Nevertheless, many scholars argue that regardless of the changes encountered, many are merely on the surface with little to no meaningful change instilled. A Variety of leaders have attempted to improve their country by both conservative and liberal means. Despite these attempts, though, the underlying foundation of colonial ideals remains.
The colonial period began with the discovery of Hispaniola by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and most Latin American countries gained their independence in the nineteenth century. The colonization of Latin America and the Caribbean was dominated by the Iberian countries with small colonies established by the French, English and Dutch. Regardless of the nationality of the colonizers, almost all of the colonies shared basic characteristics, which have persevered over time in some way or another. It is possible to organize the traits of these colonies into four distinct categories: economic development, religious and social mixing, racial and ethnic mixing and political structures.
There were two basic industries found in the New World that shaped their economies: agriculture and mining. Both of these required tremendous labor input to match the demand of continental Europe. Goods such as sugar, cotton, coffee, indigo, tobacco, silver and copper were produced and exported in great quantities. At a very early point in the development of the colonies it was understood that the European settlers weren’t willing to do the physical labor themselves; instead African slaves were brought to the New World in order to work on the plantations. When the situation arose that African slaves didn’t adapt to the conditions properly, Native Indians were forced to labor.
This subjugation of Africans and the indigenous populations has had dramatic effects on society. As most regions emancipated the slaves sometime in the mid eighteenth century, a social pyramid developed where white elite’s at the top, mulatto landown...
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...d of colonialism has permeated through every aspect of society leaving a legacy with recognizable origins and characteristics regardless of the changes instilled by any specific government. As revisions to the economy, political structure, racial and gender situation and national identity are made it is impossible to escape the similarities of the past. Only drastic, social upheaval can cause the type of change activists dream about. Maybe the Spanish inadvertently left a trait that has hindered growth across their history, the concept of Manana (“tomorrow”), thus putting important policy decisions for another day. We can find examples in the histories of these countries where significant change is found, but it never has a contagious element allowing it to spread across the region, and it is rarely going to affect more then one aspect of society for any extended amount of time. Regardless, of the actual results we have witnessed in the past, there is one constant: a desire for improvement and the ever increasing number of leaders willing to take unorthodox steps to achieve these goals. As long as these characteristics remain, transitions to desired ideals will eventually occur.
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