For this week’s content, I have some stuff I want to talk about but they don’t really go together so you will have to bear with me as I skip around different topics.
First off, I moved from mexico about 14 years ago precisely for some of the reasons that the book outlined; or maybe I should say my parents moved us out of mexico. In any case, as they saw the uncertainty that lay in Mexico, they decided the best ting to do would be to move out. They did not want to get caught up in what was happening and they wanted to provide a better future for their children (my brother and I). I think, that if they had not had kids it may have been different and they may have chosen to do something different because after all it is different to have to worry about yourself than to have to worry about someone else as well.
Next story is actually about my dad as he was in some of the areas of Mexico city where the 1985 earthquake hit the hardest. He has told me stories that have really shocked me and I could never have imagined experiencing something similar. I remember him telling me about all the buildings that had collapsed and of all the people that got trapped in the rubble. He told me how unorganized everything was and that it took a very long time to get some people out (a lot of them not making it out). One of the building in his area, he told me had sunk several floors so the people in the lower levels were trapped underground. According to my dad, the official numbers of those died in the earthquake was actually far larger than they officially said. That being said from 1985 till now, there have been clear improvements. This year an earthquake hit Mexico pretty hard on the exact same day. The difference being that there were less collapsed buildings, although there were still a bunch. And people were a lot more organized and people were able to get a great number of people out safely. They were able to minimize the loss of human life compared to that of 1985.
Finally I wanted to say that I am glad that Dawson talked about the positive effects of migrants in the United States as there seems to be a strong negative stereotype around the, Often times these people move there out of necessity and not maliciously. Something quite sad that happened a while ago was that there was a huge influx of children illegally migrating (passing through extremely dangerous routes like “el tren de muerte”) with the hopes of finding their parents. I would highly recommend watching the movies Under the Same Moon, Which Way Home and Desierto. They all are about illegal immigrants.
Anyway, to finish of my last blog post, I would like to say that I have learned a whole lot through this course which has weirdly left me feeling more confused and wanting to learn more about Latin America.
The information is plentiful and more detailed as we get closer to today’s Latin America. In a way this brings you closer to understanding because the details are more complete. On the other hand, it is also harder to grasp because the general overview of what was happening blurs as stories, regions and view points differ.
In any case the violence continues to grow; or rather I should not say grow because looking back there has always been violence just now it is better documented. And once again, there is a group of people that try to take control of their own lives. In these cases it is the Madres or the drug traffickers. The mothers protest to fix a wrong and the cartels form in order to provide what could not be provided in the current economy. As we have seen before, since they are a marginalized people, the government tries to stop them which causes yet more violence. But this time the end results are different. I would account this difference due to the power of the media. The madres continue to use their voices thanks to the media whereas the Zetas cartel in Mexico uses the bad media attention to establish fear and dominance.
On a different note, I found it very surprising that originally the cartels provided schools, hospitals and other community services. I think this is a side of the story that we rarely get to hear about. I always found it odd that the war on drugs was fought on the front of the traffickers. In my opinion this elevates the problems rather than fixing them as the cartels must then rely on more drastic tactics. I believe that to solve the problem they would need to stop the need for drugs. That way the cartels would be an nonviable business. After all, the users are kind of the root of the problem. It is a lot harder to try to stop it on the supply side because a lot of the people that go into it start because of need. Sometimes it is because they are terrorized and sometimes it is for financial reasons.
Something else that I found kind of confusing was that the government would shut down informal markets. From the reading I understood that most of these people were just trying to make a living without doing as much harm as the cartels would go on to do. Were these markets really causing that much harm? Could the officials not have looked the other way? My guess is that they would not look the other way because they were not directly getting payed. Sometimes it astounds me how people can be so shortsighted. Do they not realize that helping other people up will not harm them? From my point of view, when you help others you are helping yourself. Maybe if people did not try so hard to repress others then there would be less violence; hence they would be benefiting. My final point is work on creating a better community for everyone not just for yourself.
I found this week’s readings hard to follow because the chapter talks about a number of Latin American countries all with different stories; and all of the stories have different backgrounds which made it feel as though I did not have enough context. This could be partly because I have a general view of Latin American history which is harder to contextualize in terms of specific countries.
This chapter talks about growing violence in Latin America. As with most of the issues that we have studied, this weeks guerrilla groups grew with people’s discontent. The growth of guerrilla groups also led to a growth in military groups. In general they would fight with each other which led to massive losses of lives. All of this led to fear coming from many different areas in people’s lives. This is different from before because know it is harder to identify what they should be scared of. It is also different because it is hard to tell who is right and who is wrong as both sides feel justified in their doings.
I feel that all of the violence pushed people away from some cause and towards others. The more violence there was, the more the people felt validated to support their side which only strengthened the ongoing violence. In turn, the existence of a middle ground was almost gone. From the readings, it seems as though people were either radically right or radically left; and if they were neither, then they were scared to support anybody.
Something that surprised me this week was that there was a significant amount of students that were radically left. Previously, I had always imagined student protesters as more peaceful than they were depicted in this chapter. It was also interesting to read that a large amount of them had been motivated by their professor Guzman. It goes to show how far education can motivate and shape people.
Taking into consideration how complicated the situations were in these Latin American countries, I wonder if violence was the best course of action. Would there have been anything else they could have done?