Class Notes 11/22

Class began with the LA in the news by Joseph Z. The article was about a rejected bill by the Miami County Commission, that would have helped to reunite Cuban immigrant families. This article is an example of how LA news coverage in the US depends on regionality.

The topic of the class was modern Venezuela and its mass migration issue. Important questions to think about are:

  • Push/Pull factors—Why do people leave?
  • What information do we have right now about the crisis?
  • How is it portrayed by different news outlets?
  • What is the OAS approach and what are its implications?

In addition, here are some of the graphs that we looked at, displayed by the OAS:

Graph 1

Source: UNHCR Portal ( and IOM/UNHCR portal for monitoring the Venezuelan situation by R4V (

These graph help to provide a global context, but there are concerns about how readable they are and how relevant/accurate the other data is. The argument made by the graphs is highlighted by the use of red to show the dangers of the forecasted migrant numbers.

Overall, the factors causing much of the migration include:

  • Humanitarian Crisis
    • No clean water
    • Shortage of food
    • Shortage of medicine
  • Violence
    • Organized crime
    • State violence
  • Inflation
  • Little effort by the state to solve the issue

Helpful links:

OAS Report –

Somos Panas –

Miami-Dade commission rejects Democratic bill to help reunite Cuban families – Joseph Zagales

The Miami-Dade commission rejected the Democratic bill to help reunite Cuban families. The bill would expedite travel applications from Cuban relatives of U.S. citizens. Even though the democrats hold a slim majority on the commission, they still could not get the bill passed. Cuban Americans no longer hold a majority on the commission. Republicans claim that the bill was a way for Democrats to use the “pain of Cuban people” for politics. The bill was proposed by Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

This bill seeks to revive a program launched under George W. Bush. The bill allows Cuban-American families to apple for “parole” for relatives living in Cuba. The status allows family members to bypass some U.S. immigration delays and come to the United States while waiting for visas to be approved. The program was put on pause when the U.S. embassy in Havana.

In this article, Latin America is discussed in multiple ways. The main point is about Cuba. The article talks about Cuba as a place where people need to escape communism and socialism. The bill is trying to get people to escape the horrors that go on in Cuba. This is not a good look for Latin America in this article. Cuba is portrayed as a bad place to be in and live in.

This bill and article relates to what we learned about Cuba. We learned how Cuba was in revolution and how Castro lead the revolution, but we did not learn about what happened after. My grandparents are both from Cuba. They experienced the entire rise of Castro and what happened after. In Cuba, Castro began to take people’s land and homes. He then did not let them worship their own religion. Many people were in poverty and being oppressed. My grandparents were some of these people. This bill and article talks about the effects of everything Castro did to the country. The bill basically allows people who escaped to be able to bring their family members who are still in Cuba to America even while their Visa is still being approved. This article is directly talking about one of the places we learned about.

Class Notes 11/18- Joseph Zagales

We began class on Monday with announcements.  After announcements, we heard our LA in the News from Amber.  After this we discussed Chavez’s speeches and looked at what makes a speech a good primary source.  This is important for our class, because as a historian one of the most important things is to be able to look at primary sources and be able to make conclusions and tie the sources with our arguments in history.

We talked about questions we must ask when discussing a speech:

Context- is it a reactionary speech or a new policy speech?

Who is the audience?

The speaker’s point of view?

What are the limitations?

How is the tone and delivery?

After discussing this, we watched Chavez’s speech.  As a class we responded to what we saw in the speech.  Some of the responses included, that the speech seemed to be prepared and very theatrical.  Another word used to discuss this speech was provocative.  This is important to look at, especially with what we are learning because we got to see Chavez addressing other Latin American countries and other countries, discussing his policies and how he thought America was the real problem.  We then talked about Chavez’s vision for Venezuela.  He talked about how he wanted to use oil money to better the education and healthcare in Venezuela.  He then compared himself to Jesus and other Latin leaders from the past, like Bolivar and Castro.

We then split up into groups to discuss our HAP and the speeches we did the homework on.



Interested in the Impeachment? Come Learn More Tuesday 11/19 @7pm

I write to share this announcement from Phi Alpha Theta president Savanna Hitlan:


Dear All,

Hello! I am Savanna Hitlan and I am the President of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT), the history honors society on campus. I wanted to let you all know about an upcoming event co-hosted by PAT and the Political Science Club.
As many of you know, the U.S., for the fourth time in the history of the nation, is currently beginning trials for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. In loom of that, our two clubs have come together to create an event that can help students and faculty alike understand the situation from a historical and political science lens.
Professor Roche (History) and Professor Bas van Doorn (Political Science) have agreed to demonstrate their interpretations of the impeachment trials. They each will give about a six to ten minute synopsis of their points and once both done we will open the floor to any questions that the general audience may have. One person from each of the above clubs will moderate.
If that wasn’t enough, there will also be snacks provided by Spoon.
The event will be held Tuesday, November 19, from 7:00-8:00pm in Kauke 038.
Hope to see you all there!
Thank you,
Have a nice day!

This Mexican Village’s Embroidery Designs Are Admired (and Appropriated) Globally-News

This Mexican Village’s Embroidery Designs Are Admired (and Appropriated) Globally

Where it would be easy to assume that the American perspective of Latin America would glorify the American perspective. Rather, the New York Times paints Latin America, specifically Mexico, as the good guy and America as the villian. In an article written Nov. 13, 2019, “This Mexican Village’s Embroidery Designs are Admired (and Appropriated) Globally,”  the New York Times exposes an often ignored aspect of art: appropriation. In a small town in Mexico, San Nicolàs, embroidery runs through the veins of its artists.

An indegenous tribe called the Otomí have a distinct art style, depicting their vegetation and wildlife, unique to their location. The art was originally used for survival and has been adapted into an industry they call the tenangos. Since the expansion of their art, it has been distributed in a worldwide market. One look at their work, makes their unique nature clear. The art is vivid with distinctive colors and imagery as you can see in the photo below.In the past few months, “major international brands have advertised products decorated with the Otomís’ distinctive iconography, without mentioning Tenango de Doria or the Otomí as their source.” Many of us are familiar with the term cultural appropriation. It shows up in our social media feeds but it is rarely addressed in the art community, in particular with indegenous peoples. In this article, the author went a step further than appropriation, calling it plagiarism. This word choice exposes the severity of this infringement. These embroideries are a part of the tenango livelihood. It is not merely a pastime, but it is essential to their survival. This unqiue art form is dying as companies like Nestlé profit from the designs they are stealing from these uncompensated artists. 

In comparison to how I typically see Latin America portrayed in the news, this article was a pleasant surprise. It gave credence to the tenago artisans and respected their craft. It did so without painting these artists as victims as the artists pursued legal actions. I appreciated the way the author exposed the companies that plagiarized including the well-known Nestlé. 

The author did a beautiful job of displaying the various artworks of these genuine artists. However, I would have appreciated if the author had included some of the appropriated images as a point of comparison, particularly for Nestlé (partially out of curiosity). 

In relation to the course, I found this article fascinating in how indegenous peoples are continuing to be abused. In the same way we have seen so many revolutions spurred by indegenous rights, we continue to see the necessity for reform on these grounds. Systematically, it is clear that the artists did not find any solace in that they did not win their lawsuits against the plagiarists, only losing money in attempting to get the credit they deserve.

This is the most horrendous form of cultural appropriation in that it allows artists to be starved (figuratively and literally) of the credit for their hard work. They pour a piece of themselves into their art, only for big corporations to take credit and turn a profit, and for the artist to receive little to no credit and no compensation. This goes to show that cultural appropriation is not simply a fashion statement but it damages lives, perpetuating the cycle of poverty whilst large companies rake in money they don’t need.


Latin American Response to Bolivia’s Political Unrest

Following the right-wing coup in Bolivia and the resignation of Evo Morales, the governments and people of several Latin American countries have let their thoughts and opinions be heard. One of the main countries voicing their opinion is Mexico, which granted Morales political asylum following his coerced resignation by the military in an order to return the country to peace. A Mexican Air Force G550 was sent Monday morning to pick up Morales in a proactive effort, not a reactive effort. There was uneasiness in the journey because the plane took off from Lima, Peru it was not allowed to land in Bolivia and had to return and wait for hours. After Morales was picked up, the plane was not able to refuel in Peru “due to political evaluations.” The plane was then able to land in Paraguay after a discussion between Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez and Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo. Following his departure, Morales tweeted “Sisters and brothers, I am leaving towards Mexico… It hurts to leave the country for political reasons; however, I will always be watching. Soon I will return with more strength and energy.”

Many left-leaning Latin American governments have expressed their thoughts that this was coup, while right-leaning governments like the US and the UK have expressed this as a return to democracy. Nicaragua’s left-leaning president Daniel Ortega has called this a coup and shows his unwavering support for Morales. Argentina’s foreign minister agrees with the recommendation from the OAS about holding new elections, but its President-elect Alberto Fernandez describes what has been happening a coup, saying “It was a coup perpetrated against the president who had called for a new electoral process”. There have even been huge protests in Buenos Aires against the coup. Venezuela’s Maduro condemned this suspected coup and added his support for the Native Bolivian people who he calls “victims of racism,” while Juan Guaido describes this as a continuation of the “democratic hurricane in Latin America”. Cuba has also called this a coup. Countries with more center and/or right-leaning governments have not called this a coup, but do call for a peaceful transition and process, these countries include Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.

Latin America as a whole is portrayed differently in all the articles I looked at. It depends on which news site, but these sites seem more or less neutral and just reporting on an event that could be considered a coup or not, which also depends on which government leader people are asking. This is very important to our class discussion because Latin America has a lengthy history of right-wing coups that have taken out democratically elected governments. We are seeing history in the making, and a history that has clearly repeated itself.



Class Notes 11/13/2019

After announcements, Elle Dykstra presented on their Latin America in the News which concerned Evo Morales stepping down from the presidency in Bolivia. We spent most of the class discussing different perspectives/opinions about how Bolivia’s elections had resulted in voter fraud. It’s debatable whether or not Morales’ election/protest would be considered a coup. Jeanine Anez, the acting president of Bolivia, is currently in the process of making a new election.

  • We continued to discuss about coups and what makes a coup?
    • Military Intervention
    • Outside of the Legal/constit process.

Great Discussions on the LA in the news topic!!

Moved on briefly on the “Maps” we looked at for our HAP. Mapping Militant Groups = how can digital visualizations give a better understanding of these complicated political organizations? (we will talk more about this more in the next class, briefly at the beginning)

We got into our HAP groups and discussed how the “maps” were a bit unclear and confusing, which made us struggle with the research question section of the HAP.

Evo Morales Steps Down as President of Bolivia

Evo Morales announces his resignation on November 10th.

On November 10th, 2019, Bolivia’s three-term president stepped down after weeks of widespread protests and violence due to the results of the October 20th election, in which Morales achieved a surprise victory over his opponent Carlos de Mesa. In Bolivian elections, a candidate requires either 50 percent of the vote, or at least 40 percent with a 10 percentage point lead over the next candidate (CEPR). If a candidate doesn’t reach either of these, the top two candidates are placed into a runoff election against one another. In Bolivia, there are also two vote-counting systems. The first is the “quick count”, a system which gives a count of the votes received on election night for use by the media. The second is the official count, which usually takes longer to count, includes all votes, and is the only system that is legally binding (CEPR). The quick count gave Morales a lead over de Mesa, but not the 10 percentage point lead he needed to avoid a runoff election. A few days later, the final election results through the official count were delivered, and Morales won with just over a 10 percentage point lead.

Subsequently, the opposition to Morales denounced him and his results and took to the streets in protest. The opposition cites his decision to run for a fourth term despite his promise that he wouldn’t, his successful removal of term limits through the constitutional court declaring them a human rights violation, his decision to build a luxury presidential palace and a museum dedicated to himself, and the fact that the votes he needed to win coming in at the last minute as justification for their belief that the election was illegitimate (CNN). After weeks of protest and calls to resign, Morales offered to hold a second election. However, the opposition and Bolivian protestors were not placated by this, and with the military joining in against Morales, him and much of his cabinet stepped down in an attempt to “stop the bloodshed” (NYT), and stating that what was occurring was a coup.

Carlos de Mesa speaking to the media.

Morales’s supporters agree that a coup occurred. They cite widespread right-wing violence in the weeks after the election for calling this a coup, with terror tactics such as Carlos de Mesa’s party paying youths to cause chaos as primary examples (teleSUR). Racism is also said to be a motivation behind this alleged coup. Morales is the first indigenous president of Bolivia and is immensely popular with the indigenous people of the country due to his major reforms. Much violence has been specifically targeted towards indigenous women, such as when a mayor of Morales’s party “was beaten, dragged through the dirt and doused with red paint in ritual fashion” (teleSUR). Furthermore, many of the votes which gave Morales his belated lead were from rural areas with a high indigenous population, areas which historically report late and heavily favor Morales.

What I found highly interesting was how the event has been portrayed in United States media outlets versus Telesur, a Latin American news network sponsored by Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Bolivia. The New York Times portrays Morales as a leader desperately trying to hold on to power, but does make note of his accomplishments of lifting many out of poverty. Both the New York Times and CNN describe the response to Morales as an “rebellion” (NYT) of the people against an oppressive ruler, both portray the delayed votes as the votes being delayed without any known reason, and cite the OAS as evidence that the election results were highly irregular. Telesur takes a diametrically opposed viewpoint. It, unlike the other articles, mentions that Morales’s party asked the OAS to recount the results, and characterizes the opposition as seeking to seize power in any way possible, not caring about the results of the election. Telesur does not mention Morales successfully petitioning to have term limits removed, or any criticisms of his actions as president. It should be noted that the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a think-tank based in Washington D.C., has examined the results of the election and found nothing out of line in this election when compared to previous elections, calling the OAS’s decision to question the election results without providing any evidence as “very unusual, and highly questionably” (CEPR).

Jeanine Áñez, the current president of Bolivia. She was 5th in the line of succession as Second Vice President of the Senate.

In the context of our class themes, I see these events as indicative of a counterrevolution, most similar to what occurred in Chile in 1973. Morales as president was a popular leftist leader, who was forced out of office by the actions of the military, an event very obviously reminiscent of Allende’s fall (do note that the New York Times clarifies that this is not an “old-school coup in which the military aims to take power itself”). Furthermore, this comes after Bolivia’s cancelling of an agreement with a foreign firm to mine lithium in the country (Common Dreams), much like how the Chilean nationalization of copper in 1971 under Allende prompted the military coup there and then. The OAS is also a major player in these recent events, hearkening back to our class examination of Fidel Castro’s denouncement of the OAS, and adding in themes of imperialism and neocolonialism. Finally, US support of dictatorship can be seen in the portrayal of these events, as the New York Times article ends with a quote from far-right President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, an authoritarian leader who has on numerous occasions praised Brazil’s oppressive military dictatorship—quite literally giving him the last word in this matter.

Works Cited:

Beeton, Dan. “No Evidence That Bolivian Election Results Were Affected by Irregularities or Fraud, Statistical Analysis Shows: Press Releases.” CEPR, Center for Economic and Policy Research, 8 Nov. 2019,

Forster, Cindy. “Bolivia in Crosshairs of US Counter-Revolution.” TeleSUR English, TeleSUR, 11 Nov. 2019,

Ghitis, Frida. “Bolivia’s Blunt Message to Leaders Drunk on Power.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Nov. 2019,

Higgins, Eoin. “Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Multinational Firm’s Lithium Deal.” Common Dreams, Common Dreams, 11 Nov. 2019,

Londoño, Ernesto. “Bolivian Leader Evo Morales Steps Down.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2019,