Even to those who have never been to its shores, the mention of Latin America conjures up a series of images and easy generalizations. Many foreigners, notably North Americans, see backwardness, dishonesty, disorder, even violence. The reality is far more complex. Indeed, Latin America is undergoing a rapid transformation. For instance, at the time of my first visit to Bogotá, Colombia, some forty years ago the city of two million had a number of inviting restaurants, an occasional concert, and no end of American movies. In 1993 when I returned to teach at the University of the Andes, skyscrapers towered over this city of six million, with bookstores, florist shops, a symphony orchestra, restaurants with a variety of cuisines, especially in the fashionable northern reaches of the city. As a film buff I continue to revel in the cinema clubs’ offerings from nearly every continent. Yet, there is a continuity from my visits decades earlier. The chozas (huts) of corrugated tin and wood still occupy interstitial areas, but are less evident than they were a generation earlier. Even more than earlier years, many areas of the city are at the visitor’s risk, as are some interstitial areas of North American cities. Yet, an upwardly mobile middle class is ever more visible.
KeywordsSlave Trade Symphony Orchestra Interstitial Area North American City African Past
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