Week Five Readings

As mentioned in the readings, the lecture, and the podcasts, the 19th century does not represent a time of real independence. Latin American countries were gaining “independence” in writing, but not in practice. Many wars and conflicts arose in the newly-“independent” countries because there tended to be inequality between peoples, lack of governance understanding, and power imbalances. European powers may have backed off, but internal powers still existed. People of upper classes, lighter skins, and educated created a new hierarchy of oppression. In these new disorganized forms of governance, poor peasant individuals were forced to depend on short-term and immediate remedies to their suffering – caudillos.

Caudillos, typically, were military landowners who had political power and influence. Like the lecture video mentions, caudillos depended on the lower classes, and vice versa. Like the “client” analogy used in the lecture video, caudillos provided food and security to the powerless, as long as they supported their patrons. I found this description not hard to understand – in a context where corruption is abundant and food is scarce, it is wise for an individual to rely on a caudillo. While reading about the caudillos, I could not help but relate caudillos to Pablo Escobar. Although Escobar did not necessarily gain political power, he used his monetary power to maintain a large portion of low-class Colombian individuals dependent on him. He would provide them food and wealth, as long as the people promised their honesty and sacrifice to him. Escobar created his own army basically off of his money and charisma.

Similarly, Esteban Echeverria’s The Slaughterhouse represents a strong power imbalance that triggers extreme violence. The story, which is based during Juan Manuel de Rosas’ rule in Argentina, depicts the lifeworlds of two opposing groups: the Federal and the Unitary. Echeverria depicts the Federal as barbarians, and the Unitary as civilized. He represents the Federal barbarians as extremely cruel and gross people through his use of language and analogies. Throughout the short story I noticed that Echeverria uses a lot of meat and animal depictions. I thought that he used these themes in relation to the Unitarians to emphasize the Federal brutality. It is almost as thought the meat and the animals are the Unitarians. Was he using the images of raw, abundant, and wasted meat to foreshadow the death of the young Unitarian? Was the escaped (but trapped) bull a representation of the Unitarians’ failed attempt to fight the Federals? These gruesome imaginaries and comparisons help the reader see Echeverria outrage with the political system.

2 thoughts on “Week Five Readings

  1. From this week’s reading we were able to learn about transformation of Latin American countries from Spanish colony to independent state. As they struggled to stabilize that country, it was interesting to observe about Caudillos emerged and cooperated with lower class people.

  2. Hi Emily,
    I have enjoyed reading your take on this weeks reading. I find very interesting that you took time to analyze some of the imagery that was depicted in “El Matadero”. As you mentioned, there are many references to violence connected to barbarism and the role of the Unitarians as the leading party towards civilization. Great job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *