Independence matters

NOV Independence mattersIndependence in Latin America: Contrasts and Comparisons
Richard Graham
2013, University of Texas Press, 3rd edn
208 pages, plates


WHY should we continue to debate the independence movements that swept across Latin America from the late 18th century until the 1820s, when so much has been written about the explosion that shattered Europe’s last great ancient empire and gave birth to modern imperialism? We should continue to debate this because independence remains, and is likely to remain, a fragile, contested quality in this part of the world thanks to its proximity to the US. If you disagree with that, just read the delirious threats that have been coming out of Congress from (mainly Republican) senators since Barack Obama’s courageous decision to set relations with Cuba on course for eventual normalisation. The ranting of such paradigms of democratic reasoning as Marco Rubio, demanding a continuation of Washington’s illegal blockade of the Caribbean island, sounds much like what you’d expect to hear from his openly imperialist precursors, like Orville Platt. Independence, Richard Graham’s updated history reminds us, is something that Latin American states had to battle for in the face of vastly more powerful hegemons. This book remains relevant because it would appear that they still have to do so.