Week Four: Independence Narratives, Past and Present

It was interesting to compare and contrast the three narratives of independence this week. Between Bolívar’s “Letter from Jamaica”, Martí’s “Our America” and Chávez’s speech at the G-15 Summit, all narratives expressed the importance of acknowledging Latin America’s independence.

I found myself particularly interested in Martí’s essay. José Martí, being a poet and journalist — among many other things — wrote one of the most influential pieces of Latin America’s identity in 1891. I found the language style that Martí uses in his essay the most captivating. The way he uses metaphors and vivid imagery to try and unite Latin America. One quote from the piece that resonated with me was: “The wine is made from plantain, but even if it turns sour, it is our own wine!”. To me, this metaphorical sentence wraps up the importance of feeling pride of the Latin American culture. That embracing one’s culture and setting oneself apart from the rest is important — even if it “turns sour”. Martí also concludes his essay by stating: “There can be no racial animosity, because there are no races,”. This ideal image of having no races connects with Bolívar’s idea to unify the colonies into Spanish America.

On the other hand, Chávez’s speech in the 2004 G-15 Summit takes Bolívar’s letter into acknowledgement, as well as modern statistics. Chávez discusses the harsh reality of how neoliberalism affects Latin America. “790 millions of people who are starving, 800 millions of illiterate adults, 654 millions of human beings who live today in the south and who will not grow older than 40 years of age.”  He talks about how neoliberalism was supposed to promise wealth and success for South America, but this was not the case for the people. To conclude his speech, Chávez speaks about media monopoly, how the North twists and alters the values and information of citizens of South America. I think it was important and very necessary to talk about media monopoly in his speech, as the domination of the North is not a new concept. It needs to be recognized as an issue and must be fought against. Something that Chávez says towards the end of his speech stood out to me: “Never is domination more perfect than when the dominated people think like the dominators do,”.

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