How can we assess Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s question in “The solitude of Latin America” about why social justice is denied in Latin America? Regarding this gap, there are several ways to address it. One could be thinking deeper about the concept of Latin America as a mirror of Western societies. It asks if the idea of Latin America must be decompounded to open the door to different ways in which this territory could change. With this aim, it provides information about Latin America and narrows the discussion to the role of international law in colonization.

Firstly, why does international law connect with the history of Latin America? Despite the classical definition of public international law as a ruler of the relationship between sovereign states(1), some scholars recognize that international law is connected with colonization. They hold that international law results from situations and ideas developed in Europe, which were expanded and imposed over the non-European world (2). From this angle, colonization was and perhaps still is a trail of international law.

Specifically, in the Americas’ colonization, the end of Europeans was “civilized” Indians. According to Francisco de Vitoria (3), Indigenous peoples had humanity but were too short in
intelligence to know the formal institutions. Therefore, Europeans had the duty and the right to teach Indians the correct law, culture, and government. An adequate vision of the world needed colonization and civilization.

In this context, the idea of Latin America was established. Among all those impositions, it is relevant to focus specifically on the name Latin America. What does it mean? This noun relates to “the areas of North, South, and Central America where Spanish or Portuguese is spoken.”(4) Hence, Latin America only could exist in the narrative of colonization. Before international law and colonization, areas outside Europe where Spanish and Portuguese were spoken did not exist.

Some scholars agree that decolonization could be viewed as a win for the people of the colonies because they achieved their independence. However, other scholars (5) hold that decolonization under international law also signifies the universalization of Western visions. They maintain that by using the speech of sovereign states, colonial territories fulfilled the western requirements to be independent. For example, this idea was implemented in the legal framework that recognizes the existence of indigenous people in the territories but does not recognize them as independent states. Indigenous people were and remain confined to the borders of sovereign states (6).

Furthermore, Latin America today is facing a claim for social change. Countries such as Chile, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru have been facing social protests. The most relevant demand is change. However, those demands need to be improved about what change means. Now, look at “The solitude of Latin America” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to build meaning. On 8th December 1982, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize, said:

“Latin America neither wants, nor has any reason, to be a pawn without a will of its own; nor
is it merely wishful thinking that its quest for independence and originality should become a
Western aspiration. However, the navigational advances that have narrowed such distances
between our Americas and Europe seem, conversely, to have accentuated our cultural
remoteness. Why is the originality so readily granted in literature, so mistrustfully denied us
in our difficult attempts at social change? Why think that the social justice sought by
progressive Europeans for their own countries cannot also be a goal for Latin America, with
different methods for dissimilar conditions? No: the immeasurable violence and pain of our
history are the result of age-old inequities and untold bitterness, and not a conspiracy plotted
three thousand leagues from our home” (7).

Marquez assesses that Latin America needs different methods for distinct conditions to achieve social change. Since Marquez’s rung, this article suggests that a change requires researchers on the origins of Latin America. In this case, the role of international law was examined. However, Law is not the only path to address this issue. It must be achieved through other sciences, knowledge, and perspectives.

To sum up, the invitation comes down to identifying elements, ideas, doctrines, and theories that contributed to the origin of Latin America. When those elements have been identified, it could clarify what needs to improve or change. In addition, it opens the possibility of rethinking another version of this territory called Latin America. Another version in which other methods could be applied to achieve the long-awaited social change. We can start to think about the uniqueness of this territory in terms of culture or social values.

1 Jan Klabbers, International Law (Cambridge University Press 2020)
2 Antony Angie, ‘The evolution of international law: colonial and postcolonial realities’ (2006) 27 Third World Quarterly 2: 739-753. And “Towards a
Postcolonial International Law” (2014) 27 Third World Quarterly 1: 123/152
3 Francisco De victoria, De Indis et de Ivre Belli Relectiones (Ernest Nys, trans John Pawley Bate edn, Carnegie Institute of Washington 1557/1917)
4 Cambridge Dictionary
5 Antony Angie, ‘The evolution of international law: colonial and postcolonial realities’ (2006) 27 Third World Quarterly 2: 739-753. And “Towards a
Postcolonial International Law” (2014) 27 Third World Quarterly 1: 123/152
6 Roger Merino, ‘Reimagining the Nation-State: Indigenous Peoples and the Making of
Plurinationalism in Latin America’ (2018) 31 LJIL 773
7 Nobel prize, ‘The solitude of Latin America’ (The Nobel Prize, 8 December 1992) <>
accessed 20 January 2023