Sunday, January 11, 2009

Latin America Reflection 1

Far-left-thinking leaders and peoples largely inhabit Latin American countries, which often results in the rejection of the ideals and presence of countries such as the United States. For example, the people often do not want industrialization or capitalism in the ways that the United States and other outside countries strongly suggest. In the first pages of the “Openings” section of Dispatches of Latin America Renique states the following:

Recent government proposals to privatize public services and natural
resources have been soundly defeated across the region by grassroots
movements and organizations acting independently from established
political parties…In Mexico, the peasants in the town of Salvador
Atenco blocked plans sponsored by an alliance of multinational
corporations, local entrepreneurs and the government to build a
multi-billion-dollar airport on agricultural lands and protected
wetlands…ecologists in the towns of Cajamarca and Tambogrande (Peru)
halted the Canadian Manhattan Mining Corporation’s attempted expansion
into agricultural and public lands and water resources. (Prashad 36)
Although these decisions are often seen as “bad” or detrimental to obtaining modernization, could it be possible that the people of Latin America are making more “good decisions” than the world thinks by rejecting these ideals?

Northern Americans are conditioned to believe that industrialization and capitalism are the answer to helping other countries grow and become prosperous, but I see a lot of good just within Renique’s paragraph. First and foremost the Latin American people are preserving their surrounding environments. Lately, “going green” has become a phrase of popular culture and it may end to be a very beneficial fad in the end. The airport and the mining company would end up being harmful to the environment of Mexico and Peru and the reality is that these countries do not necessarily have the means to “go green” with these developments. The people of Latin America, by ousting the plans regarding the airport and mining corporation, are recognizing the
natural resources of their lands and seem to be suggesting that it is their right to decide what is done with the land. I believe that the countries may be better off trying to find different ways within their borders in order to help sustain their own economy. In a perfect world, powerful states would help others look within their own boundaries for economic opportunity, rather than exploit the people and the land of Latin America.

Another positive aspect I see from the paragraph is the recognition of the power of a community. Latin American culture often reflects a community-orientated people whom extract strength from within the community rather than the individual. There are negatives to this, but
there seem to be much more to gain than to lose. How much could other groups of people learn by noting the importance of a culture’s identity and acting upon that rather than personal need? In Mexico and Peru the people of the surrounding areas came together and voiced their opposition to the industrialization that was looming and were able to intervene. The airport, for example, may have helped the whole surrounding community in some ways, but that is up to the people to decide if the benefits outweigh the detriments. The people, the community, are what matter in the long run. Again, in a perfect world, bigger, more powerful countries would consider the cultures and communities within these countries before actions were made. I find it
increasingly ironic that countries like the United States decide what is best for the people in other countries while claiming democracy and freedom of choice and speech for it’s own people.

I will admit I had a bias when going into the reading of Dispatches from Latin America that countries like the United States often meddle in problems that are not its own and have a history of not being too helpful. I really do think that the reading in Dispatches proved that the people of Latin America are strong enough to hold their own in this world, and I think that it is the duty of the rest of the world to help the countries become independent from the power houses.

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