Things That Matter

17 What-If Scenarios: What If The British Had Colonized Latin America 

Processes of European colonization around the world shaped global politics since Christopher Columbus landed on current day Caribbean islands, and continue to shape the cultural identity of the lands they colonized. Let it there be no mistake: colonization was brutal, illegal, unjust and bloody, and indigenous populations in what are now the Americas were decimated by centuries of abuse at the hands of Portugal, The Netherlands, France, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom.

Latin America was shaped by the mix between Spanish, Portuguese and French colonizers and ancient civilizations such as the Quechua, the Maya, the Aztec and the Inca. The flavors, rhythms and social imaginaries of the region are colorful and respond to the particularities of the European and Indigenous civilizations that clashed.

But what is the British had colonized today’s Latin America? We do not want to banalize colonization, but sometimes it is kinda fun to wonder about the what-ifs of world history.

1. The region would not be called Latin America at all

Credit: Latin+America+stretches+for+5,500+miles+from+the+Rio+Grande+River+in+Mexico+to+Cape+Horn+at+the+southern+end+of+South+America..jpg. Digital image. Slide Player.

Latin America is called so because Portuguese, Spanish and French all derive from Latin and are the most widely used colonial languages in the region. If English ruled, then perhaps the region would be called Anglo America or something similar. Sounds like out of Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.

2. Everyone would have morning and afternoon tea

Credit: morning_tea-0qt3ptk6ilp22598qm2_ct677x380. Digital image. Warwick Daily News

The British love rituals and good manners and rituals, and the everyday pauses for tea or coffee and cake and biscuits. It would be great to enjoy coffee and ginger snaps watching the Pacific ocean.

3. In fact, té de coca would be made by appointment of the queen

Credit: te-de-coca-1. Digital image. Expo Indigenas

Indigenous Bolivians drink a concoction of coca leaves to deal with altitude. The tea would be loved in the UK and the royals would love it.

4. Harry and Meghan would have gotten married in Machu Picchu

Credit: Machu-Picchu-Classic-View-2-1. Digital image. NOMADasaurus

The British would have savaged the Incas just like the Spanish, but they would have held on to political power by incorporating the region into the Commonwealth. Harry and Meghan would have organized a lavish wedding in the Andean hotspot.

5. The queen would have a pair of Xoloescuincles!

Credit: 635885090580c438b00b437.11522973-breed-550. Digital image. Perfect Pets

Move over corgis! The Queen would have pet Xolos and parade them in Buckingham Palace. So cute.

6. Aztec-Indian cuisine would be a thing

Credit: 606_02_2. Digital image. Mexiclore

Let’s be honest: British food is very boring, so they have incorporated the ingredients from their former colonies in their own culinary traditions. Chicken tikka masala is the national dish of England thanks to the incorporation of Indian spices into their cupboards! Aztec ingredients would be fused with cardamom, cumin, fenugreek, and chives to produce curry mole!

7. Afro-American culture would have spread out even more

Credit: 3526183_1425435360.6653.jpg. Digital image. Go Fund Me.

Perhaps the most horrible legacy of British colonialism was slavery. Even though the Spanish, French, and Portuguese illegally traded with African populations, the British were even more brutal. African culture would have spread farther and deeper into the continent as a result.

8. The Brits would eat tortillas and marmite for breakfast

Credit: bc70e0577e8e20b4701f7b099a1b92e5. Digital image. Yahoo Finance

The English love to have yeast extract over toast for breakfast. Marmite is salty and definitely an acquired taste. It would be made better over warm white corn tortillas. This would certainly brighten up their mornings.

9. Salsa would have some Celtic dance thrown in

Credit: lord-of-the-dance-lst173350. Digital image. The List .

African influence would have eventually led to the creation of salsa music. However, the Brits would have brought Irish migrants and their Lord of the Dance moves. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-maaaaaaambo.

10. Mexico would have been called New Loch Ness

Credit: 58559-istock-457394005. Digital image. Mental Floss

The British would have arrived at the ancient Tenochtitlan and upon realizing it was a lake, they would name the territory New Loch Ness in honor of the famous lake. Centuries later, people would claim to see giant sea monsters in both places and conspiracy theories would abound.

11. Cuba would be The New Isle of Mann

Credit: map1. Digital image. Visit Isle of Mann

Cuba would not be Cuba, but the New Isle of Mann, due to its similarity to the island stuck in between Liverpool and Dublin. This would have triggered a generous migration of Irish folk to the Caribbean and give birth to CariCeltic culture!

12. The region would be crazy for rugby!

Credit: Springboks_Reuters NewsHub. Digital image. News Hub.

Move over soccer! As part of the Commonwealth, most countries in the region would be head over heels over rugby. It is practiced in Argentina today, but in this alternate reality teams like The Mayas, The Sioux, The Inca, and The Quechua Eagles would have millions of hinchas.

13. Everyone would do a year abroad in Australia. G’day mate!

Credit: aussiewordoftheday. Digital image. Sion Nagh

As part of the Commonwealth, the region would send its youngest, brightest and most desmadroso minds to the land Down Under. Saying G’Day to everyone on the street would be common and some Australian colonies would start to pop up near surfing-prone areas. Everyone would have BBQs on hot days. Very similar to Argentinian asados!

14. Clocks everywhere and no siesta!

Credit: SyncronizedClocks-166311698-(1). Digital image. Wired

It is no secret that the British are a bit anal when it comes to time. The whole continent, from Canada to Patagonia, would run like clockwork over a single timezone. Siestas? Are you kidding? No time for that! Efficiency would be the norm, but life would be a bit more boring. Puaj.

15. Harry Potter would conjure up an ancient Mayan god to defeat Voldemort

Credit: mayagoddeathahpuch11. Digital image. Ancient Pages

Our favorite wizard would not only resort to Anglo-Saxon lore, but also to Mayan ancient scriptures. He would call an ancient Mayan God to be able to finally defeat the one that shall not be named. Just look at how badass the dude on the picture is. Ay, nanita! Also, Hermione would look like a tiny cute Frida Kahlo. Ron would still be a redhead.

16. Shakira would be called Lady Shakespeare

Credit: Instagram. @shakira

Shakira would still exist (because she is a wonderful force of nature that escapes the rules of time and space, thank you very much), but she would have played homage to the great bard by calling herself Lady Shakespeare. Thou hips shall not lie! Just see how at home she looks in London in this picture.

17.  Mr. Bean would have worked with Chespireetou

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Could you imagine a crossover between the great Chespirito and the uncanny Mr. Bean? They would have formed one of the best comedic duos of all time as if Chaplin and Buster Keaton had teamed up. Damn, we now wanna watch that!

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Pixabay

Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

Using Social Media, Russia Is Accused Of Being Behind The Massive Protests Across Latin America

Things That Matter

Using Social Media, Russia Is Accused Of Being Behind The Massive Protests Across Latin America

Marcelo Hernandez

For months now, Latin America has been facing a political crisis as country after country has seen massive populist protest movements that have destabilized the region. From Chile to Puerto Rico, Bolivia to Ecuador, governments have struggled to respond to growing inequality – which has forced millions of Latinos to take to the street.

Many of these protest movements lack obvious leadership but they do share a few common threads. For one, they want to see more government accountability and actions against corruption. They also share a desire to fight growing income inequality which has stifled economic development for the region’s most vulnerable populations.

Now, a new report has tied many of these massive protest movements to Russian bots – which are seen as instigating and magnifying the region’s unrest.

The US has reportedly tied Russian bots to increased protest movements across Latin America.

Although the protest movements across Latin America share a few common threads, the majority of them are overwhelmingly different. In Chile, protests started over a planned increase in public transport fares. In Bolivia, it was against alleged voter fraud by then-President Evo Morales. In Puerto Rico, it was to fight back against alleged corruption and to hold leaders accountable for homophobic and misogynistic texts.

According to the US State Department, however, they’ve identified one theme they all seem to have in common: Russian interference.

In Chile, nearly 10 percent of all tweets supporting protests in late October originated with Twitter accounts that had a high certainty of being linked to Russia. While in Bolivia, tweets associated with Russian-backed accounts spiked to more than 1,000 per day – up from fewer than five.

And in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile over one 30-day period, Russia-linked accounts posted strikingly similar messages within 90 minutes of one another.

Senior diplomats from the US believe that Russia’s goal may be to increase dissent in countries that don’t support Maduro’s presidency in Venezuela.

Russia’s alleged campaign to help tap support for Maduro’s regime has resulted in mixed reviews. It’s not obvious how successful the campaign has been.

With the support of more than 50 other countries, the Trump administration has imposed bruising economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s government in Venezuela over the last year. The coalition is backing Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, whom most of Latin America and the rest of the West views as the country’s legitimate president.

Russia is working to expand its presence in Latin America, largely at Washington’s expense.

The US State Department frequently keeps tabs on Twitter traffic worldwide to monitor for potentially dangerous activities, like the proliferation of fake pages and user accounts or content that targets the public with divisive messages

“We are noting a thumb on the scales,” said Kevin O’Reilly, the deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing issues in the Western Hemisphere. “It has made the normal dispute resolutions of a democratic society more contentious and more difficult.”

Souring attitudes toward the United States throughout the region over trade and immigration issues, the rise of populist candidates, and the deepening internal economic and social challenges facing many Latin American countries create favorable circumstances for Russia to advance its interests.

About a decade ago, it became obvious that Russia was launching an online campaign to destabilize the region using new technology and social media.

There are Spanish-language arms of two Russian-backed news organizations that have been found to spread disinformation, conspiracy theories and, in some cases, obvious lies to undermine liberal democratic governments.

According to one state-financed group, RT Español, they’ve reached 18 million people each week across ten Latin American counties and have more than a billion views on YouTube. This is huge liability for the truth.