Liberators and Patriots of Latin America: Biographies of 23 Leaders from Doña Marina (1505-1530) to Bishop Romero (1917-1980)

Liberators and Patriots of Latin America: Biographies of 23 Leaders from Doña Marina (1505-1530) to Bishop Romero (1917-1980)

Liberators and Patriots of Latin America: Biographies of 23 Leaders from Doña Marina (1505-1530) to Bishop Romero (1917-1980)

Liberators and Patriots of Latin America: Biographies of 23 Leaders from Doña Marina (1505-1530) to Bishop Romero (1917-1980)

Synopsis

Agents of change, they have been both damned and praised-but uniformly remembered as national figures. Some are revered all over Latin America. Yet most are largely unknown beyond their borders. This book makes them and their times and causes understood. The 17 men and six women span generations and causes-Toussaint L'Ouverture of Haiti, Juan Per¿n and Eva Per¿n of Argentina, Jos¿ Mart¿ and Fidel Castro of Cuba, Dolores Jim¿nez y Muro and Hermila Galindo of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Ch¿ Guevara and nine others were passionately involved with independence and equality.

Excerpt

The purpose for compiling these biographies is to bring Latin American heroes out of the shadow cast over them outside their own region. Their life stories, so well-known to generations of followers, have been obscure to Europeans and North Americans. Although their lives are rich with actions and associations that reveal the history of Latin America, their stories are neither taught in schools nor exposed in popular culture outside their own lands.

These figures were agents of change, and as such were both damned and venerated. Except for Pedro I, who was brought to the New World as a child, they were born in the hemisphere they did so much to change. They were nation builders.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, leadership generally meant driving out Europeans after three centuries of colonization. Here the emphasis was on freedom and equality. European monarchs had imposed economic strictures that thwarted development. Not until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, for example, was France able to trade with the Spanish colonies of Peru and Chile; students of Indian or mixed blood were never, until after independence, allowed to matriculate at the University of San Marcos in Lima.

After independence, leadership, perforce, meant dealing with less easily defined political issues. When leaders took up arms, it was usually against their own countrymen.

The first period, winning independence, opened countless possibilities. Independence opened countless wounds, many of which are still unhealed.

Octavio Paz, the Mexican philosopher whose father followed Zapata, has described the racial, philosophical, and political mixture that has shaped Latin America, where, he says,

thought begins as a justification of Independence, but it is transformed almost immediately into a quest: America is not so much a tradition that continues as a future to be realized. Quest and utopia are inseparable . . . from the end of the 18th Century to today. The quest includes, indeed requires, Iberian and mestizo, former slave and former clerk. Only by embracing all does it have meaning: the future must be imagined by us all to be built by us all, no more with imperial design, stamped in Europe, than imperialist design, price-tagged in the United States.

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