My discussion question is, how does Che view indigenous people in The Motorcycle Diaries? He displays a strong sense of appreciation for indigenous people, due to their troubled past at the hands of colonialism that lasted many centuries. On page 93, he states that indigenous people are “a defeated race. Their stares are tame, almost fearful, and completely indifferent to the outside world. Some give the impression that they go on living only because it’s a habit they cannot shake.” This quote shows the hardships indigenous peoples had to deal with during the colonial times and Che feels their pain. Also, he notes their struggles in contemporary society at the hands of modernization and its actors. He states on page 97 that indigenous people are “brutalized by modern civilization and their companeros”. Since indigenous people had been pushed to the bottom of society for so long as a result of slavery, they are fighting an uphill battle to advance at the rate of the “white man”. In the novel, indigenous people’s oppression by Europeans and higher class individuals in society are noticed and acknowledged, and Che exhibits a sense admiration, as well as empathy for them.
To begin class, Peyton discussed the story of two people that had been found dead at butterfly reserves in Michoacan, Mexico. The first man, Homero Gomez, was found dead in the bottom of a well with blunt force trauma. A tourist was later found with stab wounds at another nearby butterfly sanctuary. It is speculated that these murders are linked to the cartel, as there are resources on the butterfly reserves that are very valuable. To obtain those resources, the cartels are trying to scare off tourists and staff. Environmental activists have also been killed by cartels to secure the natural resources. Overall, the article shows us more on corruption and organized crime in Mexico.
We then talked about nationalism and the Spanish empire in the 19th century, which was still present in Cuba and Puerto Rico. We talked about Jose Marti, one of the greatest fighters against the Spanish colonization of Cuba, and his thoughts on nationalism. They were central to our discussion, as he believed in “Our America”, meaning you must know the land you are governing, thus Latin America’s leaders should come from within, not Europe or the US. In relation we also discussed Ada Ferrer, who wrote about how the anti-slavery movement in Cuba became a part of the anti-colonial movement.
After, we looked at two political cartoons showing US imperialism in Latin America. One depicted an unshackled Cuba being invited to join the US as a state, and the other showed Uncle Sam holding reckless babies each labeled as Latin American countries. The first cartoon shows the US’s reach into Latin America during that time period, and the second shows the perception of Latin America by people from the United States and that the US should be the parent to those countries.
To end class, we talked about individual primary sources from our book, my group’s being “Education and the Mexican Revolution” by Octavio Paz. He analyzes thoughts of “The Cosmic Race” by Jose Vasconcelos, which discusses the resurgence of nationalism in Mexico through the arts and dance. He also states that Mexican nationalism, once Catholicism and liberalism were no longer serving them, became centered around race.
Narrowed Research Topic: How did US and Russian foreign policy during the Cold War help shape Cuban national identity?
I want to look at the foreign policy pursued during the Cold War, specifically in the Caribbean, and see how it led to a growth in national identity for Cubans. On one side, there was mass aggression by the United States against Cuba through embargoes and the Bay of Pigs invasion, and on the other, Russia had a strong influence over Cuba at the time. I hypothesize that both the aggression of the United States combined with the Russians’ political control over Cuba will lead to the development of a strong Cuban identity. I believe those two factors, combined with Fidel Castro’s fiery leadership, is a recipe for a surge nationalism.
Castro, Fidel. “Fidel Castro Denounces Aggressions Against Cuba.” The Black Scholar 8, no. 3 (1976): 10-17.
Bain, Mervyn J. “Russia, Cuba and Colonial Legacies in the Twenty-First Century.” Journal of Transatlantic Studies 15 (2017): 1-17.
Dunne, Michael. “Perfect Failure: The USA, Cuba and they Bay of Pigs, 1961.” The Political Quarterly 82, no. 3 (2011): 448-458.
Fagen, Richard R. “Mass Mobilization in Cuba: The Symbolism of Struggle.” Journal of International Affairs 20, no. 2 (1966): 254-271.
LeoGrande, William M. “A Policy Long Past Its Expiration Date: US Economic Sanctions Against Cuba.” Social Research: An International Quarterly 82, no. 4 (2015): 939-966.
As a GIS major with a focus in political science, international relations fascinates me. The Cold War has always been a period of history that interests me and I want to learn more about it from the Cuban perspective. I don’t have a particular research question yet, but I’d like to look at how Cuba, the US, and Russia all interacted with one another during the Cold War. Potentially I could research Cuba’s foreign policy during the Cold War or after it ended. Another topic that interests me is nationalism and national identity, so I’m interested to see how/if events like the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and US foreign policy played a role in shaping Cuban identity.