Week 4: Independence Narratives, Past and Present

José Martí’s Nuestra América was and still is very influential in shaping thought through Latin America. There are several points and arguments that can and should be transferred to the present and sadly are not. One argument that he makes and maintains through the entire essay is the idea that in order for people to be able to rule America, they must first get to know the place. By his he means getting to know the history, the culture, and every aspect necessary to rule over the land. Although it can be ruled with ideas that are European or North American, they must adapt to the way in which America is different and it has a character of its own.

The essay is full of metaphors, that although very poetic and picturesque make his argument confusing at times. Yet, it helps explain the complexity of America and how it can not be simply described in a few manners. Yet, I did not find the metaphors to shadow the argument, they simply put into words the complexity of America and the difficulties of ruling over a vast and diverse territory that America is.

In my opinion, plenty of this is what is missing in Latin America, politicians and leaders lack understanding of the region as having a complex multi-perspective history. This goes in contradiction to what Bolívar believed in. There has been few inclusion of some sectors of the population that are important in the history of the region. Like Professor Max Cameron said, there are countries in the region that have failed to include these sectors of the population and the elites have been responsible for governing ever since independence.

There is also danger in trying to bring back ideas that were present in the 1800s, such as is the case with Chavez and the idea of Bolivar’s Great Union, free of ‘imperialistic’ influence, and the consequences are visible with Venezuela’s current economic and political situation.

Bolivar makes a few good points about the creation of America. To begin with, he recognizes that America and its leaders were not ready to seek independence, especially because they had no practice of building institutions and were dependent on the Spanish Crown. This is one of the key factors needed to understand the current situation in Latin America today. The lack of or failure of these key institutions at the beginning of the political life of these countries had detrimental effects that are still visible today. Yet, Bolívar fails to recognize other sectors of the population that were also affected by this lack of well established institutions, such as indigenous people.

Question: to what extent did the independence movements and the beginnings of each nation state influence the current situation of Latin America?

2 thoughts on “Week 4: Independence Narratives, Past and Present

  1. roberto pelayo mazzone

    I believe that the independence movements and the beginnings of each nation state allowed Latin America to escape much of the cruelty and exploitation and the hands of the european colonists, however, they created beginnings of similar cruelty, and most importantly severe economic divide which continue to be felt severely today in many Latin American “independent” countries today.


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