Saturday, June 21, 2014

the last book I ever read (Marie Arana's Bolívar: American Liberator, excerpt six)

from Bolívar: American Liberator by Marie Arana:

Even here, in these first glimmers of liberty, we begin to see the character of a continent. The American-born were hungry for liberties, yet unaccustomed to freedom; resourceful, yet unacquainted with self-rule; racially mixed, yet mistrustful of whatever race they were not. For three hundred years of authoritarian reign, Spain had carefully instilled these qualities. “Divide and subjugate” had been the rule. Education had been discouraged, in many cases outlawed, and so ignorance was endemic. Colonies were forbidden from communicating with each other, and so—like spokes of a wheel—they were capable only of reporting directly to a king. There was no collaborative spirit, no model for organization, no notion of hierarchy. It was why the people of Coro or Maracaibo or Guayana refused to obey their newly independent brothers in Caracas; given the choice, they preferred the crown. And even though Americans had been inclined to mix across racial lines from the beginning, Spain had worked hard to keep the races apart, feed their suspicions. Add to this a church that was thoroughly opposed to independence, and a picture emerges unlike any other in that age of revolutions. If Spanish America now found itself strong enough to rise up against Spain, it would never quite rid itself of the divisions that the Council of the Indies had carefully installed in the first place. Bolívar was particularly aware of this deepest flaws, predicting a fragmentation that remains prevalent to this day. It was why he was so adamantly against federation—a concept he thought far more workable in the United States, where the population was largely homogeneous and, so, inherently more governable.

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