Week Seven

Dawson’s interview introduced some points about modernity in Latin America- particualrly Mexico. He talks about how only certain parts of the traditional definition are included in the Mexican execution. Elites wanted the “look and feel” of modernity, to be like Western Europe. With these white elites, they thought that order and progress were the key to achieving modernity. Not only that, but there was no democratic modernization and the textbook reading mentioned positivism which rejects “liberal democratic values”- individual freedoms. Most ‘Northern’ (USA, Europe) nations saw no problem witht this and continued trade with Latin America mostly because they couldn’t give up the goods provided by it.

Something I found interesting is the comparison between the relationships of the ‘North’ and independent Latin America and the ‘North’ and colonial Latin America in regards to production and trade. Latin America was still using it’s resources to support the luxury of the North. They did gain some benefit from this however, in that they were able to export their own resources, and therefore make a profit. This essentially paid for the creation of the railroads which were very important to development as it made it easier to transport resources from remote areas to the cities and eventually to Europe and other Northern countries. It seems that Latin America was pretty much doing the same job as before independence, just as the rulers were technically different, but remained a small and oppressive elite. Both politics and international trade seemed to promote an illusion that for the average person things had changed. Most people were still denied certain rights and the countries themselves internationally still remained at about the same level- important for resources. I feel that in a sense all the countries that were investing in Latin America were almost bribing them, so that their country could get first choice or the best deal on whatever resources they wanted. Some Latin American countries although they were able to profit greatly from the “export boom” were unable to create local industry besides resource extraction if that counts. They still had to rely on manufactured goods from the North probably made from their resources. Unlike under colonial rule, Latin America or at least certain countries in Latin America were able to modernize due to their increased money gains. However, a concept I learned in a geography course is one that involves the difference between money (GDP) and wealth (assets). A country can have a high GDP, but low wealth because the assets are being used up and money can no longer be made from them. It seems as if this is what was happening in Latin America during the export boom and even during colonial rule except the people couldn’t benefit from the profits from exports.

Did Latin America’s position in the global stage change that much after independence and the export boom? Or was it the same and the only difference is that countries gained previously withheld wealth?

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