Monthly Archives: October 2017

Week 9 – Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire

The whole  history of “the Banana Republic” is an interesting concept! I didn’t know that bananas had to be scientifically altered in order for them to grow effectively and create a fruit that we see as a staple in most homes. It’s interesting that there was a whole company dedicated to fruit (UFCO), and that a simple thing like bananas could cause such a stir in the world.

It just seems to me like when the US saw something it wanted in Latin America, it just decided that it would do whatever was in its power to have that thing. Dawson’s words were “U.S military interventions are typically explained to North American audiences as exercise in the spread of democracy, but to the victims of those interventions American militarism means the naked use of violence in the defence of U.S interests”, and that “outright opposition to U.S interests means war”. Personally, this doesn’t exhibit to me that the relations between the two places were being improved, or that the U.S was trying to better this relationship for genuine reasons. This just seems like the U.S doing whatever they wanted and fighting anyone that opposed them, and trying to make Latin America a compliant trading partner.

The thing to think about here also, if we’re speaking about modern day trading and exploitation, is that this only happens because there is a market for it. We love having our coffee in the morning with a spoonful of sugar! Oil and gas is another example of not so great relations between the U.S and other countries. As long as there is a demand for these goods, the negative trading and corruption will continue. Is there a remedy for this? What solution is there to fix the trading corruption and exploitation of other countries and foreign workers? I don’t know.. do you?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Week 8 Signs of Crisis in a Gilded Age

Whenever I learn or hear about revolutions, and people actually putting their lives at risk for what they believe is right, I am always impressed by that. I think that in order for people living in a country to revolt against the government, bosses, whoever is oppressing them is extremely brave. It also makes you think about how bad the situation actually was, in order for normal people like you and I to grab guns and fight against the most powerful group of people in a country. This radical yet vital act takes bravery but I think it also takes desperation. Desperation for a peaceful society? For more independence? For freedom from the upper hand? Whatever the reason, it makes you think about the kind of change that ordinary people can make by standing up for what is right.

If you look at history, all the most radical change in societies has come from revolution, and I think that in order to make an enormous change (whether thats politically, economically or socially) sometimes a revolution is the last resort and the only thing that is going to make a big enough statement for change. Unfortunately revolutions almost always come with violence, death and imprisonment, but if we look at this in a different way, these people are paving the way for generations to come. Giving the people of the future a better way of life.

I think that my question this week is, what kind of situation nowadays in North America would render people a reason to revolt in an extreme and violent way? When Trump became president there were marches and protests all over the world, which is a revolt in a way, but I’m not sure how much change came from it? Are revolutions like the Mexican revolution, only a thing of the past? Because the situation in the US has some awfully similar parallels to situations in the past that have ended in revolution. I’m not suggesting a violent revolt from the American people, I’m just wondering what is different nowadays from the time of revolutions?

Thanks for reading!

Week 7 The Export Boom as Modernity

Once again, I am absolutely fascinated by what we’re learning this week. I think that it is so interesting learning about the history of Latin America, especially because in high school all I was taught was the history of Europe, Canada, and a little bit of the United States. My education has been very focussed on the western world, the “developed” part of the world. The picture was painted with the western countries at the top, the most advanced and “modern” and all the other countries either not mentioned, or explained as trailing behind, at the heels of the west.

It is completely incorrect and extremely ignorant to think in this manner, and I am glad that my knowledge on the subject has increased drastically. Personally, I loved Creelman’s essay focussing on Porfirio Diaz, Mexico’s beloved president for 27 years. First of all, I enjoyed the poetic nature in which this article was written. It adds to the emotional appeal, and creates quite a lovely image for the reader to picture. Second, I enjoyed how the modernity of Mexico was really accentuated, and as you read, you understand just how much Diaz had done in order to create the strong and modern nation that Mexico had become. It is incredible, just how much work Diaz had put in, in order to make the country that he loves a better and more developed place. It’s amazing to learn that extreme measures were taken by the government in order for Mexico to prosper, for example, members of the government giving up a salary for many years in order to help pay off Mexico’s debts. The passion and authentic love that these people have for their country is truly heart warming and inspiring.

Another interesting thing I liked from this week, was in the interview with Alec Dawson when he explained what exactly modernity means. It is the mixture of innovation, emancipation, secularization and universalism, and once everyone catches up to these ideas and ways of thinking, then a society can be classified as modern. Its interesting to learn what actually goes into the logistics of a society being able to be under the category of modern.

So this week my question is, how do governments aid their people in moving into the mindset of modern? We as human beings don’t like change very much, so how can governments help their people move out of the older and more traditional ways of thinking and doing things, and into an era of modernity?

Week 6 – Citizenship and Rights in the New Republics

This week I would like to directly comment on the questions that Jon asks in his lecture video.

  1. How does a history of slavery affect the Americas today?
    • Even though in a perfect world, there would be no prejudice, hate or discrimination against different races, this is sadly not the case in the current world that we are living in. With the situations of police brutality against young black men, to the misrepresentation of people of colour in hollywood, (two vastly different issues, but both based in racial prejudice) it is very clear that we as a society have a long long way to go when it comes to settling racial differences. In slave times, black people from Africa were brought to the americas and treated as sub-standard human beings. In ways, this mind set has absolutely carried over to modern times. Recent events in Charlottesville Virginia with white nationalist neo-nazis marching with torches just exemplifies how backwards some people’s way of thinking is. The struggle for acceptance and equality for people of colour is still very much going on in the 21st century.
  2. Are there other examples of unresolved conflicts or tensions that linger on into the present?
    • Yes of course. Recently, a new show came out on Netflix called “Dear White People”. This show is a brilliant look into the lives of black students in a University setting, touching on so many important issues such as the ignorance of white students to black issues, interracial relationships, black lives matter movement, and university administration denying that there is a problem with equality and discrimination on its campus. I think that this show is an extremely important commentary on how racism is still very much alive and well, even though it may not look like the “traditional” sense of racism. Even with the new Trump administration, I believe that his message and attitude incites violence and hatred. Neo-Nazis marching with torches should absolutely not even be an idea in people’s minds in this day and age, but look where we are.
  3. How might we do justice to such histories? 
    • I think that to some extent, there is a certain amount of denial that there is racism still going on today. In order to remedy this, I believe that education is the key. Its white people learning about histories of different cultures and races, and just being better in the future. I am not going to say that “I don’t see colour” because of course I do. Everyone sees colour. What I am saying though, is that we must notice that we all have different skin tones and colours, and that we all have different cultures associated with our colours, but the next step is to acknowledge the differences, be aware of the differences, but still move past them. I have enough faith in humanity that we can eventually find the love and patience in our hearts to truly try to understand one another and move forward into a place of peace and inclusion.

Week 5 Caudillos Versus the Nation State

In my mind, the most fair and just way to rule a state is by means of an elected official with a democratic system. This is probably the way that I’ve been brought up; on the West side of Vancouver in a fairly liberal area, with parents that taught me about fairness and equality along side with manners and the alphabet. I have always believed that no one should, by any means, feel fear with their government, and that freedom of speech, movement and access to basic human rights is always something that every person in the world should have. Of course, I am not naïve in thinking that everyone in the world has these rights and freedoms, I am very aware that a majority of the world barely has their fundamental needs taken care of (housing, food, water, a safe space to call home).

However, it seems in Latin America that this liberal way of thinking wasn’t the ideal in any way, shape or form! After so much trauma that these countries went through, first with being colonized and taken over by the Spanish, and then liberated, but then going to war and fighting in revolutions for many years. It seems as though chaos was the only thing that was a constant factor in Latin America during this time.

It is interesting that the caudillos were, in a way, a good thing for the people of Latin America. That they were the ones to bridge the disconnect between the people and their government, and that the “dictator-like” way of ruling seemed like the most popular and most effective way to rule. Even though they were violent, unpredictable and in my opinion, untrustworthy, the caudillos still managed to remain the model of government in Latin America for years.

The last thing that I would like to mention is Clientalism; a system in which if you give your support to your leader, they will protect you and do favours for you. Just based on the definition of it, its clear that this system is extremely corrupt and comes with a lot of violence. But an interesting line that Jon mentioned in his lecture was that “sneers from the liberal elite only helped drive people towards local strongmen who promised community and the feeling that someone had their back”. Interesting. So were these people supporting the caudillo system solely in spite of the liberals? Or was it truly more than that?