Week Eight

This week I found the primary source readings in the textbook showed a very particualr opinion by each author. Their topics also reflect some of the thoughts and feelings that were going in Latin America during the early 20th century.

It is clear in Ruben Dario’s poem that he is not impressed with Roosevelt and therefore the USA’s interest in Latin America. I thought that these lines addressing the USA were the most telling about the situation though: “that the future is wherever your bullet strikes. No.”. By 1904 the USA’s power was on the rise and of course they sought to expand wherever they could in whatever way they could. Dario seems to be saying that the USA thinks of themselves as the bringers of progress. As Dawson mentions Dario writes in response to the United States’ interference in Panama and with the intention that just because they see themselves as more ‘developed’ that doesn’t mean that they are. As well, that they are not very virtuous although they act like they are.  Dario’s view- which I’m sure was mirrored by many others- denounces the USA and instead chooses to mention some histories of Latin America. Their land already has it’s own culture and is not there for the USA to ‘strike their bullet’, although it already has in Panama, gaining much from the Panama canal. After this independence and regardless of Dario’s poem, the USA continued to interfere in Latin America throughout the 20th century. To sum up Dario’s poem, he later states “Long Live Spanish America” which shows how he seeks to resist American influence and celebrate Spanish America.

I found the Jose Vasconcelos reading to be fairly confusing, but after going back and reading what Dawson had to say about the excerpt it made some more sense.  This sentence essentially sums up my confusion: “Vasconcelos adopted North American racist stereotypes in describing his country even as he tried to upend them in an argument that Mexico was actually more progressive than the United States”. His writing is fairly offensive towards the people he trying to argue for. Dawson talks about how he both wanted to be like the USA and also advocate against it. I found his idea of the three social stages: material, intellectual, and spiritual and the three paths to reach stage three: duty, illusion, and passion to be interesting and bit strange. His main argument is about the third social stage and the creation of the next great civilization through a new ‘cosmic race’. He adds detail and discusses race in a disgusting way as I mentioned before and almost reminds me of the Casta Paintings- which always seem to pop up and connect to many of the readings/topics, clearly the social standings/stereotypes that they promoted had a lasting legacy- although Dawson does mention his views come more from the North American racial stereotypes. However, I think his obsession with “racial mixing” seems to connect more to the paintings.

To what degree do you think the USA was able to influence Latin America based off of our reading this week and the language/opinions in the documents?

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