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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?


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.

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.