Essay on Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano

Essay on Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano

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Since it was first discovered by European explorers, Latin America has supplied raw materials and labor to Europe and other locations around the world. Eduardo Galeano writes about the exploitation of native Latin Americans in his 1973 book Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. Galeano takes a historical approach and examines colonial and post-colonial interactions between Europeans and Latin Americans. He asserts that the native Latin Americans were essentially powerless to fight this exploitation because of the dominance of the European powers. In his 2008 book Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug, Paul Gootenberg writes about the discovery of cocaine and its transition from a regional good to a global commodity. Gootenberg combines history and economics in his view of the relationships between the two powers. Unlike Galeano, he shows a side of Latin American history in which the native people of Latin America had power, however limited, to control their positions in the economic system imposed by the Europeans. Gootenberg accepts Galeano’s theory of dominance as a starting point but complicates it by including the agency of the local people of Latin America, especially Peru. Gootenberg shifts the focus of his book from the national and European players to the local Latin American actors involved in the cocaine commodity chain—from growers and harvesters to refiners and distributors. This theory involves more of the disparate components present in the economies of Latin America; therefore, it is a better way to describe historical relationships between Latin America and Europe.
Throughout the first chapter of Open Veins of Latin America, Eduardo Galeano discusses the oppressio...

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...imply as a stimulant. Therefore, although cocaine is a stronger stimulant than regular coca, native Andean people prefer to use coca because of its cultural associations, history of use before European interactions and its various other medicinal purposes. In addition, native Andeans are more likely to use coca than cocaine because it is grown close to home and requires less processing. Although European influence existed in the development of cocaine, the people of Latin America were able to maintain the identity of the coca leaf in face of this external influence.

Works Cited

Galeano, Eduardo. Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. Translated by Cedric Belfrage. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997.
Gootenberg, Paul. Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

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