Week 5: Caudillos v.s. the Nation State

This week I would like to focus on writing about my thoughts on The SlaughterHouse and what it represented.

Although I found the story interesting, it seemed to highlight the reason why the Unitarians could not gain much support from the rural people. One example is how Echeverria portrays black women in a very inhumane way, associating them with harpies and viragos. This really shows how the creoles elite favored the social hierarchy constructed by the Colonists. On the other hand, Caudillos seemed to treat all races and classes equally as long as one remained loyal to them and they themselves came from various positions in society. Why would a person in the lower class support an ideal upheld by the people who desired to keep the cast system which oppressed them for so many years instead of a person who represented equal opportunity? Trying to achieve ideals created by Europeans which the colonies worked tremendously hard to expose of may be another factor adding to the sense of resistance against Unitarianism.

The tyrannical and authoritarian ways of Caudillos are undoubtedly immoral and unsustainable. However, even with this in mind, reading The Slaughterhouse didn’t exactly make me want to align myself with Unitarians.  In fact, it actually made me disappointed. The use of sarcasm throughout the text only painted an image of a high class, educated elite sitting on his high horse and mocking uneducated, poor folk. I have only read one text form one individual and therefore dismissing all Unitarians at the time as snobs would be misleading but that was the impression I got from the story. Just as Dawson had said in his text the elite class had “little little sympathy for the sensibilities and capacities of the rural folk who formed the backbone of the Rosas regime”(Dawson, 59).

Some interesting information I found while researching about the story is that apparently the actual manuscript has not yet been found. The publisher , Juan María Gutiérrez, has also mentioned in his editorial notes that Echeverría had no intention of publishing the text and it was more of a rough outline for a poem he was trying to write. It is speculated that Gutiérrez was the one who actually composed the outline into well polished literature which I found very fascinating since El matadero seems to be credited completely to Echeverria as one of his best works. This is some info I found on the interweb and also I can only understand 30% of  the paper written by Emilio Carilla in Spanish, so I am not quite sure how credible the soureses but I thought it was something worth mentioning.

Some discussin question I have for this week are;

  • if the story was actually co-authored by Gutiérrez, is the choice of words to describe races Echeverría’s or Gutiérrez’s?
  • What kind of effect would have El matadero had if it was published at the time it was written?
  • Who was Echeverria’s target audience?

I’d love to hear you thoughts and bye till next week!

Week4: Independence Narrative, Past and Present

This week’s lecture video offered ideas and viewpoints I couldn’t see by reading the text on my own and found it very enlightening.  Also, Mr.Alexander Dawson’s text gave me a better understanding of the reason behind our inability to determine when Latin America came to exist or came to be its own. In this week’s post, I want to write about some thoughts I had while reading the three texts by the three individuals, Bolivar, Martí and Chévez.

One statement by Bolívar which I found fascinating was America was denied not only its freedom but even an active and effective tyranny¨(Alexander, Dawson. 23). He points out how the local people of South America, mainly the Creoles, could not participate in politics which kept them inexperienced and uneducated of the ways to govern a state. The main reason Spain probably appointed Spaniards to positions of power because they wanted to ensure people in the office were loyal to their mother country. However, I wonder if they intended the result which Bolívar points out. By keeping the local people out of politics, as mentioned before, they would, according to Bolivar,  be incapable of ruling a nation. If the colonizers could brainwash their colonies into believing they themselves cannot govern their country, it may prevent uprisings. Also, even if a revolution was to occur since the new local leaders have no knowledge of politics, their new system would collapse soon after and the people have no choice but to go back to their colonizers. I think the Spanish may have had this result in mind when creating a political system that excludes the people in the colonies although their aim, if it was intended, was unsuccessful.

Martí’s Our America was interesting yet a bit confusing to read because of all the metaphors and allegories. The passage where he mentions ¨The haughty man¨ is clearly criticizing Bolivar’s ideals and his doubt of the Latin American’s ability to self govern. I am curious to know who the metaphor regarding Washington is referring to.  At first, I thought Martí maybe pointing a finger at Bolivar for trying to escape to Europe right before his death. However, since his exile was due to internal conflicts and not foreign interference this is probably not the case. He could be trying to confront people who sided with Spain in general. I couldn´t quite pinpoint Martí’s intention behind this metaphor so it would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts.

For Chavéz’s speach, I could tell he was an incredibly carismatic individual just by reading the text. His harsh words for discribing the North as a villain and an enemy probably sturred up strong emotions in the people which he used as a tool for change.

Here are a couple of questions which I’m curious to know other peoples opininons:

  1.  Did Spain intentianlly keep the people of Latin America in ” permanent infancy with
    regard to public affairs” as Bolivar puts it?
  2. In their text, Bolívar uses the pronoun “she/her” to describe Spain and Martí uses “she/her” for Latin America and “he/him” for foreign nations. Is there a reason behind these choices of pronouns?
  3. Who is Martí’s Washington metaphor referring to?




Week3: The Colonial Experience

I always assumed, in Latin America, the population consisted of indigenous people and Europeans and the two lived completely segregated from each other. Therefore, I was very surprised to learn more African slaves were brought into South American colonies then into the United States. The fact that interracial marriages were fairly common was even more shocking. I expected races to be completely separated as they were in North America, especially because ethnic cleansing was taking place back in Spain. However, considering the fact Latin America was a “racial hotbed” as it was said in the lecture, the mixing of races was probably inevitable.

As a biracial person myself, I think the idea of trying to comprehend and manage differences can be still applied today, just as the Casta Paintings tried to do so. In Japan, I have always been told I do not look Japanese and some people assumed I could not speak Japanese. Although this made me feel uncomfortable at first I got the same comment so many times that it stopped bothering me. However, recently, a person I met through social media who also happens to go to UBC, told me I look completely Japanese and did not look caucasian at all. This person’s comment upset me and at the time I did not know why. Now when I think about it, the reason I felt upset was probably because I felt as though the identity I built myself, the white looking biracial girl, was being challenged. Being told I was one thing all my life and suddenly being told differently confused me. I didn’t know what category I fit into. I can only imagine how confusing and unsettling people in the colonial era must have felt, especially for your race defines your social status.

The story of Catalina de Erauso was also very fascinating. Joan of Arc is another figure who dressed as a man to fight in battle but her sexuality or gender identity is not clear, which makes Catalina stand out even more. Her memoir made me wonder whether she was the only transgender conquistador. Had there been other women who dressed in armor to fight against the Indios? Also, were there women fighting against the Spaniards on the indigenous side? Taking into account women’s social status at the time, female warriors would have been rare, however, I think it would be an interesting topic to learn about.

Week2: The Meeting of Two Worlds

When I watched the video, I realized how little I know about Christopher Columbus. I know he was an explorer and embarked in South America. Also through my Spanish classes in high school, I learned that Columbus is a very important and praised figure in Spain, however that is about all you learn about him in Japanese schools.

Recently, through modern technology, such as social media, I was told that Columbus is not a person who should be praised or celebrated due to the cruel ways he treated the indigenous people. I, having very little knowledge, accepted this to be the truth and made up my mind that he was a villain. Watching the lecture video and reading his journal made me question my beliefs. Since he is a person of the past, I always thought of him as something like a character who is simple and has no depth and never actually thought of him as a human being. Reading his journal and listening to the lecture made me realize that just as any person cannot be defined as purely good or purely evil, the same thing can be said about Christopher Columbus or Conquistadors.

The lecture video also made me rethink the way I perceive history. Something that we in the modern world may consider a turning point in history, was probably just a typical day for most people living at the time. Similarly, we probably will not realize the significance of an event until years to come.

There are some things I found very fascinating and want to learn more about. One is how the Conquistadors or Spaniards communicated with the local people. In Columbus’s journal, he wrote that they would communicate using gestures and signs, however, it would have been highly difficult to completely understand each other and many misunderstandings would have occurred. I wonder if events would have unfolded differently if the two groups had better means of communication. I also wonder if the Incan, Aztec or Mayan societies would still exist to this day if Europeans did not arrive in South America. Maybe technology would have improved at a much rapid pace for they are said to have been a highly advanced society. Maybe they would have disappeared anyway. Although I can only imagine what Latin America would have looked like without European influence I think it’s a very interesting topic to think about.

Student Videos

I watched four student videos, Independence Narratives, Past and Present, Brazilian Slavery and Abolition, Power of the People, and Speaking Truth to Power. Although all videos were unique and interesting, I found some more engaging than others. By analyzing the different styles each video creator used, I think I was able to get a gist of how to create a video where the viewer can obtain as much information as possible in a short period.

Independence Narratives, Past and Present was very impressionable. The format differed greatly from other videos and was interesting to watch. However, all the movement was a bit distracting and focusing on the topic of independence in Latin America.

I was most drawn to the content of Speaking Truth to Power. Since I had absolutely no knowledge about the roles women played in political movements in Latin America, it was fascinating to learn about Las Madres and EZLN. Also, being informed of large number of women murdered in Mexico in 2018 was very shocking. Overall, The video was educational but i felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of facts and data I was getting in just nine minutes.

The videos I found to be the most informative was Power of the People and Brazilian Slavery and Abolition. The two had just the right amount of information and used video clips and imagery very effectively. If i had to pick one video as my favorite out if the two, it would be the former. I think the video clips they used helped me visualize the information I was given, such as how wildly obsessed the people of Argentina were about the Perrons. I also think the tone and speed of the narrator made the whole video much easier to understand.

In conclusion, I think there are 3 key factors to making a educational and enjoyable video for viewers.

  1. sticking to a specific theme so the viewers don’t feel flooded with information
  2. using visuals wich give dimension to the provided information
  3. speaking in a speed and tone to engage the viewrs

I enjoyed watching these videos and in the process, found more topics I would like to learn about through LAST100, such as Feminisim in Latin America. I hope by the end of this term I myself will be able to make a video which can make future students taking this course feel excited to learn about Latin American politics, history, culture and much more!


My name is Jasmine Richards and I am currently taking classes from Japan.
I decided to take this course purely because I am interested in Latin American cultures, traditions, and customs.
I started studying Spanish in grade 9 for I was interested in Mexican Culture, especially El Día de Muertos. Since then, my field of interest has expanded to Latin America as a whole, and would like to travel around the continent someday!