July 30, 2008
19th Century Latin America (Option 3)
Latin America in the latter half of the nineteenth century began to experience a number of obstacles pivotal to their identity and crucial to their development. The first significant obstacle came right after the wars for independence, a challenge and question over who had really achieved independence. The second obstacle was the political conflict between liberals and conservatives and their ideologies of what Latin America should become in the sake of progress and modernity. The third but most significant challenge for all of Latin America was the emergence of a new imperial power, The United States.
The Wars of Independence for Latin America happened coincidently in a domino effect; one country after the other gained its independence with the exception of Cuba and Brazil between 1809-1822. The war itself had been fought unitedly by criollos, mestizos, blacks, and indigenous who came together following the nativist liberal ideals of liberty, equality, and America for Americans. Charles Chasteen views the winning of the wars of independence as a sense of belonging and shared purpose between the different racial groups (p.91). But as the aftermath foretold, the political independence of the America’s was simply that, a political detachment from Spain that meant that the social class structure would remain the same throughout. As a result, the criollos had become the only beneficiaries of the war and autonomy of Latin America. Criollos were now the new ruling elite, holding political office positions as well as the majority of the land and wealth. Winning political independence from Spain did not result in a social revolution that would change the caste system. Indigenous and black slaves did not receive their freedom nor did they beneficiate from the war; most of them were still subjugated and repressed by the white elite ruling class. Mr. Seagel then discussed...