Not as stereotypical as it sounds

Laughing like Mafalda

Through our discussions we have come to recognize that the countries in Latin America are not completely independent, culturally, economically and politically, from other powers. Similarly, we cannot say that Latin America has overcome caudillismo. Several of the characteristics that have come to define caudillos can be seen in leaders in the region including Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro.

Although the post-independence conditions, in the nineteenth century, that made the rise of classical caudillismo possible are long gone, the term caudillismo has been extended to include “any kind of personalized leadership that exercises power in an arbitrary manner within a context of weak or unstable political institutions.”  Bolsonaro has been a political figure for about 30 years and used the polarization during the 2018 elections to mobilize support by playing with people’s emotion. He became a popular figure by standing in opposition to the Labour Party who he criticized for their corruption scandals and emphasized that if elected not only would he combat corruption but would protect the traditional Brazilian family ideals. These ideals are based on a patriarchal, heteronormative and Christian family structure. In addition, as the caudillos of the nineteenth century, he is authoritarian, presents himself as a strongman and has direct connection with the military having been a former army captain himself. Moreover, Bolsonaro has incited violence through hate speech and articulates political decisions based on clientelism.

As mentioned in the lecture video, often times politics is more about affect and feelings than rationality. It is interesting to look at how hope is used as a political tool by all types of governments, in particular populist governments. The lecture video also makes it clear that liberalism has never flourished in Latin America. The presumed equality of liberalism is simply not a reality. Personally, I believe that democracy hasn’t flourished in Latin America. The Black Coalition for Rights (Coalizão Negra Por Diretos) has written a manifesto that states that “as long as there is racism, there is no democracy.” What are the implications of such statement?

  Mafalda reads in the dictionary the definition of democracy, “government in which the people exercise sovereignty”, causing her to laugh.

Do you agree with Mafalda’s reaction? What do think was the author’s goal with this comic strip?

Mafalda is the girl featured in the comic strip by the Argentine cartoonist Quino, who sadly passed away last week. Mafalda comes from a middle class family, she is critical of the society she grew up in and is a progressive thinker.

Long live Mafalda!

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