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Contemporary Latin America, Essay Example

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Words: 1623

Essay

In what sense was the early twentieth century characterized by a “more inclusive” version of national membership? Write an essay of about 750 words on this issue, supported with primary documents. Be sure to make direct, specific reference to some of sources read for the class. Integrate quotations from the sources within your own sentences.

In the early twentieth century, national membership across Latin America slowly began to be more inclusive. Moves toward nationalism could be seen throughout the century, as leaders began to focus less on differences in race and gender and more on the idea of nationalism. They believed that programs ought to be available to all Latin Americans, regardless of color or creed. Education, for instance, should be open to all Latin Americans and it should focus on teaching them to work to benefit Latin America. Every Latin American ought to do his best to make the country and the community better.

According to Chasteen, European leaders had given Latin American differences a “negative meaning,” but the nationalists discarded this meaning and replaced it with a “nativisit spirit with a strong economic agenda.” Some of this spirit can be seen in the writings of men such as Jose Victorino Lastarria, who decried Spanish superiority and encouraged greater respect for native culture. Lastaria said that Spain “subjected its natives to the most humiliating servitude.” Instead of looking toward Spain for an example of good governance, Lastarria encouraged Latin Americans to look toward their native cultures. Simon Bolivar, meanwhile, spoke out in favor of equality, saying, “Most men concede that men are born with equal rights to share benefits of society.” Latin American republics, according to Bolivar should focus on securing “the greatest possible measure of happiness and the maximum of social security and political stability.”

The people and governments of Latin America also began to focus on equality for women in the nineteenth century. Indeed, Argentine Feminist Maria Eugenia Echenique said the following:

When emancipation was given to men, it was also given to women in recognition of the equality of rights, consistent with the principles of nature on which they are founded, that proclaim the identity of soul between men and women.

Echenique voiced a concern over the lack of education for women, but during the nineteenth century, many nationalists began to support the idea of equal education for women as much as Echenique herself did.

Writers such as Simon Rodriguez meanwhile, felt that education for all Latin Americans was lacking. He pushed for “A Plan for Democratic Education”, chided the governments of the region over the “scarcity” of schools, and encouraged Latin Americans to begin to “appreciate its usefulness.”

In the mid nineteenth century, writers such as Juan Bautista Alberdi began to try to plot out liberal Latin American futures. Alberdi encouraged unifying territories and political entities through the creation of a Latin American railway system. He also stressed the importance of including the youth in industry. He believed that putting Latin America’s youth to work was “the grand means of promoting morality.” Therefore, the nationalists even fought for inclusiveness among different ages. Men like Fray Jose Sullivan pushed for including both science and religion in Latin American culture. Although some members of the Catholic Church were opposed to certain scientific advancements, Sullivan argued that that machines for scientific advancement were “leading man toward God.”

Bishop Manuel Abad Queip meanwhile, wrote in support of rejecting the Spanish caste system, saying that “the two classes of Indians and castes are sunk into the greatest abasement and degradation.” This awareness of and concern about the plight of Latin American Indians was prevalent in the region throughout the century.

Similarly, Manuel Briceno and his contemporaries focused on the plight of the lower classes. Briceno said of the Indians that they were “more poorly clothed than hermits” and he pushed for their decreased taxation. He also stressed the importance of Americanism, asking that Americans, rather than Europeans, be given high positions in Latin American governance. He did not stress any differences between Latin American groups, but, instead focused on their common heritage.

Yet, true nationalism did not take hold in Latin America until later in the century, when the people of Latin America truly made an effort to embrace their culture.  Perhaps the greatest representation of the beliefs of the nationalists of the day is the Mexican Constitution of 1917, which says that “every person” is guaranteed the rights listed in it. It absolutely forbids slavery and makes any slave from a foreign country automatically free upon arrival. It also stresses the importance of universal, democratic education. Cardenas describes measures taken by the nationalists to ensure “equal pay for equal work.”

What did the Cold War mean for Latin America? Write an essay of about 750 words on this issue, supported with primary documents. Be sure to make direct, specific reference to some of sources read for the class. Integrate quotations from the sources within your own sentences.

The Cold War was a source of tension in America and the USSR, but it devastated the region of Latin America. Communism had begun spreading from nation to nation elsewhere in the world, and the United States was afraid of it. It developed a policy of containment to try to stop the spread. Therefore, it began to combat communism in Latin America – but combating communism sometimes meant supporting unsavory forces. Therefore, the United States, in its efforts to stomp out communism sometimes helped install dictatorships that may very well have been worse than those of the communists. Indeed, the United States often ended up supporting it the rise of fascist regimes and, unfortunately for the Latin American people, the fascists could be absolutely brutal. They tortured and killed innocent citizens, particularly those who were considered political enemies. The United States, meanwhile, backed anti-communist sentiment, therefore, those who were linked to communism in Latin America were persecuted and tortured without any hope of US intervention.

In Chile, communist leader Salvador Allende came to power, much to the dismay of the United States government. Due to the anti-communist sentiment that was prevalent at the time, The United States set forth to help topple the Allende government.  The CIA supported Chilean opposition forces in attacking the Chilean economy. It also supported a failed coup. Then, in 1973, General Pinochet finally toppled Allende’s government and proceeded to kill and torture his political enemies.

The Chilean Chamber of deputies denounced Pinochet’s methods and suggested that they had led to a “breakdown of the Rule of law.” They accused him of “replacing a legitimately elected authority and establishing the foundation of a totalitarian dictatorship.”

They urged Pinochet to put an end to such practices and to restore democratic rule in Chile.

The death of Victor Jara epitomizes the violence and cruelty of the fascist regimes. One witness of Victor Jara’s death observes that when the fascists found Jara, they recognized him as a communist. “You’re Victor Jara, you son of a bitch.” The first said. And this, he says, began a horrible assault. The men threatened to cut off Jara’s hands, then put his hands on a saw horse and “beat his hands and wrists until they became a bloody mass.” Afterward, they offered him a smoke, and then put out cigarettes on his already wounded hands. The witness also says that one fascist captor “struck him with the butt of his rifle on his stomach, head, everywhere.” When Jara collapsed on the floor, another soldier came to help kick and insult him. “One,” says the witness, “kicked him in the face and an eye filled with blood.” Eventually the fascists killed Victor Jara.

During the Cold War Era, many Latin Americans lived in fear. Some of the regimes engaged in the practices of murder and kidnapping. Families saw loved ones simple disappear. One group that arose to speak out against the kidnappings was the group that came to be known as the “mad mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” who began to meet secretly to try to find their children. In order to attract the attention of others who might want to join or aid their movement, the mothers would wear pieces of their missing children’s clothing and then walk around the plaza. The fear of the government in Latin America at that time was so great that few would speak to them, let alone help them.

It is no wonder, then, that when the United States supported forces such as these, that, many Latin Americans became very anti-American. Even some who had been pro-democracy and perhaps even pro-American began to grow unhappy with the other America. This is most evident in the transformation of Fidel Castro from a supporter of Democracy into a communist dictator. Castro’s original views might well resonate with United States citizens. Here he says the following:

These problems of the Republic can be solved only if we dedicate ourselves to fight for it with the same energy, honesty and patriotism our liberators had when they founded it.

 The problem was exacerbated with the Bay of Pigs invasion, in which the CIA failed to overthrow Fidel Castro’s government and let 4,000 Cubans be massacred.

Cuba became an arena for the US and the Soviets to fight a proxy war and although few Americans or soviets died in this arena, neither side took into account the casualties of the Latin Americans affected by their actions. Troops and missiles passed in and out of Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis, which could have begun the third World War.

According to Keen, “reactionary oligarchies ruled through their alliances with the military elite and United States. Furthermore, The anti-communist sentiment of the Cold War era increased the amount US interventionism in Latin American affairs. At the same time, guerilla warfare increased and violent revolution became almost commonplace.

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