This was a very wordy section this week. I found the entire concept rather hard to grasp – dirty and clean wars that all seemed to happen at the same time as if countries decided to copy each other. The whole golden period of democracy was too good to be true, and I feel as though the success of leadership was the root of its collapse – people became too unhappily complacent.
Relating back to a few weeks ago, the success of other nations and regions, e.g the USA and Europe, was the downfall of Latin America. Similar to the export boom, the monopolising nature of trade and aid agreements hugely benefited the Western states, using Latin America as a foothold. However, contrastingly to the mid 19th century, with the rise of technology and a larger sense of global connectedness, the impacts of this subtle devaluation and oppression were much more serious and destabilising. It seems like Latin America was the guinea pig for the others; a place to test their soldiers, to act out their battles and figure out the best method of neocolonialism.
The fact that Latin Americans believed that their governments were inherently corrupt signalled the end. It must have been so difficult to look up to the leadership and to realise that they do not have the best interests of the people at heart, and then further realising that there were no better alternatives. Which would have been better, supporting a corrupt government or a violent guerilla movement? Oddly reminiscent of the society of Orwell’s ‘1984’, where surveillance and lack of trust defined society, it feels as though anyone could be ‘disappeared’ simply on the false claims of someone else.
One of the most pertinent questions that Dawson poses is
Why did the call to socialist revolution not gain more adherents in one of the most unequal parts of the world?
For people whose livelihoods were being treated as forms of military strength it is understandable that there was much apprehension during that period. Socialism would require not only a complete inversion of government, economy and infrastructure, but also a complete rotation of human nature, and to some this was not a path that they could openly commit to with complete assurance – they were too scared.
It is also interesting, further expanding on the question, that the most avid supporters of the various guerilla movements were university students and mostly middle class members of society who had access to media, money and a privileged lifestyle. Taking Peru as an example, the Senderos began as a group defending the lifestyles of those whom the government was actively suppressing, yet, in the end, the peasants were caught in a conflict of two opposing, equally dangerous and powerful parties. The effects of these dirty wars are still being felt in Latin American society today. With all the recent protests and shifts in power; Lula being let out of jail, and Morales resigning, it feels as though the shadowy pretense of democracy is slipping away, and the events of 60 years ago are beginning to repeat themselves.