Week Six: Citizenship and Rights in the New Republics

A woman deserves the same rights as a man. I think everyone agrees with that statement. Even looking at the time period, reading the letter written by Josefina Pelliza da Sagasta had left me utterly shocked considering the fact she is a woman herself. You can clearly understand how progressive her ideology is and the harmful stereotypes perpetuated. To say “What man would want to see his daughters educated to be teachers and his sons for uselessness? What man would thus decline the sacred rights of his nature?” is alarming and coneys this message that if women are seen at the same pedestal of a man that is detrimental for him.

Comparing this to Maria’s letter where she describes this hope to see women move forward and live their lives to the fullest capacity is quite contrasting. She was able to eloquently voice strong principles through paper. Women of Latin America during the 19th/ early 20th century seemed to have clashing opinions when it came to their rights. From what I read, Josefina’s beliefs were normalized whereas Echenique’s were outlawed in the face of society. Misogyny and gender discrimination are issue dealt with on a daily occurrence.  When it becomes internalized, that is an even more harmful outcome.

Moving on, a country’s constitution  or declaration appears to be the basis of its existence. With a set of rules promoting equal rights and freedom for all, it gives the impression of being guaranteed. We can see this was not the case in Latin and North America. People of colour faced discrimination and lack of justice throughout the education and political system, job market, and much more. Although, South America tended to not specify based on race unlike the United States where hatred was in the public domain on all aspects. It was written in the passage that an African American felt welcomed in Brazil without any prejudice. I think that Latin America had accepted the apparent racial differences. The issue wasn’t the fact they were POC but making sure they didn’t get the same opportunities to get ahead. Even with slavery abolished, a lot of freed slaves still worked for their former owners or were denied employment and pushed aside for migrants. The bare minimum rights received looked to be as already too much and asking for more was excessive. Having these laws were useless knowing the attitudes of people stayed the same. You cannot produce something on paper and expect it to be implemented in the community without real social change?

Discussion Question:

Can you say the treatment of POC was somewhat better in Latin America compared to the United States? Or was it vice versa?

How can social change be implemented?


Read 3 comments

  1. Hi Simran,

    Thanks your post! Personally, I think that we cannot really compare the treatment of POC in Latin America and the US because they are very different societies. For example, while in the US racial segregation was instituted (Jim Crow Laws), in Brazil racial segregation was never instituted in the same way.

    In terms of how can social change can be implemented, I think it goes back to what we have discussed in class. There are great progressive constitutions in Latin America, however, it doesn’t mean that the laws and rights are translated to the society. I think that real social change can only happen through revolution.

  2. Hello Simran,

    The letter by Josefina Pelliza da Sagasta is a tough read but also a great inside view to how the gender roles have been defended and argued by both sexes. The reality is that this train of thought is still practiced and taught throughout the world, personally I can tell you my grandmother thinks this way, though she is open minded about these types of discussions and is rather progressive than Pelliza da Sagasta, the core of her message still prevails to this day. So I would propose to you, how far do we go with this conversation when a person clearly enjoys and embraces what you clearly thinks needs to be changed?

  3. Hi Simran,
    When looking at the treatment of POC in Latin American and America, there is some overlap. However they are two different cultures, and this influenced how they thought a lot. As well as the fact that in comparison the United States is more developed than most Latin American countries. Due to that I do not think I can say which side was quote on quote “better” when it came to treating people of colour.

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