Week Eight: Signs of Crisis in a Gilded Age

I would like to focus this week’s blog post on Rubén Dario’s poem titled “To Roosevelt” and the meaning behind it. Even during the “modernization” of Latin America, countries depended on their relationship with the United States to further progress their nations. For an exchange of exporting valuable resources and goods, America would provide up to date technology. To me, the power is taken away from people of Latin America and placed in the hands of its northern neighbours. Yes, it helped in a way but opportunities weren’t given to citizens of the land. Of course, it would be frustrating to see the large influence a foreign land holds where you live.

Dario acknowledges how potent and influential the States are but goes on to talk about how much potential and strength L.A has in return. Even though, the legacy of an outsider’s rule is seen in everyday life, the people themselves have accomplished so much and will continue to prosper. He infers about the perseverance and determination of the individuals fighting have and talks about their faith in God. I can relate this to a marginalized group up against the one with an upper hand. They may not have everything the opposite side has but they have their beliefs that keep them going. Dario is angry and upset with all that’s going on and it is justified. He still chose to have a somewhat positive outlook to the situation.

I think the poem itself is very powerful and sends a strong message to Roosevelt. With reference to many achievements, it showcases how Latin America has flourished without the help of international interventions. Dario’s message is probably what a majority of people were thinking at the time. However with a government who supports the U.S, an everyday man won’t be able to speak his mind without worrying about retaliation. A writer or poet can voice the opinion of the unheard and communicate to fill in the grey area. They are like the middle man of the situation.

Relating this to modern day situations, the United States still hold a significant amount of power over the world. You can see how involved they were in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and political state of affairs in Venezuela or Chile. There are long lasting effects to this such as economic or political consequences leaving turmoil behind for the inhabitants of that specific country.


Discussion Question:

What impact/legacy do you think this poem carries?

What are the long lasting effects of US intervention left in Latin America?

Read 2 comments

  1. “A writer or poet can voice the opinion of the unheard […]. They are like the middle man of the situation.”

    This is indeed often how the writer’s vocation has been imagined in Latin America. See for instance the poet Pablo Neruda’s famous text, “The Heights of Macchu Picchu.” But what are the problems with this model? And how do you think it may have changed over time?

    • I think that the main problem with this model, of writers or poets as middle men, is that by representing realties that they haven’t lived it often leads to superficial characterizations and stereotyping. In addition, this does not help dismantle the power dynamics and to a large extent these unheard voices continue to be silenced even with the middle men. I think that noways people are more conscious about listening to marginalized voices and providing them with space, but once again dismantling the power dynamics is a hard process. For example, when we encounter discourses about homelessness in Vancouver how often is it actually coming from people who experience it? It is not that these people don’t speak or don’t have voices, but that they are actively silenced because they are the proof that there is something very wrong with the system.

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