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The Current State of Development in Latin America Essay

Throughout this paper I will be making reference to Peter Winn’s book Americas. Winn states on page 4 that “Latin America is equally an invention, devised in the nineteenth century by a French geographer to describe the nations that had once been colonized by Latin Europe—Spain, France, and Portugal. ” In attempting to establish the current state of development in Latin America, historical chronology serves as the foundation necessary for a broad logical position.

Latin American development has evolved in distinct phases, which lead to the present day standings of the politics and peoples throughout the region. The conclusion of distinct historical attributes: conquest, colonialism, immigration, capitalism, and industrialism, serve as the developmental path from the past, to allow an understanding of the current state of development. The conquest is a major factor in shaping Latin America. In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of the Caribbean and claimed the new land in the name of Spain and God.

From then on the world was changed forever in the sense that there was a whole New World to conquer. Conquistadors like Cortez and Pizarro then followed and claimed entire new lands and people in the name of gold and wealth. These men started a revolution that changed an entire continent. It was transformed from a free race of people at one with the land to one of slavery and oppression in which man was bound to the land. This was the beginning of colonialism in the New World.

The newly founded colonialism changed everything about the land, its inhabitants, culture, and religion and even created new races of people, of which we still do not know everything about. With the curiosity of European countries piqued and rumors of cities made of gold, the Old World decided that there were no boundaries established within the New World and the land was for the taking. The controlling influence of the Catholic Church in the social and spiritual life of the colonies was deeply rooted in the Spanish past.

Royal control over church affairs, in both Spain and the Indies, was founded on the institution of the royal patronage. As applied to the colonies, this patronage consisted in the absolute right of the Spanish kings to nominate all church officials and found churches and monasteries in the Americas. They converted prodigious numbers of natives, and some championed the rights of the Indians against their Spanish oppressors. Immigration and migration has held a major role in shaping our country. Immigrants have provided many things such as customs, manufacturing, inventions, and entertainment.

Many people today don’t realize how greatly we have been affected by immigration. Indian culture and the ways in which the Indians responded to the Hispanic invaders were shaped by their own long history on these continents. The Indians arrived from Asia by way of the Bering Strait no less than forty thousand years ago and in the course of time spread over both the American continents and eventually developed a wide range of cultural types, ranging from nomadic groups of hunters and food gatherers to the elaborate empires of the Aztecs and the Inca and the culturally advanced Mayan states.

These three civilizations had certain features in common. All three were based on intensive farming that made possible the development of a large sedentary population and considerable division of labor. These civilizations, however, also evolved along distinctive lines. Mayan culture was distinguished by impressive achievements in writing, calendrical science, mathematics, and architecture. The Aztecs were mighty warriors, and a distinctive feature of their religion was large-scale human sacrifice.

The Inca were the greatest empire builders of ancient America, and they made a serious and largely successful effort to unify the institutions and language of their extensive empire. On page 21 Winn states that “as a result of these migrations, Latin America and the Caribbean is now a polyglot region with diversity of races, ethnicities, and cultures. ” Industrialism and capitalism go hand in hand in the shaping of Latin America as Winn states on page 13, “Yet its geology has also helped the region, forming rich deposits of metals and minerals, as well as petroleum and gas reserves that are among the largest in the world.

” Side by side with the subsistence-and tribute economy of the Indians, there arose a Spanish commercial agriculture producing foodstuffs or raw materials for sale in local or distant markets. Stock-raising was another important economic activity in the colonies. The introduction of domestic animals represented a major Spanish contribution to American economic life. Mining, as the principal source of royal income, received the special attention and protection of the crown. Silver, rather than gold, was the principal product of the American mines.

As in other times and places, the mining industry brought prosperity to a few and either failure or small success to the great majority. These points that I have mentioned are just a few of many that contributed to the shaping of Latin America. Many of the contributions follow the conquest and its consequences. As you can conclude the conquest gave birth to combining of cultures and a collision of European, Native American, and African people in which all helped mold Latin America into what it is today. Work Cited Winn, Peter. Americas. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. 1992.

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