Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My paper - rough draft

In the Western Hemisphere there exists a web of interconnected nations. In the center of this web is the United States of America. Since its creation in the eighteenth century, the U.S. has shown indications of having a self-image of superiority. After creating its Constitution and winning independence from Britain, America’s Founding Fathers believed they had created “the world’s most enlightened form of government.” Perhaps, even in those earliest days, Americans had ideas of spreading their superior system to other nations. In a letter to James Monroe in 1801, Thomas Jefferson said, “it is impossible not to look forward to distant times when our rapid multiplication will expand itself beyond [our current] limits, and cover the whole northern, if not the southern continent.” There was an idea of Manifest Destiny, of a civilizing mission. Like imperialist Europeans of previous centuries, Americans believed that their government, their culture, was superior, and it was their destiny, their burden, to spread this “correct” form of living to other peoples in a “civilizing mission” (Chace 10-11). This notion, which could be considered noble, went hand-in-hand with another concept that has more sinister connotations: paternalism. In his book The Colonizer and the Colonized, Albert Memmi calls this mental attitude “charitable racism.” “A paternalist,” he says, “is one who wants to stretch racism and inequality farther” (76). Charitable racism is an all-too applicable term to the actions shown by the U.S. toward the nations of Latin America, and an example of such action can be found in the 1954 U.S.-sponsored coup in Guatemala.

Guatemala earned independence from its colonial ruler Spain in 1821. But this liberation was short-lived; as the cases with so many other countries recently liberated from their colonizers, Guatemala came to be ruled by a long line of successive dictators the next 120 years. The last of these dictators was named General Jorge Ubico. A son of the small aristocracy that had ruled the nation for over a century, he took office in 1931. After a decade of reigning “over a body of passive peasants and indifferent Indians (half of the nation’s population was made up of Indians living in rural enclaves isolated from mainstream Guatemala)” a new movement began to take root in the growing middle class of Guatemalans. The people started to take public issue with their dictatorial government as ideas of unalienable personal rights and democracy spread from their northern neighbor the United States. When a radio broadcast of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech of the “Four Freedoms” (freedoms of speech and religion, and freedoms from want and fear) came to the ears of a population of Guatemalan teachers and other middle-class idealists, they began to organize for a revolution, an escape from tyranny to democracy. In early July 1944, just days after a schoolteacher María Chinchilla was killed among 200 other demonstrators at the largest protest the country had seen, General Ubico, caught completely off-guard, declared a state of siege and complied to the petition of 311 teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other citizens to resign. He turned power over to the military commander General Federico Ponce (Schlesinger/Kinzer 25-28).

In an effort to quell the uprising, Ponce raised teachers’ salaries and instituted modest university reforms, but also intensified governmental surveillance and banned public meetings and demonstrations. After the uncommon assassination of an outspoken journalist in opposition to the government, Alejandro Córdova, two young officers Major Fransisco Arana and Captain Jacabo Arbenz led the “October Revolution” and forced Ponce to relinquish his power and retreat to the Mexican Embassy. In the nation’s first ever free democratic election, the candidate selected by the middle-class base of revolutionaries Dr. Juan José Arévalo Bermejo, took his place as president after a landslide victory of 85% in March of 1945. The young visionary quickly set forth to fight for the working man and “give civic and legal value to all people who live[d] in [that] Republic” with backing of the newly established constitution which provided the Guatemalan republic with numerous progressive liberties and orders (including the division of power between three governmental branches, two-year terms for Congressmen and six-year terms for presidents, checks on the income of government employees, equal pay for men and women, the illegalization of racial discrimination, a ban on monopolies, workers’ rights, the right to unionize, etc.) (29-35).

Arévalo, an ideological man who believed in what he called “spiritual socialism”, had high, and perhaps romantic, ambitions of what he would do with the country in his six-year term, and he set four overarching priorities: agrarian reform, protection of labor, a better educational system, and consolidation of political democracy. He had varied success in each of these, perhaps the most in the latter, helping to establish political parties and promoting freedom of speech and press. One of the biggest problems to fix was the issue of land, however, as a mere “two percent of the landowners held 72 percent of the land, and ninety percent of the people together owned just 15 percent of the productive acreage.” His Law of Forced Rental helped some to give more unused land to the peasants to rent and work, but change was resisted by “pillars of the old order” – those who profited from the unequal distribution of land and wealth. Unfortunately for Arévalo, the base that had supported him during election was slowing crumbling in its own clashes, stimulated partially by the very political parties he helped to form in attempts to create a free society. Also backfiring to work against him was the press who constantly criticized their government. By 1948, his vision of a free a just state was slipping farther and farther from reach, and situations only worsened to the end of his term in 1951. That March, the speech he gave at the inauguration of Guatemala’s next president Jacabo Arbenz Guzmán, bore no resemblance to speeches at the beginning of his campaign, full of excitement and hope for the future. This somber speech directly admitted how “with the deepest despondency and pain” he had realized in his presidency “how perishable, frail, and slippery the brilliant international doctrines of democracy and freedom were” (37-47).

President Arbenz did no seem too discouraged by his former president’s message, however, as he dutifully took the reigns to the country that had now been introduced to democracy and the idea of drastic change to existing economic structures. On March 15, 1951 he was sworn is as president and set to work on making his country a fairer place by, in his words, making a “profound change in the backward agricultural production of Guatemala, by way of agrarian reform which puts an end to the latifundios and the semi-feudal practices, giving the land to thousands of peasants, raising their purchasing power and creating a great internal market favorable to the development of domestic industry”. At the time, seventy percent of the land was still owned by 2.2% of the population, and of those four million acres, about three million were going uncultivated. Additionally, the largest segment of the Guatemalan economy, accounting for about $120 million was leaving the country through the United Fruit Company. But by June 1952 he had created a bill that passed in Congress, which he believed would turn the agrarian practices of Guatemala around for the good of the rural peasants, accounting for 90% of the work force (49-54).

Under this bill, Decree 900, the government would seize portions of uncultivated land from large plantations. The government would not touch any crops of land under 223 acres, neither would they take any portion of land between 223 and 670 acres that was at least two-thirds cultivated. The purpose of the bill was not to take away people’s land but to force some of the wealthiest people who sat on hundreds of acres of untouched land to share it with the thousands of peasants who would gladly farm it and produce food for themselves and capital for Guatemala. The government would pay the previous owners for the confiscated land in twenty-five-year bonds bearing a 3% interest rate, and the land would be distributed to landless workers in portions not to exceed 42.5 acres each. The land would not completely be “theirs” either, in that when they died they could pass it on or sell it at a higher price while they were alive; it was not so workers could turn a profit, but simply so they could farm it and feed their families. This bill would be universally applied, even when it took away land from politicians, which it did. Under the law President Arbenz gave up 1,700 of his own uncultivated acreage, and 1,200 acres of his friend the Foreign Minister Guillermo Toriello was also redistributed to landless farmers. An American lawyer visiting Guatemala at the time said of the law, “a fair, impartial and democratic administration of this law would go very far toward destroying the political power of the minority…who are vested property-holding interests, both native and foreign” (54-55). But not everyone was pleased with this destruction of political power, this redistribution of prosperity. As one might suspect, the American-based United Fruit Company was quite troubled by this law, and in fact, for the past seven years they had been growing more and more anxious of the promises of reform the nation’s first democratically-elected presidents had been promising.
In March 1953, the government of Guatemala seized 209,842 acres from United Fruit’s 550 million acres (85% of which were unused) and offered the company $627,572 in bonds, “based on United Fruit’s declared tax value of the land.” But the company had “undervalued its property in official declarations in order to reduce its already insignificant tax liability” and now this falsehood was being used against them. The U.S. State Department issued a formal complaint demanding nearly $16 million in compensation for the land and calling the Guatemalan offer unjust. The offer, however, amounted to about $2.99 per acre, when the Fruit Company had previously paid only $1.48 per acre. But this profit was “unjust” and the U.S. called instead for $75 an acre, a demand that Guatemala did not concede. But this display of strength and sovereignty turned out to be a fatal decision for Arbenz and the progressive government he and so many other Guatemalans had worked to establish, for the United Fruit Company had already been working for years to stage its undoing (75-77).

In 1940 Sam Zemurray, the cunning president of United Fruit hired Edward Bernays, one of the nation’s foremost public relations masterminds to help improve the image of his company, which was known in Central America as el pulpo (the octopus). Bernays began specifically targeting the Guatemalan government when, in 1947, banana workers were permitted to join trade unions, which caused several set-backs that were completely foreign to the company that had traditionally only been aided by the former dictatorial government. The company began working with Massachusetts senator Henry Lodge, a United Fruit stockowner, who argued to Congress against the Guatemalan Labor Code saying it discriminated against United Fruit and caused it to face “serious economic breakdown” through labor unrest. But when Arbenz was elected in 1951, the company realized it would soon have bigger problems than pesky trade unions, so Zemurray told Bernays to increase his PR campaign against Guatemala, a task that he took on with more than sufficient zeal. Soon nearly all major U.S. publications (Time, Newsweek, and Christian Science Monitor to name a few) were sending journalists to Guatemala where “they were shepherded on elaborately choreographed tours of Fruit Company facilities, and talked to local politicians who were sympathetic to the company’s plight (and, not infrequently, were on the company’s payroll).” These media trips were a smashing success; Thomas McCann, a former United Fruit official who worked for the company during this time and later wrote a candid tell-all account of the corporation said, “an avalanche of publicity favoring the United Fruit Company followed the trips.” Their angle was Communism; specifically, they were pushing the idea that the Guatemalan government was quickly falling into the hands of Communism, a timely fear for the U.S. By 1954, with the dedicated assistance of PR giants and politically-tied people like Edward Bernays, Thomas Corcoran, John Clements, and Spruille Braden, the United Fruit Company’s mission was nearly complete – the American people absolutely feared that the Guatemalan government was leaning towards a Communist take-over, and there was little anyone from Guatemala could do to battle the expertly-crafted and highly-funded army of publicity (79-97).

From that point on, the task of undoing the reform law that had taken away so much land from United Fruit was no longer on the shoulders of the company, but of the United States government. The U.S. eagerly took to the case, promoting it as a fight against the spread of Communism. Both democrats and republicans became convinced that the government of Guatemala had Communist leanings, and for fear that it would soon fall into the grasp of Soviet Russia, U.S. government officials began to devise a plan to surreptitiously overthrow the Arbenz government, codenamed Operation Success.

One of the principal organizers of this plot was Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the man who had quickly convinced Eisenhower to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. A man who tended to see things in black and white, Dulles was set on “rolling back the Iron Curtain” and he saw Guatemala as the perfect chance to do so (99). He tried to gain support for Guatemalan intervention from other countries in the hemisphere by pushing a resolution in the Organization of American States (OAS) that would consider any American government controlled by the international communist movement a threat and thereby requiring “appropriate action.” Guatemalan Foreign Minister Toriello boldly defended his nation against the implied accusations and called the U.S. out on its desire to “maintain the economic dependence of the American republics and suppress the legitimate desires of their people, cataloguing as “communism” every manifestation of nationalism or economic independence, any desire for social progress, any intellectual curiosity, and any interest in progressive and liberal reforms.” But Toriello’s eloquent speech, which received a loud burst of applause at the close, was for naught; Dulles and his company spent weeks at the conference in Caracas, Venezuela coercing other countries into supporting the unfavorable resolution, oftentimes by threatening to withhold U.S. aid if they voted against the resolution (142-144).

Even with the passing of the resolution, however, it was clear that the rest of the world saw no threat in Guatemala’s internal reforms and any direct U.S. intervention would have been widely disapproved of. Thus it was necessary that any action to overthrow the government look like it was internal. The CIA set out to find a Guatemalan exile who could pose as “the Liberator,” the leader of the rebel army that would overthrow Arbenz, and would also cooperate fully with the U.S. and United Fruit once in power. The CIA found their man in Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, a pliable, non-ideological nationalist who “had that good Indian look about him…which was great for the people,” in the words of the operation’s political and propaganda chief Howard Hunt (119-122). Once chosen for the job, Castillo and his small ragtag militia comprised of Guatemalanss and foreign mercenaries, called the National Liberation Movement (MLN), received some U.S. military training and ample artillery (find the damn quote about UFCo’s help and status of his militia) (cite).

In March 1954, seven months before the planned June invasion, with the “Liberation” waiting across the Honduran border for orders to move, the CIA made its next move to produce “a classic ‘disinformation’ campaign to spread fear and panic inside Guatemala” in the form of a radio station called the “Voice of Liberation.” The propagated and falsely inflated the forces of the MLN, creating the impression that the militia was large, widespread, and “a major insurgent force”, a resolute lie. It also spread rumors of a weakening in the Guatemalan national army, making a take-over seem imminent (167-170).

Finally in May and June of 1954, after many months of careful preparation, the CIA began the final stages of the plot: aerial attacks. American pilots strategically shot and bombed several cities and railways throughout the country, in addition to making a series of drops over the capital city, where they dispersed leaflets calling for the immediate resignation of President Arbenz, signed “National Liberation Forces.” No amount of diplomatic pleas from Foreign Minister Toriello to the heavy-handed U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala John Peurifoy could stop the invasion; as Peurifoy well knew as a key member of Operation Success, it was too late for the Arbenz administration (7-23). It was no concern to Peurifoy that Guatemala lacked sufficient means of defense because of the U.S. arms embargo that had come into effect in 1947, the same year the Guatemalan Congress passed reform legislation that threatened the power of foreign corporations (148). Soon Arbenz realized that he had no choice but to step down. After a confusing series of short-term leaders took the reins of the country’s leadership – all changes of power overseen by Peurifoy – finally Castillo Armas, the CIA’s original choice, took the presidency. As promised, he immediately removed and jailed all members of the Arbenz administration, revoked the 1945 Constitution and all legislation that had harmed the United Fruit Company (that regarding agrarian reform and unionizing), and kept in close contact with the U.S., ready to do its bidding at any time. Other changes included the reinstitution of the dreaded secret police of the Ubico tyranny, the stripping of voting rights from illiterates, the illegalization of political parties, the exile of all Communists, the reinstitution of power to the conservative Catholic Church, and a lift on the ban against foreign oil companies drilling in Guatemala (205-225).

In the beginning of Castillo Armas’ reign, Vice-President Richard Nixon, still elated from U.S. victory, traveled to Guatemala and declared, “This is the first instance in history where a Communist government has been replaced by a free one. The whole world is watching to see which does the better job.” Unfortunately in the decades that followed the coup, a series of progressively worse dictators led the country through a most brutal civil war that lasted nearly 40 years.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What we should do

For my paper I will be discussing the neocolonial relationship that the US has with Latin America. In the book I mentioned in my last entry, Grandin argues that Latin America was the beginnings of the US empire. He presents evidence that some of the initial action on Latin America was perhaps truly noble, a civilizing mission, an example of good-hearted Americans trying to better the world by spreading the thing they hold dearest – democracy. But Grandin does not spend too much time talking about those ideas because they represent the minority of reasons behind US involvement in Latin America. Of course, the US was mostly there for economic gain, the same primary reason behind pure colonialism. For the past several decades many countries of Central and South America have been in political turmoil and social unrest. Now some of the largest exports to the US from these countries are coffee, bananas, and illegal drugs (not to mention migrant workers, which will also be discussed in the paper). Like Communism in the Cold War, US political leaders have tried to squelch the evil drug trade of Latin America, like in 1989 “when George H. W. Bush first militarized the ‘war on drugs,’ [and] U.S. troops have [since then] steadily expanded their presence.” US military efforts in the region, both public and covert, have gone under the guise of fighting for the spread Christianity, and then democracy, and now to stop drug trafficking, but the main result has instead been the rise of US-backed dictatorships and mass murder. Today “Washington promotes an economic model that produces not development and stability but desolation and crisis.” Perhaps it is time for the US to stop treating its Southern neighbors as its children, or its puppets. Perhaps it is time to recognize the sovereignty of these nations. As Presidents Lula of Brazil and Kirchner of Argentina stated in their Buenos Aires Consensus, “democracy is meaningless without a commitment to end ‘poverty, unemployment, hunger, illiteracy and disease, which effectively constitute a loss of autonomy and dignity for those afflicted, obstructing them from fully exercising their rights and freedoms as citizens.’” Grandin states that “hardly any U.S. aid goes to alleviating the poverty that even the Pentagon admits fuels war and the drug trade. Needless to say, land reform, planned industrialization, and sustainable rural development are off the table.” Perhaps that’s what we should rethink. At least those sound like good ideas to me. I will end with a paraphrase of what a fellow honors student Gwendelynn Bills posited at a TTU panel discussion about the Middle East on the subject of American involvement in that region. She said she sees the U.S. as Marie Antoinette, trying to give democracy, an advanced political and social system, to these countries when there are so many Middle Eastern people who go without food from day to day. “Let them eat cake”? How about start with the basics – food, water, and shelter. Then we can talk advanced government styles (and religion for that matter). I say we start focusing the money we put into Latin America on developing its ability to support its peoples, not on terrorist regimes whose work will benefit us in the short run. Let’s detach ourselves from our immediate desires for a moment, and think about how to make the world a better place, by helping all of humanity, not just those born on US soil.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Further development of my topic (hooray!)

Yay I’ve decided on a topic! So when rereading the directions for the blog and this paper (always a great idea, by the way), I realized how large the emphasis was on a “current” situation. That helped, because after talking to Dr. Jonakin in the business department I realized that my grand topic could be broken up into three categories, essentially: Spanish colonialism of Guatemala (and when I say “Guatemala” I probably mean Latin America, with special emphasis on Guatemala), post-colonialism in Guatemala (meaning what happened after liberation from Spain in the 19th century), and neocolonialism in Guatemala(/Latin America) with regard to the U.S. The latter would also hopefully go into the influx of immigrant workers to the US that started booming in the 90s (which was kind of the starting point in this train of thought because two of my good friends are workers from Guatemala). But to discuss each of these three distinct periods could have filled a while textbook. Alas, I do not wish to write a textbook at this point in my life, so I realized I’d have to choose one or two periods. And after rereading the rubric I found the decision clear! For this paper I will study Guatemala and Latin America from the time of liberation from Spain to present day; which means my two terms will be post-colonialism and neocolonialism. Dr. Jonakin lent me a book that looks very promising from the introduction. It’s called Empire’s Workshop, by Dr. Greg Grandin, and it looks at how the US used Latin America as essentially a “dress rehearsal” or practice for our take-over of other lands, or put another way, as the beginnings of the American empire. Grandin calls Latin America “the place where the United States elaborated tactics of extraterritorial administration and acquired its conception of itself as an empire like no other before it. The Western Hemisphere was the be the staging ground for a new ‘empire for liberty’”. In the latter part Grandin in quoting Thomas Jefferson. The book discusses the entire history of this plot, from FDR’s “good neighbor” proposal to imperial violence by proxy (funding and training native groups to wreak havoc upon their nation whether in the form of a governmental coup or acts of mass murder to subdue citizen protests). He also discusses some economic factors, the US using “soft power” – that is a non-military form of control, via ‘commerce, cultural exchange, and multilateral cooperation.” Yes, this book promises to give me a wealth of juicy postcolonial and neocolonial history and information. Though, I suspect I will have to find another brilliant source to enlighten me on the immigration story. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Historical Background of my Topic

Ok, I’ve searched my inner being (hah) and I think I want to research Guatemala. I will briefly talk about the colonial history of Guatemala (and perhaps make references and comparisons to the colonization of Northern Africa? – would that be too much?), but I want the main focus of the paper to be “postcolonial”, as in what has happened since their independence from Spain (the last official colonizer) in 1821. What has happened since then? Well, not surprisingly it’s the same as what always (or at least most of the time) happens after a country is “liberated” from a colonizer – dictatorships, powerful and violent ones.

Before invasions from across the sea, the people of Guatemala were part of the powerful Mayan empire, which existed from about 250 to 900 CE (referred to as the Classic period). In 900, the empire collapsed, and the possible reasons are currently debated among historians and archeologists (drought is one of the most accepted theories). Then until 1500 the empire was divided into regional kingdoms, which is now known as the Calistic Period. The 1500s was when the Spanish Conquistadors came to Central and South America starting with the infamous Hernán Cortés. One of his top lieutenants Pedro de Alvarado was the leader of the conquest of Guatemala in 1519. As in Assia Djebar’s Fantasía, there were numerous local tribes and not all fought against the invaders. Some of them (for example, the Kaqchiquel) actually sided with the Spanish and fought to bring down other tribes. But of course in due time the Spanish would take advantage of them, they would rebel, the Spanish would crush the rebellions, and in the end the Spanish force was just strengthened. Then there was more colonization similar to that of Northern Africa, but of course there were some notable differences, like the emphasis in religion (the spread of Catholicism via the Inquisition).

So there’s a tiny bit of history for you! I’ll do some more along this vain, then talk about liberation, then (as I mentioned before) I’ll spend most of my time talking about postcolonial issues (and the postcolonial relationship between Guatemala and the US). Does this sound good? Do you think I should spend more (or less) time talking about the early colonization vs. postcolonialism? I think I could actually write a whole 12-page paper on either. Should I pick just one? Or maybe include both but focus on one, as was the original plan? Your brilliant thoughts are always appreciated!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Call for Help!

Ok guys, I need your help on this one.  I've been thinking a lot about what I want to write my paper on, and I'm still not really sold on anything.  I've been trying to figure out what in this class most interests me, what I think about the most outside of class.  And I think it's got to boil down to the relationship between the colonized and the colonizer.  I love how twisted and complicated it is.  I mean it's really like watching a movie about a really complicated relationship where one person is not really any more bad than the other; they both make mistakes and hurt the other, and they both try to do the right thing.  It's kind of fun to go back and forth as you try to pick a side.  Obviously, coming from my earlier post, there is one clearly evil character:  the colonizer.  And the colonized is completely the victim.  But nothing in life is so black and white.  I have a fascination with human behavior, I suppose.  And I really like the idea of scaling down a national situation to a more personal (and perhaps more easily accessible), two person-situation.  I love metaphors, and creating a story-line with two characters and how they interact would make for a killer metaphor (of allegorical proportions!).

So I want to closely examine that relationship.  If not so much the characters themselves (like Memmi's Portraits of the Colonized and the Colonizer), but how they interact.  And catch the whole relationship too, like before the colonizer invades and starts colonizing, then during, then the whole time the colonizer is there (and then also looking at the reaction of the metropole, the common people still living in the homeland of the colonizer), then finally liberation and it's after-effects.

I feel like I've learned so much about the colonization of Northern Africa (I guess the class would have been a failure if I didn't feel that way), and I'm tempted to just delve further into that situation, with this specific "relationship" lens.  But then there's always South America.  I have a growing fascination with the place, and I fully intend to live there for a while, very soon.  So that would be cool, to do a bunch of historical research on Peru, then go there myself.  Or Guatemala, where two of my best friends are from. Those best friends too, are indigenous, living in a small town in the mountains and learning Spanish as their second language, after their first native tongue (Mam, a type of Mayan).  Or!  It would be kind of cool to just follow their story, first looking at the colonization of Guatemala (in particular the Spanish colonization) and then follow them to the States where they currently live and work.  Then I could look at the somewhat neo-colonialistic relationship between the US and Guatemala and their lives here, which often parallel aspects of the colonized's lives, but in a reversed situation in that they are living in the land of the colonizer and not the other way around.

See, at this point I'm just swimming in ideas, and I'm really needing a more focused direction.  I've pretty much named all the things I'm interested any specific paper ideas?  I'd love those.

One other thing, I'm a little worried about finding my research.  Especially the research regarding the colonial history of say Peru or Guatemala.  In class, most of the actual historical facts I've learned about the colonization of North Africa have come from fabulously knowledgable professors like Dr. Barnard and Dr. Propes.  In the minimal amount of research I've done, however, on the topics of South American colonization, I've mostly come across articles that are either far too elementary or far too complicated.  Any suggestions for this matter?

Obi-Wan, I need your help.

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Other general aspects that interest me)

I'm interested in the whole debate about "is colonialism good or bad?" or "what are the good things about colonialism and what are the bad things?".  I want to especially look at how the colonized are effected when making these decisions, but I will also try to examine the effect on the colonizer.  I basically just want to get the fullest picture of colonialism that I can, then be able to make my own educated opinions and conclusions.  

Aspects of Colonialism

When people of one nation decide that they need to invade another nation, this is colonialism.  When you are sitting on the beach you grew up on, and you see foreign ships coming your way, and foreign-looking men get off these ships and begin killing your people and stealing your things – this is colonialism.  When a stranger yells at you with words you cannot understand and then slaughters your family in front of you, this is colonialism.  When you are stripped naked and one of these foreign men rapes you, this is colonialism. 
It takes many forms, spreads across many lands, and touches people of all races and religions.  It spans across centuries, millennia.  It involves explorers, soldiers, diplomats, criminals, kings, presidents, clergymen, politicians, day laborers, missionaries, businessmen, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters.  Its battles are fought over land, resources, religion, money, and power.  It makes some people very rich, and leaves others with nothing.
There are few spots on this Earth that haven’t been touched by this scourge of human action, and though every case is different, there are certain universal ways in which people react in a colonial situation.  Although the colonizer has taken many forms, colors, tongues, and apparel, he has qualities that tie him to every other colonizer in history.  Similarly, the colonized represent a rainbow of cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds, yet they go through some of the same steps in their reaction.
Albert Memi, a Tunisian, wrote about his observations regarding these matters in his The Colonizer and the Colonized (or Portrait du colonisé, précédé par portrait du colonisateur).  He described the colonizer as someone who was mediocre in his home and perhaps went to a new land seeking a sense of importance.  He painted the colonized as a person who goes through stages, first seeking assimilation, that is to say striving to be like the colonizer.  But this will inevitably fail, says Memi, and when it does the colonized decides that he does not need to be like the colonized, but rather he is intensely self-affirming and latches on to his cultural customs.  At this point he turns to revolt.  He tries, in whatever ways he can, to throw off the fetters of colonialism.