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Andean priest and spiritual leader, Don Fabian Champi Apaza. Photo by Tom Pablo, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Yak Board Assignment

I felt that the excerpt provided a good background of the brutal and exploitative history of Latin America, while the “Latinoamerica” video conveyed the spirit of how many civilians of those countries are still feeling the effects of that history. Interestingly, I had already discussed some of the reading (mainly the significance of Potosi) and analyzed “Latinoamerica” in my Spanish classes—although I had never looked for connections between them.

After looking at both side by side, I see Calle 13s song as a direct response/answer to the tragic history of many South and Central American countries. Furthermore, while the song has many themes and ideas, there are two essential ideas that I identified.

The first significant notion that Calle 13 responds to is the idea of community and a shared identity. Although there are hints of it throughout the song, Calle 13 establishes a real sense of ‘togetherness’ in the song’s title and closing. More than a song, “Latinoamerica” seems more like an anthem, or a rallying cry for the citizens of those locations. I see this decision as a way that Calle 13 can combat how the European colonial powers raced to colonize and plunder from these countries. As the article describes: Spain controlled 5% of the trade, 33% belonged to the Dutch/Flemish, 25% belonged to the French, the Genoese a little over 1/5, the English 1/10, and the Germans the rest. “Latin America was a European business.” While the title is more of a distinct identifier for who this song is tailored towards, the ending is a forward-thinking call. For a majority of the song, Calle 13 utilizes “soy” to list examples and experiences that are common for Latin Americans. This choice not only allows the lyrics to empower the heritage of Latin Americans but allows listeners to relate to these shared struggles and somewhat self-inset their lives and experiences into the song. But at the end of the song, they change from using the “I” conjugation to a “we” conjugation. As they call for everyone to walk together (“vamos caminando”), and face the problems together (“Aquí estamos de pie,” here we stand).

The other principal idea tackled in the song relates to the history of European powers buying up these countries resources and land. While this nature imagery is seen throughout the video (especially in the visuals of the heart in soil and mother nature trees), it best exemplified in the chorus of Latinoamerica, where they list things that “tu” (referencing the colonial powers) cannot purchase. All the things that they contain are non-material products, including the wind (el viento), the heat (el calor), and their pain (los dolores). Calle 13 is stating that any powerful nation cannot buy their land, their joy, or pain.

These were the main ideas and connections I noticed between these two works!

The resistance movement I would like to discuss is irregular, but objectively the most critical resistance movement within Colorado Springs—as it has had severe, lasting implications. What I am referring to is the anti-tax movement and legislation that occurred in the 1990s and the anti-tax culture it would create.

Interestingly, this whole operation was helmed by one man, Douglas Bruce, a political outsider. He and his group of anti-tax activists (who rose to popularity in the 90s) created and implemented the “Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Right” (TABOR). This piece of legislation took away legislators’ ability to raise taxes without approval from a majority of voters in Colorado Springs (basically a popular vote) and limits how quickly government revenues can grow. Many experts have declared it the most restrictive tax and expenditure limitation within the Unites States. Also, the interworkings of the bill make sure that the local government cannot grow as fast as the Colorado economy would. This bill put a stop to all tax increases, as rarely anyone willingly votes to increases taxes—especially in our conservatively sided city. While this may not sound that bad, a majority of taxes in the town have not increased in around 25 years. This, coupled with the insane amount of growth in Colorado Springs, has resulted in devastating consequences. As a result, even though Colorado Springs is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, this law means that our local government cannot keep up in any way. A majority of the town has been under construction for years, and Colorado Springs has one of the worst five public education systems in the nation—as it receives barely any funds.

Furthermore, the low state taxes, in turn, lead to the creation of two main areas of violence. Firstly, we have an insanely small police force (as again, we can barely fund them). This lack of police has created a hazardous driving culture and long response time for reports—, especially domestic violence. The second main problem involves the large number of individuals experiencing homelessness present within Colorado Springs. The city has a severe military presence, as we house the Peterson Airforce Base and Fort Carson. Consequently, as well, we have a lot of military return from duty with severe PTSD or other mental issues who end up on the streets and downtown. This large amount of sick, homeless individuals get in fights, cause damage to public property, and as a result, are looked down on and harassed by most other citizens. And unfortunately, our government cannot fund anything meaningful to help solve this issue—either by adding more shelters or creating programs for them.

Recently though there has been headway in repealing TABOR. Just this year, the Colorado supreme court ruled that lawmakers can bring a bill that would repeal TABOR to the floor. This notion, coupled with the abundant issues, the whole “anti-tax culture,” is definitely changing. Hopefully, the legislation is repealed, and these issues will be addressed. More support/shelters for the homeless and a more significant police force would greatly benefit the city.