9/21 Class Blog

In today’s class, our guest speaker described the state of Latin America today, specifically in Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela. Some of the trends in this time include nationalism, efforts to diversify economy, and revolutionary changes. One major theme from today was how those in power act in ways that benefit themselves at the expense of their country. In Mexico, the indigenous groups had a large influence in collective land ownership. Villages or communities would collectively own the land and farm it for themselves. Then, the government made a shift to private ownership, so companies could come in and turning family farms into plantations, which lowered the residents quality of life. Additionally, the high demand for drugs and guns in the U.S. drives the power of the cartels and makes fighting corruption in government extremely difficult.

In Brazil, even someone like President Lula, a former labor organizer himself, who created successful social programs that lifted families out of poverty, still got caught in a money laundering scandal. The two presidents that followed were also involved, but the leftists were the ones who faced jail time. The speaker mentioned how politicians would utilize populism to “represent a neglected majority”, but ultimately act selfishly to remain in power. Some questions this left me with are if its possible for legitimate politicians to succeed in the systems of these countries? Is there something structural in the government that forces even those who do good things for the people to become corrupt?