This past week I went to a panel discussion on whether or not the current situation in Bolivia could be considered a coup – but that’s a whole other story. Something that I took from the discussion was a piercing statement; ‘You can see that an election and a vote are the things most important to Latin Americans’. In some sense this sentence sums up the theme of this week. As we approach the current day, everything we read about seems so much more pertinent. This could partially be attributed to the increased use of technology and media as a form of communication, a tactic employed by the various parties then and today.
I would briefly like to touch on the fact that it seems as though the more we move throughout history, the more we can see how the US likes to influence the political situation in Latin America. The billions of dollars poured into governments, and in some cases opposition groups, just goes to show that the US is keenly aware of the power that Latin America could have if it were to evolve naturally – something which could end up as a threat to US interests.
The most important thing that I got from this week’s readings, however, is the increased presence and influence of Latin American women in society. Everything, from the Madres in Argentina, to the women’s movements in Mexico just go to show how during the late half of the 19th Century, women in Latin America gained agency more than potentially any other region at the time. Of course, this had its consequences – women, in many cases, went from being seen as objects to be protected to expendable commodities, as we saw in the factory workers of women in Mexico. With their newfound place in society, it seems as though everything was going to change in Latin America.
I never realised how much an underground economy and infrastructure could be beneficial to a community. But the fact that most underprivileged communities survived as part of this sector, as a direct result of government inaction makes them seem just as important as state infrastructure. Perhaps as well we could claim that the drug market and economy opened doors for people in ways that would have otherwise been impossible, and were essential in ensuring the development of Latin America. Dawson talks about how in many cases, drug cartels would build hospitals and other necessary infrastructure that ensured the survival of more rural areas. Yet, in the Western media, these practices are demonised from what I now see to be a subjective perspective. Watching Narcos helped this a little. It appears that the last priority on governments’ minds were the people themselves, instead what was desired was the semblance of stability and economic prosperity – what people saw when looking in.