Cultural Geo: Latin America Activity Response

Logan Sanville

Important information to know beforehand:

In cultural geography class, we participated in an activity where there were 5 social groups, which are to be announced later, of the Latin American County of Guatemala. The groups were all left to interact with each other; making treaties, forming alliances, dispute, etc.

It is also important to know that "power" in this activity was measured by MSU's (Military Strength Units). The group with the most of these had the power, including the power to silence others and had control of the "Take-Over" card.


Q1. What groups are involved, who had the power?

A1. The 5 social groups involved in this activity were "Peasants" (The group I happened to be in, if you're interested) - self explanatory, "Guerrillas" - a group of rebels who used to have power but were overthrown, the "Government" - mere puppets behind the ones who have the real power and control of the country - the "Army and Wealthy." The 5th group is the USA, who were keeping a close eye on the status of the country, Guatemala.

In the beginning of this activity, the Army and Wealthy had the most power because they had the most MSU's, 200. Following behind with 60 were the Guerrillas and the USA. The groups with the least power in the beginning were the Government with 20 MSU's and Peasants with 0 MSU's.

Q2. How the balance of power shifted and why?

A2. The balance of power shifted a couple of ways in this activity between social groups. In month one, for example, the Peasants decided to join together with the Guerrillas so the Guerrillas got 50 more MSU's (one from each peasant), giving them a new total of 110 MSU's. The A&W also signed a treaty with the Guerillas sharing 25 MSU's bringing the total to 135 by the end of the month.  However the A&W still had the most with 175, but this changed in month two.  The US assisted the Guerrillas and gave 45 of their MSU's giving the Guerrillas the main power of the country (180 MSU's). This all happened because of the cooperation between all of the groups who participated in the MSU's potluck to the Guerillas.

Q3. How was cooperation and conflict shown in the game?

A3. In the first month, there was cooperation between the Guerrillas and the Peasants when they signed a treaty stating that the Peasants were joining the side of the Guerrillas. There was also cooperation when the A&W signed a treaty that had then give those 25 MSU's to the Guerrillas. In month 2, there was even more cooperation, between the US and Guerrillas when they gave them the MSU's mentioned earlier. There was, however, conflict as well such as when the Guerrillas overthrew the government , resulting in the Guerrillas holding the power, which also didn't sit well with the A&W.

Q4. What role did the U.S. have on the simulation?

A4. In our simulation, we didn't know too much about the U.S. early in. In month one they said they were not going to share any information about what their plans were and they were pretty secretive about it. It seemed for a little bit that they were simply watching was going on, letting the country sort some things on it's own. Then in month two they took some action by sharing MSU's with the Guerrillas. Finally month three was where they took major action. Just after the Guerrillas set up their plans for the new government system, the U.S. stormed in and installed there own form of government that seemed similar to an oligarchy. From the Guerrilla point of view this was very upsetting. They did not like the idea of the U.S. coming and changing everything after they finally achieved power and changed the government for, what they believed was at least, the better. To them, it looked as if the government was hurting more than helping.

Q5. What happens to a country when power shifts, is the effect positive or negative?

A5. When the power shifts in a country, the effect can be positive or negative. In our simulation for example, the power shifted to the Guerrillas which was seen as positive by many because their new form of government made it so that nobody had too much power over anyone else and that people had more equal rights. Yet in the real world, not everyone will see a power shift in the same way. For example, Americans obviously saw the power shift in the American Revolution as a good thing, but England of course saw it as a negative thing. For them, they lost control over some of their citizens and then ability to venture out to the colonies that the rebels now owned as their land. It's all about perspective.

Q6. Apply this information to YOUR LIFE! What relationships do you have in your life, how are cooperation and conflict evident?

A6. Cooperation and conflict are evident in my life in many ways. In my friendships there are plenty of times where we can cooperate like when we decide on what we want to do or where we want to go when we hang out, usually the decision is easy like when me and two others all wanted to go see Divergent. Yet we can also have disagreements about our plans as well, like sometimes we wont always agree on where to go. Maybe I want to just stay at one of our houses and they want to go out somewhere. You can see how that our decision can cause a small power shift in the friendship, but nothing major.

This kind of stuff also happens in my family life too. One example of cooperation is when we decide on what to do when we go out to eat, we all input ideas and we all decide on the one we think is the best. But there's conflict too of course. Sometimes my parents might want me to go do something that maybe I don't really want to do so there can be some conflict there. But since my parents have the power of course, I'll usually do what is asked to be done like maybe go to the grocery store with them or do some cleaning and so on.

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