By Mary W. Helms
Ancient Panama provides intensity to our figuring out of the political and non secular elite ruling in Panama on the time of the eu conquest. Mary W. Helms's study tremendously expands wisdom of the distribution, quantity, and structural nature of those pre-Columbian chiefdoms.
In addition, Helms delves extra deeply into choose elements of historic Panamanian political structures, together with the connection among elite pageant and mainly prestige, using sumptuary items within the expression of elite energy, and the position of elites in nearby and long-distance alternate networks. In an important departure from conventional considering, she proposes that the hunt for esoteric wisdom was once extra very important than fiscal alternate in constructing long-distance touch between chiefdoms.
The fundamental information for the research are derived from sixteenth-century Spanish files by means of Oviedo y Valdés, Andagoya, Balboa, and others. the writer additionally turns to ethnographic info from modern local humans of Panama, Colombia, tropical the US, and Polynesia for analogy and comparability. the result's a hugely leading edge research which illuminates not just pre-Columbian Panamanian elites but additionally the character of chiefdoms as a particular cultural type.
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As one official I interviewed explained, Where the massacre happened in Acteal, there is an army post right there, and the murderers — or actors — have to walk, maybe in uniform, for certain together [in a group] and armed, for several minutes to get there. No one saw them? . Look, it’s a small place. Las Abejas was a small, compact group in a concentrated area. And the road goes like this [a road is motioned out on the desk top] through the town. And here [he points to one end of the road] there are police stationed, and here [pointing to the other end] there is the army.
It was not until the Mexican Revolution of 1910 that the federal government began taking a more egalitarian approach to reform with the three main Revolutionary leaders, Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, and Venustiano Carranza. Though the three differed by degrees on issues of land reform and centralization, all leaned toward a more progressive agenda. In Chiapas, landowners were suspicious of what the Revolution would mean for traditional power holders and landholdings. Though Carranza’s ideology was more moderate than Zapata or Villa, even his victory would mean that land reform was at least possible.
Chapters 3 and 4 then move on to the case of Colombia, where paramilitaries emerged in the 1980s. The Colombian case is the “largest” of those studied here in that the paramilitary groups proliferated in number and have effected comparatively far greater swaths of territory. It differs from Chiapas in that the federal government has made formal attempts at demobilization of the pmgs, but evidence suggests that these have not been an overwhelming success. Chapter 3 presents the history of the country relevant to paramilitary emergence and the contemporary reform efforts that triggered important divisions within the country’s elite as well as the formation of the earliest paramilitary groups.