Author Archives: Cat


What these two primary sources reveal about the Braceros system is this: the system was one that was not designed to benefit the Mexican worker, even though that’s how it was marketed to people like Juan Loza. Loza claims that he was convinced to become a Bracero by his godfather, who had been one himself, and that he was under the impression that he would be able to make enough money to support his family back home. Instead he found himself subject to a system that took advantage of it’s labor force, often being made to work “24 hours a day, 7 days a week” for less than a dollar (Loza).

Similarly, this system also used the United States legal system against the Braceros. In a chapter from Mae Ngai’s book Impossible Subjects the author discusses a man named Clemente Martinez. Martinez, an American citizen of Mexican descent, was born in the U.S. and lived there until he was roughly 10 years old, when his family moved back to Mexico. During World War Two he lied about his citizenship status to avoid being drafted. Instead he worked as a part of the Bracero system. However, later, in the 1950s, he was deported to Mexico, despite his status as an American citizen. According to Ngai,  “a federal court rejected Martinez’s claim that he could not be deported” regardless of his claim of American citizenship (Ngai). The courts used his participation in the Bracero system against him, showing how little the legal system cared about the workers that were being exploited.

Research Annotations

Avis Mysyk, “Land, Labor, and Indigenous Response: Huaquechula (Mexico), 1521–1633,” Colonial Latin American Review 24, no. 3 (September 2015): 336–55,

Mysyk focuses on the use of the encomienda system in the town of Huaquechula in Mexico. This article discusses the attempts of the native population to fend off the colonizing Spanish forces, and how they were, overall, relatively successful. This article will be useful for my essay because it gives me an example about how native peoples have been fighting back against the oppressive force that is white European/Anglo-Saxon rule since the two racial groups made first contact.

István Szászdi, “The ‘Protector de Indios’ in Early Modern Age America: EBSCOhost,” accessed February 24, 2020,

In this article Szászdi discusses the Protectores system set in place by the Spanish King Phillip II in 1589. This system was designed to protect the rights and privileges of the native population and ensure that they were treated fairly. It was fairly efficient and ended up making a positive impact on a damaged people. This source is interesting for me, as it provides almost a counter-argument for my essay, allowing me to discuss how the encomienda system was, at least initially, designed to be a force for good for everyone.

The Encomienda System

For my chosen Wikipedia article, I looked at the article about the encomienda system, specifically about the development of the system and it’s use in the colonization of the Americas. Although at first glance, this article seems fairly well written, a closer look at it reveals a consistent bias running throughout. Very little mention is made of the fact that, although the encomienda system existed prior to Spanish colonization of America, the system (as it was used in the Western Hemisphere) was adapted to model pre-existing native systems of rendering tribute and labor to a conquering force. As such, the article seems designed to make the Spanish out to be terrible people who took advantage of a helpless people – when, in fact, they simply adapted native systems for their own use.

The article also appears to be lacking in sources. There are many places where the only citations are links to other Wikipedia pages. However, the further down the page one reads, the more the article appears to be properly cited, and with reputable sources. It is the first section or two of the article that need some work. If I were to work on developing this article, I would work to ensure that it is both properly cited in it’s entirety, and also less biased in terms of it’s views of the Spanish.


For my research topic I would like to explore the issues pertaining to the use of native peoples as slave labor during the early colonization of Latin American, and how that has developed into an underclass labor force in modern times. This would also involve examination of the United States’ mistreatment of Native American peoples. I would also like to look further into efforts, both in the past and the present, to defeat this ingrained system of segregation and racism. Phrasing this like a question I would ask: how did forced labor of Native American and Latin American peoples develop into a modern day system or oppression and poverty?

Research Annotations

Pablo Navarro-Rivera, “The Imperial Enterprise and Educational Policies in Colonial Puerto Rico,” in Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State, accessed February 10, 2020,

Author Pablo Navarro-Rivera writes about the educational policies in the United States territory of Puerto Rico and how those policies were designed to benefit the imperialist desires of the US. In order to make this argument he uses evidence such as the Foraker Act (passed in 1900) to demonstrate the United States’ desire to assimilate and “civilize” the people of their new territory. This article is useful because it helps build the idea of the lack of respect that the United States held towards indigenous culture and how willing the white man was to crush different cultures in order to benefit himself. This is an idea that is applicable to all United States territories, as well as those territories belong to the other European world powers during the age of imperialism.

Stuart McCook, “‘The World Was My Garden’ Tropical Botany and Cosmopolitanism in American Science, 1898-1935,” in Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State, accessed February 10, 2020,

History Professor Stuart McCook examines the rise of United States study of tropical plants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He argues that this sudden increase in interest in tropical botany is based on the fact that the United States suddenly acquired a lot of overseas territory around this time.  McCook discusses the effects of this new interest in tropical botany on the sudden availability of economic plants from the tropics, as well as the transplanting of those plants to the United States for agricultural purposes. This article is useful in the study of US and Latin American relations because it highlights a way in which the US tried to take advantage of the territories they gained possession of, and allows for a further in depth exploration of the exploitation and destruction of tropical natural resources than might be found in other texts.

We Must Act!

John M. Thurston’s speech, titled “We Must Act!” is a heart-wrenching cry for humanitarianism. Calling upon the spirit of his dead wife, who, one can only assume, died after interacting with the conditions of the internment camps in Cuba, Thurston pleads for the US to interfere in the Spanish-Cuban War. This document is interesting because, whereas others calling for action in Cuba inevitably make some mention of the economic gain that the US would benefit from, Thurston seems intent upon only relying on the narrative of human suffering that he has crafted. I say crafted – recounted, is perhaps a better word. He talks of men, women, and children who “stand silent, famishing with hunger… [who’s] only appeal comes from their sad eyes, through which one looks as through an open window into their agonizing souls”(Hoganson 64). Thurston’s call to action plays upon human morality in order to help those oppressed under Spanish rule.

However, Thurston’s argument in and of itself is not unique. Although he has the added advantage of being able to invoke his dead wife as a reminder of just how bad conditions in Cuba are, he is hardly the first white man to advocate for US interference in a “lesser” or “underdeveloped” country. The idea of humanitarians as a force to a) build a United States Empire and b) save “heathens” from their Godless ways is one that is explored at length, both in documents in this section and documents in other sections of Kristin L. Hoganson’s  book, American Empire at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.

History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States

For this week’s blog post assignment I read the article History of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States on Wikipedia. Although at first glance it seemed to be a well written article, there were a few instances where problems showed themselves. Although these issues were small and easily fixed, they were still noticeable enough to detract from the article as a whole.


One such problem spot was in the first section of the article, titled “Spanish Expeditions in the South of North America.” The last paragraph, in particular, should have a citation after it talks about an event 80 years prior to John Smith’s rescue by Pocahantas, when “Juan Ortiz told of his similar rescue from execution by an Indian girl.” In the context of the section of the article, which references events in the history of Spanish interactions with the Americas that contradict the idea that England colonized North America first, the information makes sense. However, without a citation, it is unsubstantiated and should either be properly cited or removed.


Another issue I found with the article was that there occasionally seemed to be unnecessary details that didn’t add to the overall idea. For instance, in the section titled “Hispanic and Latino presence in the former British colonies of the United States at the end of the eighteenth century” there is a brief mention of a Spanish lieutenant in the Revolutionary War named Jorge Farragut. Although the information about Farragut is useful and relevant, the next sentence, which mentions his son, is not. Farragut’s son was a flag officer in the American Civil War. Although this is interesting information, it is not relevant to a paragraph that’s main focus is Spanish involvement in the American Revolution. As such, the extra information should be deleted from the article.


Overall, however, the article appeared to be fairly well put together. The information is, for the most part, relevant to the article. The links appear to all be in working order and the images and graphs included enhance the information present. Furthermore, there does not seem to be a particular bias one way or another in the article. All in all, it is very well done.

Rodó and Bolívar

Although they lived nearly 100 years apart from each other, José Enrique Rodó and Simón Bolívar had similar ideas about the threat that the United States posed to Latin America. The two men agree on the idea that “the United States… [is] destined by province to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom,” and that the slightest provocation will unleash the United States’ power (Bolívar 2).  Both writers seem very thouroughly convicned that the United States is almost like a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode on the peoples and countries of Latin America.

However, the differences in the two men’s ideas comes from their difference in positions. Bolívar is a government official in Venezuela; Rodó is a poet from Uruguay. Because of this Bolívar makes an argument about how to protect his country from a “general conspiracy [of] envy”(Bolívar 2). The idea of envy implies that Bolívar ruled a rich land, one that was incredibly desireable to other countries, one that others would want to take over for selfish reasons. Rodó, on the other hand, talks about how the threat of the United States against Latin America is fueled by fear of “an America de-Latinized of it’s own will, without threat of conquest, and reconstituted in the image and likeness of the North”(Rodó 32). In this, they show the differences of their times; Bolívar existed when the threat of the United States was only that – a threat. In contrast, Rodó grew up during the era of United States Imperialism, and had to deal with all it’s consequences.

Pike & Strong

The main argument of Frederick Pike’s article “Wild People in Wild Lands” is that the use of stereotypes, whether by the opressed or the opressor, leads to a cycle of demonization that becomes normalized in society. Using this idea, Josiah Strong’s piece, “The Anglo-Saxon and the World’s Future” can be seen in a different light. Although the colonial themes of the piece are evident right off the bat, the stereotype of the “nobelest races [the Germans and the Anglo-Saxons, specifically the English, the British Colonists, and the people of the United States]… always [being] lovers of liberty.” Analyzing it through Pike’s idea of stereotypes allows for a fresch glance at old ideas; specifically, the idea of “civilzation” versus “primitiveness” that pervades the history of colonization.

Although the articles at first seem unlinked beyond the idea of sterotypes – Pike’s is about Latin America and Strong’s is about the Anglo-Saxons – they are really just approaching the same problem from different viewpoints, from different times. Pike writes about the issues of stereotyping Latin American peoples after the fact, as someone who sees this practice as wrong. Strong, on the other hand, is writing in the moment, as someone who has fallen prey to these ideas of stereotyping that have put the white man above the Latinx.


In order to celebrate MLK day, I went to several lectures. One was called “How Did We End Up Here? Navigating East Asian Identity & Privilege.” The programed examined the reasons behind the idea of Asian Americans as a “model minority,” as well as the reasons why that standard is harmful to Asian Americans and other minority groups in America. The second lecture I went to was called “Sing Me to Freedom: Music as a Form of Activism on the African Continent.” This program covered several African musicians, both modern and post-colonial, and talked about their activism efforts and the effects those efforts had on their country – or whether there was any effect at all.