I remember arriving as a doctoral student researcher while visiting one of Latin America’s megalopolis capitals. This particular time it was Mexico City, or el DF, as they called it in Mexico. This gran metropolis also had a more notorious name, el ‘Monstruo,’ the Monster. It was, and definitely still is, a Monster, both in actual size and in population count.
Seeing the octopus urbanization from the plane, while landing onto the airport strip, was a shocking sight. The aerial vision portrayed brown-yellow vomit chunks from an ancient Aztec God. The whole mess represented a massive urban polis filled with hodgepodges of grey-black conglomerations, connected by various mini megalopolises of construction sites and twisting roads. The traffic never seemed to stop.
Squatters had previously built ramshackle houses of concrete cinder blocks and alloy metal roofs along the mountains and hills, and surrounding those harsh pits of humanity were a few ominous brown volcanoes in the far distance.
Only three hundred years ago, this city of 150,000 people had a massive blue lake around it. The city possessed as many canals as streets. Residents proudly called Mexico City the Venice of the Americas. But now, Lake Texcoco is almost completely dried up. Throughout the centuries, the city’s colonial ‘authorities’ murdered the surrounding lake beds and canals due to the incessant flooding during the rainy seasons. The dirty grey and black water floods still come in the late summer however. They will never leave.
Latin America’s melancholic past has included some horrifying stories and incidents. The long list comprises state sponsored genocides, impregnable state corruption, military-executioner honchos, killer narcos, paramilitary murderers on the prowl, murderous destruction of natural resources for easy gain, ‘vendepatrias,’ or politicians that sell out their people to the Amerikan Embassy, prison infernos, mass murders of ‘campesinos,’ or farmers.
Such historical accounts can never forget the institutional murders, or disappearances, against journalists and activists, with the terrible poverty, extremes of wealth between the mostly poor population and the few rich people. All across Latin America grows incessant misery, aggressive begging, common criminality, police state cruelty, and street riots with dead bodies lying around – with those infamous ‘golpes de estados,’ or coup d’états. Why has Latin America continually suffered from such diseases and terrible outbreaks? Even the revolutionary Simon Bolivar predicted such catastrophes for the Americas.
The reason for all of this daily terrorism and institutional violence has been due to three hundred years of Iberian colonialism. The worst forms of this colonialist violence moved in three stages: political-economic, legal, and racial. The most heinous actions of its colonial crimes represented its racial codes, or as they stated some three hundred years ago, ‘castas,’ or racial castes.
The Latin colonial systems, representing mostly the Spanish and the Portuguese, managed their ‘colonies’ as privileged economic districts for investment. They had maintained a massive slave worker-forced laborer system on export crop plantations, such as sugar. Slaves also worked inside linen factories, called ‘obrajes’ in Spanish, and in gold and silver mines.
During the colonial period, most native farmers did not fall into these slave systems – but other unfortunates did. This was especially true for many Africans, first kidnapped from their home continent, next brought over on cargo ships, later worked to death as slaves in the Americas.
The colonial powers taxed and heavily legislated against all of their subjects, whether Europeans, natives or African-Americans. These colonial codes had the names of the Laws of the Indies. The colonial authorities even legislated the style of clothes and jewelry wearing depending on social class status. Most colonial subjects ignored those laws, but the system had already set a bad legal precedent.
This violent colonial system tried to keep separated laws, dress codes, neighborhoods, religious confraternities, or brotherhoods, guilds and churches depending on social class and racial status. The Latin colonial authorities of the Americas had created the classical, racist Apartheid system. By the 1600s, the Spanish referred to it as, ‘mandamientos a las castas,’ or rules relegating the racial castes.
During the eighteenth-century, the 1700s, the only legal outlet for a casta person was to become ‘Latinized,’ speaking the language well, dressing well and having a good economic social position. The racial caste person could then receive an officially, royally stamped ‘certificate of whiteness.’
Three hundred years of this racial apartheid still infects the minds of millions of Latin Americans. It was not as bad as the actual US institutional racism-prison industrial complex against African-Americans; but like all forms of racialism, it was mentally and institutionally brutal nonetheless.
This particular colonial caste system created a terminal germ of self-hatred that still eats out the brains of many Latin American people, and especially the political-economic elites. Latin America can never achieve its long desired freedom and dignity as long as the bacillus parasites of self-hating ‘politicos,’ or politicians, gorges the insides of Latin America’s soul.
After spending some months living and researching in Mexico City, I began to notice daily and common annoyances concerning the adverts on the subway platforms, inside the metro cars, and on the billboards around the city. I also spotted similar issues on the ‘telenovelas,’ or Latin American soap operas, and on the stupid gossip and slapstick shows so ubiquitous to Latin American bad television.
Most of the presenters, actors, faces, images were of European looking people. It was impossible to find an indigenous face on any public program or advert. I found this especially strange inside particularly large national capitals, such as Mexico City and Lima. A majority of the people who live in such capitals are mestizo, a colonial caste denomination representing a mixture of an indigenous native and a European. Were there any actual mestizo faces on advertising and television?
I also noticed this problem in the cinema. It was still hard to find mestizo and indigenous faces on the screens. Visiting the many ‘boticas,’ or pharmacies in the cities, I perceived that one of the greatest scam businesses in the continent has represented the selling of skin lightening creams.
Dictator-murderers in Latin American history, such as Porfirio Diaz and Rafael Trujillo were regular users of such salves. Other Latin American corrupt bosses and dictators also seemed to have dipped into the magical Euro face ointments, such as Juan Manual Santos of Columbia and Vicente Fox of Mexico.
During the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century, eugenics became the rage of European and North American political-economic elites. Latin America also had its eugenics supporters during the same period. Why do the southern cone countries of southern Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile have so many European looking citizens walking around its loud and dirty streets?
During the late nineteenth-century, the dictatorial governments of those countries had opened up ‘their lands’ to a massive European immigration scheme. They desperately wanted to whiten their countries from the shame of their indigenous and Afro-Latino communities. These ‘jefes,’ or state bosses, had hoped that a legion of Nordic Vikings and Germanic rune masters would settle ‘their continent’ and save the lazy, racially putrid Latin America from itself. Argentina received the bulk of this desired group.
Unfortunately for the Latino Euro-fakers, the majority of the immigrants were more from the Southern and Eastern European varieties, and there were also Arabs, Asians, and even Ashkenazi Jews that mixed into the newer white crowd. The Argentine generals would finish off some of the more dangerous elements of this mixed group during their genocide of the 1970s, called the Dirty War against Subversives.
Argentina, the whitest country in Latin America, (actually Uruguay and Chile together), has had its recent, ‘republican’ history replete with genocides. The corrupt kingpins in power first moved their racial genocide against the large Afro-Argentine community. At one time, they were about 30% of the population like Venezuela today. The Argentine Buenos Aires junta, which ran the ‘National Army,’ (under President Mitre), forced all Afro-Argentines to fight in the numerous wars of Argentina.
The most brutal war in Modern Latin American history was the War of the Triple Alliance in the middle part of the 1800s: Argentina, Imperial Brazil and Uruguay against Paraguay. Thousands of Afro-Argentinian men lost their lives for such a bogus war, and the general thugs simply buried the Afro-soldiers in mass graves located around central Buenos Aires. The historical grave sites don’t exist anymore.
The whitest countries of Latin American had almost exterminated the entire male population of the great Guarani-Mestizo Republic of Paraguay. Paraguay has still not recovered to this present day. This system of slow genocide continued well into the infamous War of the Desert in the latter part of the nineteenth-century.
The Afro-Argentine survivors would also die from recurrent outbreaks of cholera and yellow fever epidemics in their rat infested neighborhoods. The governments did nothing to help such poor people. The politicians felt good about the results. Now, only a few Afro-Argentines have survived, and their only cultural expressions live in the tango dance culture, and in Uruguayan Carnival.
The most heinous Argentinian genocide was the War of the Desert. General Julio Roca with a large Afro-Argentine and mestizo gaucho, or cowboy army, marched on the warpath to finally exterminate the recalcitrant barbarian ‘indios,’ or natives, in the Patagonia south, the Pampa central region, and the Gran Chaco north. In the south he tried to exterminate the great warrior nation of the Araucanians, or the Mapuches. The Mapuches have been continually fighting against colonialism and neocolonialism until this very day – mostly against the white Chilean crooks in Santiago.
Unfortunately, these state thugs had Winchester rifles, which worked marvelously in exterminating men, women and children. They successfully murdered tens of thousands of natives. There were also those European transplanted epidemics, which had already decimated the native nations. The actual killing figure is still unknown. General Roca had his name immortalized with pigeon shit statues around the country and his ugly mug on almost worthless bank notes.
As long as this sordid history retains the covers of pathetic lies and deadly omissions, then Latin America will continue to suffer the farce and absurdity of the bad life and the bad death. Argentina is not the only Latin American nation guilty of racialism and genocide. For example, Guatemala tried to do a similar racial liquidation program against the Mayan nation during the 1980s, further supported by the US government. Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela also tried their hands at such evil, racially incited, murderous practices.
Latin America will probably never be able to redeem its mind and soul from such an abusive history. But the true roots and holy souls of Latin America do not exist in London, Paris, Berlin or even in Miami, they continue to breathe inside the sacred earth, the medicinal plants, the powerful legends, the ancient gods, and those sacred native languages. Only in tortured Paraguay is the native language of Guarani one of its national tongues. And only a return to these sacrosanct cultures can ultimately transform the continent.