The Caudillos are reminiscent of modern day politicians. Their charismatic influence over their people, along with the retaliation against those who defied them can be attributed to politicians of the 21st Century such as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Whether we like it or not, these world leaders are some of the most successful and influential members of our lives, practically dictating them. We can assume that the Caudillos had the same sort of effect.
I remember once reading that the decolonisation of Africa is comparable in its destruction as the colonisation itself. European powers abandoned their colonies without implementing sufficient governmental systems of quality, and after practically withdrawing overnight, left the countries so used to foreign rule to fend for themselves. In some ways I can see the same story with Latin America. It explains why the Caudillos were so loved – they represented stability in times of turmoil, in some cases standing up for the oppressed and minorities.
In post-colonialism Latin America one of the issues faced in the search for a unified continent was geography. The continent is just too large and the topography makes it difficult to make people believe that they stand beneath one person, or one government. One can assume that the lack of technology of communication further supported the rise of the Caudillos, and spurred on the wars that would decimate Bolivia, and solidify Chile as a Latin American superpower. As we can see in ‘The Slaughterhouse’, Matasiete was the hero of the starving, and made a great deal out of something that didn’t necessarily merit so much attention. But it was the small actions which unified villages and country-dwellers. So was the tactic of the Caudillos proven so successful.
Now, we can debate as to whether they were a good thing or not. Despite being the replacements of the Spanish Crown, their methods of dominance were very similar in action as that of their predecessors. Yet, in most cases the Caudillos were born and raised in the countries and regions in which they were powerful – they represented the people. One could say that following so many years under rule from countries an ocean away, it was what was needed to unify the people again, and give them a sense of autonomy which they may have not had before. Therefore, even if the Caudillos themselves weren’t model leaders, the symbolism which they represented was essential in bringing divided peoples together again.
Let me know what you think – perhaps I’m just being soft)
October 1, 2019 — 11:25 pm
Your blog was powerful. It’s really interesting the comparison you make of caudillos and current politicians. Also, when you mentioned that “the decolonisation of Africa is comparable in its destruction as the colonisation itself” I felt like you summarized all the readings into the true meaning and connection of the “first encounters” and the post-independent events in history.
October 2, 2019 — 8:52 pm
“they represented the people”
Indeed. But this raises the question of who actually constitute the “people.” In the story, for instance, the Unitarian is killed ultimately because he is not “one of us.” He is not part of this definition of the people, and so he is subject to their violence. Are there other definitions of the “people” that would include people like him?
October 3, 2019 — 6:24 pm
Your take on the caudillos was very interesting. When reading about them, I saw them from a more negative point of view; as opportunistic men using force to try to fill the power vacuum left after independence, rather than meaningful symbols and unifiers. But, in a way those were the same things. Regardless of their harsh methods or questionable motives for seeking power, they did provide an important sense of stability and identity to a people who had just lost both.
Your connection to modern leaders such as Trump was also interesting. I think one of the possible attractions of the caudillo system was how straightforward and honest it was. Unlike liberalism, which made grand promises that it deliver on, the caudillo system was very open about how it worked, fair or not. I think I remember Trump supporters saying similar things regarding why they liked him so much; they said he was straightforward and blunt, and he said what he meant, unlike other the politicians that they saw as manipulative, smooth-talking fakers. People prefer it when they don’t feel as if they’re being lied to; the caudillo system did that, and Trump supporters believed it as well.