As the centennial for Latin America gaining its independence came close, two developments evidently arose. One of them was of an external origin which entails the United States emerging as a key world power, and the other involved the rise of middle sectors among the populace of Latin America. On the middle sector, it could be divided into two categories; the working class, who strived to foster development through employing European methods such as labour unions to cater for immigrants in certain countries, and the middle class, who wanted the wealth of the elites through the path of progress exhibited by the United States (pg. 169). The emergence of the middle and working classes played a major role in shaping Latin American history throughout the twentieth century.
This paper shall explore two documents pertaining the theme of class and thus present their analysis. The first document involves the roles of the middle sectors as depicted in the document by Jose Marti, named Our America. In light of the document, the thesis shall analyse the contributions of the middle and working class in Latin America, so as to achieve political stability and economic development. A literature about the document will help in showing the historical time which the document is precisely dated.
New Actors on an Old Stage
i. The Presence of the United States
In the nineteenth century, foreign influence in the Americas was much attributed by the Great Britain. Initially, Great Britain did not encounter serious economic domination rivals of the American region, however, as the United States became stronger, its politicians and capitalists decided to dominate the Caribbean and to spread through the North American continent (p. 170). United States philosophy for dominance was themed: Manifest Destiny, which entailed slavery of non-white populace (p.171). The United States was much favoured in dominating the Latin American region because of its strategic location by sharing the same geography.
Nonetheless, through a number of treaties, for instance, the Monroe Doctrine and the Clayton-Bulwer, United States managed to expand and protect their territorial dominance over Latin America. As a result of the rapid industrial growth after the civil-war period, capitalists and leaders were impelled to look for new markets. Hence, the United States proposed an amicable hemispheric trade, whereby Latin America supplied the raw material while the United States provided the manufactured products (p.172).
After the success of the hemispheric trade proposal, the United States became the main foreign economic influence in Latin America over Great Britain, whereby it was characterised by a rapid growth of their investments in the region. Railroads were rated as the most key investment, then mining, and finally agriculture. Economic importance between the United States and Latin America displaced that of Europe to Latin America, since most of the exports from Latin America made their way to the United States as well as the case of imports from the United States. Novel steamship lines and telegraph links increased the relations between the United States and Latin America. The growing commercial links tightened diplomatic understanding and cooperation in the hemisphere, denouncing the degree of concern over security tension by the Untied States and fears of aggression by Latin America (p.178).
ii. The Emergence of the Middle Class
The cities in Latin America saw the emergence of a middle sector. Initially, the middle sector comprised of the working class. It consisted of fellows of liberal professions – such as professors and schoolteachers – as well as merchants, military officers, bureaucrats, businessmen, and those gript in the emerging industrialisation. The mutual denominator of this class laid on the fact that they did not qualify to the ranks of the conventional elite nor seen as of the poorer and lower ranks of society.
In the last decade of the 19th century, the middle class made up of mulattos and mestizos, joined the middle sector. Their main objective was to advocate for rights to take part in economic and political roles in their particular nation’s destiny. In some instances, their ambitions were accommodated by the conventional elites; while in instances where they were not included in positions of prestige, control, or wealth, frustrations certainly mounted (p.179).
Jose Marti, in the document: Our America, evidently fights for governance through appreciation of local realities, rather than the implementation of foreign reforms. He suggests that a good government is attributed as with an equilibrium of local needs and resources. He vehemently advocates for political and economic roles by the middle sector because it understands and appreciates local realities by their consistent interaction in their everyday life. This document presents the role of the middle sector in shaping the development and political future of Latin America.
Marti denounces the working class and the elites as incapable of making the right decisions for the future of Latin America. His argument is based on the fact that universities teach foreign structures of government, and fail to teach on how to govern the local people. This form of curriculum does not take local political reality into consideration, and thus leads to strife in a country. The conventional elites often assimilate foreign policies into the local government, which do not take into account the well-being of a citizen, therefore escalating their frustration with the government and then chaos in the country.
Nonetheless, Our America calls for a new turn of the structure of the government where instead of solving local problems with foreign solutions, the government should reflect the realities of that particular country. This can only be achieved through the inclusion of all populations in the Republic and aim to benefit all of them equally. Such an approach shall bring forth leaders who apply their knowledge in shaping a government that adapts to the local realities rather than imitating it.
Furthermore, an alliance the elite class, the middle sector and the lower class is an ideal platform to foster unity in a nation. Through unity, Latin America can check and control the risk that the United States poses in an effective and sound way, contrary to if the Latin America nations are subjected to internal political and economic strife. Unity is also a key element for enhancing creativity and originality within a nation through recreating its government.
The development of the United States as a superpower, and then the emergence of the middle sector in Latin America inevitably played a huge role in shaping the political and economic structure of the region. The United States influenced the end of Europe’s dominance in Latin America and the growth of middle sectors through their investments in the region. The middle sector consisted of two groups; the working class made up of teachers, businessmen, military, merchants who shaped the economy, and the middle class made up of mulattos and mestizos who shaped the political welfare of the region.
2. New Nations
The history of Latin America by Charlip and Burns is a captivating work that aims to present the chronology of historical events that led to the existence of today’s Latin America. From the first migrants, Asians, to Europeans and then the Africans, who all came at disparate times and for varying reasons, they interacted and intermarried bringing about the distinctive panorama of Latin America society(Charlip and Burns, p.1). Interoceanic trade by the Europeans brought about development of economies, spread of religion and colonialism. Nonetheless, the long colonial period saw a significant change of psychology of the Latin Americans, whereby nativism developed to nationalism (p. 61). This meant that the Latin Americans started pushing for independence from the rule of distant monarchs, who made political and economic decisions for them. The change of mentality begot an adjustment of new attitudes and actions (p. 62), which led to revolution against colonialism that earned them independence from the European rule.
Consequently, this saw the creation of new nations. Most Latin American countries had gotten independence by the time the first quarter of the nineteenth century was coming to an end. The protracted struggle for independence only elevated a few of elite individuals who rose to power, who depicted cultural dependence from France and economic subservience to Great Britain (p. 84). The document that will be considered pertaining this topic is the document by Domingo Sarmiento, named Civilisation and Barbarism. To understand the context of the document, its literature exhibits the events that occurred during the period the document reflects, which was a year after Latin America gained independence. Then, an analysis of the document follows which evaluates the theme on class as depicted in the document.
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