The Argentinian leader, Domingo Sarmiento has remained as a controversial figure in the Latin American politics of the last two centuries. His thought, that shies away from the enlightenment ideals that most of the independence and post-independence leaders followed was based on a thorough modernization of the country, an extensive revamping of the educational system and the creation of a professional standing army to defend the country (Kirkpatrick & Masiello 1). Likewise, given Sarmiento’s extensive culture and liberal background, he intended to balance military and civil powers to avoid a military rule that would result in a setback of the post-war political accomplishments
However, this liberal spirit came accompanied by harsh criticism in his homeland, since his ideas were related to American conceptions such as the separation of the church and the state that were novel in the recently freed country. Nevertheless, his vision was also interwoven with the necessity of repopulating the interior of the country, often regardless of the gaucho population desires and bulldozing them, considering them as inferior and barbaric. To him, gauchos were a byproduct of the colonization that had to be bent into shape to be useful for the country through education and literacy (Kirkpatrick & Masiello 1). Consequently, although his reshaping of the country was completely necessary, perhaps his direction, closer to the American model rather than the colonial model, earned him harsh criticism and opposition.
Ultimately, Sarmiento believed that the colonial rule had brought distress to the country and that the only way to fix it was changing the direction of the country’s spirit, linking it with the North American ideals. However, changing a state’s culture requires more than just a man’s effort, and although his desires did not fulfil entirely, he set the basis on which modern Argentina stays, a nation that remains Latin American, but has a distinct air that separates it from the rest.
Kirkpatrick, G., and F. Masiello. “Introduction.” Sarmiento, Author of a Nation.Berkeley: U of California, 1994. Print.
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