Yes, women of Bolivia, my friends, we are one. We are working with faith, with love, for the time where we will be one great country, a "patria" without frontiers; a country founded on spiritual betterment. The idea of a "patria" without boundaries is a specifically nonnational vision.
The idea of sisterhood, of an imagined community of interests based on gender, of the women's insistence on the commonality of the human experience, undermines the idea of nation. This is well illustrated in the subsequent history of the women's platform.
The Eighth International Conference of American States met in Lima in ; the main business of the conference was the effort, led by the United States, to unite the hemisphere in the event of war. In the Declaration of Lima, the American republics reaffirmed their continental solidarity and "determination to defend themselves against all foreign intervention.
The Inter-American Commission of Women had never enjoyed the support of the United States diplomatic corps, and under the Roosevelt regime, it became a particular target of Eleanor Roosevelt. The feminist leaders were advised to turn their efforts to the defense of democracy, not to raise divisive issues.
On one hand, class hierarchies and relations of exploitation are reproduced within the gender system—for example, in relations between upper-class women and their female domestic employees. Stanza Acis suffers the torments of Tantalus, in other words. Due to Spain's participation and collaboration with France, it made possible the full support of the combined troops of Rochambeau and Washington. Lines 19— The big-nosed poet is Ovid. Simplemente sin prisa se quisieron entre sigilos y remansos.
Over the protests of the members of the commission itself, the opposition, which came principally from the United States delegation, succeeded in recasting the Inter-American Commission of Women from an independent women's commission to a subsidiary unit of the inter-American apparatus. Despite its diminished status, the IACW continued its work, and its legacy is readily apparent in the next decade. At the Chapultepec Conference on the Problems of War and Peace in Mexico on March 8, , the wording of the Lima resolution was directly incorporated into the plans for the United Nations; in October, , in San Francisco, Inter-American Commission of Women representatives Bertha Lutz of Brazil, Minerva Bernadino of the Dominican Republic, and Amalia Caballero de Castillo Ledon of Mexico used the precedent inter-American resolutions on the status of women to insist that the opening paragraph of the Charter of the United Nations include the phrase "the equal rights of men and women.
Legal rights and the appointment of women to the diplomatic tables were only a part of the Latin American and North American feminists' agenda in the pre-World War II period. The women's concerns and those of their like-minded male colleagues on issues of social welfare, education, and the need for economic change were incorporated in the Chapultepec Charter, the Charter of the United Nations, and the newly organized Organization of American States. Women themselves were now part of governmental delegations, and much of their agenda was incorporated into the international agenda.
A number of questions arise.
Did women as the counter-voice at the international conferences vanish after , only to reemerge during the United Nations International Year of the Woman in ? Did women, once they were the official representatives of their governments, cease to function as a pressure group for change? Did the historical antinationalist position of the first generation of Latin American feminists disappear in the s? Or is there evidence of the continuation of a separatist, explicitly feminist, political strategy within the context of inter-American relations?
By the attention of the inter-American diplomatic community had shifted from social and economic reform to a focus on opposition to communism, a position embraced by governments throughout the hemisphere. An extraordinary meeting of American foreign ministers and heads of state was convened at the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security, in Petropolis, near Rio de Janeiro, from August 15 to September 2, , at the instigation of the Latin American states. The emphasis on arming the nation-states of the Western Hemisphere, which has formed the bulk of inter-American assistance in postwar history, dates from this agreement.
These women were not politically radical within their national communities, but they believed strongly in the need for women to speak out on issues of social and political equality, human welfare, and peace. Their first press release stated:. The First Inter-American Congress of Women meeting in Guatemala, representing mothers, wives, daughters of our Continent, has resolved in plenary session to denounce the hemispheric armament plan under discussion at the Rio Conference, asking that the cost of the arms program be used to support industry, agriculture, health and education for our people.
The women declared their right to speak on international issues: "We consider that interamerican political problems deserve particular attention on the part of women of the Continent. We resolve to ask the Pan American Union and all Pan American associations to enact the following resolutions in the inter-American conferences. In those weeks of August , the proceedings of the Rio conference were headlined in the world press; The New York Times carried daily page-one coverage.
The Primer Congreso Interamericano de Mujeres was also noted in the press.
In a number of Latin American papers, including the opposition press in Guatemala, it was accused of communist sympathies. The women were not successful in staying the arming of the Americas, but it is apparent that in the immediate postwar period the women of the Americas continued to look beyond the nation-state to the transnational arena for community, for empowerment, for the opportunity to articulate their ideas and to be heard.
The women who met at Guatemala City in to counter the Rio Pact came together not to buttress the position of their respective nation-states but to protest the aggrandizement of national power through arms at the expense of the citizenry, an issue they saw as within their traditional purview. Nor was their petition based upon an imagined equation.
The women were acting within the historical context of a half century of a feminist, pacifist tradition, established by the women of the Americas from the Latin American Scientific Congresses of the s to the Primer Congreso Femenino in to the creation of the IACW in In the immediate postwar period, when the formal inter-American community refused to respond to the women's historical commitment to peace and disarmament, the women again looked to a separatist transnational strategy.
Latin America in the s faced a menacing crisis of modernization. Beset with the problems of nation building and rapid urbanization, its leading critics and intellectuals sought to rationalize these dramatic changes occurring in society by generating a theoretical construct to explain new American ideas. Conservatives and liberals alike studied the merits of progress and the price the more established social classes would have to pay for the growth of the modern city. Creative writers also participated in the quest for self-definition, responding to the modernization program in three different registers.
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In the first instance, a highly patriotic literature defended state ideology. Faced with the question of representing Latin America to its readers, or better, of creating a social subject resistant to modern realities, conservative authors of the s tried to preserve the authority of tradition. Writing of this kind was informed by a desire to protect the status quo and reiterated the symbols and ideas that enforced the rights of those in power.
These authors strove to create a myth of an organically unified America, in which the civilizing leadership of the elders might bring order and harmony to the nation. In the second instance, a more skeptical band of writers challenged the validity of the emerging state, but far from looking to the past as a model of successful nation building, they emphasized fragmentation and disruption as key features of modern times. Doubt was cast on the possibility of forming any enduring project of state organization.
While some responded to this perception of disorder with nihilism and despair, others reveled in what was seen as the chaos of modernity. From this latter group, a host of new writers emerged to carry the banner of avant-garde aestheticism. Not to be confused with members of the European cultural movements of the time, writers of the Latin American avant-garde incorporated selected elements of their national or regional conditions in their works while looking to contemporary Spain or. France for novelty of literary form. Modernity, with all of its force, was celebrated by these youthful authors, who rushed to the innovation of form and ideas as a way to break from the elders; thus, they staged a generational rebellion against audience, tradition, and institutions.
Finally, a highly politicized, left-wing political program emerged in the s to provide an alternative to bourgeois politics and literatures. Rooted in the new social movements that emerged with urban growth, social realist literature took as its focus of study the plight of marginals in society. Writers demonstrated a range of interests extending from political reformism of both left- and right-wing tendencies to a fervent defense of the autonomy of the work of art. Among these possibilities, a feminine literary discourse emerged, assessing both aesthetic and nationalist projects to forge a different system of writing.
As such, women's literature of the s provided a new framework for the reception and interpretation of masculine symbols of identity. It also offered terms for rereading the deployment of power. For this realization it depended upon the strategies of disruption produced by the avant-garde, but it also came into obvious debate with the nationalist tendencies of Latin American literature as if to reevaluate the programs of the modern state from a distinctively female perspective.
The status of women in the early twentieth century may be analyzed in the context of political programs for national reform and modernization.
Rapid economic growth was matched by a vast migration to the capital cities; at the same time, the unionization of labor created suspicion and fear among Latin America's ruling classes. Through this period of massive social upheaval, when anarchism threatened the state and democratic impulses shook the foundations of the oligarchy, women became at once subjects and pawns of the emerging texts of resistance. Indeed, in cities such as Buenos Aires, whose population was radically transformed by these events, working women—and foreigners especially—were suspected of destroying the basis of modern society.
In particular, these working women of the early twentieth century were singled out for their affiliations with anarchist movements and were accused of subversive activity. Not only did women in Buenos Aires establish their own anarchist newspapers but they also spoke freely against the repressive struc-. Women's sexuality and free control over their bodies were of deep concern to these anarchists as they sought to protect females from public and domestic abuse. Aside from the declarations found in pamphlets of the time, women were quite active in organized strikes and acts of sabotage.
One historian notes that women in lower-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires organized the largest strike in Argentina before the decade of the s. Meanwhile, in a less strident tone and usually at variance with anarchist platforms, socialist parties argued for equal rights for women, universal suffrage, reform of the civic codes, and better education for all.
Because of feminist activities in turn-of-the-century Latin America, women were often perceived as straying from the family unit. In a society where the family was equated with the national good, women who left the private sphere and moved into the public domain were often considered saboteurs of the unified household, promoting activities that undermined larger state interests.
As such, their presence in the modern nation-state posed some contradiction. After all, women were necessary for the pronatalist policies of the state; their work outside the home was often necessary for the economic survival of the working-class family; and their public engagements as teachers or supervisors of beneficent groups generally received official support. In the early years of the twentieth century, there was considerable popular and scientific concern for the monitoring of women's bodies.
This concern is evident in the contents of the penny dreadfuls and the women's weekly magazines, in the hygiene manuals designed for women, and in the almost xenophobic emphasis on keeping immigrant women from the nationalist domain. The hygiene movement, for example, which was generated by a con-. The woman's body became embarrassingly public, less through her own volition than through the schemes of those in authority.
These popular lessons for women were accompanied by pseudoscientific discourses; even the weekly magazines published clinical diagnoses of love or positivistic analyses of erotic relationships.
Caras y Caretas, Plus Ultra , and the Almanaque Hispanoamericano in this period provided many such explorations of eros. At the same time, certain intellectuals of the Centennial period in Latin American history attempted to organize a theory of the feminine in order to preserve the integrity of the nation. He denounced the restraints that marriage imposes upon individual freedom and sensuality; indeed, he asserted, insofar as it generates a concern for legal order, propriety, and convenience, marriage appears to threaten the very possibility of romantic love.
Love and marriage were to be regarded as separate matters; the first was a question of instinct, the second a matter of household management and ultimately of the continued efficiency of the state apparatus.