April 13th, 2015 Latin America and the world has lost a great writer and journalist. The president of Bolivia commented, “The world and Latin America have lost a maestro of the liberation of the people, His messages and works have always been oriented towards defending the sovereignty and dignity of our peoples” (The guardian.uk). The author of Open Veins of Latin America, the great Eduardo Galeano. The Open Veins of Latin America showed us the truth that for centuries Latin America has been the open veins that has had different kinds of syringes forced into it because of its resources; which has served as nourishment for foreign entities that has had a hand in injecting the syringe and extracting the blood. As most that have read the book, know that it has thoroughly explained the exploitation of Latin America from the time of Christopher Columbus to the 70s.
This book with its magnificent explanation of Latino America’s history with foreign entities is so great that it has become a treasure for anyone that has come across it. The book even made headlines when the late Hugo Chavez gave the newly elected president of the United States, Barack Obama, as a gift in the 2009 Summit of Americas in Trinidad. It was a brilliant idea to give Obama that, because it represents the hope that the treatment of Latin American countries would change, small change is still change. Unfortunately, the veins that have been forced open since Columbus’s arrival in 1492 will remain open even up until now in 2015.
There are many examples, to name just a few we have the likes of WTK logging company from Malaysia that has been a key factor with the rapid increase of deforestation of the Amazon. Not only is there destruction of our earth but it also forces tribes like Tapiraje, Kaiapo, and Kapirape to relocate; forcing them to adapt to the sudden destruction of their home but disrupt their lifestyle just because of profit. Not only is the land being damaged but the people are also being negatively affected. The same way it is happening in Brazil, we go to Ecuador who as of now is still fighting with the former oil company known as Texaco (which was acquired by Chevron in 2001). One of the longest running environmental justice cases of all time. Texaco, now Chevron, had dumped millions of gallons of oil into ground water, rivers, and streams. Not only damaging the crops and contaminating the water that citizens used in order to make a living, but also risking the life of animals and cattle around the area.
In 2011 an Ecuadorian court had ruled that Chevron needs to pay $9.5 billion in damages. Now since Chevron has no assets in Ecuador, the plaintiffs need restart the process in the United States, and Chevron has stated that they will fight this case until “Hell freezes over and continue on the ice”. Until we can wrap our heads around the fact that there are still syringes sucking the blood out of Latin America, then we can start heal our wounds and closing those open veins. These are only two of the many examples of the kinds of exploitation that Latin America has suffered and is still suffering now since the Spanish invaded the New World, and we have to thank Eduardo Galeano for giving us clarity on Latin Americas situation, then and even now, and just like the title; the Open Veins of Latin America have yet to closed.
About the Author
My name is David Alfredo Paulino. I am twenty-one years old and I am currently a senior attending SUNY Cortland. I am an international studies major with a concentration in Global Political Systems and my minors are Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Asia and the Middle East. After I finish my bachelors degree in Spring of 2015, I wish to take a year break, while still being able to contribute to CNY Latino. After that year I wish to join the Peace Corps and hopefully work somewhere in Latin America. Once I finish my service in the Peace Corps, I am going to pursue a Masters degree, most likely in the University of Peace at Costa Rica, which is a United Nations Charter School.
I was born in Manhattan, NYC, but I currently live in the Bronx with my Mother, little sister, and Stepfather. Although I was born here most of my fondest memories come from my frequent visits to the Dominican Republic, and always being there. I even stayed there for a year due to my constant going back and forth, I grew to love the atmosphere there and sometimes I yearn for it more than the actual city.