Reform and revolution in latin america
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Reform and Revolution in Latin America. Human Rights in Latin America Prof. Angelina Godoy Fall 2009. Movements for social reform . Throughout 19th & 20th century, Latin Americans grappled with problems of foreign domination , poverty , and inequality

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Reform and revolution in latin america

Reform and Revolution in Latin America

Human Rights in Latin America

Prof. Angelina Godoy

Fall 2009


Movements for social reform

Movements for social reform

  • Throughout 19th & 20th century, Latin Americans grappled with problems of foreign domination, poverty, and inequality

  • Beginning in the early 20th century, movements for social reform were often inflected by, or directly inspired by, Marxist thought

  • Cold War lens defined all reformers as Communists, justified intervention “in the name of democracy”

  • In reality, there was an enormous variation among reformers along both ideological and tactical lines


Los guaraguao casas de cart n

Qué triste se oye la lluvia

en los techos de cartón

Qué triste vive mi gente

en las casas de cartón.

Viene bajando el obrero

casi arrastrando sus pasos por el peso del sufrir

Mira que es mucho el sufrir mira que pesa el sufrir.

Arriba deja la mujer preñada

abajo esta la ciudad

y se pierde en su maraña

hoy es lo mismo que ayer

es un mundo sin mañana.

How sad the rain sounds

On the cardboard roofs

How sad my people live

In the cardboard houses.

The worker is coming down

Almost dragging his feet

From the weight of his suffering

Look how much he suffers

Look how much suffering weighs.

Up the hill he leaves his pregnant wife

Down the hill is the city below

He loses himself in its tangles

Today is the same as yesterday

In a world without tomorrow.

Los Guaraguao, “Casas de Cartón”


Reform and revolution in latin america

Qué triste se oye la lluvia

en los techos de cartón

que triste vive mi gente

en las casas de cartón.

Niños color de mi tierra

con sus mismas cicatrices

millonarios de lombrices

y por eso que triste viven los niños

en las casas de cartón.

Qué triste se oye la lluvia

en los techos de cartón

que triste vive mi gente

en las casas de cartón.

How sad the rain sounds

On the cardboard roofs

How sad my people live

In the cardboard houses.

Children the color of earth

With the same scars

Millions of tapeworms

That’s why the children live sadly

In the cardboard houses.

How sad the rain sounds

On the cardboard roofs

How sad my people live

In the cardboard houses.


Reform and revolution in latin america

Qué alegre viven los perros

en la casa del explotador

Usted no lo va a creer

pero hay escuelas de perros

que les dan educación

pa' que no muerdan los diarios.

Pero el patrón,

hace años, muchos años

que esta mordiendo al obrero.

Qué triste se oye la lluvia

en los techos de cartón

qué lejos pasa la esperanza

en las casas de cartón.

How happily the dogs live

In the house of the exploiter

You’re not going to believe it

But there are schools for dogs

Where they train them

Not to bite the newspaper.

But the boss, for years, many years

He’s biting the worker.

How sad the rain sounds

On the cardboard roofs

How far away is hope

From the cardboard houses.


Social and intellectual movements for reform

Social and intellectual movements for reform

Many movements converged to support leftist platforms for change; these did not necessarily support armed struggle

These theories were developed in, and centered on, Latin American reality, did not rely on theories developed in North

1. Dependency theory

  • “Underdevelopment” in global South not a consequence of backwardness but of unequal power relations between North/South

  • global economic structures privilege North at expense of South; wealth of North dependent on poverty of South


Social and intellectual movements for reform1

Social and intellectual movements for reform

2. Liberation theology

  • Christianity demands church involvement in liberating people from oppression both spiritual, economic, and political

  • Faith compels action, and action should be based on “preferential option for the poor”

  • Critique of church focusing on spiritual practices as if divorced from urgent human needs


Carlos mejia godoy cristo de palacaguina

Por el cerro de la Iguana, montaña adentro de la cegovia,

se oyó un resplandor extraño

como una aurora de media noche.

Los maizales se prendieron,

los quiebraplatas se estremecieron,

llovió luz por Muyugalpa, por Telpaneca,

por Chichigalpa.

Near the Iguana Hill, beyond the cegovia (tree),

there was a sudden flash of lightning,

that lit up the midnight sky as if it were dawn.

The cornfields were alight,

The quiebraplatas (plant) trembled,

Light rained down at Muyugalpa, at Telpaneca, at Chichigalpa (names of places)

Carlos Mejia Godoy, “Cristo de Palacaguina”


Reform and revolution in latin america

Cristo ya nació en Palacaguina,

de Chepe Pavón (Pavón) y una tal María,

ella va a planchar muy humildemente,

la ropa que goza la mujer hermosa del terrateniente.

La gente para mirarlo se rejuntaron en un molote,

y el indio Joaquin le trajo quesillo en trenza de nagarote,

en vez de oro, incienso y mirra,

le regalaron según yo supe,

cajetita de diriomo y hasta buñuelos de Guadalupe.

Christ was born in Palacaguina,

To Joey Pavón and some girl named Mary.

She works humbly, ironing the clothes that the beautiful wife of the landowner enjoys.

In order to see him, the people gathered together in a crowd,

And Joaquin the Indian brought him quesillo (traditional sweet) wrapped in a cornhusk braid.

Instead of gold, incense and myrrh,

I heard they brought him diriomo (indigenous perfume) and Guadalupe buns (traditional sweets).


Reform and revolution in latin america

Cristo ya nació en Palacaguina,

de Chepe Pavón (Pavon) y una tal María,

ella va a planchar muy humildemente,

la ropa que goza la mujer hermosa del terrateniente.

José pobre jornalero se mecateya todito el dia,

lo tiene con reumatismo el tequio de la carpintería,

Maria sueña que el hijo, igual que el tata sea carpintero,

pero el cipotío piensa, “mañana quiero ser guerrillero”.

Christ was born in Palacaguina,

To Joey Pavón and some girl named Mary.

She works humbly, ironing the clothes that the landowner’s beautiful wife enjoys.

Joseph, the poor worker, he slaves away all day long.

The banging work of carpentry has given him rheumatism.

Mary dreams that her son might grow up to be a carpenter, just like his dad,

But the kid thinks, “When I grow up I want to be a guerrilla.”


Guerrilla movements in latin america

Guerrilla movements in Latin America

  • Some on the left supported armed struggle

  • The denial of political freedoms led many to join to guerrilla movements in Latin America in the 1970s/80s

    (why?)

    • Cold War logic conflated most social justice movements with communism/socialism

    • failed to perceive difference between moderate social reformers and radical revolutionaries, prohibiting both

    • this left violent revolution as the only means to promote change

    • Countries where those in power allowed some reform avoided violent guerrilla movements (Costa Rica, Mexico to a lesser extent)


Che guevara

Foquismo:

-Marxist ideas applied to Latin America

-Idea that a small group of revolutionaries could ally themselves with rural peasantry and overthrow wealthy elites

-Guerrilla leaders often well-educated, from cities, recruited from universities

Ernesto “Che” Guevara, 1964 speech at UN

-Why do you think his message resonated with so many Latin Americans?

“Che” Guevara


Successful socialist revolutions in latin america

Successful Socialist Revolutionsin Latin America

  • Cuba 1959-

    • Social, economic rights at expense of political rights

  • Nicaragua 1979-1990

    • Sandinistas defeated at the ballot box

  • Almost-successful: FMLN in El Salvador, 1980-1992

  • Questions about did “the people” support revolution

    Attempts to achieve socialism without armed struggle

    • Chile under Allende

    • Venezuela under Chávez

    • El Salvador under Funes(?)


State terrorism

State terrorism

Are we romanticizing the revolution?

Armed guerrillas responsible for violence, destruction, death; should the state have sat by and let them have their way?

  • No, states required to protect populations, provide stability. But the way guerrilla movements were combated is considered “state terrorism” for 2 reasons:

  • States cast the net too wide, targeted people who were not involved in armed insurrection

  • States used terror tactics against own population, including torture, disappearances, executions, and harassment to spread fear

  • In most cases, state and paramilitary forces killed more people than guerrillas did

    • Peru is an important exception


  • The human rights movement

    The human rights movement

    Human rights campaigns spoke out on behalf of victims of state terror, regardless of who they were

    • AI: prisoner of conscience

      Routinely accused of “defending terrorists”

      (similar charges are made today)


    Authoritarianism in perspective

    Authoritarianism in perspective

    Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre (2004):

    • In Latin America, many countries experienced democratizing reforms in the mid-20th century

      • Extension of vote (to women, those without land)

      • Legalization of labor unions

      • Legalization of opposition parties, including socialists

      • Constitutions with guarantees of labor rights, social security

      • In many countries, populist or socialist parties elected to office

    • Reactions to such reforms varied by country; often violent

    • The authoritarian period in Latin America should be understood as a counterrevolution that reversed the democratic gains of mid-century

    • Why did dictatorships happen? To reverse the gains made by popular masses in first wave of democracy

    • Latin American democracies of mid-century included extensive provisions for social rights; today’s Latin American democracies are modeled on individual rights


    Los guaraguao perd neme t o juan forgive me uncle juan

    Perdóneme Tío Juan

    pero se ve que no sabe nada

    las cosas que yo le digo

    se sienten en carne propia

    que en tierra venezolana

    el imperialismo yankee

    hace lo que le da la gana

    ¿es que usted no se ha paseado

    por un campo petrolero?

    ¿usted no ve que se llevan

    lo que es de nuestra tierra?

    y solo nos van dejando

    miseria y sudor de obrero

    y solo nos van dejando

    miseria y sudor de obrero

    Forgive me Uncle Juan

    But it´s clear you don´t know anything

    The things that I´m telling you about

    Can be felt in our own experience

    In Venezuela, Yankee imperialism

    Does whatever it pleases

    Haven´t you passed by

    The petroleum fields?

    Haven’t you seen how they take

    What is ours?

    They only leave behind

    Misery and workers’ sweat

    They only leave behind

    Misery and workers’ sweat

    Los Guaraguao, “Perdóneme Tío Juan/ Forgive me Uncle Juan”


    Reform and revolution in latin america

    Los niñitos macilentos

    que habitan allá en los cerros

    mas que vivir agonizan

    entreteniendo sus sueños

    mas que vivir agonizan

    entreteniendo sus sueños.

    Contésteme Tío Juan

    no se me quede callado.

    Conteste si no hay razón

    en que sigamos luchando

    por echar de nuestra Patria al yankee que nos la quita

    y al lacayo que lo tapa

    ¿es que usted no se ha fijado

    lo que pasa con el hierro?

    nos pagan la tonelada

    por menos de tres centavos

    ¡vamos a luchar, caramba!

    o nos quedamos sin cerro

    ¡vamos a luchar, caramba!

    o nos quedamos sin cerro

    The malnourished children

    That live there in the hills

    More than living, they’re agonizing

    As they entertain their dreams

    More than living, they’re agonizing

    As they entertain their dreams

    Answer me Uncle Juan

    Don’t just stay silent

    Answer me, isn’t there a reason

    For us to keep struggling

    To throw out of our country

    the yankee that takes it from us

    And the lackey that covers it up

    Haven’t you noticed

    What happens with the iron?

    They pay less than three cents

    For the ton

    Let’s fight, damn it!

    Or we’ll be left without our land

    Let’s fight, damn it!

    Or we’ll be left without our land


    Reform and revolution in latin america

    No te dejes engañar

    cuando te hablen de progreso

    por que tú te quedas flaco

    y ellos aumentan de peso

    por que tú te quedas flaco

    y ellos aumentan de peso.

    Contésteme Tío Juan

    no se me quede callado

    conteste si no hay razón

    en que sigamos luchando

    por echar de nuestra Patria

    al yankee que nos la quita

    y al lacayo que lo tapa

    Don’t be fooled

    When they talk about progress

    Because you’ll stay skinny

    While they gain weight

    Because you’ll stay skinny

    While they gain weight.

    Answer me, Uncle Juan,

    Don’t just stay silent

    Answer me, isn’t there a reason

    For us to keep struggling

    To throw out of our country

    the yankee that takes it from us

    And the lackey that covers it up


    Reform and revolution in latin america

    ¿Es que usted no se ha paseado

    por un campo petrolero?

    ¿Usted no ve que se llevan

    lo que es de nuestra tierra?

    y solo nos van dejando

    miseria y sudor de obrero

    y solo nos van dejando

    miseria y sudor de obrero.

    Los niñitos macilentos

    que habitan allá en los cerros

    mas que vivir agonizan

    entreteniendo sus sueños

    mas que vivir agonizan

    entreteniendo sus sueños

    Haven´t you passed by

    The petroleum fields?

    Haven’t you seen how they take

    What is ours?

    They only leave behind

    Misery and workers’ sweat

    They only leave behind Misery and workers’ sweat.

    The malnourished children

    That live there in the hills

    More than living, they’re agonizing

    As they entertain their dreams

    More than living, they’re agonizing

    As they entertain their dreams.


    Communism vs capitalism different ways of dividing the pie

    Communism vs. Capitalism: Different ways of dividing the pie

    Capitalism

    -individuals pursuing self-interest is key to productivity: Adam Smith

    -individual freedom is paramount; the law of supply and demand is the best way to distribute resources

    -perfectly compatible with socioeconomic inequality

    Communism

    -idea that capitalism is built on exploitation of working class (proletariat) by capitalist class (bourgeoisie) who own the means of production, and that capitalist society is inevitably exploitative

    -Communists seek to overthrow capitalist state through revolution and impose new communist order based on equality

    -In a communist society, social justice and equality more important than individual liberties

    Socialism

    -usually does not aim to overthrow state but to elect reformers through democratic channels and then impose reforms to more equally distribute resources among population

    -usually aims at balance between social justice and liberties


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