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Latin America Overview Essay


This geographical term refers to the American areas where romantic languages including French, Spanish, and Portuguese are spoken. This section of America took a relatively long time to develop. The people of this region maintain their cultural roots such that they value their cultures a lot, and they always have some ties to their cultural roots.

As of now, some of the areas of Latin America are largely underdeveloped, and the people of these places have to face this challenge (Rothchild 2004). However, this region has been going through a lot of development. This development has been spearheaded by many economic projects that have been started in the area. The area has been on a steady economic rise despite the fact that many challenges are still prevalent.

Colonization of Latin America

Before the European invasion, the indigenous elites, Incas and Aztecs, ruled this region. These were respected groups of people who were powerful, and they controlled the social, economic and political lives of the region.

Some groups of people in this region did not favor the rule of the Incas and Aztecs, and they were ready to do anything to ensure that this rule was toppled (Charles 2006). The chance to do this presented itself with the invasion of the region by the Europeans. They helped the Europeans take power, and Christopher Columbus imposed European rule in this region.

The Europeans divided the regions of Latin America in to colonies (Cristina 2005). Spain and Portugal were the main forces behind this, and they divided the region through a line of demarcation. By the 16th century, these two forces were the greatest influences in this region. However, the start of the 16th century saw other powers coming to claim the region. France was one of these powers, and it started controlling a large portion of Latin America.

Introduction of New Culture

The colonial powers had so much influence that they started introducing their culture to their subjects. The colonized people were expected to declare allegiance to their colonial masters. In doing this, these people accepted to do everything that their masters demanded. They were expected to learn the languages of their masters and take the culture of their colonizers fully. The introduction of this culture had a toll on the Latin Americans, and they started rejecting this move.

This is because some people felt that their culture was being killed, and they wanted to save the situation (Charles 2006). Therefore, people started forming groups that were against the colonizers. However, the colonial powers had ways of discouraging such groups, and people affiliated with these groups were either punished or killed in public. As a result, people feared to criticize the colonial powers, and slowly, the culture of the colonizers started to take root.

The cultural clash brought about by the colonizers acted to divide the people. This is because people were no longer united by their cultural values, and so the ties of the whole society were weakened. In fact, the family became the only unit where people trusted each other. Different religions were introduced, and people of different races took different religions (Parry 1999). This furthered the differences between the people of Latin America, and they started to become strangers in their own land.

However, people who embraced the same cultures became very close, and they maintain this culture even up to now. Therefore, Latin America, to some extent, is considered to be one of the regions that have maintained their culture. The differences that started forming as a result of colonization are still evident today. This is because the people of Latin America were divided such that the hatred, distrust and suspicion are still evident.

Underdevelopment Theory (Latin America’s Case)

Latin America is a region that is largely underdeveloped. Most of the nations in this region are still considered third world countries. Critiques of this scenario claim that this region should be much developed since it is a culturally rich area. Conservative thinkers try to explain this state of the region’s underdevelopment through arguments based on the culture of the place. The most notable mentality driving the culture of this place is the mañana mentality.

The other reason is that people follow their religion in strict terms, and this could also lead to this underdevelopment. For instance, the Spanish Catholicism acts against the Protestant work ethic, and this affects the development of this region. This region also lacks professional institutions. The lack of these institutions could also have led to underdevelopment since this region failed to catch up with other regions such as America as far as development is concerned (Fukuyama 2008).

The fight for independence was tasking for all regions of America. These regions include the United States and other nations of Latin America. However, Latin America took a long time to gain independence and make new nations in the whole territory of Latin America. This affected the development of this region in that time that this region took to make new nations dragged development.

The draw back of the Spanish also made important things like markets and technology to reduce (Fukuyama 2008). Therefore, this move affected the inexperienced people of Latin America, and it took a while to develop a firm footing upon which these people could use to foster their development.

Progressive and Marxist intellectuals claim that this region is underdeveloped as a result of many factors; factors that can be traced back to the colonial powers that controlled the region. They claim that the European powers that controlled this region used a lot of violence in their control, and this affected the development of this region.

This violence made the countries of Latin America have mono economies. These economies were tied to the imperial centres, and these countries still relied on these centres for technological advancement.

Stereotypes

The region of Latin America is faced with a lot of stereotypes. The American society does not recognize this region a lot, and this region has been side lined in many areas. For instance, a lot of printed or recognized American Literature does not cover a lot of literature from Latin America. In fact, it was found that Latino stories cover just 1% of all the stories found in American Media. This is a great throwback to this group of people.

A lot of prejudices are held in relation to the people of Latin America, and these people are considered the most violent in America. For instance, the American media showed that 66% of the major crimes committed happened in Latin America. However, this is not the case since America is a very big region, and the media just concentrates on every small crime in Latin America.

In a nutshell, the American media seems to focus on the bad elements of Latin Americans, and this has made the Americans develop a negative attitude towards people who hail from this region of America (Grace 2009).

Identity Building (Literary, Film and Musical representations of the Region)

The region of Latin America has been faced by a lot of prejudices, and the people of this region have sought to address this. Therefore, they have been trying to correct the world’s perception of this region through film, literature and music.

The Latin Americans construct their cultural identity through these mediums, and objectives have been achieved since some of the songs, literature and music have received a global audience. These literary genres have helped this region grow in that many people have continued to appreciate the region. In fact, the region has continued to grow since it receives a lot of tourists who go on escapades in the region.

The music of Latin America contains a lot of cultural messages in that it contains all aspects of the whole of Latin America. The culture of all regions of Latin America is imbedded in this music, and this gives this region a lot of musical appeal. The genres of the music of Latin America vary with the audience intended to receive this music. Every audience varies in its expectation of music, and this is taken care in different genres and styles of music.

However, most of this music advances the cultural message advancing the development of this region. In fact, all forms of contemporary music genres are found in Latin America. These forms include salsa, rock, reggae and other related forms of music. Western classical music is also prevalent in forms of Jazz and other classical compositions and scripted music.

Just like its music, the Latin America film advances the good of the region. The film industry has also helped advance the image of this region. The film produced by the foreigners portrayed this region as a wasteland that had no much value. People who watched such films developed a bad attitude towards the region, and they felt that this region had nothing good.

However, the people of this region wanted to correct this view, and they came up with films that rectified the stereotypes held against this region. They succeeded in doing this through incorporating humour in their film. This attracted a lot of audiences, and the good image of the region was sold to the world.

Previously, the image was seen through the mirror of bad issues such as violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse and other related issues. However, the Latin American film portrayed these issues as a global menace that should be driven off the face of the earth. This is true in that these issues are distributed across the whole world, and they are not restricted to some areas alone.

The written literature of this region has also advanced the image of the region. The region has produced writers who are famous in the whole world, and the writings of these people advance the importance of the culture of the people. This is a marketing strategy of the region since all people seek to be associated with some culture (Swanson 2002).

Gabriel García is one of the most celebrated writers of this region, and his writings reflect the culture and aspirations of the region. The works of these people have been translated in different languages, and this has greatly influenced the perception of this region to the populace of various regions of the world (Hart 1999).

Politics of South America

The countries of South America have taken a socialistic drift. Socialist leaders have been elected in many countries of South America. This is because the people of South America are divided in to various social groups that ensure cohesion within the groups. The socialistic stand has made this region alienated to the other areas of the world that have taken capitalistic stands (Brian 2001).

Most of the countries of the world have taken a capitalistic stand so as to be in line with the major powers of the world. However, the Latin American countries base their politics on socialism, and this has continued to disadvantage the region (Petras & Morley 2005).

Conclusion

The region of Latin America has continued to face lots of challenges. The rich people in this region control as much as over 40% of the nation’s wealth, and this has a great disadvantage to the people. This wide gap is evident in large South American urban centers where some people live in slums and makeshift shacks with skyscrapers towering above them.

Most of these people live on less that $2 per day while millions of dollars change hands in the same cities. This is a great undoing of the region, and this should be rooted out to make sure that the region catches up in development.

Reference List

Brian, L 2001, Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Charles, M 2006, 1491: New Revelations of the America’s Before Columbus, Vintage Books, New York.

Cristina, J 2005, The Origins of Violence in Mexican Society, Praeger, London.

Fukuyama, F 2008, Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Grace, L 2009, America’s Backyard: The United States & Latin America from the Monroe Doctrine to the War on Terror, Zed Books, London.

Hart, S 1999, A Companion to Spanish-American Literature, Tamesis, London.

Parry, H 1999, The Spanish Seaborne Empire, University of California Press, Los Angeles.

Petras, J & Morley, M 2005, The United States and Chile: Imperialism and the Overthrow of the Allende Government, Monthly Review Press, New York.

Rothchild, J 2004, Latin America Yesterday and Today, Praeger Publishers, New York.

Swanson, P 2002, The New Novel in Latin America, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Latin America Overview." May 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/latin-america-2/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Latin America Overview'. 25 May.

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