Is Latin America part of the West, culturally speaking, or is it something essentially different, like China, India or Japan? Latin America is an overseas projection of the West that, from colonial times, has acquired its own distinctive features. Those traits, without severing it from the tree from which it sprouts, give it a specific personality.
[...] Culturally speaking, Latin America is so many dissimilar things that only by fragmenting it and excluding a good number of those fragments that make up its reality could it be possible to determine a specific trait valid for the entire continent which, since the arrival at its shores of Columbus’ three ships, articulated its history with that of the rest of the world. Its diversity, compatible in its case with a subterranean unity that is its characteristic condition, is in good measure a consequence of the Western sources that nurture it.
It is for that reason Latin Americans express themselves in the main in Spanish, English, Portuguese and French. It is for that reason Latin Americans are Catholics, Protestants, atheists or agnostics. And those who are atheists or agnostics are the way they are based on what they learned from the West, as is the case for Latin America’s reactionaries and revolutionaries, its democrats and liberals, its traditionalist or avant-garde artists, its romantics, classicists or postmodernists.
[…] Those who have tried their utmost to distance Latin America from the West have been those Western writers, thinkers or artists who, disillusioned with their own culture, venture forth in search of others to satisfy their appetite for exoticism, primitivism, magic, irrationality and the innocence of Rousseau’s noble savage—and have made Latin America the goal of their utopias. This has produced excellent literary fruit, though, in general, catastrophic political confusion.