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Fueros refer to a set of political or corporate privileges awarded to elite members of society in Latin America, although later on they saw an expansion of coverage in the general populace through the extensions in the military fueros. They are in some ways hold overs from the feudal era of Spain as well as traditions upheld by the Roman Catholic Church that found their way into Colonial Latin America. The military and clergy were among the key groups who enjoyed these legal fueros. Because of their legal reach the military powers in 19th century Latin America were able to reorganize the Latin American governments through legitimate albeit militant means. In Eric Van Young's “Agustin Marroquin: The Sociopath as Rebel” we read about an infamous bandit who used his military stature and reputation to avoid severe legal punishment in some ways and rise above the system to become a kingpin of sorts.
Caudillos are powerful figures in Latin America that are not necessarily dictators or tyrants but happen to exhibit many similar traits. They are usually people of great military prowess, charismatic speakers with appealing personalities, and sometimes considerable political masterminds. The first caudillos appeared in early 19th century Latin America, including famous figures such as Santa Anna and Juan Manuel de Rosas. Because of the fueros granted by Spain to the military forces in their colonies, these caudillos were borne out as leaders of the sometimes chaotic colonies. There is no specific district for a caudillo to rule, they run the gamut from smaller and local leaders to caudillos who took charge of entire Latin American nations. Because of the somewhat unquestionable nature of their rule and the parallels to typical dictatorships, there was understandably some documented outrage and ridicule of the way these caudillos conducted themselves. Domingo Sarmiento's document “Of Ribbons and Rituals” discusses at length the red ribbons that Juan Manuel de Rosas used as a measure of public conformity. In his discussion he rails against these symbols in their usage as a device of terror and implores his countrymen to look closer at the injustices around them.
Conservatism provides the counter viewpoint to liberalism in Latin America. It is a very early idea that upholds the tradition of Spanish kings and as such has its roots even in the earliest Colonial periods. Caudillos sometimes defended the more conservative aspects of Latin American life but they were not explicitly conservative. The church is a much better example of conservatism as its traditions and rituals were derived from its history in Spain. Those who opposed conservatism would often strongly oppose the church as well. Conservatism maintains itself on the belief that different ways of life are dangerous and on the power of faith to keep people from revolting in fear of a higher, celestial force. Francisco Bilbao in his document “Generational Warrior” expresses concerns about the conservative beliefs and customs of the church. He urges his contemporaries to pursue a free spirit and not fall into the traps of conservatism that the church had worked hard to establish and continually defended. Bilbao was tried in court for his document as “slander”, furthering his proof that the church was hampering liberty through its power that it gained through conservatism.
Positivism was a concept that was developed by a French writer and philosopher named Auguste Comte through his publishings in the 1820s. The idea of positivism created an almost symbiotic relationship between a nation's progress in their material worth and its civilized nature in society and politics. The relationship explained that in order for a nation to appear progressive it must embrace industrial and technological developments. Latin America latched onto these ideals in order to globalize itself and appear to be similar to the modern worlds of Europe and the United States. This desire to emulate those other cultures would also bring concepts like Social Darwinism to Latin America as racist views would posit that the more “savage” indigenous people and blacks were degenerating the Latin American identity. In Ingrid Fey's document about Argentina at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889, there is a strong example of Argentina expressing itself as a progressive nation and strongly adhering to the principles of positivism. When a tourist asks the presenters of the Argentine pavilion about their local “savages”, they instead present that notion that all the savages are simply gone or completely educated, which they attempt to prove with a somewhat theatrical display by using a person with an indigenous appearance as an educated speaker in order to impress the tourist.
Theodore Roosevelt was a relatively young President of the United States who through his presidency had developed policies related to Latin America. As many people in the United States were starting to realize, Latin America provided a land of economic opportunity for the United States and Roosevelt sought to capitalize on that by opposing outside influence in Latin America with strong military force. He also put into motion the necessary work for the Panama Canal on May 4, 1904, which he saw as a necessary bridge to bring successful commerce and industry to the region. His “big stick” way of politics was frightening to Latin America and made him seem disruptive to their way of life. Through the Spanish-American war, Roosevelt was able to exercise American military might and expel Spanish forces, earning victories for the United States in his military triumphs in both Cuba and the Phillipines. While viewed somewhat interestingly as a champion of the “melting pot” of races in the establishment of his Rough Rider force, Roosevelt still was very much ingrained in traditional racism and helped work to establish an image of darker indigenous residents of Latin America as the enemies of the United States, even though in reality the efforts of the United States were to defend these indigenous from the occupation efforts of Spanish forces. This is shown in Gary Gerstle's article on Theodore Roosevelt, with one specific example where Roosevelt reveals his traditional racist point of view by lamenting the idea of “negroes in America”. Roosevelt feels that the blacks in America are too submissive due to their roles as slaves which makes them difficult to deal with as Roosevelt feels they cannot be exiled or killed, a very harsh and shallow viewpoint of a race that eventually shows combat prowess in his cavalry. But even when this occurs, Roosevelt refuses to acknowledge it in full and furthers muddles his image as the supposed proponent of the “melting pot”.
Miguel Hidalgo took on many roles during the the late 1700s and early 1800s, such as a teacher, priest, and eventually the leader of the uprising that led to the Mexican War of Independence. Through his study as a priest he became an educated individual, and his access to this education began to morph his point of view. By acquiring knowledge, Hidalgo became more critical of the traditional ways of the colonies and further studied more liberal outlooks. He rejected the traditional roles and behaviors of priests while challenging the supreme power of the Pope. Through his expression of liberal ideas in Latin America he planted the root of liberal thought in the nation which would bear fruit in future generations to come. Hidalgo eventually led a fighting force against the royalists and finally supported his ideas through violent action. His insurgency was eventually halted and Hidalgo was executed before actually achieving Mexican Independence. Hidalgo is often revered as the father of Mexico's independence even though he did not explicitly obtain it but rather started a foundation for the independence fight. But Agustin de Iturbide, who eventually did bring the war for independence to a successful conclusion, is not nearly as respected as Hidalgo even despite his more concrete tie to earning Mexico's sovereignty. Christon Archer goes into depth about the recognition of “Death's Patriots” in his article, subtitled “Celebration, Denunciation, and Memories of Mexico's Independence Heroes: Miguel Hidalgo, Jose Maria Morelos, and Agustin de Iturbide”. He cites Hidalgo's somewhat premature death and the passage of time as strengthening his position as Mexico's father figure. Archer also mentions how Iturbide had indeed had an unsuccessful run as ruler himself, which led to some dissatisfaction and made it difficult for people to reconcile with him as a founder of Mexico as an independent nation.
Domingo Sarmiento was an incredibly educated liberal activist who was very critical of the rule of Juan Manuel de Rosas's rule as a caudillo. In addition to his writing and contributions to the liberal way of thought, Sarmiento also took the position of Argentina's president from 1868 to 1874. He was a strong proponent of using education to progress the nation, ensuring that the impoverished, women, and children could become intellectuals and needed to in order for the nation to become properly civilized. His ideas are strongly represented in his document about “Civilization versus Barbarism”, found in Chapter 5 of the Problems in Modern Latin America book. He defined barbarism as that of the caudillo rule through its savage way of rule and how they use the ferocity of their power as an implement. In reflecting upon what many were viewing as more modern and developed worlds in Europe and the United States, Sarmiento saw their dedication to higher learning as the key to this development and believed that was the major basis for civilization. He viewed Latin America as currently in a more barbaric state and as such strongly desired to move it towards civilization and away from the ways of Rosas.
Liberal oligarchy was a form of government that established itself in Latin America's neocolonial era. By its definition an oligarchy is governed by a few elite, in this case those who were strong proponents of the liberal social order. It is significant to note that while this was in some ways a very different form of government, Latin America experienced very little progressive change because of this shift. The social order was still relatively the same as there were established hierarchies that looked down upon certain races and classes. Men were viewed as sagely “patriarchs” who exercised much control over their women, showing that gender roles had certainly not evolved as a result of liberal oligarchy. Latin America did not experience revolutionized economical growth either, still mainly seeming very rural in the way it conducted business by sticking to its strengths in exports and remaining downtrodden in many of its nations. Ann Maria Alonso's “What the Strong Owe the Weak” discusses how even through the Constitution of 1857 women remained just as powerless and unequal as they had under the more “barbaric” forms of government, a stark contrast to what Sarmiento supposedly desired. The laws still enforced women to faithfully obey their husbands and continued to deny them the right to vote, remaining very much traditional in their way of protecting the “nuclear” Latin American family while denying liberty.
Porfiriato is a period in Mexican history from 1876-1911 when Porfirio Diaz had governed Mexico. Porifiro Diaz took the role of president during these years. He exhibited many similar traits to the caudillos of previous eras and because of this charisma he was able to maintain leadership in Mexico. He used the brute strength of his military to great effect as a police force that took on a certain form of martial law. This period also brought racism and favored the elite in the success of its commerce, sometimes going even as far as to massacre indigenous people. Diaz also went back to the power of the church and gained strong support from the traditional institution. Education was dealt with only in these parochial schools and an attempt to educate the poorer classes of Mexico was all but completely stifled. The working class was kept oppressed by decreasing wages and a complete dissolution of rights. This reign of 35 years did bring some material wealth to Mexico as investors from outside of the country worked to bolster Mexico's economy through the development of roads, and mining. Diaz also brought Mexico a stable currency that furthered its appearance as a more modern nation. The effects of his rule would eventually lead to society questioning the way he had established things and develop into 1910's Mexican Revolution. Matthew Esposito discusses some of this oppression in his look at the state funeral of Manuel Romero Rubio in 1895. The funeral put on was more of a show for the elite of Diaz's rule and was a highly elegant and almost theatrical production. It was also quite a costly funeral, which is detrimental considering the state of Mexico and the potential benefit that could have been derived from investing the money spent on the spectacle in more practical ways.
Manifest Destiny describes a belief that the United States was under some sort of divine duty to ensure that it expanded itself all across the North American continent it was part of but also extended itself to all of Latin America in later years. This rekindling of interest revived itself in the 1896 election of William McKinley and eventually the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. This revealed itself in the manner that Theodore Roosevelt viewed Latin America in the Spanish-American war and his desire to build a canal in Panama. As a result of the Spanish-American war the United States annexed Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipine Islands. The idea of Latin America as a land of economic opportunity certainly was abound in the United States at the time, and Frederick Palmer's document about “Our Ugly Little Backyard” expresses both the discontent with having Latin America in such close proximity and a strong desire to rectify its state. Palmer is aghast at the nature of how he is received and what appears to be a strong lack of modern comforts in his travels. Palmer also cites the comments of a Japanese traveler who observes that Latin America is not using its resources to its fullest while also subtly revealing a Japanese desire to claim this opportunity. Statements like this show that Palmer, despite disdain for the area, recognizes it as an area that must be developed in order to reflect better upon the United States. This necessity to fulfill that development certainly agrees with the ideals of Manifest Destiny and applies them to the “backyard” that the United States believed it was destined to salvage.