Monthly Archives: November 2017

Week 13 – Towards an Uncertain Future

This week had a lot of information about many different countries and organizations, in which things are happening today or have been happening in the last 20 years. Many of the government policies and decisions seem to have similarities to some of the authoritarianism regimes from earlier years, and the slight undertones of caudillo ideals. It is interesting, in the “exit” portion of the reading, that elites from Latin America chose to invest their money elsewhere in the world, or just moving abroad for a majority of the year and coming back to Latin America every now and then. All of this because the economies were so bad and their money could go so much father in other places in the world.

I think that the issue of the gas extraction and export is a really important topic to discuss, especially in the state of the world today. I wonder what is going to happen to the economies that are exporting the gas products once the gas runs out. As we as a global community try to search for alternatives for power, I think that the thinking about gas needs to change. Even here in Vancouver with many gas stations closing, gives us the visual of the issues that are happening around us, with a very real sense of the question of what will we do without gas? How will we adapt to a more environmentally friendly mindset, and come up with real solutions to the problems that the gas industry is currently facing?

On another note, about giving rights to nature and helping conserve the environment. I visited Ecuador a few years ago now, and what I learned about jungle conservation and the increasing awareness of clear cutting and destroying ecosystems, was hopeful. It seems like real steps are being taken to conserve one of the most important things that we have on this planet; our forests and jungles. I think that we can take a few notes from these kinds of attitudes over here in Vancouver. We are destroying valuable areas of land and killing off species, ruining ecosystems and life sources for animals. A solution for all the environmental issues we have today will have to be a radical one. We are coming close to a point of no return with our earth and something must be done.

I suppose this is the uncertain future Dawson is talking about.


Week 12 – Speaking Truth to Power

Once again, another chapter filled with violence, corruption and injustices. Of course, it is very interesting to learn about, but as I read this week’s readings, I can’t help but wonder why this violence is so deeply engrained in Latin America. We’ve learned a general sense of Latin America’s history and founding, and what happened as the area was developed and became its own place with its own unique identity. Are all these wars and violence due to how Latin America came to be? From the very beginning in 1492 when Columbus came and just took things he wanted? When exploitation was rampant and many many people were taken advantage of for the good of another country? Has this pattern of corruption and injustice just trickled down, decade after decade, rearing its ugly head but in different environments and situations because of Latin America’s origin story? Of course, what we are reading absolutely does not encompass all that Latin America is, it is simply one small part of its history. I just can’t help but feel sad for the people that were stuck on the bad end of things. The mothers that had to deal with losing their children to the government, or all the people that have lost loved ones in the drug wars. The story of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo is so heartbreaking yet powerful in the way that it perfectly describes the innocent people that had done absolutely nothing, standing up and saying “enough is enough”. And the question comes up yet again in my mind, how and why is this kind of corruption and violence so deeply engrained in these countries?

Juan Manuel de Rosas

Juan Manuel de Rosas can be described in many ways. An evil man filled with violence and corruption, who terrorized his province and its people for 23 years. Or, as a man that came into power during a time when Buenos Aires was in extreme disorder with Unitarian rule, and saved it. As a man that heard the voices of the lower class and provided what Argentina needed in order to stay strong — a strict and orderly leader. These opinions on Rosas’s rule and legacy has created deep divisions in Argentine society, even to this day.

Rosas was born in 1973 to a family of wealthy landowners, where he grew up learning about the land. He was then recruited into the military and fought in the wars of independence. He was inclined towards business, but the country was in need of political help, and he was able to see the link between business and politics. He found that the country was in need of political help and therefore became governor of Buenos Aires. His regime provided social and economic stability that allowed people to slowly make the transition from the mindset of Argentina as a colony to a nation.

Rosas’s main enemies, the Unitarians, would have said that his regime used extreme examples of authoritarianism, violence and censorship, and a “backward social system” that impeded national progress. This group was strongly a liberal political party, embracing a more European view on politics, with the mindset that traditional Argentine culture was standing in the way of modernization. One of Rosas’s main policies was to punish his opposers and reward his supporters, further increasing the divide between the Federalists and the Unitarians.

To the people that supported Rosas, he gave many benefits. He returned land to the lower class who’s land had been taken from them in previous conflicts. Additionally, he gave the lower class people a voice, and in exchange for this they gave him their loyal support. His supporters see him as the protector of Argentine identity, a practitioner of culture and an opponent of the liberal mindset. The Federalist political mindset was one that spoke to Rosas, and therefore he took over as a Federalist power.

The rule of Juan Manuel de Rosas was that of terror and violence. He regularly ignored the rule of law and used extreme violence and intimidation to exterminate the resistance against him. Being a follower of Rosas was the safest option for the people, and that is what many people did.

This source has an interesting position on the situation in Argentina during Rosas’s regime. It is neither ‘for’ or ‘against’ him, it simply puts all the facts into perspective and aims to explain both mindsets on this caudillo. It is important to understand both sides of the regime and Juan Manuel de Rosas’s ideas because he was an extremely important part in Argentina’s history, and furthermore an important part in Latin America’s history.

Week 11 – The Terror

It was refreshing last week to learn about a positive experience in Latin American history, but yet again, this week we return to violence and fear. The terror is a dramatic yet fitting title of this chapter, a chapter filled with revolutions and wars, murders and torture. This chapter was filled with a lot of information about many different countries, with many different issues and many many different wars and acts of revolt. As I was reading, my mind kept wandering to the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, in which enemies of the revolution were terrorized. It was a period of extreme violence and bloodshed, much like the Terror all over Latin America. In school, we were only taught about the history of Canada, the US and some information on European history, so reading things like this about another part of the world opens my eyes and helps me expand my understanding of the world. I wish that we had learned more about Latin America and its rich yet complicated history.

Something that stood out to me and disturbed me in one part of the reading was that pregnant women would be held in prison by the military and when they gave birth, their children were given to couples that supported the regime and their birth parents would be murdered. It just puts into perspective how brutal and unforgiving the violence was; the fact that they would take newborn babies from their mothers in order to create more support for the regime, puts into perspective how ruthless this time was.

It just seems like people can’t catch a break from the violence. And reading about it kind of removes you from the situation, it was just another world and another time. But imagine being in the midst of these dirty wars. Imagine being involved in a shootout or a bomb going off. This was a terrifying reality for so many people for so long and I think its extremely important that we’re learning about it. It goes to show that peace does not come easily, and war seems to be an easy fix to things. I wonder what would have happened if multiple leaders had just sat down together and tried to have a discussion? I know that probably seems unrealistic, but sometimes I think about what would have happened, and what situations/wars could have been avoided had people just sat down and talked. I understand that sometimes war and acts of revolution have to be the answer in order to be heard, but I just think its something interesting to think about.

Week 10 – Power to the People

Two things about this week’s reading really stood out to me. First, the idea of the radio, and how quickly it became an extremely popular and necessary item in Latin American households. And second, of course, Evita. So to start off with the radio. I really like this notion that the radio was a way in which lower class people had a choice in their likes and dislikes. They were able to dictate what songs became popular and what singers rose to the top and which ones did not. They could choose to listen to different stations based on their likings and the way that Dawson describes it “poor Brazilians had more power as consumers of popular music than they did as workers or as citizens” is an extremely powerful statement, and puts things into perspective about how little control these people had over their lives. I also really like the idea of how the radio “blurred the boundaries between the classes”, and was able to bring people of all social and economic classes together. The radio was a way for the people of Latin America to take more control of their lives and dictate what was popular and what really was not. Its a little comical how little control the government had with the introduction of the radio. How they tried to get people to listen to their ideologies, but if people didn’t like what they had to say or simply did not want to listen, they could just change the station!

Second, I loved leaning more about Evita. We have only really heard from a few women with a strong voice throughout the history of Latin America, and it was refreshing to learn about such a fierce and passionate woman such as Evita. How she was able to appeal to huge amounts of people by simply listening to their needs and validating their struggles is something that is unique in a leader I think. The fact that Peronism “became a romantic longing for better times” speaks volumes about the kind of leader that she was, and how much she was cherished by the people of Argentina. Did Eva Perón inspire other women to become involved in politics? Was she able to spark change in some other woman’s heart to follow in her footsteps and break boundaries just like her?