Week 10: Power to the People.

The first topic of focus is of the utility of technological advancement in the political sphere. It seems that leaders such as Juan and Evita Peron were able to utilize these advancements greatly as a means to create a wide support base. As is mentioned in the reading, prior to the creation of radio it was difficult to create this wide base as means of communication were limited. The radio was able to make people feel like they were at a speech, for example, giving a sense of participation and unity even if they were listening alone. Another interesting point to this respect is the use of cultural symbols. Leaders of the time were able to create unity throughout their countries by referring to national cultural symbols. This is to say that they were able to create a shared sense of identity by giving reference to an activity, or a cultural item that was widely related to the populace.  

something that has struck me week after week is the continued relevance of many of the topics that we have studied. This weeks material has covered the empowerment of the masses, particularly  through Juan and Evita Peron and the Peronist party. For example, Dawson draws a parallel between Peron and Chavez. In Evita’s speech she said “Those who made the country suffer an endless night will never forgive General Perón for raising the three flags that they should have raised over a century ago: social justice, economic independence, and the sovereignty of our Fatherland.” This is in true likeness of Chavez’s Venezuela. Like Peron, Chavez aimed to raise the lower classes, he sought to decrease global dependency and replace it with regional integration, and limit foreign intervention it Venezuelan affairs. Furthermore, it seems that many of the sentiments present in Argentina, were commonly shared throughout the region. Evita says that ”our oligarchy, who always sold itself for a pittance, does not expect the people to stand up this time nor does it realize that the Argentine nation is comprised of honorable men and women who are willing to die to finish off, once and for all, the traitors and the sellouts.” Here I see many of the same sentiments evident in Marti’s writing as well as in Sandino’s Manifesto.

My question for this week is: What does it mean to be a Latin American leader? Is there something particular to Latin American leaders that is so effective in generating popular support? Or is it the conditions in Latin America – poverty and unequal distribution of wealth, oppression, US intervention – that make a strong leader a necessity in order for social change and revolution to take place?


4 thoughts on “Week 10: Power to the People.

  1. RoySaito

    I believe ‘conditions’ was the largest factor that contributed to voting for a populist leader. Latin American countries shared similar characteristics in how the society was composed of; the majority were suffering from poverty and sought for an immediate change. With a majority of the population in poverty, I believe it made it feasible for candidates with a ‘populist’ mindset to come in power.

  2. kmhurley

    I also kept thinking about the similarities of Chavez and Evita when reading her speech transcript. Great blog post and very insightful!

  3. craig campbell

    What an interesting question to think about. So often when I think of most Latin American leaders, I think of the pomp, circumstance and violence. But then a leader comes a long like José Mujica, the former President of Uruguay and I am truly inspired. This man was just a normal every day guy. He lived in an average (although some might say below average) home, drove himself to work everyday in his clunker of an old car (rather than be chauffeured around everywhere). He appealed to the normal, Joe Blow person in society. And for that reason, I think he was one of the most effective leaders Latin America has ever seen.

  4. Roberto Pelayo Mazzone

    With a situation that creates unequal distribution of wealth and power, naturally citizens are drawn to more liberal and populist ideologies. The unfortunate part of these circumstances are very few leaders have fulfilled their promises of building stronger lower classes and distribution of wealth. The vast majority of these leaders ignore their promises and in extension their responsibilities, while citizens must blindly select the person who they believe has the highest probability of improving their quality of life in a certain and unpredictable fashion.


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