They complained in the East,
They are paying too high.
They say that your ore ain’t worth digging.
That it’s much cheaper down
In the South American towns
Where the miners work almost for nothing.
—bobdylan,‘‘northcountryblues’’(thetimestheyarea-changing, 1964)
The depictions we did have of Latin America in movies and novels and occasional
news articles had prepared me to recognize President Estrada Cabrera [of Guatemala
in the 1920s] right away. He was a familiar figure: the tropical dictator—exotic, brutal
and absurd. It was a stereotype that helped us explain the backwardness of countries
like Guatemala as the result of unenlightened leadership. . . . What . . . surprised me
was finding out that the great dictator had himself been, in large part, a creature of
—danielwilkinson, silenceonthemountain, 2003
The regions where new commercial crops and export products have developed over
the past 40 years are the most violent places in Colombia today.
The Conventional Wisdom
his study grows out of a frustration with conventional wisdom about
During fourteen years teaching Latin American and world
history, I have become accustomed to some of the unexamined ideas and
preconceptions that students bring into the classroom. One reason for
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