Author Archives: jack willis

Week 11

In this week’s reading, we pass over the revolution in Cuba to what was going on the the Latin American region between the years of 1960-2000. This time was noted but the extreme violence in that region of the world by parties that were both leftists and right-wing radicals. In the first part of this post, I will mainly be talking about leftist politics and governance rising in the region and how the countries in those regions reacted to them. Second part of this post I would like to look at Peru and some comments made by Max Cameron about Peru during this time.

First off, this was during the height of the Cold War and Cuba missile crisis of 63 just fell through. The US wanted Latin America to not have any more Soviet influence in the region and that they did not want another Cuba on their hands. The US during this time supported what was called the Dirty War. Where countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile were at the time controlled by harsh military government fighting against leftist extremism personified by figures like Che and other idealists. Hell, it is noted in the textbook that a democratically elected socialist government in Chile was overthrown in a US backed coup in 73. But unlike in Chile, left learning radicals in countries like Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, and others had violent and radical left leaning guerrilla soldiers. This is especially the case with Peru with the Maoist group Shining Path.

As the textbook and Max Cameron points out, the Peruvian elections in 1980 was the first democratic elections in over a decade in that country, but polling booths were attacked by the Shining Path as way of violently protesting the elections. The origins of this group dates back to the 1920’s were the reformist at the time wanted to change the set up of land redistribution in the country side, these reform finally happened in the 1960’s. Max notes that this revolutionary group is interesting because it emerged during a time of land reform, a very uncommon thing when compared to other revolutionary groups and they started to change a few things. They got rid of landlords who controlled towns within the country side and they started to run things for themselves when also working as a terrorist militia. They even managed to attack Lima in the mid 1980’s. This changed when Fujimori got into power and how he collapsed the party system in that country, suspended the constitution, and started to really battle back this group. Not only did Fujimori succeed with having support from the people and military, he successfully beat back the Shining Path to a point where they are not a threat any more. In 2000 however, Fujimori was overthrown and left the country for Japan leaving behind him more then 70,000 dead, billion spent, and a constitution that was more authoritarian and neoliberal as it was noted by Max.


Short Research and Writing Assignment – 2nd source

The second source I would like to summarize and give an analysis of is chapter 10 in the book “Latin America and Its People” vol.2 by Cheryl E. Martin and Mark Wasserman. The chapter is titled Everyday Life In a Uncertain Age and it deals with Latin American during the years of 1800-1880 and talks about the everything economic and social conditions of people in their respected countries.

The chapter is mainly centred around the differences of life for poor and rich, free and slave, and women from different walks of life. The chapter notes that there was a huge gap between the poor and the rich in many of the countries in the region. The chapter looks at poor Mexican workers during that time and how they got into debt with institutions like the Church to perform notable social tasks like marriage and burial but also go into debt to the richer citizens in their respected towns and cities.

The chapter also focuses on Slavery and how the conditions they worked under. The chapter notes that the jobs of slaves varied but they mainly had to deal with manual labour. Brazil is used as an example in this chapter and it is noted that most of the slaves worked on coffee plantations in Rio de Janeiro and Sãn Paulo. The chapter also notes that since 1850, the steady flow of slaves stopped due to British economic influence and that many Africans born in Brazil created their own culture and mixed traditional Portuguese culture or Brazil with the African practices from their old homes. An example of this mixing was seen in religion where Catholicism was mixed with traditional tribal practices that were prevalent in Africa.

Finally, the life of women was extremely different among all the classes and practiced differently. Widows of richer husbands were seen as having more freedom when windows of poorer husbands had to deal with more troubles with money and food. The chapter also notes that the husband usually had all the power in the union. It was common for husbands to beat their wives and husbands to have affairs with other men when on the other hand it was unacceptable for a women to have a man on the side hidden from her husband.

To end this posting, I will argue how this source will be useful for me and my partners video project. This chapter from Martin and Wasserman’s book details the everyday life, habits, and customs of people in the entire Latin American region. It gives great details on the religious, social and economic life of women, poor workers, rich elites, and African slaves. With this, this source will be useful for adding more to the narrative and and the changes that Latin American experience during the time of abolition of slavery and the growing fight for the rights of women.

Short Research and Writing Assignment – 1st source

The first I would to summarize and discuss is an lecture on Haiti released on January 2nd of 1893 from the book “Haiti: A Slave Revolution”, which was released a 2004 and is a collection of essays, lectures, or all around academic look into the history of Haiti 200 years after they revolted and became a nation. This lecture is given by Fredrick Douglass, who was once the US ambassador to Haiti and in the lecture, he details what he learned about Haiti’s culture, history, and customs. The lecture also clears some American misconceptions about the country of Haiti.

Being first with culture, Douglass notes that Haiti’s culture is similar to America, particularly around politics. Douglass notes that Haiti has an elected president and that Haiti’s government is republican in form, much like in the US. Douglass although notes that Haiti is much closer to Europeans economically and culturally due to Haiti being a former colony to France. Douglass also notes that the vast majority of Haitians are Roman Catholic and that they are very religious people, which Douglass notes as ironic because they got this religion through the Spanish, people who were deeply religious but extremely Un-Christian by their actions trying to get converts and enforcing slavery. Douglass also clears up misconceptions that America has on Haiti, such as a wide spread practice of evil tendencies like cannibalism and voodoo. Douglass attacks these claims but stating that they are used as attacks by Whites as a way of trying to bring the country down or trying to show that a country ruined by former slaves will lead to such outcomes. At the end of the lecture Douglass ends with a note about Haiti’s fight against Napoleon army and how he gave in during the year of 1803 and allowed Haiti to become its own free state.

Why do I think this source is important and could help with the video project me and my partner are doing on Chapter 3: Citizenship and Rights in the New Republics? I would argue that this source provides a view of Haiti, the country that inspired slave revolts all over Latin America, from the American prospective, especially from a historical figure like Fredrick Douglass. His details about Haiti’s culture, government, and history provides a way of seeing this country through positive lens rather then a negative perspective and that it relates Haiti to the history of the region and the rest of the world in general, especially its relation to Europe and the US. This look into this revolutionary country through the eyes of a powerful African-American figure will provide a more balanced look into this country’s foundations and what ideals it stood for and what it caused in other countries in Latin America.

Week 10 readings

What I found interesting from the textbook this week is the look at populism in the region during the mid to late 20th century, especially in countries like Brazil and Argentina. These two countries are also interesting because they are largest in the region and have a history (particularly in the 20th century) of switching from democracy to dictatorship back to democracy again. For this blog post I would like to talk about two countries and how technology of that time was used to insight populist sentiment in the countries for or against the leaders of Brazil and Argentina.

Let us start with an analysis of the Portuguese elephant in the analogical room of the region, Brazil. Interestingly enough, Brazil is not talk a lot in previous chapter and the last detailed look at the country was during the chapter on slavery. In this chapter however, there is a two detailed section on the fall of Vargas and how radio lead his opponents to voice their critiques of him. As the chapter noted, radio was introduced to Brazil in 1922 and by the mid 1930’s, there was a radio  in most of the households of the major urban areas. The radio usually played samba music and it allowed Vargas to promote his states and their goals, but I want to talk about how the radio help lead to Vargas’ fall. Political opponents like Lacerda would use radio to promote his anti-Vargas views and called for his elimination. This rhetoric increased when an assailants that were suspected to be backed by Vargas failed to kill Lacerda. The use of the radio was so useful to the downfall of Vargas, it lead fewer Brazilians to back his regime and in the end, he killed himself and he dominated the airwaves one last time as his suicide note was read.

Turning to Argentina, we again look at the power of radio and its use by Juan Perón. Perón was less dictatorial then Vargas was and allowed for the radio to voice of rage from the people and also freed the tango from censorship. Perón was also seen as self-made man coming from a unprivileged background. He and his wife Evita used the radio as a way of broadcasting their message about bringing about a modern Argentina by increasing the wages of everyday workers but also increasing their share in the political capital that for a long time was held by the higher ups in Argentine society. He and his wife would use the slang of the everyday people of the country that more successfully brought his party’s message of social justice and pride into the working people. Even when he was jailed in 1945, a group of 250,000 people came out and demanded his release. If this is not a statement on how Perón spoke to the people, then nothing is. Although this caused during the 50’s when the country’s economy started to go down, but Peron’s message still continues in the country even to this day, which is a statement to his ability to reach the people on a very basic level.

Week Nine’s Readings

This weeks reading is a outline of how and why did the US dominate and got great control over Latin America. What is interesting is that for positive or negative, the US still has and will for the future to come have huge impact on that region on the world and the actions they caused in it. This chapter more or less talks about and takes place during the beginning of the 20th century to the mid point of that century and I would like to argue that themes of the chapter was the various US military interventions in Latin America and economic power that came from US downwards and how that power sometimes influenced more then the military did.

On pages 186 in the textbook, there is a chart of all the US military interventions in Latin America between the years of 1898 to 1958. The countries appear to be mostly located in Central America or the Caribbean that that there was large gap of interventions during the 1910’s and a large gap between the 1930’s and 1940’s In 1898, Cuba and Puerto Rico was the first to feel the force of the US military during the Spanish-American civil war which can be intercepted as something very symbolic. The Spanish, the first external rulers of Latin America was driven out of the first territories they every held in the New World is paced over the a state which will have massive control and have consistent interventions with Latin America. Hell, Puerto Rico is a territory in the US now and is not even considered or being considered a state. With this, I continue on to Guatemala who was one of the many countries to have a elected government overthrow by US intervention all because of Bananas. Arbenz was not a communistic but wanted his people to grow his nation but naturalization its biggest resource. Due to UFCO’s connections with the US government, they funded a government overthrow and Arbenz was deemed a Communist threat that had to be get ten rid of, even though this was a mistaken fact in the first place.

Going to the economic forces and how they shape Latin America and the US’s impression of that region on the minds of their citizens is detailed and interesting. Like UFCO in Guatemala, a lot of US businesses seemed to be unconsciously exporting US culture to the region and acting as a spreading of cultural imperialism without a real conscious effect, this is in the case of Coco-cola. Yet one of the main companies talked about in this chapter is Disney and how they depicted that region to the growing minds of the young people of the US. Walt Disney at that time made films that would increase goodwill at the request of the US government and this was a time called the “Good Neighbour” policy under FDR. Remember that gap I talked about earlier, during that time, the US government avoided military interventions in the region and promoted goodwill towards those countries. This would not really last though due to the rising tension of the Cold War and the fear of the countries in the region turning Communist (especially after the Cuban revolution in 1959). The market after that period was used exporting cultural views of the US onto that region and at times was used to create interpretations in the minds of both of the people in Latin America and the US.

Week Eight Readings

Going from the relative stability from the last chapter to chapter 5, what I would like to address in this posting was the growing power of the middle class and its relations with the various countries and nation states and the growing concerns for workers rights. Like how in Mexico, a revolution stated because of the failed transition to a democracy from the dictatorship of Díaz and how the Argentina middle class aided with a raise of racial politics within the country. Finally, will conclude with a discussion on the struggle for workers rights in countries like Peru and Argentina.

First, Mexico and how the middle class sparked the revolution of that country. At the first glimpse of it, Mexico was stable and able without any powerful struggles within itself. However, with the middle class and it political wants leaning toward democracy, it was no wonder that when Díaz come back into government in a rigged election, the middle class erupted and revolt. Although it is unfair to say that the middle class lead to the revolution (I would argue that Díaz’s failure to stay out of government was the main cause) it did however lead to an explosive results. This uproar from a class of people lead to other uprisings ranging from the indigenous people revolting against the government to Catholic peasants fighting to defend their preferred practice of faith against the hands of the government. It is amazing how a failed promise can lead to such a dissolution. This moment alone makes all of Díaz’s success in the country all seem worthless or destroyed.

The second country I would like to talk about is Argentina and the power that the middle class had in that country and its relations to worker rights. It is interesting to see how the middle with the aid of the Church and the elites in the country help give rise to wave of anti-immigration and far-right politics that dominated the country for a long period of time. It is an interesting contrast to Mexico, when one country’s middle class lead to the destruction and revolt of a dictatorial leadership and anti-equality in its government, Argentina’s seemed to the opposite with supporting those two concepts mentioned above.

Finally, ending with Peru and its revolt for worker rights and a small note on Mariátegui essay. Peru is interesting because of its hotbed for political activity and its push for worker’s rights. Mariátegui for example represents a Marxist element present at the time and writing about the future for a Communist world that overthrows the corrupt capitalist society present at that time. Although rather then present the revolution coming out of the worker class proletarian overcoming capitalism, it will be the Indian in the country side that will do this. This is the theme of the peasant overcoming the capitalist world seems to be very Proto-Maoist and a forerunner to the communist military forces that will raise in Peru’s country side in the 20th century.

Week Seven Readings

Coming off from chapter 3 in Dawson’s textbook, the themes and the historical notes presented in Chapter 4 around Latin Americas development out of the never ceasing chaos that was the first hundred years of the post-independence era where strong man rather then solid governments rule. From that to countries with actually have state government and can provide laws and codes for the majority to abide by. The two main topics I will argue are the most important about this time is Latina America’s relations (economic or otherwise) with Europe and other Northern states and the internal changes happening with in the countries themselves.

It is interesting to note that countries within the continent were trying to bring immigrants to there countries, mainly European. There was also an influx of Asian immigrants but the governments at that time were mainly trying to get Europeans to come to their nations. In cases like Argentina and Brazil, not only did they want Europeans to come but they also tried to be European in a way. In Brazil, the nations flag has to motto of the positivistic founder Augustine Comte and among the elite of all the countries at this time looked fondly at the ideas of Herbert Spencer. Sadly, these movements were also antidemocratic and were used as a intellectual tool for the elites to not promote the welfare of the lower classes or at least try to spread democratic values. Although economically, trade with Europe and Northern Nations like the US for Latina American foods and resources gave somethings states in the continent did not have for a while, finances which were used to urbanized and industrialized.

That brings me to my second point on chapter I wish to argue is important, the internal changes. In countries from Mexico to Argentina, urbanization and industrialization was process that was in full force during that time. Although this process did not have immediate effects on such issues like women, workers, or native rights, it did provide a fertile ground for such movements to grow out of. Literacy increased during this time, more trains were constructed connecting people more, and more people lived in urban areas which lead to better connected comers. The power of older institutions  was also reduced around this time as well, a noted example is the church. In Mexico as an example from the document written James Creelman (a Canadian born WASP) stated that the church had to be cut off from the state because it needed to break with the past to truly become its own and yet he states that for progress to continue, a nation should have a real religion, which I found a bit contradiction to his first statement. Either way, Creelman document is noticeable due to his praise on Diaz but also noting the issues surrounding politics, like the fact that Mexico was not at the time a multiple-party system of government but rather ruled by a single group.

Week Six readings

The readings from chapter six contain many interesting and examined conclusions about Latin American in the late 19th century. The impact of western science, indigenous and rural rights, and the slow and sometimes tedious path towards the end of slavery.

The impact of science is a interesting topic and especially how it relates to the continents history of trying to categorize all the different races on the continent. The way in which Scientific racism was used to try to reestablished or conclude with the idea that whites are more rational and smarter then all the other races and should be considered the heads of government and what not. This is also like or has similarities to the Casta paintings where the Spanish tried to used measures to try to fit all the different races and ethnicities into their “rightful” places in society. But like the Casta paintings, the real world got in the way. There were mixed people like the Mulattoes who populated varies countries and were just as intellectual insightful as the full whites but were considered nether less to the be blew.

The indigenous population during that time also mirrors the colonial past in a strange way. After the Wars of Independence, stats on the population of indigenous people are not taken until the mid 20th century and that in places like Argentina and Peru there were campaigns to take land from the indigenous people of the continent. This almost mirrors the Spanish conquest of the continent that took place only a few hundred years ago but rather then covering their actions with the pursuit of gold and conversations, it is rather the pursuit to modernize and bring the countries resources into use for social progress. The indigenous populations were not the only people in the country side to be forced into a wave of modernism and modernization but also the peasants who at times rebelled and revolted against such measures as reaction.

But what I found was interesting and provided no close mirror to the past is the slow elimination of the practice of slavery on the continent. Brazil and Cuba are interesting examples because there were the last places on the continent to outlaw slavery and did it through close to peaceful means. Yes, there was slave revolts in those countries that did lead to the death of many people but when compared to the States and the way they got rid of their slavery, the history of these countries are something to be looked. Brazil is a interesting in the way which it allowed free blacks and mulattos were allowed some political rights when compared to nations like the South of the US. Cuba as well was close to this but yet was able before Brazil to free all the slaves and outlaw the the practice all together.

To summarize, I would argue that this time saw parallels to Spanish colonialism with the categorization of ethnicities and races with the use of scientific racism and looks a lot like the measures used in the Casta paintings. The taking of land from the indigenous and peasants in the country side also parallel the Spanish conquest of the populations of the continent. Yet finally, the slow liberation of slave on the continent was something that was slow and long but at least was not as violent as the US elimination of slavery.


Week Four readings

Where I should I begin with the first chapter from Dawson’s textbook? The facts within it is multilayer and never one sided. The facts about the growing but immature Liberalism coming from not only the US but also from France, the fact that the first country to gain independence in that region was Haiti (which was also the first independent nationstate with a government and population mostly making up African people). Or the fact those who fought against Spanish rule varied from Indian rebels to Catholic Priest, but also to autocrats like Bolivar.

Bolivar’s letter is not only interesting because of the ideas within it to inspire future leaders like Chávez, but it gives the reader a glimpse into the stream of thought of who can be called the George Washington of Northern South America. Bolivar idea about i united South America is the most interesting and expressive aspect of the letter. Where all the countries trade and war would be avoided. This idea is also alike to the European Union in a way. Sadly, Bolivar has very little hope in the common people and sees that a strong handed rule is the only way to govern. This coming from the man that said that Spanish crown was treating them lower then slaves.

Martí essay on the other hand is more poetic and less formal but still extremely political. Martí gives the name “Our America” to his essay which helps create a certain untied concept of Latin America and what ever government existed at the time in any of those countries, independent of Spanish rule or otherwise (like his country of Cuba) still under Spanish control. Martí’s is more egalitarian then Bolivar ever was but first off addressing the common man in the paper but still expressing a concern about the future, particularly with the growing power of the US.

Chávez speech ends the string of documents but even becoming more egalitarian then Martí every was, addressing the entire Southern countries. He does mentions Bolivar struggles against the Imperial Spanish and uses it as a way of describing the forces of Neoliberal economics stemming from the North. Even though Cházez does address the Southern nations of the world, he uses Latin American as an example of the destruction by the hands of Neoliberal economics. He expresses his ideas on how the Southern nations can cut themselves free from such policies and no longer be slaves to the economics whims of the rich North.

Even through all these documents are written but different men, in different times, and in different places, they all express common themes. Unity of the South against outside forces, the power of the people in the South, and finally a call to freedom and liberation from the old and static to the new and dynamic.

The Colonial Experience

I would argue that this video is far better then Meeting of Two worlds. I reason for this is several. To begin, the video is more dynamic and catches the viewer more efficiently with its music, visual and narration going. I will remark thou that at some points the music over powered the speakers voices a little at points, but it did not at any points make the speakers seem unclear or unheard.

The information is also expressed in more effective way. I will remark that the at points the visual remained still for much to long and there was not any video clips used but due to time period the video was focusing on, it would be some limits to what visual they can show.

The narrative in the video on Catalina de Erauso and the Casta paintings is also told in a interesting and expressive manner that draws the viewer into what the speakers are communicating about. The notes on the life Catalina de Erauso was a good way to start the video and putting the information about the Casta paints in the middle video was also a good scheduling choice. I will note that it did feel at times the speakers were just speeding through the information and caused it to be unclear at times but these moments are rare.

I also argue that what they did at the conclusion at the end of the video was a great way of tying together the story of Catalina de Erauso and the facts about the Casta paintings. The speakers use Catalina de Erauso as a way of critique the rigidness and the ridiculousness of the Casta paintings and the idea that people can all be nicely placed within different race and social ladders, which where the main point behind the Casta paintings in the place. With the just mere existence of Catalina de Erauso, the credibility of the Casta paintings are reduced and see as arbitrary for constructing a social order.

In the end, I would argue that video has a lot of bright spots to it. The way the speakers retells the Catalina de Erauso, their explanation of the meaning behind the Casta paintings, and they way they concluded by tying together both de Erauso’s story and use her existence as form of critiquing the mere use of the Casta paintings is a great note to end a video on.