By Matías Heitner ’22
The St. Andrew’s history program is an extremely respectable entity, with varying levels of difficulty and vast amounts of topics, but there is one shadow looming over it: the lack of Latin American studies. One of the more forgotten parts of both the United States and international history, Latin America is fundamental to our understanding of modern society. From the banana wars to the cold war, to the breathtaking literature and art, and to the governments that are still ruling there to this day, it has had a massive impact on us all.
St. Andrew’s barely has five non-Spanish courses that discuss the topic, and none that go in-depth on it at all. Not only this, but most of these classes are interdisciplinary or electives. There is not a single main history class that discusses the topic in-depth. Not even the amazing Global Studies classes taken Freshman year, which are meant to explore regions that do not have enough attention, discuss this. All the course offers is a small lesson on Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
This is especially marking, as the United States has been part of the history just to our South for centuries. Most notably, the US arguably destabilized most of the region, imposing dictators and puppet governments wherever it decided was “in danger of becoming Communist.” If I asked a student whether they knew who Sandino was, or what happened in Nicaragua, I can guarantee they will just look at me blankly. I myself did not know about the United States’ involvement in Nicaragua and the rebellion that took place until I heard it in a song. During the Pinochet study, we barely mentioned the desaparecidos, and definitely did not dive into the socioeconomic and political complexities of time. We did not learn about the thousands who were assassinated, nor the fear that struck the people of Chile and Argentina. We do not learn about Peronism, nor Venezuela’s fall from power.
But the truth is, I could not name any more events, because I do not know more. I struggled to remember more moments in history, even though I know there are so many more. I am disappointed in the lack of representation at the school, but I have faith in St. Andrew’s, a school that should and does pride itself in its response to students’ feedback.
This problem is widespread in the United States, and St. Andrew’s can be a pioneer in teaching Latin America’s vast literature, history, art, and so much more by educating its students about our Southern neighbors.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2019-20 Print Edition, the full version can be viewed here