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My paper will discuss the consequences of poverty in the Dominican Republic and in Mexico. This will be supported evidence from The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela and with In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. First of all, it is important to analyze what poverty is and how it impacts societies. So, from wordreference.com:” poverty is the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions”  . As we know, poverty is always a big problem which it is visible in all the parts of the world. In this investigation I consider two different kinds of poverty.
The first one is the poverty of not having enough money to provide food, shelter and clothing necessary to sustain life. An example of this kind of poverty are families where parents make their children work from an early age, denying them an education that helps them succeed or be successful in life. In Mexico there are many families which use their children as a source of income; they work in streets selling chewing-gum or other things because the parents work is not sufficient to maintain them.
The second is the poverty of not having the opportunity to work your way out of poverty. This is the major kind of poverty that exists in many countries because this factor determines life of many families and at the same time determines the progress of the entire society. The most basic way of overcoming poverty is getting a job, but the salary is not always sufficient and one job is not enough to support a family of four members. An example is a father who has two jobs to support his family. This happens because some jobs do not even pay minimum wage. Poverty is present even when you have a job.
These two kinds of poverty trigger serious consequences like children who grow up in families with low incomes are more likely to have problems and consequently poor development. According to statistics,” children from poor families are 1.7 times more likely to be born with low birth weight, 2 times more likely to repeat a grade in school, 2 times more likely to drop out of school and 3.1 times more likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth than children from non poor families”  . These consequences cause serious havoc in the entire society and more specifically in the life of vulnerable children.
Another consequence of poverty that impacts society are social movements like conflicts armed or economic recessions indicating violence, job loss and government abuse. Frequently, society is manipulated by the government to get what they want but on another hand government does not pay attention to society needs. In this way, when in the society there are unconformities it is necessary to fight to get freedom and a better level of life. Rebellion is the only way to get another lifestyle, and another opportunity to live without to be poor.
In The Underdogs, poverty is one of the central themes of the novel. The setting is the Mexican Revolution (1910-1922). It was a spontaneous uprising of the people of Mexico to overthrow a stifling oligarchic structure. A few popular leaders participated in this event; they belonged to the lower class, like the main character Demetrio Macias. He and the revolutionary army fought to live in a country of freedom and land, and for equal opportunities to survive and work. “‘Thank God, a kind soul and tortillas full of beans and chili are never lacking,’ Anastasio Montanez said with a triumphant belch”. (Mariano Azuela, page 17)
Often the only food they had to eat was tortillas and beans with chili and they were accustomed to a very low level of life. Their food was very reduced. At that time the land was unevenly distributed, so a farmer had a minimal amount for the planting of food. This is the reason they took up arms against the government and its abuse of power. Although Demetrio and his men did not have knowledge about revolution, they faced federal soldiers and their own battle again the government.
“Oh come on Anastasio don’t be cruel; lend me your rifle.” (Mariano Azuela, page 24) The Mexican Revolution was a revolution of the poor. The army was short on rifles. The revolutionaries had many necessities some of them were basic like eating and indispensable like rifles. It is absurd to go and fight in a war without a gun or weapon. But to their bad luck they did not have any choice.
“We’re dodging the draft, with those damned Government people who’ve declared war to the death on us, on all the poor.” (Mariano Azuela, page 35) In this quote it is evident that the government only chooses the poor to fight for a revolution they do not understand. And the main reason they do not understand is because they are not educated. The best example of this is Demetrio. This man was sent to fight but he did not know what was the cause of the revolution or the benefits he would receive if they won. Maybe they understood that they will not receive any benefits even though they fought for it, they were resigned because that is what poor people do.
In the Time of the Butterflies the author gives a wide view of how a bad government caused terrible confronts in the society. The setting is in the Dominican Republic and the main characters are the Mirabal sisters. They are middle class. Their father is an intelligent farmer who stands far from political conflicts. He keeps the integrity of his family safe. During the development of armed conflicts in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters were a main key to the destruction an evil dictator, Trujillo. The consequences of poverty in this country were reflected on the authoritarianism of Trujillo because his mandate determined the death of many innocent poor people. Rebellions against his dictatorship were driven by poverty. “Minerva gives me her speech about how Dinorah’s a victim of our corrupt system” (Julia Alvarez, page 45). This is similar to The Underdogs, because a corrupted system makes people poor.
“I don’t know who talked Papá into sending us away to school” (Julia Alvarez, page 32) The Mirabal sisters were educated and were not as poor as many were. Before the girls were sent to school they were poor, I think the main reason why their father wants to send them to school is because their mother and father think that the rich should be educated. “We just had our “little school”, which Minerva insists on every day.” (Julia Alvarez, page 56)This is a sign of poverty because they describe their school as a little one, meaning that there was not enough money to have a lot of classrooms. And obviously the government was not investing money in education. This was something that benefited the government because if people stayed ignorant this meant they would stay poor.
Now, comparing and contrasting the consequences of poverty in Dominican Republic and Mexico City, first of all the armed movements in both countries were a result of mismanagement of the government. In Mexico the extremely corrupt governments of Porfirio Diaz created severe poverty in the country; his government separated classes and created differences between their social classes. These differences caused great poverty in the lower class. Very few people owned land, the poor became poorer the rich became richer and the lack of money to afford food created a hunger epidemic that devastated the lower class. Consequently Mexican economy suffered from instability as a result of both extreme poverty and its overdependence on loans from foreign nations. This foreign dependency caused the Mexican economy to have no stability or control of either its growth or decay.
On another hand in Dominican Republic, the Trujillo regime became the country in a place of war between army and society. Before become president Trujillo was an army commander, that’s why he was a powerful and influential politic in his dictatorship. He maintained control over the officer corps through fear and the strict repression of freedom of expression. During his regime there were many beneficiaries like those who associated themselves with the regime both politically and economically. Trujillo became richer than another man because he established monopolies over all major enterprises in the country.
Finally, the consequences of poverty in the Dominican Republic and in Mexico were important facts within history of each one of these countries. It is very important because these events marked a new direction for each country. Dominican Republic became a country more active but regrettably nowdays poverty still remains resting. Trujillo was a dictator who created a poor society based his government in death and immoderate power. He did not respect human rights creating a dictatorship where the fear prevailed. Unconsciously, thorough the Revolution Porfirio Diaz transformed the way of the Government worked because he gave the society motives to take the bit in one’s hands, so after his dictatorship there was democracy in elections, and poor people received land to work it. They received equal opportunities to work. Poor people had the capacity to support their families and finally they get a better level of life. The instability Porfirio Diaz created became in opportunities to get lands and a trade more active.
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