Week Four


One of the more interesting quotes that I came across during the video about Hugo Chávez was actually about Bolívar. It was that for him the “process of independence was never a social revolution”. I think that this is well supported by our reading and the lecture because in each source, he always discusses his dislike of the political system. Yes, he does hate the social hierarchy created by the Spanish as it paints creoles as lesser, but in his letter he mentions the governing strategies of other nations/empires/places. There is oppression in these strategies, but he doesn’t care because the people are able to rule themselves, in that “viziers of the Grand Turks are Turks”. That is what he wishes for Latin America, for them to be ruled by themselves. However, Bolívar’s view of “themselves” excludes a large quantity of people, particularly the Indigenous peoples and slaves. He promises freedom to those who fight with him, but at the end of the day creoles are the ones allowed to be in charge.

Something that I had never put much thought into in regards to the Revolution(s) was that the Indigenous peoples may not want to join with Bolívar and those fighting for independence. I have only learned about this time period in a quick, vague sense, so it failed to cross my mind that some (besides the Spanish) would prefer Spanish rule. The point of view of some of the Indigenous people makes complete sense though because as stated in the textbook they were given “self rule, land, water, timber, and the practice of customary law”, although it is hard to say whether or not these rights were respected. If a new government were to be formed with only creoles in power (who already dominated at least some part of society and the economy), they could take away their rights.

The Hugo Chávez video also mentions how the creole elite treated the Indigenous peoples worse than the Spaniards, so I guess my questions are if that is partly because since they were not at the top of the social hierarchy, but still above many others, they made sure to assert their dominance over those below them to feel more powerful? Or was it more that keeping the other memebers of society oppressed was simply good for them economically, as many were slave owners and the Indigenous peoples were used for labour as well?

Although José Martí disliked the creole leadership as showcased in “Our America”, he has one idea in common with Bolívar, that “the government must be born from the country”. Martí however, believes that the people who are in politics should have studied and have a firm understanding of the place and people that they are governing, including the histories that date back before colonization. This differs from what I understood from Bolívar’s opinions because while he also wanted Latin America to rule itself, he thought only of the creoles as the ruling class and makes no mention (at least to my knowledge) of trying to learn or associating any sort of importance with the records of the people and land.

3 thoughts on “Week Four”

  1. I think it’s interesting that you mention how little input the indigenous peoples appeared to have in the social movement. Even though much of the movement was about bringing rights to the people and getting out from Spanish rule, as you mentioned, the social hierarchy still had a large role within society regardless of the political climate. I find that your point about the exclusion of indigenous peoples and slaves in Bolívar’s view of “themselves” parallels that of the phrase “men are born and remain free and equal in rights” in the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Both of these are framed positively, yet they both exclude a significant proportion of the population, again signalling the presence of a social hierarchy.

  2. I think that the Creoles knew that they were in the position of power and dominance over the indigenous , which they gave them comfort in knowing that they were largely responsible for many indigenous peoples fates. They were willing to exploit the indigenous and other racial minorities in any possible fashion in order for them to move up even higher in the Latin American social hierarchy.

  3. Yes, it is interesting to note that Bolivar seems to see the creoles as having an inherent claim to Latin America. The idea that the Indigenous may have any claim whatsoever to the land that was taken from them never crosses Bolivar’s mind. He was fighting for the oppressed, but seems to neglect the fact that there were so many people with far less power than the creoles. Though his ideas may have been inspiring, his application was less so.

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