Week Twelve

I find it difficult to imagine a world where “surveillance and torture” equals “peace and security”, but sadly, even more than sadly, this was the reality for many people in certain Latin American countries. As the reading highlights, there were many, many accounts of the government killing, kidnapping, and torturing their own citizens. In the sections about how word got out to the rest of the world about these injustices, I found it a bit funny how governments exiling people almost worsened whichever regimes they ran. The people were able to share first hand accounts of what was really going on in their respective countries and by attempting to silence the people, they were only given more of a voice. These people were not exiles, but the story about the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina although extremely tragic was also inspiring. The law prohibited protest yet the women continued to call attention to and demand back their missing children. The movement made the missing people into a personal issue rather than vague and viewing those who were missing as “simply statistics”- they had a life and connection to the community.  However, after increased global scrutiny the government framed the women as crazy and as terrorists, but groups still sympathized and believed them. Others did not.

The United States once again involves itself in Latin America and once again their actions anger me. I cannot believe that anybody would support what was going on in Argentina or choose to turn such a blind eye to the evidence of human rights abuses taking place. Although we have learned in previous weeks that the United States supported other far right administrations in Latin America. Reagan’s comments particularly upset me, one reason being that he only mentions incarceration even though people were also being tortured and killed (-although I’m not completely sure of what information was known at the point, but I’m sure it was enough to not be in support of the Argentinian government).

What I found really interesting was the connection of these regimes, the United States, and the drug trade in Latin America. Due to lack of support from authoritarian regimes, many propped up by the United States, disadvantaged people were forced to find other means to provide for their communities and one of these ways was through the drug trade. Some of the “drug kingpins” were able to build and fix hospitals, schools, etc. even though they also commited/still commit large acts of violence, contributing to/creating a dangerous environment. The USA then gave money to governments like Mexico for example which was then used to buy weapons and military equipment to combat the drug trade. However, it remains quite unsafe for many people. This simplifies/condenses a complicated issue with many levels, but it seems like the root of the problem goes back to the marginalized being neglected.

Why do you think some people/groups chose not to believe the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and other people who gave testimonies?

What benefits do you think the USA got out of supporting Argentina and their involvement in the drug trade, as it was a different situation from the UFCO for example?




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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