Three Important Things I Learned In Class This Semester

The three most important things I learned in Latin American Revolutions this semester are as follows.

  1. Wikipedia has a much more extensive process than I first thought.
  2. There are many different career opportunities for people who major in History, including law, which is the field I want to go into.
  3. There are so many ways that the past and present connect, and there are so many ways that various historical events connect that are seemingly unrelated in any way.

Class Notes – October 23, 2019

Today’s class was a continuation of Chile, especially with thinking about different types of primary sources. As we did with the corridos during the Mexican Revolution, we took time to examine the arpilleras made by women, or arpilleristas, during the Pinochet regime in Chile, as they are both artistic expressions that fall under the primary source category. The two Historical Analysis questions we aimed to answer in class today are as follows:

  • What are arpilleras and what insight can they give us into lived experiences of Chileans during the Pinochet dictatorship?
  • What questions should historians ask in using artwork as a primary source?

We then brainstormed as a class to arrive to a few broad conclusions about the arpilleras and their origin. Literally meaning “burlap,” they are canvases depicting daily scenes of life in Chile, including notable events surrounding the regime. Originally started as a means of therapeutic self-expression, their popularity grew internationally. This benefit the arpilleristas greatly in terms of monetary support due to the fact that many of the primary breadwinners of the household (men) were part of the large number of desparecidos, or people who disappeared during the Pinochet regime. In addition, the Church played a significant role in their distribution, which allows us to deduce that they were likely taking a stance against the regime. We concluded by analyzing some of the arpilleras that currently reside in international exhibitions.

LA in the News: Ecuador’s President Moves Seat of Government to Escape Protests (New York Times)

The article I chose to evaluate was about Ecuadoran President Lenín Moreno’s decision to move his government seat from the capital of Ecuador, Quito, to a small coastal city 150 miles away. It was written by José María León Cabrera and published in the New York Times. President Moreno’s ability to move the government seat came from his declaration of a state of emergency, which allowed him to suspend certain civil liberties. He came to this decision as a result of the protests that took place on October 8, especially the storming of the National Assembly. The protests began as a result of Moreno’s implementation of a new austerity plan to lower debt and grow the economy. 

The middle-class and indigenous response has been very vocal against Moreno’s measures toward his austerity plan. Moreno’s termination of a 40-year fuel subsidy caused a rise in fuel prices, much to the chagrin of transportation workers as well as young and Indigenous people who suffered immensely from Ecuador’s immense debt and radical tactics to emerge from the red. A coalition of indigenous groups stated that the protests “were a defense of ‘our life and our territories’”. Jaime Vargas, president of the Confederation of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, stated that “there will be no dialogue” between protesters and the Ecuadoran government if the austerity plan is not abolished.

This article, as well as the Western coverage of the topic in general, represents Latin America in a less than favorable light. Some of the language in the New York Times article, in particular, implies bias toward President Moreno, stating that moving his government seat was to “protect his government” and that he inherited a debt crisis from former President Correa’s many loans for special interest projects. In addition, the protestors are depicted as reacting negatively to Moreno’s policies despite their objective to improve the economy. These themes are recurring across many Western media platforms, even in video coverage. Many news clips and pictures from the protests display stereotypical behavior usually associated with anti-government protests, including rioting, looting, and destruction of property, with little to no focus on the issues at the heart of the protests or a reason behind them. These are common themes in the Western media coverage of the protests and arguably contribute to negative stereotypes of Latin America. 

Visual Persuasion

Protestors clash with Ecuadoran military. Credit: Rodrigo Buendia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Visual Persuasion

Protestors storm popular television station, Teleamazonas. Credit: BBC

Despite this, the New York Times article does give in-depth coverage of the topic, including an explanation of President Moreno’s actions as well as the timeline of significant events that led to them. Cabrera outlines the protestors’ reasoning behind their actions in accordance with Moreno’s new policies; however, the fact that the protestors’ reasoning is clear does not distract from the subtle bias in the reporting. 

This current event is very reminiscent of all of the Latin American revolutions and reforms we have studied in our curriculum. In DeFronzo’s work, Social Movements and Revolutions, he outlines five critical factors of revolutionary movements: 

  1. Mass frustrations
  2. Elite divisions
  3. Unifying motivations that cut across class lines
  4. Severe political crisis 
  5. Tolerant/permissive world context 

Cabrera outlines the mass frustrations with the timeline of events leading to Moreno’s decision to move his government seat, beginning with the protests as a result of the new measures in his austerity plan for economic growth. The elite divisions in the Ecuador conflict are evident because of the reaction of marginalized groups to Moreno’s new policies, as well as how these groups were actively affected by them. Subsequently, there are no unifying motivations across class lines because the upper-class and middle- and lower-classes are directly opposed. Those in lower classes and marginalized groups in Ecuadoran society are unified against the Ecuadoran government and military. The severe political crisis likely began when the rioting first began after Moreno’s announcement of the austerity plan, but the crisis came to a head with the storming of the National Assembly as well as Moreno’s moving of the government seat from the capital city of Quito. The permissive world context is seen in articles such as these that reach an international audience, which shows us why methodical reporting is vital and important. It is imperative that Western news sources take time to thoroughly examine both sides of political uprisings instead of mainly focusing on the actions of the government, as well as conforming to negative stereotypes about Latin America, even if on a subconscious level. 


Main Article: Cabrera, José María León. “Ecuador’s President Moves Seat of Government to Escape Protests.” New York Times. 8 Oct. 2019. The New York Times Company. Web. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

BBC Contributors. “Ecuador protests: Unrest continues over fuel price hikes.” BBC News. 12 Oct. 2019. BBC. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

BBC Contributors. “Ecuador protesters storm parliament as unrest worsens.” BBC News. 9 Oct. 2019. BBC. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

BBC Contributors. “Ecuador violence: Protesters agree to talks with government.” BBC News. 13 Oct. 2019. BBC. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

Sims, Shannon. “Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as Striking Workers Block Roads.” New York Times. 9 Oct. 2019. The New York Times Company. Web. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.


Mariela Castro

My chosen Wikipedia Entry is Mariela Castro, the daughter of revolutionary leaders Vilma Espín and Raúl Castro, and the niece of Fidel Castro. She is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education and is an activist for LGBT rights in Cuba.

This aspect of Latin American history is not represented in the best way just because of the lack of information in the article. Although the article does list notable parts of her career, especially with her work with the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, but it does not list the origins of her career or give names of any of the works she has written. There are no apparent biases, especially because the article is extremely short.

There are only five sources in my article, and most of them are cited irregularly. One of the sources does not provide a link to the material and is very vague in terms of phrasing (“Official programme of the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights”), and one of the sources is a LinkedIn profile, which is arguably not the best type of source for a Wikipedia article that should be dependent on scholarly sources.

I would begin to improve this article to meet Wikipedia’s standards by updating the Reference list with more scholarly sources, and would likely eliminate the LinkedIn Source as it does not meet the above portion of Wikipedia’s standards. If I did not eliminate any of the present sources, I would likely still add more sources in general as the list of sources is currently way too short and limited in both quantity and quality. 


Wikipedia Article: Federation of Cuban Women

My chosen Wikipedia article is the Federation of Cuban Women. Everything in the article is relevant to the article topic. Some things that distracted me about the article were the lack of description in the picture on the cover page of the article, as well as the lack of resources in the Bibliography section (only three cited sources). The article is neutral and there are not really any claims that appear heavily biased. The article is short yet concise with the presented information, solely outlining and detailing the events that took place surrounding the topic. An underrepresented viewpoint is that of the founder of the organization, Vilma Espín. There is not much information in the article about her except for the fact that she worked closely with Fidel Castro and the man who would eventually become her husband, Raul Castro. All three of the sources are printed books; there are no links. Each fact is referenced from sources in the Bibliography with no bias noted. There is no out of date information; all included information is in accordance with the referenced sources in the Bibliography. There are no conversations happening in the Talk portion of the article. The article was apparently written as a part of WikiProject Cuba, which is currently inactive. Wikipedia discusses this topic in a similar way to which we have talked about it in class. It mentions the primary stated goals of the Federation of Cuban Women, as well as the pioneers of the movement and how it came to fruition.