The readings for this week illustrate three different types of narratives from individuals seeking independence from the dominant rule. These narratives are particularly interesting to study because independence narratives attempt to represent the whole of a society in the words of one individual. Particularly in these narratives, it’s noteworthy to compare and contrast the two older narratives, Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti’s, which are from around the same period of time with the contemporary narrative, Hugo Chavez’s. While all three are fighting for basically the same cause, their language and approaches vary. Among the three readings, I noticed a change in tone from Bolivar to Marti to Chavez. If I were to describe them, I would say that Bolivar’s narrative is humble, Marti’s is lively, and Chavez’s is heated.
Bolivar’s letter is humble about the knowledge he does not have but also very informative in the knowledge that he does. Although he respectfully admits to the gentleman that he does not want his help, he goes through a lengthy letter explaining the current situation of South America and giving various examples of how independence could come about. He states that he is being lengthy out of respect, but the fact that he doesn’t want the gentleman’s help also makes me think that his formal and descriptive language portrays a pretentious Bolivar, rather than much of a humble one. Other than the language, I found it interesting that whereas Bolivar focuses largely on examples of other regions as a way of fighting for independence, Marti focuses on the unification of the diversified local people. Marti says that the local people need to learn their history and learn how to unite with the contemporary diversity of their people. He emphasizes that acceptance and equality allows “immediate union in the continental spirit” – the tool for independence. However, how these tools will enable independence is unclear. His exaggerated poetic and metaphoric language makes it hard to understand what his final point is.
I found that Chavez’s narrative, unlike Bolivar and Marti’s, was much more direct and confrontational. His independence narrative is towards the contemporary North colonization of the South. He explicitly lists multiple examples of how neo-liberalism works in the North’s self-interest towards social injustice and exploitation of the South. He is direct in his examples and gives potential solutions for fighting back, like opening banks and universities in the South. It’s interesting to think about how the language in these narratives plays a role in the types of colonization. Do we need more direct and explicit language to fight independence today because contemporary colonization is subtle and/or because our social and political structures are more rigid?