Latin American Culture

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Test 3 Final Perhaps the greatest struggle that Westerners experience when studying Latin American culture is adopting the viewpoint that Latin Americans are the protagonists of their own lives, and have often shown innovation that is independent of Western influence. Westerners have the tendency to overemphasize the role that the United States and other “developed” countries have had on the progress of Latin American development. It is rather easy to simply dismiss the notion that Latin Americans have agency over their conditions, especially when considering the distinct inequalities that are apparent in Latin American society. However, the United States and other developed countries are not doubted in regards to having control over their …show more content…
This is a critical statement that is central to understanding Latin American issues as whole, but should not be misconstrued to mean that Latin Americans are always the heroes of their own narratives. To misconstrue this statement to mean such would again take a surface level understanding of Latin American society and would ignore the complexities that exist within the culture. Take for example the issues that Latin American countries experience in regards to drug “cartels” and the prostitution industry. Measures taken to address both issues have frequently negatively affected marginalized groups within Latin America, and have not directly addressed the issues at hand. For instance, Latin America’s complacent role in the “War on Drugs”, a campaign that was first introduced by Richard Nixon (216) and furthered by Ronald Reagan (216), only served to exacerbate the drug trafficking that occurs in Latin American countries. According to Paul Gootenberg, the author of chapter 11, US intervention and Latin American compliance led to large-scale human suffering, ranging from the displacement of millions of Colombians as a result of drug-eradication strategies, to the brutal torture and murder of tens of thousands of Mexicans by cartel warfare, as well as the flight of thousands of Honduran children to escape from drug gang violence …show more content…
Chapter 13, written by Denise Brennan, focuses on the way in which the prostitution industry is addressed in Latin America as well as the way in which sex worker activism is significant in society. Unlike the United States or other Western cultures, the buying and selling of sex is not illegal in Latin America, rather it is certain acts that are criminalized under the law (241). In addition to this, certain stereotypes exist regarding the individuals who do partake in prostitution, wherein they are seen as people who need to be “recused”. While this may be true for some individuals, there are certainly a number of sex workers who willingly engage in this line of work. It is here that conflict and pioneering simultaneously occurs as a direct result of sex worker activism. While sex workers face a great deal of risk, they continuously fight for their rights as workers by remaining politically active, vocal, and creative. In fact, it is in Latin America where sex workers have made the greatest strides, both politically and socially. Sex worker activists accomplished a number of feats, from gaining social security benefits in Argentina to securing seats in office such as in the case of Jaqueline Montero, who gained a chair in her city council (240 & 243). Along with this, sex worker activists have often pioneering public health campaigns

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