Southland Papers

Southland Papers is a selection of essays dedicated to Latin American histories, politics and cultures, written by researchers based on or with outlooks from the southern hemisphere.

The writers contributing to Southland Papers have been invited to share their unpublished, non-institutional or not widely distributed essays to expand and connect Latin American perspectives and communities in Australia and abroad.

January 2018 edition


This first edition of Southland Papers bring seven articles covering past, present and future of the Latin American subcontinent, highlighting some of its most significant historical and political paradigms. Latin America, known for their political experiments and archetypes of leftist and rightist regimes and movements, is explored here through a selection of papers following chronology and themes.

The selection starts with a historical and judicial review of the encomienda system, a particular form of slavery applied by Spain which devastated the indigenous populations during the European colonisation of Latin America. Josiah Fajardo’s paper details historical, economic and judicial aspects and consequences of this type of forced labour, building the argument for reparations claims against Spain, while bringing colonial history to the present and a legal base for the current indigenous movement in Latin America.

Secondly, Fernando Bayer researches the long historical traces of the brutal civic-military Argentinean dictatorship of the 1976-83 period, an extreme paradigm of conservative forces using mass violence to control a Latin American society. The essay investigates a long line of militarism, caudillismo and conservatism in order to understand that the 1976 dictatorship was not an ahistorical event, but a process that evolved after decades or even centuries.

The third paper belongs to Benjamin John, who makes comparative research to explore two of the most important paradigms of the political left of the Twentieth Century: the democratic process in Chile led by Salvador Allende and the armed revolution of Cuba led by Fidel Castro. The articles researches specifically the historical possibilities of survival of each of these paths and models facing the neo-colonial domination over the subcontinent by the United States.

Fourthly, Pablo Leighton researches the covert intervention of the United States targeting the democratic government of Allende in Chile. Later, once Richard Nixon and Augusto Pinochet’s political powers were gone, both countries allowed an archival exploration around that intervention. Although there is a level of consensus around the U.S. sabotaging against Allende, official historical accounts still offer uncertainty after decades. The article argues that this uncertainty comes from the nature of archives and of that intervention, which in great part was through media propaganda. 

The fifth article deals with the aftermath of the paradigmatic civic-military dictatorships of the Southern Cone. Josiah Fajardo uses the case of Uruguay and how this country dealt with massive human rights violations under the new democratic governments since the 1980s. The article questions the path of impunity during the democratic period, and how it compared poorly to the model followed by Argentina, Uruguay’s neighbour, in the same period, especially from a judicial perspective.

The sixth essay is a detailed perspective on social development of the Cuban socialist paradigm since the revolution until recent times. The article by VZFZ proposes that the notions of human development and well-being do not necessarily follow the Western capitalist notions of ‘growth’ and higher income. The essay explores Cuba since the 1959 revolution from a socio-economic perspective to understand better this unique model of society in Latin America, a subcontinent characterised by acute problems of human and social development.

Finally, S. Nampali explores the recent past of neoliberalism in Latin America overcome by new models of democratic left-wing governments in the present era, opening questions about the future of the subcontinent. The essay uses the cases of Bolivia and Ecuador and how their constitutional, indigenous and citizen revolutions have shown the learned lessons after decades of political experimentations. Shirisha analyses these new and inventive paths to change the Latin American states, while also pointing to the pending and true transformations still to come.

Pablo Leighton
Editor of Southland Papers - January 2018 edition

Reparations for the encomienda system in Latin America
By Josiah Fajardo

Josiah Fajardo is a student at UNSW completing a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) / Law which he commenced in 2013. In 2017 he completed a Diploma of Language Studies (Spanish and Latin American Studies) also at UNSW. His areas of interest are the interaction between law and development, and business and human rights. In 2017 he was Editor of Issue 40(3) of the UNSW Law Journal which included a thematic component on Business and Human Rights, and he currently works in research and policy at International Justice Mission Australia.

Fernando Bayer graduated from the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Arts and Education specializing in teaching secondary age students the subjects of English, Spanish and History. He is now undertaking an Honours year exploring the impact and works of artists from the Latin American boom.

Maintaining Socialism in Latin America under American Hegemony: A Case Study of Chile and Cuba
By Benjamin John

Benjamin John is a 4th year Arts/Law student at the University of New South Wales majoring in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

Archives and narratives for the coup-history of Chile
By Pablo Leighton


Pablo Leighton researches the concept and practices of propaganda in 20th century and current media, and specifically on the history of audiovisual culture in Chile and Latin America since the 1970s. He has taught at numerous universities in Australia, United States, Chile and Central America, and has worked as film director, screenwriter and editor in several fiction and documentary productions (see his film work here).

Appeasement and impunity in  Uruguay: Political leadership and judicial independence
By Josiah Fajardo

Social development: A Cuban approach