Neocolonialism in Latin America


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  • David Alfaro Siqueiros. From the Dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz to the Revolution. 1957-65. Acrylic on plywood. Right-hand section showing the Cananean miners' strike of 1906, with William C. Green of the Green Consolidated Mining Company of America, and Fernando Palomares, leader of the Mexican Liberal Party, struggling for the possession of the flag of Mexico. On the right-hand wall Porfirio Diaz, Ministers and Courtesans. Hall of the Revolution, National History Museum, Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City, Mexico. DiazIrony of Hidalgo = part mixtec, which added to his popularity, but his was far separate from the interests of the indigenousHero of the Battle of Pueblo against the French and Maximillian, Cinco de MayoPositivist = “order and progress”Carrot or the stick approachUsed the rurales to control the rural populations as he sold off public lands to foreign investors“So far from God, so close to the US”
  • has played an important economic role in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times. After the Spanish conquest, it attracted settlers to the arid lands of northern Mexico, displacing the borders of the Spanish dominion. In modern times, it became one of the antecedents of the Mexican Revolution when, in 1906, workers launched a major strike against the American company Cananean Consolidated Copper in the state of Sonora. The strike was repressed with violence and bloodshed, consecrating the miners as the precursors of labor struggles in the country. The entire mural shows the martyrs of the revolution on the right side, the excesses of Diaz’s reign on the right side. The Cananean miners strike in the middle epitomizes the clash between the two sides as they struggle for control of the Mexican flag. During the strike the company brought in its private army to suppress the strike. Who controls the flag? Diaz or the people?
  • Neocolonialism in Latin America

    1. 1. Neocolonialism Born in Blood and Fire, Chapter 6
    2. 2. Opera House, Manuas, Brazil“When [companies] pulled out – because of a banana blight or new corporate strategy –all that these multinational installations left behind was ex-banana choppers with no job,no land, no education and a lot of missing fingers.” 189
    3. 3. “….’If one rubber baron bought a vast yacht, another would install a tame lion inhis villa, and a third would water his horse on champagne.’ And nothing wasmore extravagant than the opera house, with its Italian marble, Bohemian glass,gilded balconies, crystal chandeliers, Victorian murals, and a dome bathed inthe colors of the national flag.Prefabricated in Europe and costing an estimated ten million dollars intaxpayers’ money, the opera house was shipped in pieces more than a thousandmiles up the Amazon River, where laborers were deployed around the clock toassemble it, working at night under Brazil’s first electric lightbulbs.It didn’t matter that almost no one from Manaus had heard of Puccini or thatmore than half the members of a visiting opera troupe eventually died of yellowfever. This was the apotheosis of the rubber boom”. The Lost City of Z
    4. 4. EXPORT BOOM“The direct beneficiaries of this exportbonanza were the large landowners,whose property values soared with theapproach of the railroad tracks.” 183“The arrival of the railroad benefittedthe owners of large Mexican estates byraising property values. But it drove alot of peasants off the land, allowingthe landlords to extend their holdings,make landless peasants theiremployees, and multiply their profits.”184“Bananas were a neocolonialnightmare for the palm-studded coastsof the Caribbean.” 187
    5. 5. PORFIRIATO • Positivism = “order and progress” A funny thing happened to the liberals of Latin America during their comeback of the 1860s and 1870s. Once in control, they forgot about the political freedoms they had demanded under the conservative caudillos. Democracy now took a distant second place, in their thinking, to the material Progress associated with export growth. 193 [As a result of import/export tax revenues funding armies and police forces]… Now national presidents commanded far moreDavid Alfaro Siqueiros, From the Dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz to the Revolution firepower than any regional caudillo. 193For the most part, the majority had little say in the matter [of authoritarian governance]. The political influence of therural majority was limited by income and literacy requirements for voting, and limited even more by the practice ofmanaged elections. The authoritarian governments of neocolonial Latin America made electoral management into anart form. 194Oligarchies and dictatorships provided stability, the virtue always most desired by foreign investors. 195
    6. 6. Rurales and Pan o Palo As the value of Mexico’s import/export trade expanded by roughly ten times during the Porfiriato, President Porfirio Diaz used the new revenues to strengthen the Mexican state.He curbed regional caudillos by crushing them or paying them off. He created public jobsfor middle-class townspeople by vastly enlarging the bureaucracy. Diaz offered just twoalternatives: pan o palo, meaning roughly “carrot or stick.” For example, he subsidizedthe press to keep it friendly, then jailed journalists who spoke against him. Mexicoacquired a national rail system and graceful, monument-lined avenues in its capital city.But as Mexico approached the centennial of Hidalgo’s 1810 uprising, the Mexico Citypolice had orders to hustle indigenous people away from downtown, so that the foreigninvestors would not get the “wrong impression” of Mexico. 195-6.
    7. 7. 1900 Mexico CityHe grew up in the shadown of Juarez. The man who weeps as he kills, Juarez called him. “Weeping, weeping, he’ll kill me if I’m not careful.”Porfirio Diaz has been ruling Mexico for a quarter of a century. The official biographers record forposterity jos yawns and his aphorisms. They do not note it down when he says: “The best Indian is six feet underground.” “Kill them on the spot.” “Don’t stir up the herd on me.”“The herd” are legislators, who vote Yes when their heads nod from sleepiness, and who call DonPorfirio the Unique, the Indispensable, the Irreplaceable. The people call him “Don Perfidy” and makefun of his courtiers: “What time is it?” “Whatever you say, Senor President.”The shot-while-trying-to-escape law is applied to the rebellious and the courteous. At the height of PaxPorfiriana, Mexico makes progress. Messages that previously went by mule, horse, or pigeon, now flyover seventy thousand kilometers of telegraph wire. Where stagecoaches used to go , there are fifteenthousand kilometers of railroad. On every big estate a fortress rises. From the battlements, guards keepwatch over the Indians, who may not even change masters.There are no schools of economics but Don Porfirio rules surrounded by “scientists” specializing in thepurchase of lands precisely where the next railway will pass. Capital comes from the United States andideas and fashions are ought secondhand in France. Mexico City likes to call itself “the Paris of theAmericas,” although more white peasant pants than trousers are seen in the streets ; and the frock-coated minority inhabit Second Empire-style palaces. The poets have baptized its evenings “the greenhour” not because of the light through the streets , but in memory of De Musset’s absinthe.
    8. 8. “In ideology and values, as in tradeand finance, neocolonialism meant theabsorption of Latin America into aninternational system dominated byBritain and the United States. It ishere, in friction with powerfuloutsiders, that Latin Americans beganto feel the colonial in neocolonialism.”200
    9. 9. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine made the US Marines a sort of hemisphericpolice force to prevent European military intervention in Latin America. He believedincompetent Latin American governments would occasionally need correction “by somecivilized nation.” 206
    10. 10. REACTIONSAugusto Cesar Sandino“Come on you pack of drug fiends, comeon and murder us on our own land. I amwaiting for you on my feet at the headof my patriotic soldiers, and I dont carehow many of you there are. You shouldknow that when this happens, thedestruction of your mighty power willmake the Capitol shake in Washington,and your blood will redden the whitedome that crowns the famous WhiteHouse where you plot your crimes.”
    11. 11. “Although neocolonial Latin America had growneconomically, it had developed much less.” BBF, 208