Though the countries that would later come to be known as Latin America began as extensions of European powers, a combination of indigenous culture and imported values from the Old Country would come together in the creation of new traditions that eventually asserted themselves in bids for independence. In Dr. Marc Becker’s Spring 2012 Latin American History in the National Period class, students came to see this tradition as the most important and distinguishing feature of the region, a feature that propelled the countries of Latin America from their colonial pasts to independent and individually distinct futures.
Religious tradition has always been an integral and controversial aspect of Latin America’s growth; Catholicism is the primary religious influence, but the prevalence of indigenous religions has led to thorough religious syncretism in most – if not all – Latin American countries. On a cultural level its importance has led to distinct definitions of the male and female spheres, exemplified by the concepts of Marianismo and Machismo, spheres that remain in contention to this day.
Gender and its traditional roles in Latin American society have at times been divisive concepts. Gender roles are considered by some to be set in stone, while others feel that traditional roles are oppressive; this turmoil has on occasion been the cause of violence, notably in occurrences of Femicide among Latin American countries. Today, because of acculturation and females taking steps to improve themselves socially and economocially, they are adhereing less and less to traditional gender expectations.
Breaking Traditions of DependencyEdit
Dependency is associated with the economic development of a nation in terms of political, economic, and cultural influences on its policies. Rather than over-coming the effects of colonialism, Dependency Theory states that nations tradtionally revert back to a colonial state while adopting a new parent country. This becomes an issue for monoculture nations, producing only one major export. This economic norm is prominent for Latin American countries who support an export economy, which require almost decisively a parent country with which to trade. However, the very nature of these monocultures leave their countries in a constant gamble, because no investment in infrastructure or in multiple markets is made to ensure a more stable economy. Yet they are widely supported by US investors who are not seeking to develop or stabilize a long-term economy and create a competitor (see UFCO).
Many cultural traditions which exist in Latin American countries surround a class distinction which follows the model of a socioeconomic pyramid. Much of the power lies in the hands of the upper class, who constitute a very small portion of the population. This distinction allows for an unequal distribution of land, power, and rights. In many cases, the lower class is exploited for their culture and used for the agendas of other countries (See Cultural Exportation).