A Postcolonial Approach
Chapter Three: Latin American Geography in the Movies 81
Chapter Three Latin American Geography in the Movies n the uncertain days subsequent to October 12, 1492, a tired and hungry Christopher Columbus writes about the land and the people he had just encountered. He has no idea about the culture of the natives and the features of the new geography, but he already wonders about the possibility of human exploitation, land use and the production of wealth.1 From the beginning of the European expansion in what became known as the New World, the exploitation of natural resources and the enslavement of the natives develop into the dominant socioeconomic praxis. Latin America enters Western consciousness as part of a hierarchical system that would provide Europeans with centuries of economic, religious and political satisfaction. In the beginning, it is only an image, a representation of Columbus’ desire, but later his speculations would materialize in the appropriation of agricultural land, gold and slaves and in the by-products of European colonization: genocide and the destruction of New World cultures. Centuries after Columbus, Western representation of Hispanics and the geography of Latin America still follows the same philosophical and political utilitarianism and with similar consequences. Five hundred years after Columbus’ dreams of economic riches and 1,800 miles south of the Caribbean islands, a phenomenon known as the Rainforest Chernobyl was taking place. In the region of Oriente, in the Ecuadorian jungle, Texaco’s dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste for more than two decades was causing irreparable damage to the environment and...
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