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Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gartner. Today I would like to talk about numbers and peoples. The number 25 is not a particularly large one but when a book is 25 years old and is being issued again in what is rightly termed a silver anniversary edition it deserves a bit of attention in particular would I give it attention because this book is also directing us toward our southern neighbor Mexico and its people. I'm speaking today of many Mexico's of volume published by the University of California Press and authored by a distinguished member of the faculty of that institution. Leslie Byrd Simpson. We have in Mexico a land of many people of many numbers
and indeed I want to combine the two today. As we turn to certain chapters of history and look at certain key figures some 400 years ago when Mexico was subjected to Spanish conquest there was a great deal of brutality. In fact there was an abundance of evidence to show that the dories were a very rough lot. Most of this evidence was supplied by the Spaniards themselves for if they conducted themselves like conquerors of all times they did not escape a tremendous castigation at the hands of their articulate and powerful clergy. The most outspoken and famous of their critics was the Dominican bartolomé Damascus whose writings have had a curious fascination for the enemies of Spain for 400 years. They are as interesting as an example of the principle that has effectively
been applied to many situations as we can find. I'm referring to the principle. If you say a thing often enough and loud enough someone is bound to believe it. Las Casas who had witnessed the frightful annihilation of the people of the Antilles islands which was horribly true applied the same story indiscriminately to all parts of the Spanish new world regardless of truth. He was a man possessed. He saw himself as a wrathful Saint Michael with a flaming sword leading the celestial hosts against the minions of Satan who had turned out were always his own countrymen. His book The brief relation of the destruction of the Indies from the moment of its appearance in fifteen fifty two became the indispensable handbook for those most interested in believing it in the first century after its publication.
The brief relation went through forty two foreign additions three Italian three Latin four English six French eight German and eighteen Dutch and of course one of his chief doubles was her non Cortez who secretary and biographer he also hated with equal ferocity. Father lost causes is then the first ban I would have us meet in our awareness of Mexico. With the passage of centuries and an urge for independence the Mexicans found leadership of yet another sort. Also in the ranks of the clergy I refer now to Father Miguel. It Dolly girl in fact discussing it Dugald is a very delicate subject in Mexico Mexican patriotism has made him the father of Independence and a symbol of the revolt against all the
evils of the old regime. He has become the scourge of tyrants. The friend of the oppressed the man of Mexico obviously a super man. All group movements whether they're in our country Mexico or elsewhere must have symbols and myths in the United States. We have distorted the images of our countries great men until their own mothers wouldn't recognize most of them. We have made Washington a prig and Lincoln a god. In Mexico the figure of father in dollar gold has of late years been deified in school textbooks and mural paintings until he too has little resemblance to the puzzled sanguinary enthusiast who emerges in the documents of Mexican history. The best thing we can do is to recognize to a dollar goes the
symbolic figure and the real man of the two. The man is infinitely the more interesting. You don't go was not a great man before he was caught up in the insurrection and placed at the head of it. He had lived for fifty seven years without achieving more than moderate distinction. He had taught Latin theology and philosophy for some years at the ancient College of Sonic a loss in value to lead Mexico and had risen to be rector of that institution. His unorthodox teaching and his reading of prohibited books was resented by the faculty and in 1792 he resigned from the college and accepted an appointment in Colima 10 years later. He was sent to the parish of Dolores in the state of Juana Watto having incurred the suspicions of the holy office although the case against him
was dismissed for lack of evidence. It Dago loved words and had the power to move people. The movement he initiated in 1810 so moved the people of Mexico that in little more than a decade they had moved from a colony to independent status. And so a man who could castigate the Spaniards lost causes in colonial years for the treatment of Indians is joined by another churchmen the Dago who could in a sense castigate the Spaniards for suppressing the Mexican capacity for self-government and so one great man after another gives meaningful direction to phases of Mexican life. But all the men who are significant in the Mexican record are not necessarily of the same cut. They're not all members of the clergy. Not all they all on the wave of the future thinking of what
might be termed the progress of the nation. Let me for a moment introduce you with words from Simpson to a man who is negative a man who was decidedly a drawback in the parade of Mexican history in the 19th century. I'm referring of course to Santa Ana. There had been in the 1830s a number of reasons why foreign governments were unhappy with Mexican administrations. They in Mexico were plainly not paying on their debts and so a number of claims have been filed by French citizens against the Mexican government. One we're reminded by Simpson in his book by I'm a Syrian One.Tel who had a pastry shop in Taco Bell you know a suburb of Mexico City. It seems that some army officers had invaded his shop one night locked him in a room and devoured all these pastries. They
certainly knew how to insult a Frenchman. The indignant proprietor claimed eight hundred pesos in damages. Now this. Eight hundred pesos claim was the very smallest item in a total bill of some 600000 pesos that the French government was pressing against Mexico. Louis Felipe's ministers. Because however their action against Mexico to give rise to the name the pastry war for the battles that ensued the Mexican government ignoring the claims and the French moving in. We actually have a war in 1838. Thirty nine. Santa Ana against the King of France. A good match. Santa Ana would have thought. And so off to war he went and mounted on his white horse ready to charge at a particular moment on the coast of Mexico. The God of luck. Simpson writes. Took
Santa Ana by the hand and led him into the path of a French cannonball. His left leg was shattered below the knee. Never with a fatherland be able to forget Santa Ana's like the death that the hero expected momentarily resemble that of a romantic opera star on his carefully arranged death bed. The wounded heroes lay while strong men wept unashamed but his agony did not prevent his dictating a 15 page last message to his beloved fellow citizens which ended with the words. I also beg the government of the Fatherland to bury me in the same sand dunes so that my companions in arms may know that this is the battle line I have marked out for them to hold. The death scene was what in Hollywood would be termed a while Santa and I might well have said Mexico is worth a leg. The pitiful
stump of Santa Anna's leg was to be paraded with such effect that revolutions and more revolutions would have to be fought and thousands upon thousands of Indian boys would have to die and half the territory of the nation would have to be sacrificed before the leg could be paid for. Santa Ana loved his wound with pathological intensity. He never tired of talking about it. He affected invalid ism and a romantic pallor and noble of his features. Santa and I had two great loves himself and his fighting cocks. Next came the gaming table where his gamblers vanity made him coolly risk large sums on the flip of a card with the same unconcern with which he staked men's lives and his country's destiny. And now his leg which became almost as dear to him as his fighting cocks.
But men are not the only ones who come in numbers. In Mexico there is a problem today that relates to numbers and I would prefer to get a gun. We have the words of Simpson in the 25th anniversary edition of his volume. The pressure of population on the soil continues to threaten the food supply of Mexico. The population has tripled since 1910 and demographers see no letup in its advance. The heartening success of the government in bringing more land into production with the consequent increase in foodstuffs has led some enthusiastic to predict that technology will always keep ahead of the food crisis. But the numerous dams and irrigation systems the much publicized Aikido which was supposed to have saved the country by breaking up the RCMP has been giving the land back to the peasants. The
greatly increased use of farm machinery improve seed and chemical fertilizers. All these intelligent measures are defeated in advance by the prodigious fertility of the Mexican mother and the virility of the Mexican male for whom a vast family has a visible proof of his manhood. It looks as though the stage were being set for a mouth oozy in tragedy in Mexico. If as is suspected by Simpson we have the breakdown of the food producing capacity of that country. It is necessary that you two look to get other numbers. This was Latin American perspectives with Dr S. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program on Dr. Gardner We'll examine another aspect of life in Latin America Latin American perspectives is produced and recorded by station WSI you
FM at Southern Illinois University and is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Latin American perspectives
Many Mexicos
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the numbers and people of the "many Mexicos."
Series Description
A series of comment and analysis about current affairs in Latin American countries.
Global Affairs
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Host: Gardiner, C. Harvey (Clinton Harvey)
Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-3-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:15
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives; Many Mexicos,” 1968-01-04, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “Latin American perspectives; Many Mexicos.” 1968-01-04. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: Latin American perspectives; Many Mexicos. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from