Monthly Archives: September 2017

Week 4: Independence or continued subjugation?

the narrative of independence is a diverse and complicated subject. Dawson’s three narratives are an interesting way to look at the process of independence.  His “stories of freedom” address the uprising led by Tupac Amaro II, and the lasting influence that it had. He mentions that in the eyes of many his rebellion set the stage for Independence and struggle against further oppression. He also speaks heavily to the role of slaves in the struggles for independence. I’d never heard of Haiti’s slave rebellion before and was rather surprised at their success as most of the rebellions i’ve learned about were brutally crushed.  I also found it very interesting that at one point they joined the French ranks on the promise that they would gain their freedom. Dawson’s two aspects of his “Tradition” narrative seemed rather contradictory of each other.  First he speaks to indigenous struggles to hold on to their traditions; The right to land, Legal practices, autonomy, and resource rights. Secondly, he claims that the protection of slavery was a main element on the way to independence in countries such as Brazil. These are two very different claims to tradition. The first is a very legitimate cause for rebellion(among the million others). Yet, the second doesn’t sound like a claim of tradition, but of simple economic greed. Slave ownership to me isn’t a traditional or a cultural practice, but a pure economic practice that subjugated millions to many horrors. In the narrative of “nationhood” it is interesting to think that Creollos often identified as Latin American rather than European. Although, I guess it makes sense. They were born there, and perhaps they  even felt that they had a greater claim to the land than the Peninsulares. This seems like the most common narrative to me; Creollos became dissatisfied with their second class status, already had relative power and were able to gain more, and rebelled against their oppressors(for lack of a better word. It seems to be that From the eyes of the Creollos( and some Mestizo’s), independence was achieved. They were no longer second class citizens, had gained power across the region, and began to build their own history( As bolivar would put it). However, from the perspective of the historically oppressed members of the region, was independence achieved, or was it simply that a new system of oppression was established?


The essay Written by Jose Marti was one of the densest readings i’ve done, although once i began to understand it, it was rather interesting. But the most interesting thing to be was how some of his claims still stand true. For example he says that “The scorn of our formidable neighbor who does not know us is our America’s greatest danger. And since the day of the visit is near, it is imperative that our neighbor know us, and soon, so that it will not scorn us. Through ignorance it might even come the lay hands on us. Once it does know us, it will remove its hands out of respect.” Speaking about the U.S., it seems that he was correct in a way. They did “lay their hands“ on the region, interfering heavily throughout the 20th century . Yet it seems that they never learned to have  the respect towards them that they should have. Also, his statement on “race” stands true,” There can be no racial animosity, because there are no races….

The soul, equal and eternal, emanates from bodies of different shapes and colors. Whoever foments and spreads antagonism and hate between the races, sins against humanity”.

Week 3: The Colonial Experience

This week we are looking at the Colonial experience through Cast Paintings, the story of Luitenent Nun, peer videos and lecture.

I found the Memoir of Catalina de Eraus very interesting. I had never heard of Catalina nor of another female colonizer. Her journey from a convent, to multiple cities in Spain, to crossing the seas to the “New World” is an epic one that i feel i should have learned about a long time ago.  What I found particularly interesting was the churches acceptance of her choices. Thinking about it in a modern context, where it seems that many religious groups condem peoples gender fluidity, it amazes me that the catholic church itself, at least to a certain extent, was so open do the idea of a female soldier. Furthermore, although her actions as a colonizer  are questionable at the least, Catalina seems to have achieved a lot throughout her life.

The video outlining Catalinas story was also good as it went further in-depth then the portion of the story we had for readings this week(I,e., her marriage).  It also touched on the Cast paintings were have started to learn about.  One random question I have about the Cast paintings is about their value. The reading by Susan Smith says that their price is believed to have been low enough for the paintings to not have been exclusively owned by the very rich, yet the video in this weeks sylybus claims that artist exploited cast paintings to make exorbitant profits.

The Casta paintings are also very interesting and something I have never heard of. Although i have learned a little bit about the hierarchical structures of colonial society it is interesting how that was translated in to art and almost falsified to promote a healthier image of their colonies and colonial life. For example, Susan Smith’s reading states that Mestizos were often portrayed as food vendors, or Mulattos as coachmen. In reality, from what iv’e learned, indigenous people were at the very bottom of colonial society as even slaves had “value” since they had to be bought( thus their children had value as well) yet indigenous people were seen as soulless non-humans only good for free labour. Often times they were worked to death in the fields or sent to die in the mines. In fact, as was said in class last week, it was not until bartolome de las casas fought with the church and state that indigenous people were finally considered human.

Another point that struck me was the  critique of the cast paintings, not on grounds of discrimination or anything of the sort, but for the fear that the creole image would be tainted, painting a picture of inferiority to the peninsulares. It is reasonable to think that any creole lived a much better life then a mestizo or mulatto. this also makes me think about the question posed last week asking to what degree Columbus could be blamed. The fact that these people were more concerned about their image then atrocities being committed around them leads me to believe that Columbus’s actions were not much different then the actions of many people who followed him.  Their must of being some prevailing mentality in these times that allowed people to believe no unjustness was being done. Perhaps influenced by religious doctrines that allowed them to see themselves and their fellow colonizers as innately superior. perhaps even as far as to see themselves as civilizers?


the question id like to pose this week is, did the glorified nature of the cast paintings have any effect on peoples image of the colonies in the old world. is it possible that if the reality of life for the colonized had reached the old world something might have been done sooner to rectify the the basically genocidal reality.

Week 2

Hello everyone,

My name is Kito Romero and I have just transferred in to 3rd year Poli Sci at UBC from Langara. Although I was born in Canada my family is originally from El Salvador, and thus Latin American Studies is a subject of particular interest to me. While at Langara I took all the LAST courses available and wanted to continue during my remaining time at UBC.  Of particular interest to me, and a major focus of my studies, formally and informally, has been the application or lack there of, of Human Rights in the region( however that may be defined).  Specifically, I have focused on violations committed by TNC( mostly based in Canada) and by illegitimate regimes. I am very excited to get to know you all throughout the semester, and continue to increase my knowledge of Latin America.

The first video id like to comment on is “The War on Drugs.” My first though about the video is that it gave a nice, easily followed chronological history of the drug trade. Starting by mentiontioning the start of the drug trade in Chile before Pinochet’s crack down, to pre-kingpin Escobar, and a small mention of how his empire grew.  A second thing I found interesting was the project in brazil to combat drug use in Brazil. Their critique of the failures of the program as well as their analysis of some of the root causes of drug use in the country. Furthermore, some of the statistics provided in the video were very interesting, I.e., the worth of the industry, death tolls, ect.

On the other hand, I felt that the video failed to mention any of the cultural aspects of Coca farming and usage. As well as the fact that many farming families subsidise their income with the sale of the leaf. Thus making it an important form of income for many of them, although illegal.


A second video id like to comment on tackles the subject of the ” Sendero Luminoso” or  “Shinning path” guerrilla in Peru.  I have never learned much about them and i found it to be quite an educating video. The video explained their ideology( Maoist) and its differentiation from classical marxism. The video also spoke to the tactics used by the Guerrilla forces, their geographical strong holds and eventual downfall.

One of the key aspects from the video in my opinion is that they touched on the subject of indigenous and peasant exclusion and inequality as a precursor to the formation of the rebel force. Furthermore, it provided some information on the response of the government to the gurrilla movement.

I also found the video to be refreshingly un-biased. It gave historical perspective, fundamental causes of the conflict and a bit of history after the end of the conflict without any clear personal political leanings.

Until next week,