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Revolution in Latin America. Human Rights in Latin America Prof. Angelina Godoy. Cycles of reform and retrenchment. In Latin America, many countries experienced democratizing reforms in the mid-20 th century Extension of vote (to women, those without land) Legalization of labor unions

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revolution in latin america

Revolution in Latin America

Human Rights in Latin America

Prof. Angelina Godoy

cycles of reform and retrenchment
Cycles of reform and retrenchment
  • 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
  • Cold War lens defined all reformists as Communists, justified intervention “in the name of democracy”
  • In reality, there was an enormous variation among reformists 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”
slide4
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.

slide5
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 reform7
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
oscar romero
Oscar Romero
  • “The word that bothers many, liberation, is a reality of the redemption of Christ. Liberation means the redemption of humankind, not only after death so that they are told to ‘resign yourselves in this life.’ No, liberation means that there is no exploitation in this world of human beings by other human beings. Liberation means redemption that wants to free humankind from so many kinds of slavery: the slavery of illiteracy, the slavery of being hungry because of not having enough to buy food; the slavery of not having a roof over your head, of not having anywhere to live.” November 25, 1977
oscar romero9
Oscar Romero
  • “It scares me, brothers and sisters, when repressive laws or violent attitudes are denying the legitimate avenues [of expression] of a people that needs to be able to protest. What happens with the kettle that is boiling and has no escape valves? It can explode. There is still time to let our people express themselves as they wish. As long as, at the same time, justice rules. Because naturally, brothers and sisters, when we defend these aspirations we are not taking the side of terrorist demands. The church does not agree with any kind of violence, not that which springs forth as the fruit of repression, nor that which oppresses in such barbarous ways. It simply calls for understanding one another, for dialogue, for justice, for love.” March 19, 1978
carlos mejia godoy cristo de palacaguina
Por el cerro de la Iguana, montaña adentro de la cegobia,

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”
slide11
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).

slide12
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 Zipotillo 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 landowners’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
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
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):

  • 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”
slide19
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

slide20
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

slide21
¿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