- Many of Pinochet’s supporters were women.
- Liberation theology was integral to the Sandanista cause.
- Liberal and reformist governments, as in the case of Chile, in Latin America were often spread thin by being too conservative for leftists but too leftist for conservatives.
My peer review feedback was positive, with some constructive criticisms that were really helpful in giving me new ideas to improve my assigned article. After reading it, I’m looking to include information on how Gustavo Gutiérrez influenced other liberation theologians and how they expanded upon his arguments. Considering how I think the “Legacy” subsection, along with most of the article in general, is somewhat stubbish, this would go a long way in improving the page’s quality.
The Wikipedia article on Gustavo Gutiérrez, a Peruvian priest and advocate for Christian socialism, gives the reader a strong understanding of his philosophical arguments, with both detailed summaries and his own quotes explaining them more or contextualizing them when necessary. This is the source of a lot of the article’s strengths and weaknesses, as it answers a lot of questions one might have about liberation theology, but it does this at the expense of discussion about his life’s work and influence on revolutionary movements in Latin America. Liberation theology already has a Wikipedia article – and it’s far longer than this one – so I feel it would benefit the article to focus more on Gutiérrez the person.
When I looked at the talk section, there wasn’t a ton of contention – I’ll explain more in the next paragraph – and some editors agreed with me that the article lacks detail on his life and another saying that the Spanish language version is far more detailed. These were from a little over a decade ago so I assume it’s made some improvements in this time, but I feel it could still use more discussion beyond liberation theology.
Flaws aside, there’s a lot more I like about this article. Its fairly unbiased, with its editors doing a lot of work to explain concepts he helped popularize within Christian and leftist discourse and exploring how his background and education shaped his politics and interest in theology. The article, I think, would benefit from even more discussion of this and how his experiences post-graduation shaped him and how specifically his concepts influenced revolutionaries throughout the 20th century.
The article offers a detailed list of his important works and has 25 references, ranging from biographies about Gutiérrez, newspaper articles, books and articles about liberation theology, not to mention three books and articles as further reading. Obviously the article has room for improvement, but looking at it makes me pretty confident that past editors have given me ample resources to help me improve it further.
On September 23, 2019, numerous Latin American leaders – under pressure from the United States – cited the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance to impose sanctions on Venezuela. The Treaty recognizes threats against one member country as a threat to all others, and members argued that the socio-economic instability of Venezuela posed a security threat to the entire South American continent. The Colombian government is particularly vocal about this, as president Ivan Durque accused the neighboring country of harboring dissident guerilla fighters seeking to dismantle his administration.
The United States’ current Secretary of State, Mike Pomeo, declared his intention to use the Treaty as a means of ousting Venezuela’s current president, Nicolás Madero. They would then replace him with Juan Guaido, who many countries including the United States recognize as the country’s legitimate ruler. The United States, under the Trump administration, has already imposed sanctions on the country like Barack Obama before him, and its recent efforts are aimed towards using their influence in Latin America to pressure its countries to do likewise.
Treaty members like Colombia claim the government under Madero eroded the democratic norms and institutions the country once had. The United States and the Lima Group – an alliance of Latin American nations centered on Venezuelan foreign policy – are currently working with think tanks and Venezuelan opposition groups to establish a Guadio-led government.
Overall, I felt the article disproportionately represented Lima Group figures, which means there is no plurality or diversity in the Venezuelan figures discussed. This is a glaring flaw because a lot of the rhetoric around regime change in the country centers on the lack of agency and basic resources like food under the current government. People who might, perhaps, at least frame this in a different context are not even discussed and – seemingly – not reached out to. It does not discuss how or why Guardio is considered by so many countries to be the official president, or what his solutions to the multi-faceted crises would be.
The article is not lacking in nuance, however, as it connects these sanctions to the already-prevalent instability of the Venezuela state, suggesting – if not explicitly stating – that these policies could further destabilize the country. It also discussed Cuba being an ally to the country – which reminded me of the various embargoes the United States has placed on Cuba over the last six decades. The various failed coup d’etats reminded me of the botched Bay of Pigs invasion during the Kennedy administration, and this connection also made me wonder whether the figures, both American and Latin American, given representation in the article have any material investment in ousting Madero. One likely can make these connections if the reader was thinking about them beforehand. This undeniably makes the article interesting, but had I not delved into it with this framework, I feel like I would have little more than basic knowledge about the sociopolitical crisis in Venezuela from an overly-American perspective.
Wilkinson, Tracy. “At Trump’s urging, Latin American countries set to invoke rarely used treaty against Venezuela” Los Angeles Times. September, 2019. Accessed 23 September, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-09-23/trump-south-american-countries-treaty-against-venezuela
There’s nothing superfluous or exaggerated in her extremely short Wikipedia page, so it’s not fair to say the article’s content is bad so much as it is unspecific and lacking. It’s talk page is even shorter, with most of the entries being about careful wording (Changing the word “venerated” to “revered” to avoid overly religious overtones, i.e.) and conjecture about whether Sánchez and Fidel Castro were romantically involved. The page is part of the Military History, Biography, Caribbean, Women, and Cuba WikiProjects.
This particular article does a good job at staying neutral while conveying the revery pro-revolutionaries in Cuba have for her. That being said, while it highlights her importance within post-Batista Cuba, it fails to communicate to the reader why she is truly important. The Cuban Revolution subheading talks about her role in the conflict as a messenger for guerrilla forces, but this discussion of it never transcends basic historical summary.
The Post-Revolution, Death, and Legacy subsections are far worse in terms of their lack of specifics, stating how she held the position of Secretary to the Presidency in addition to serving in the Council of State without mentioning any of her accomplishments or policies that greatly impacted Cuban society. The latter subsection was the most glaring case of this in my opinion. The article discusses her as an influential figure for post-revolutionary feminism without contextualizing it via the social, economic, and material gains women made after Batista’s government was ousted.
This brings me to my broader problem with the article: the lack of specifics and the emphasis on her ties to Castro give off the implicit understanding of her as a minor figure in the life of the infinitely more famous president. Its emphasis on the late leader makes her seem unimportant, though reading Becker and seeing the Wikipedia subsection about her life in the revolution suggest that this is far from the case.
There were a few books without links and articles specifically about Sánches, but sometimes even those only mention her in the context of Castro. I was frustrated there were no links to the biographies about her – even though this makes sense practicality – though I was happy to find an article about her influence on post-Batista female identity in Cuba, which highlighted her role as a sort of nationalist folk legend far more eloquently than the Wikipedia page citing it. The Becker page, while even briefer and summary-centered, gives the reader a far greater picture of her role as a revolutionary organizer and messenger and how her influence improved the social and material conditions of Cuban women.
Professor Holt began class by congratulating us on finishing our primary source essays before encouraging the class to think about how one can use primary and secondary sources to measure the success or failure of revolutionary movements.
Then, Rita presented her LA in the News article, which discussed squatters* discovering human remains on the property of former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessener. The article provided much-needed context on the roughly 400 people killed or disappeared during his regime – according to Rita, Stroessener persecuted any and all political opposition – and portrays the contemporary Paraguayan government as disinterested in investigating these atrocities.
After the presentation, Holt transitioned us into thinking about the contemporary Zapatista Army of National Liberation (ELZN*) with a picture of an ELZN sign. We were asked to translate it – it warned readers that they were entering upon Zapatista property – which served as a good reminder of the radical armed-group’s focus on self-autonomy and communal land ownership.
This discussion was interesting because it demonstrated how many of the conditions that sparked the Mexican Revolution still apply to the current group resurrecting the Zapata name – the decades-long single party rule of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI*) can be thought of as a similar, more-cosmetically legitimate compliment to the other Latin American dictatorships and the group are still fighting for land autonomy they’ve been denied for over a half-millennia.
Then, we talked about the ELZN Wikipedia article specifically – first in groups, then as a whole class – and my group was primarily frustrated with the articles emphasis on secondary over primary sources, and its focus on their ideology over the history which much contextualize why such a group came into existence. After showing a picture of hooded ELZN members in front of an Emiliano Zapata mural and talking about their general self-seclusion in rural, we then talked as a class about our aforementioned qualms with the Wikipedia article, which served two useful purposes: (1) it allowed us to think about the potentially negative aspects of preferred forms of “credibility” on the website – and how this makes adding information on women, people of color and other marginalized groups challenging – and (2) it helped to get us thinking about how we might make our upcoming Wikipedia contributions stronger.
The ELZN page was a good introduction to Wikipedia summaries and the editing process, as its editing history showed the topic to be highly contentious. While Holt assured us that we weren’t likely to face roadblocks this huge as editors, it serves as a reminder that how people talk about the past and present is inherently political and that the power in being able to influence what is or isn’t being written about cannot be overstated.
Is there such thing as definite success or failure with revolutionary or counterrevolutionary movements? Even if Zapata failed to achieve his goals in the Mexican Revolution, would you consider a group taking on his name to be a form of revolutionary success? Could the same be said when counterrevolutionary or reactionary groups suffer similar defeats but still impact contemporary politics nonetheless?
Our Wikipedia editing assignments, plus our look at the Zapatista page, show that even seemingly objective mediums are inseparable from politics. If you’re adding onto an existing page, is there anything significant with regards to what the past authors did or didn’t emphasize? If you’re creating a new article, does the topic’s past lack of discussion indicate any flaws with what topics and sources contributors tend to value?
Squatters – People living on abandoned property, in Latin America this is widely done to find and loot valuable materials
ELZN – Zapatista Army of National Liberation – contemporary left-wing militia group in Mexico named after Mexican revolution figure Emiliano Zapata. Like Zapata the group prioritize land redistribution and a communal ownership of property through extra-political and militant means.
PRI – Partido Revolucionario Institucional – Dominant political party in Mexico from the aftermath of the Revolution until their electoral defeat in 2000. While Mexico is often thought to be a Latin American anomaly via it’s lack of a long-lasting dictatorial regime throughout the 20th century, the PRI’s single-party rule is functionally similar to these governments.