cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Tag: latin america

Los ojos cerrados de América Latina

I’m watching this documentary in parts on YouTube. It takes excerpts of Eduardo Galeano’s Las venas abiertas de América Latina (The Open Veins of Latin America) and illustrates them with disturbing examples of the exploitation, disenfranchisement and destruction that resources, communities and the environment suffer systematically in Latin America at the hands of Europe, the United States, neoliberalism and capitalism. I am turned off from anything complaining about so many catchwords, but the fact is that this is a region that was raped and bled for centuries to satiate the pillaging greed of colonizing forces, and this dynamic continues into the present.

Just yesterday I started reading The Economist’s 14-page special report on Latin America (the cover is my much-loved “inverted” map, with Tierra del Fuego at the top and the United States drooping lugubriously at the bottom). Might the decade we are entering, The Economist wonders, be the Latin American decade? There is a lot of growth and progress taking place, specifically with the brilliant promise of Brazil on the horizon. But I wonder how these two stories fit together: that of the region so accurately described by world-systems theory and that of long-devastated countries emerging into the global market as growing powers.

I guess what I’d like to do is come to have a grasp on what’s really going on. Specifically, I’m drawn to understanding so that I can find out what it is I could do. Over the years, with varying degrees of conviction, I’ve entertained the idea of devoting myself to working on whatever it is that I could in Argentina, or somewhere else. Lately I’ve been trying to be realistic in determining what goals I decide to embark on accomplishing (PhD in Canada + nine kids with stable lives + devote myself à la Guevara to a noble cause in South America = unlikely), but despite reality’s attempts to temper it, the idea tenaciously claims its right to a little nook in my mind for back-ups plans in case I one day wind up starting afresh in a distant land. One thing that comforts me is the work of Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, which won him the Nobel Peace Prize despite the fact that his training was in architecture and sculpture.

Sincretismo religioso en México y Cuba

La historia de Latinoamérica la ha hecho en un híbrido complejo del Viejo y Nuevo Mundo, tomando aspectos de las dos fuentes y creando algo nuevo y distinto a ellas al final del proceso. Las poblaciones de Latinoamérica hoy son mixtas y mezcladas, con grupos de individuos de ascendencia europea, indígena, africana, mestizos de todas las combinaciones posibles, e incluso inmigrantes relativamente recientes de otros países. La sangre fluye y se adapta; de la misma manera, la cultura no se queda atrás. La religión –unas de las instituciones más importantes en al comienzo de esta historia- demuestra claramente este proceso y de paso nos ofrece un analogía de la realidad fusionista de la región, tomando México y Cuba como ejemplos representativos de estas confluencias. Leer más

Latin America as hybrid

I frequently see Latin America as a hybrid of Old and New Worlds. Here are examples.

  • ancestry of the people; societies where populations are indigenous, afro, mestizo, criollo, and every combination possible of these
  • syncretism of Catholic and indigenous religions (e.g., la Virgen de Guadalupe, Dia de los Muertos)
  • liberation theology (the Christian message made Marxist to understand the conditions of oppression witnessed in the continents, as well as the base communities that develop as a grassroots response to these problems)
  • gauchos (mestizo outlaw cowboys drawing from both European and Amerindian culture; horses, clothing, language from the former, and mate, boleadoras, and poncho from the latter)
  • its history as a continuing dialectic of “native” expressions of autonomy and European and later American intervention and influence

As with any hybrid, though the product is a result of two established sources, it is unique and original, and different enough from both of its parents to be a novel entity in its own right.