none of these four elements had enough power to take control of the government on their own, they were used by caudillos as popularity boosters depending on their usefulness at a certain moment. Beezley also argues that the successful rule of the Caudillos established a sense of nationalism in the region. Even in areas with strong regional autonomy, the national caudillo would command his regional counterparts which would result in establishing the notion of a national community in the people. Additionally, Beezley draws comparisons between successful and unsuccessful caudillos. Ones which rule successfully create enforced social and political stability while unsuccessful ones do the exact opposite, deepening the divisions between local communities.  By including the information from the text, the video will be able to show how the colonial period had an effect on the establishment of caudillismo, as well as the impacts a successful caudillo and an unsuccessful caudillo has on the region. However, the article does not mention the factors which makes a certain individual rule successfully. Comparing the regimes of well-known national caudillos, such as Antonio López de Santa Anna and Rosas, with lesser known ones would provide a better understanding of what determined caudillo’s success. Also, the text only provides one way of analyzing the causation factors of caudillos which can be avoided by including writings of other scholars.


Beezley, W. (1969). Caudillismo: An Interpretive Note. Journal of Inter-American Studies, 11(3), 345-352. doi:10.2307/165417

Week11: The Terror

This week’s material was personally very hard to digest. I am blessed that I’ve never experienced atrocities such as war, genocide, or any kind of life-threatening situation in my lifetime. Imagining the scene of the events written in the text or shown in the videos is horrifying enough, the horror and anxiety the Latin American people might have felt are inconceivable. Before diving into a specific text, I wanted to mention something Professor John talked about in his Lecture video which kind of related to my previous statement. “This week, I have no questions, as they would suggest that you (or I, or anyone) could provide answers that would be anything but glib. Or rather, all we have are questions, as we reach the limits of any explanation or narrative”. The documents we read and see can only capture a small fragment of actual reality. Of course this can be said for all the materials we have been looking at up to now, but I think this is especially evident in this week’s topic.

The writing I want to focus on this week is that of Carolina Huamán Oyague, document 9.4 in Dwson’s text. Although the other texts were equally interesting, I was drawn to this particular document because of the strong sentiments that seeped through the words. Her strong emotions aginst Fujimori is clearly shown in her words like “His mocking smile”, “ill-fated attitude”, “self-involved and blinded by the pure ambition for power and money”. Carolina also points out the contradiction in Fujimori’s statements in court, saying that he”plays dumb” at first but then mentioning that he was at the center of everything. The section earlier on in the text in which a circus and clowns are used as a metaphor to describe how FUjimori is no longer able to deceive the people was especially interesting. Why did she decide to use the circus to make her point? And why clowns instead of others like magicians who would also probably fit what she is trying to describe? On a different note, Carolina discrbes situations in very visual ways. Some examples being, “but they never heard our cries, much less stopped to see our tears”, “the delivery my sister’s remains in a cardboard box” and “I wish tears did not run down my cheeks”. This helps ster up stronger emotions in the reader which would make them side with Carolina. I am in no way saying what the Fujimori regime had done in Peru can be justified. However, I think it’s crucial we read this text with a grain of salt, since the author is extremely biased. The document can give us a peek of the perspective of the victims of violence in the era but doesn’t quite allow us to see what was actually said in these trials. As professor Joh said in his video “there is a limit to what such narratives can tell. And doubt came to haunt some of these stories, above all Menchú’s. It is not clear, for instance, that her brother was killed quite as she says he was. So even testimonio fails to give us access to the brutality of the terror”.


Week10: Power to the People

This week’s reading and lecture showed how appliances, such as the microphone and the radio, played a significant role in forming the politics in Latin America. Politicians were able to reach larger audiences more efficiently and civilians were able to view political leaders as closer figures. Out of the four texts Dawson presents of Eva Perón’s renunciamiento, I will focus on Document 7.3, Evita’s speech including the interaction with the crowd.

The first point I noticed while reading the text is how often she uses the phrases, moral and spiritual.  She also says “the Argentine nation is comprised of honorable men and
women”(Dawson. 232) and “Argentine people have a big heart” (Dawson. 232), referring to the personality traits of the nation in general. Eva goes out of her way to appeal to both the rational side and the emotional side of the listeners. Her repeated use of these two words clearly represents the populist stances of the Peróns. The next thing I would like to mention is the way Evita describes herself in her speech. She portrays herself as a weak, fragile, and humble Argentine woman who would sacrifice everything for her people, the descamisados. She uses the adjective “humble” to refer to her own character and actions 7 times throughout the text. Being a humble woman was probably an important factor to give a sense of closeness to the people instead of someone above the clouds. Her description of herself was a bit puzzling to me since the video clip of her in Professor Jon’s lecture seemed to suggest quite the opposite. Evita had a relatively low, clear, and strong voice which gave me the impression of a sturdy woman. She also attributes all her achievements, actions, and belongings to General Perón which establishes her reputation as a supportive, devoted wife as well as reaffirms her frail character. Lastly, and most importantly, the interactions between the crowd and Evita concerning the matter of her running as VP, represents the theme of this week, power to the people. The crowd of descamisados had the power to get their demands through in a way previous populations did not. This clearly shows how the power dynamic shifted in these regions.

discussion questions:

  1. Why do you think Evita used the adjective “humble” in particular to describe herself?
  2. Do you think Evita would have been able to refuse to run as VP if it were in a public setting instead of the radio?
  3. Do you think how a politician represented themselves through the media was more closely related to their popularity rather than the policies they stood for?

Week9: Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire


For this week’s post, I want to focus on the manifesto written by Augusto Sandino which was included in Dawson’s text.

The first line of the text, “To the Nicaraguans, to the Central Americans, to the Indo-Hispanic Race:”, clearly states his target audience (this line is not included in Dawson’s writing but included in the other English translation http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/sandino/sandino7-1-27.htm). Also, unlike Plan de Ayala from last week, the manifesto is written in the first person which makes the text seem more of a call for action rather than a collective opinion of the people in the region.

Throughout his writing, Sandino repeatedly uses the word “patriot” and “homeland” which I found very interesting. He expresses his love for his country with other phrases as well. The second sentence “The man who doesn’t ask his country for even a handful of earth for his grave deserves to be heard, and not only to be heard, but also to be believed” is one example. He emphasises that his actions are driven purely by his affection for his nation. This line also creates a clear contrast between Sandino and the three politicians mentioned in later paragraphs.

Another point that caught my attention is the progression in the ways the United States is described. At first, the U.S. is referred to as an “enormous eagle with its curved beak “. We can assume that Sandino is pointing to the States although it is not clearly stated. As we read further, we can see words more clearly associated with the U.S., such as “Yankee”, “Washington”, “White House”, until finally the name of the nation is addressed in nearly the end of the text. This progression from a more ambiguos suscripción you a specific one could have been to build up the negative image of the United States in the readers mind. By depicting the North American super nation as violent bird killing Nicaraguans or as a rapist paints a more negative image of the nation than just calling the country by its name.

One last section I want to touch upon is Sandino’s words of assurance to the governments of Latin American nations. He goes out of his way to reassure the governments that he has no intention of over throwing them. This seemed a bit odd to me since he strongly criticizes the Nicaraguan government.

Discussion questions:

  • Why do you think Sandino described the U.S. in this particular style?
  •  In the very last sentence “Because keep in mind that you can fool all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time” do you think Sandino is referring to the States, the Nicaraguan government or both and why?

Week 8: Signs of Crisis in a Gilded Age

In the lecture video for this week, professor John talked about how modernization in Latin America tended to be superficial, and “trouble was brewing” under the surface. In the article about Diaz by Creelman, we read last week, Mexico seems to be a stable and peaceful region with no crisis in sight. Yet, reading this week’s material, it’s easy to see how many problems, violence, and inequalities were being glossed over.  The way “Plan de Ayala” justifies their right to rebel against President Madero, whom they previously supported, seemed very interesting to me. When I imagine a revolution, this kind of civility is not what comes straight to mind. Maybe this is the kind of action that Diaz implied when he was talking about the Mexican people becoming civilized enough for proper democracy. Or perhaps Zapata used educated and intelligent words instead of depending on violence right away to legitimize his demands as a person with indigenous heritage who were often thought to be uneducated and backward.

The great effect the United States had, and probably still has, in the region is also very evident. In both La raza cósmica and To Roosevelt, the authors have certain respect or awe for the development the U.S. had made while criticizing the nation. the phrasing in Rúben Dario’s poem which stood out was his references to Spain, such as “Spanish America” and “cubs of the Spanish lion”. Why bring up the previous colonizer, Spain, when trying to make a point to the potential new colonizer, the U.S., that South America is not a place to be reckoned with? I thought it a bit counter-intuitive to mention the region’s previous dominators in a poem proving Latin America’s strength and independence. This could go back to the topic of the Identity crisis in Latin America which we have been discussing throughout the weeks. José Vasconcelos’s points on race and racism in La raza cósmica was fascinating. He mentions how the superiority of a certain race is only established to justify the reign of the rulers in that particular period in time. Also, he states most great nations in history had mixed races and one race cannot create a sophisticated civilization on its own. Living in a relatively homogenous country myself, I could argue against Vasconcelo’s statement. However, considering the time and place the text was written I can’t deny that if races were to mix according to Vasconcelos’s ideals, the domestic situation would probably have been very different.

Week7 The Export Boom as Modernity

The struggle of transitioning to modernity is something that is hard to completely understand for people living in the present. Yes, of course, we still have flaws and faults but I believe we also have many solutions for problems that were unsolvable at the time. Yet we look back at history and often think “why couldn’t they have thought of such a simple solution?”. I think this also ties into what Mr. Dawson mentioned when talking about reading documents from the past. “We have the benefit of hindsight, and tend to impose ex post facto meanings and
importance on these texts, looking for a writer’s capacity to predict the future rather than
situating the text carefully in its present”(Dawson 129). We already know what comes after the writing was published so it’s very easy to see the irony, however, I never actually thought about how the authors at the time had no idea what was going to happen next, just like I have no clue where I might be two years from now (although I’ll still probably be at UBC who knows?). Just as Professor Jon had said in his lecture, “the future is hard to see, even when it’s close at hand”.

Another thing I want to write about is photography. Considering the fact taking a picture was probably a huge deal at the time, I think the photographs show the astonishment and pride people in Latina America felt towards the railroads, trams, artifacts, and plazas. The photographs represented modernization in the region. On the other hand, the portraits of the indigenous people, peasants, and agricultural laborers have a very similar aesthetic to the cast paintings, especially since they were used to record the nation’s populations. In this sense, although photography is a symbol of modernization, it was still used to reinforce old ideas of racial discrimination and white/European superiority.

One more thing I want to touch upon is the way, Creelman romanticized Días’s character and regime. I will admit, I only had very little to no knowledge about  Porfilio Días and his presidency except that he is considered a dictator who held his position for an extremely long time in Mexico. Reading Creelman’s article gave me the exact opposite description as a patriotic, kind, wise man who unwillingly held on to his position for the greater good of Mexico. Given that the US was considered much more civilized and modern, describing an autocrat in this manner seemed very strange. However, what Dawson said in one of the videos for this week provided a reasonable explanation for this, which is that with all the corruption in the US at the time, Creelman probably did not think the States was a nation of a perfect democracy. Additionally, Creelman may have believed that Latin America, or Mexico in this case, was an uncivilized place where force was necessary to establish order.

Discussion questions:

  1. In Creelman’s text, he quotes Días talking about presidents should be able to hold office without limitations of terms as long as the citizens kept electing the individual. Do you agree with this idea? why or why not?
  2. If racial discrimination did not exist or was less prevalent in Latin America, would the process of modernity undergone more equally throughout the region?
  3. What would Latin America look like today if the economies depended more on the national market rather than foreign ones?

Week6: Citizenship and Rights in the New Republic

This week, I feel like there were a  wider variety of different or conflicting narratives compared to previous topics. I want to focus on three main points for this post; citizenship, Josefina Pelliza de Sagasta’s writings, and rights in general.

I’ve never actually thought about how nations determined the requirements one must fulfill to gain citizenship. In Japan for example, if at least one of the parents is a Japanese citizen at the time of a child’s birth, the child is considered a Japanese citizen. I doubt the politicians who legislated the Japanese nationality laws had much to debate since it was and still is a homogenous country. In the United States, before birth-right citizenship, I assume only white people were considered citizens because of the clear distinctions between races. Therefore, I can see why legislators in Latin American nations struggled to define what it means to be a citizen with the racial and ethnic diversity the region had. This conflict evidently shows the (mainly white) elite’s inability to see people of color as equals, even though they fought alongside one another in the independence wars.

Josefina’s response to Maria Echenique’s article was very poetic. Her writing style seemed elegant and fragile compared to the strong, gallant feeling I got from Maria’s.  If I were to assign a color to the text it would be along the lines of baby pink:) She could have written back in a much stronger manner but I think she intentionally chose to write in soft words to draw attention to the contrast between women who are “angels of the house” and women who seek emancipation. She may also have been trying to speak to the side of Maria who wanted to surrender “to purely imaginative games, tracing with my pen beautiful images capable of stirring sweet emotions in the heart” by portraying women as divine, beautiful, poetic beings. Another thing that caught my attention in Josefina’s writing is her use of pronouns ( i always seem to get caught up on this…). She kept using “we” or “our” and I’m not quite sure if she’s trying to imply that she is writing on behalf of a certain group she is a member of or that the Argentine women, in general, would resonate with her opinion.

In the lecture video, John mentioned that “rights have to be first agreed upon and then interpreted before they can be actualized”. This reminded me of a class in high school where we discussed how the modern concept of rights is rooted in the Christian faith. It becomes very difficult to agree upon what rights a person should have if different communities believe in a different faith in the same country. I guess that is why the indigenous people, for example, had a different take on the right to freedom than the liberalist elites did. This could apply to modern times as well. How we view human rights in North-America and in the Middle East is drastically different. Women not being allowed to go out without her husband’s permission may seem absurd to me but is the norm elsewhere. This makes me think that maybe rights aren’t something we have to 100% agree upon because having the right to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Josefina may not agree that women should be emancipated but if she could respect other women’s decisions for wanting to be emancipated, women could have the right to do either.

some questions I have are

  • Who do you think Juanita is referring to when she says “we”?
  • What effects does the history of slavery have to this day?
  • do you think it’s possible for different communities with different beliefs to agree on a set of rights?

I know my post for this week is a bit long but thanks for reading!