Latin America – Term Paper

i. Formation of New Nations

After gaining independence, the independence leaders developed theoretic republics, which were characterised by their individual wants that were under false perception that the wants conformed to the wants of the people. Who should govern and how to govern were important questions that faced the newly independent Latin Americans. For the Iberian kings, their monarchies had a predefined hereditary system for who to govern, and ruled in accordance with the customs and laws. However, independence in the Latin American nations created a political vacuum. Uncertain and conflicting efforts to fill the vacuum brought bloodshed, anguish, and chaos to the Latin Americans (p. 85).         

Tension embodied the initial governments from the time of independence to the mid-nineteenth century. The early governments were loomed by aggression from their neighbours, possibility of the European reconquering, and internal challenges. Also, some leaders were psychologically insecure of the certainty of their positions of power, of those uneasy about political change and its effects on the future, and of those demanding class fluidity. Violence and chaos was erupted between those preferring Europeanization, i.e. civilisation, and imposing the native folk culture (p. 91).       

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Document Analysis: Civilisation and Barbarism by Domingo Sarmiento

Judging from the period this document reflects, Latin America consisted of two classes; the customary elite and lower class. The main idea presented in the document involves advocating for a joint effort between the elite and the lower class for a politically stable economic development in the new nations. As presented in the preceding literature, Domingo was against an elite-centred rule and its prospects to influence the nations. Domingo Sarmiento is clearly resisting civilisation, a way portrayed by the elites, and views it as a lifestyle that contributes idleness and incompetence, which the folk population cannot hold onto. He suggests a revolution by the lower class against the civilised way of life if they do not take into account their customary way of life in formulation of the government (p. 127). He justifies the revolution in 1810 as a contest that brought the two cultures face-to-face, whereby one lifestyle assimilated by the other.

He presents the disparity of the populace inhabiting the vast districts of the Americas as made up of explorers, natives and the blacks. He brings up the disparity so as to point out that as much as there is such a difference, there also have to be difference in ways of life and does not have to conform the Spaniards way of life. He argues that it is from the fusion of the different cultures that resulted to the formation of a homogeneous whole: civilised people in the cities. He characterises the civilised populace as being an idle bunch and incapable of industry, unless education and necessities of a social position spurs them out of their customary way. He promotes on not abandoning the barbaric way of life by the natives (p. 123).  

He then proceeds to explain how the structure of Europeanization does not conform to their customary way of life, hence will bring grave effects to the people. Indeed, he is not happy with the civilisation because the lifestyle by the Spanish was not in accordance with the natives’ way of nomad life. He supports his thought by presenting the Argentine native population as being mostly comprised of nomad tribes (p. 103; p.124), thus the creation of cities for each province as a capital did not favour the argentines way of life. Actually, he presents civilisation as a different way of life that was simply limited to the capital cities, while the rest of the land was inhabited by the natives, who depended on livestock products thus the civilised way of life did not fit them.

3. Conclusion

I propose that what the authors of each documents present concerning the political environment and economic development and the role played by each class depicts need for solidarity. Solidarity is necessary in solving local problems, despite the difference in social class, through a platform that involves views by all classes, rather than a one-sided approach. 

The first document presents that the middle class advocated for unity through the formulation of a government that reflected the local reality. This involved taking into account creativity and originality in solving a local problem rather than looking at and implementing foreign policies. The approach advocated by Marti stands out as an effective approach to deal with the opposition strife between the elite and other classes. The approach aims at combining thoughts of each class and reach a consensus on solving an issue, in contrary of a one-sided method in solving a solution.      

The second document also points out that solutions for local well-being should not be based on imitation of foreign policies. Rather, it is better if the Latin Americans did away with approaches that lead to polarity in solving local problems and look for a way to merge the views of both classes. It is evident that unity within all Latin American nations was compromised as the natives tried to fill the political vacuum left after gaining independence. The violence mostly erupted between conflicting parties of those that preferred folk customs and those who imposed civilisation. The author suggests that most Argentinians led a nomad life, and civilisation will completely do away with their ‘normal’ life. Furthermore, he characterises civilisation as a life promoting idleness and incompetence.

Nonetheless, despite the vast historical difference on the periods the two documents were written, they both present a struggle aimed at the same objective: political stability and foster economic growth. It is clear that with the advent of self-governance, a lot has changed with respect to environment and climate in Latin America. Thus, to achieve economic development and political stability, notions from all the classes – Elite, middle and lower – should be taken into consideration in coming up with the government. A government approach that considers all the classes inevitably preserves the locals’ well-being and heritage, as well as achieve political stability and economic development through unity. Therefore, it is just if a one-sided approach to forming a government is discouraged and a merged approach for solving local problems is promoted.            


Burns E. B., Charlip J. A. (2002). ‘Consider the Source: Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History. 7th Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.