L.A Essay, Research Paper
OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA
Eduardo Galeano s Open Veins of Latin America looks at the political, economic and social history of Latin America. Mr. Galeano argues that the More Developed Countries played a main role in the Lesser Developed Country status Latin America has been accustomed to. Throughout the book he gives examples of how the M.D.C are responsible for the social hierarchy that has formed over generations. This hierarchy sees the peasants, who assemble the population, of this agriculturally abundant land starving while the few acquire riches and control the destiny of the land and its people. Galeano takes you through the history of Latin America from the discovery of this great land by Christopher Columbus to the 1970 s. He will argue that the riches of the land have bonded the people of the America s to poverty and suffering.
The invasion of Latin America first began with Spain and Portugal in the 1500 s, than gave way to Britain in the 1800 s and finally ended in the hands of the United States in the 20th Century. Its has seen political and economic power concentrated in a few, instituted by the ones that colonized, that do not have the peoples best wishes in mind. Instead, their main goal was to acquire riches for themselves and more importantly for their country. Spain was the first to plague Latin America. They did not colonize to help the indigenous people increase their standard of living; instead they colonized to plunder the land of its natural riches to be exported back to Spain and pushed the native population into an era of oppression. It first started with the extortion of the natural minerals that were so abundant throughout Latin America and the enslavement of its native population. That eventually opened the doors for sugar, cotton, coffee, and other agriculturally grown products to be harvested and exported. The lands of Latin America have served the purposes of other countries since first contact by the Europeans. Nothing was produced or mined if it did not benefit its conquerors, the land was being raped of its raw materials so other nations could sustain their vanity status and wage war against any that would oppose them. Latin Americans did not benefit from the riches of its own lands. A tyrant is one who rules with his/her best wishes in mind and looks upon the people as a means of obtaining the ends. Latin America has been controlled by tyrants who in their own countries advocate democracy and freedom but overseas rule with hands coated with the people s blood. Latin America has given the most and has the least. Galeano states that conquerors justify their actions by implying that they bring economic prosperity to a land without. This is true but the prosperity has never benefited the land which gives it and only the land the takes it. The Spanish and Portuguese main objective was to accumulate wealth and they did just that, Latin America was looked upon as a clay piggy bank, they shattered it and took everything that was inside. The crown to destroy Latin America has passed through Britain who did the same and finally to the United States. But the United States do not control L.A by traditional means; they control the countries finances and thus control the country. U.S capital is more tightly concentrated in Latin America than in the United States itself. (Galeano, Eduardo, 1971: 208) The U.S has big corporations in place, which thrive on raw materials and have no need to produce secondary products that would benefit the country. Latin America has been caught, tamed and harnessed; slowly withering away in a cage made of gold. Galeano defends his arguments by paying close attention to detail, detail of the countries history, of the peoples suffering and gives detailed accounts of what colonization has resulted in. He takes an historians perspective, covering the important events that have led to the present day condition of Latin America. He illustrates a picture of bloodshed by the indigenous people due to forced labor, and he tells how conquerors enriched their countries because of the raw material L.A gave birth to. L.A is not an independent entity; it exports raw materials and imports secondary products and falls in the economic market when these raw materials fall in value. From the beginning the majority of the people have been abused, they know no other way, power has been concentrated in the few that manipulate it for their own benefit and have no vision for the country. What can the people do when the ones that rule don t care for them? Political and economic instability were the gifts from across the seas. His argument can be summed up by saying, Latin America would not be a L.D.C if it were let free to grow without outside influence in a natural state just like it s conquerors were free to do. Instead their greed destroyed a land and its people. When the first conquerors left, they planted a seed that grew into two plants in the minds of the people, it blossomed to teach them you must oppress to win, to gain wealth. It blossomed to teach them this is the way it is supposed to be; we must be poor for them to be rich.
Galeano puts forth an argument that has been banned in the country that it was intended to help. Yes, I am convinced by Galeano s argument. His theories condemn the M.D.C, and persecute the political powers in Latin America. If a book takes the angle his has taken and explains how other nations are responsible for the poverty of Latin America, the book has no financial future anywhere in the world. It is plain to see the books purpose was not to make any money, for it was than he would have praised instead of convict potential buying markets. The book was written with passion and intense emotion; because if it weren t it would not have made you feel the emotions he wrote with. I have always had questions on how a country became Less Developed, I never understood why, I always thought it was internal variables that deprived a country of its potential. I never gave thought to external forces until venturing through Open Veins of Latin America. His book makes sense and his arguments are backed by facts. The historical perspective gave detailed accounts from day one of discovery. And it is true; the only reason the Americas were colonized was to extract wealth from its lands to benefit other lands. I am disguised with the actions of Spain, Portugal, Britain and the United Stated. They all claim to be so righteous in their actions but yet have murdered an entire portion of the earth. It is improbable to think that these nations didn t know the effects they were to have on Latin America. They knew but didn t care, it was all in the name of their country and it s power. The search for power has driven the world mad, but the mad would say otherwise. Death of millions and starvation of the rest; the result of their insanity. The conquerors implemented political institutes to control the countries economy and social structure. They left in place a system that concentrated power to the elites, which control the majority of the arable lands. The ones in political power sold out and gave way to their own greed and that of their mentors. The colonizers built a foundation on which a building of suffering was constructed. The conditions in Latin America and the relationship of Latin America to the M.D.C do suggest that revolutionary change is necessary for positive change in the region, Galeano does not overstate or overlook other options or possibilities, revolution is the only way. The book is one-sided; it looks at the conditions of the economy and political system of L.A and how they have effected the people. Galeano looks through the eyes of the sufferers and gives detailed accounts on why the world looks as it does to them. Another writing would look at the situation externally and come to different conclusions, they would see how the country has benefited from colonization, but what benefits are there when the people suffer none. Violent revolution is the only way no power is going to give up their wealth and power through lobbying. The powers that be must be overthrown and reform must take place. Latin America needs land reform, a government for the people by the people, they need higher education, they need to industrialize and produce secondary products in order to survive, and they need to force out the foreign powers and set themselves free to finally grow. The only way this can be done is through revolutionary strategies. Cuba is an excellent role model for revolution, through revolution they have achieved sovereignty that has benefited the people. They have proven armed revolution is the solution to suffering and manipulation. As Galeano so delicately put it, the rebirth of Latin America must start with the overthrow of its masters, country by country. (Galeano, Eduardo, 1971:261) Latin America needs to push out its masters to no longer be slaves to their endless desires. But as history has show revolutions have not been successful in Latin America because the powers that they fight against are too powerful.
The book offers insights into the reasons for so many revolutionary groups being active in Latin America and the thinking of those groups. Latin America is and has been ruled by a small class of local elites who are the only ones that have and are benefiting from relationships with the More Developed Countries. They control the wealth thus monopolizing political power. These elites have no vision of national development that benefits the majority and stay in power with the support of the military. They advocate regulations that solely benefit them; they control the majority of the agricultural land and are driving peasants off the minimal land they have. The people have and are suffering because the people in power are selfish and greedy. There is tension between the power and the peasants that has been building for generations. People can only be oppressed for so long under the conditions of Latin America before they explode. It is not the peasants, in most cases, that ignite the fire of revolt but the middle class who are frustrated of the political and economic system. The reason peasants haven t taken action to fight for their freedom is because they have no time they are too busy trying to survive and ensuring their families survive. Whereas the middle class have a little more time and education to realize the wrongs that are being done. Temporarily, successful revolutions have also inspired the revolutionaries. Such as the one instituted by Zapata of Morelos. The agrarian reform proposed to destroy at the roots and forever the unjust monopoly of land, in order to realize a social state which guarantees fully the natural right which every man has to extension of land necessary for his own subsistence and that of his family. Lands taken from communities and individuals since the deamortization law of 1856 were restored. (Galeano, Eduardo, 1971: 123) Technical schools, tool factories, and a rural credit bank were established; sugarmills and distilleries were nationalized and became public services. (Galeano, Eduardo, 1971: 124) Zapata revolutionized Morelos but like most revolutionaries he was murdered and his reforms with him. Any Latin American who reads Galeano s book will want to pick up a gun and declare open season on the masters of the existing political and economic system. Why, because the book outlines where Latin American problems are rooted, the suffering they have caused and most importantly who is to blame. In order to wage war you need an enemy; the foreign investors and the oligarchs are the enemies of the Latin American people. The people of L.A have and are suffering from poverty, starvation and malnutrition. There is no security provided for them by the government, no social security, no work security, and no security for their future. A man may suffer but will do everything in his power to ensure his child doesn t. This is why there are so many revolutionary groups active in the Americas. If I was Latin American and knew of the pain inflicted on my ancestors and immediate family. If I knew of how foreign nations did not want my country to prosper. If I knew of the generations lost to benefit the few. I would cry and the world would feel my tears rain upon them with vengeance. I would die to make my country a much more nurturing environment for my children to grow in.
I would recommend this book to other people simply because it tells a story of a land that has been raped and a population that is slowly being decimated. Open Veins of Latin America explains why the Americas are in the condition they are and this gives it credibility. It does not make outrageous claims without supporting it with facts. The book is believable because of the structure it has embodied. Some people might not believe what Galeano has to say because they can not conceive the fact that certain countries were and are so cruel to humanity. But it has been the way of the world and if we do not learn the ways than how can positive change be made. This book opens your eyes to suffering that is a part of our world, why should others not be allowed to see. Recommending this book will show the sheep, sometimes the shepherd is a wolf in disguise. This book instills feelings of compassion, anger, pity and disgust. A book full of so many emotions must hold some truth, and the truth has spoken words unfamiliar to individuals of my nature. I have never been exposed to the conditions like that of the Americas, but that does not mean they don t exist. The world is not as cozy as I thought it was, I always thought governments acted in the best interest of all people even if they were of foreign soil. I shall recommend this book to others and hope they hear the same words I have.
The world is disillusioned by the mighty dollar; they have left humanity wounded to be devoured by the lions on their journey to destruction. Entities, may it be an individual or a sovereign state, can not vision anything beyond their own existence. It has been the way of history to divide the world and have them battle, when will we learn the world was never meant to be divided but united. If only we could see beyond ourselves and what we have, if only the world was looked upon as one village than their would be no divisions battling, than there would be no suffering for who wants to see their own people starve.