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Transforming Latin America

Transforming Latin America: The International And Domestic Origins Of Change

Craig Arceneaux
David Pion-Berlin
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    Transforming Latin America
    Book Description:

    This ambitious book offers a clear and unified framework for understanding political change across Latin America. The impact of U.S. hegemony and the global economic system on the region is widely known, and scholars and advocates alike point to Latin America's vulnerability in the face of external forces. In spite of such foreign pressure, however, individual countries continue to chart their own courses, displaying considerable variation in political and economic life.

    Looking broadly across the Western Hemisphere, with examples from Brazil, the Southern Cone, the Andes, and Central America, Arceneaux and Pion-Berlin identify general rules that explain how international and domestic politics interact in specific contexts. The detailed, accessible case studies cast new light on such central problems as neoliberal economic reform, democratization, human rights, regional security, environmental degradation, drug trafficking, and immigration. And they consider not only what actors, institutions, and ideas matter in particular political contexts, but when, where, and how they matter. By dividing issues into the domains of "high" and "low" politics, and differentiating between short-term problems and more permanent concerns, they create an innovative typology for analyzing a wide variety of political events and trends.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7280-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. 1. Explaining Political Change in Latin America
    (pp. 1-21)

    Analysts probing the impact of international influence in Latin American politics cannot ignore U.S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. The gripping nature of this hegemony is reflected in the titles of survey studies such asThe Hovering Giant(Blasier 1976) andTalons of the Eagle(Smith 2000). Packaged with studies that foretell the demise of the nation-state in the face of globalization, one wonders if domestic actors in Latin America hold any real relevance to processes of political change in their own countries. Proponents of this view would point to democratic crises that bespeak the frailty of government capabilities, and...

  2. 2. Issues and Political Change
    (pp. 22-41)

    This book offers a unique perspective on how domestic and international forces intersect to create political change in Latin America. The need and appeal of this perspective appears self-evident after a survey of the literature on political change in Latin America. Indeed, it is the character of the field itself that prompted this work in the first place. It is a field that has numerous accounts of political, social, military, and economic developments in Latin America, but one that never pulls these together under a common framework, nor draws comparisons or explores whether there is an underlying unity to this...

  3. 3. Neoliberal Reform in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile
    (pp. 42-85)

    We begin our study of political change with an issue steeped in foreign enticements and vital national interests—international support for neoliberal reform. High politics characteristics are prominent under these conditions: the supremacy of external forces, the use of hard power, the relative insignificance of social movements and other actors who rely on soft power, and the subordination of ideas and institutions to state interests. International support for neoliberal reform provides a good entry point for our case studies because, of all the cases, it most closely approaches what we have termed “normal politics” within the high-low politics framework. There...

  4. 4. Democratization in the Andean Region
    (pp. 86-123)

    Democracy has moved from a wave to a way of life in Latin America. It is hard to believe that a little over two decades ago, the region was still overrun by authoritarian regimes. The by now familiar democratic third wave washed ashore in 1979 in Ecuador and spread across the continent with blazing speed. By 1990, all countries save Cuba and Haiti had democratic governments in place. The causes have been exhaustively studied and need not be repeated here. But one pattern does stand out: internal factors mattered more than external ones. While there was certainly some positive contagion...

  5. 5. Human Rights and the Chilean Courts
    (pp. 124-155)

    Chile’s human rights past is well known. The abuses committed by military personnel during the 1970s were extensive, shocking, and a matter of record. In human rights terms Chile was the quintessential pariah state and its military leader, General Augusto Pinochet, perhaps the world’s most notorious right-wing dictator of the time. The negative attention Chile attracted from the press and the public was enormous. Nearly every year, the United Nations General Assembly would pass resolutions condemning the regime. Human rights organizations honed their skills on the Chilean case, developing new strategies to expose misdeeds and win the release of political...

  6. 6. Regional Security in Central America
    (pp. 156-186)

    It is difficult to discuss security issues in Central America without reference to external actors. The United States long ago marked out the region as part of its backyard, and its involvement only intensified with the onset of the Cold War as the country scoured the region for the slightest hint of Soviet expansionism. When civil wars raged across the isthmus at the twilight of the Cold War and beyond, the scope of foreign intervention widened as neighboring Latin American states and international organizations entered to propose and support resolutions. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the region no...

  7. 7. Environmental Degradation, Drug Trafficking, and Immigration
    (pp. 187-204)

    As diverse a set of themes and case studies as we have chosen for this volume, it could still be argued that we have been too selective. Among the numerous issues affecting political change in Latin America, we have chosen only four: economics, democracy, human rights, and security. In the eyes of some, these combined may be insufficiently illustrative. Why not investigate other issues? We have chosen to do just that, and for one other reason. The devil’s advocate might argue that security and economics lend themselves easily to high politics classification, while human rights fits too perfectly within the...

  8. 8. Issues, Political Science, and Policy Making
    (pp. 205-222)

    This book has been about political influence and where it comes from. We have examined the shifting balance between foreign and domestic sources of political change in Latin America, exploring the reasons why external influences seem to dominate more on some occasions and internal influences more on others. Why does the question of external versus internal influence matter? Ultimately, we want to know whether Latin America is losing its autonomy, self-identity, and purpose. Is it becoming more vulnerable, as it falls under the grip of external forces? Is it becoming more like the rest of the world, as it gets...