Latin American Politics Term Paper

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Latin America: Political or Apolitical

Forrest Colburn argues in his book, Latin America at the End of Politics that ideological conflicts between the conservative and liberal ideologies have lost their pull in Latin America and a new more apolitical consensus about government has emerged regionally. This work will analyze and evaluate Colburn's claims regarding the new ideology of Latin America. Specifically, the work will compare Colburn's theories with the case material about Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Chili and Brazil that can be found with Harry E. Vanden and Gary Prevost's book, Politics of Latin America: The Power Game. Colburn's core ideas are bolstered and contradicted within the case work mentioned but the overall impression of the work has much merit in the foundation of the political climate within Latin America.

Colburn's theories revolve around the idea that through the dramatic changes both within Latin America and around the world that have proven to be at least some proof that the old grand design schemes of some nations are unworkable. Sighting the dissolution of socialist governments around the world as evidence of the demise of grand design government plans Colburn makes his claims:

Latin America at the end of politics? Yes, of politics with a capital p. With the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution, and arguably even more important, the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the impetus in Latin America for remaking state and society has withered. There is an end to ideological confrontation and contestation. (Colburn 2)

He goes on to say that for a myriad of reasons, social, economic and political Latin America has taken its place in the collective death of "high politics" or the type that drive ideological revolutions based on egalitarian ideals of a people driven government (noting the Bolshevik Revolution and the French Revolution). Colburn attests that in the place of this ideology of social change from below is a very fragile system of, liberalism: democracy and capitalism." Yet, Colburn is quick to point out that the triumph of these forms of government has happened by default rather than design. "The region's democracies are fragile, inefficient, and chaotic in aggregating and implementing society's preferences. There is a lot of politics with a lower case p. Likewise, there are monopolies, weak regulation, and other impediments to a robust capitalism." (Colburn 2)

Taking these ideas forward there are many agreements within the work of Vanden and Prevost. The growth and intensity of capitalistic enterprises and possessions that has occurred through much of Latin America would certainly attest to an agreement with Colburn.

One sees major stock exchanges in San Paulo, Mexico City, Lima, Santiago and Buenos Aires; more and more manufactured goods or key components are being made in the region; and modern aspects of Western consumption such as computers, cable TV, mass retail stores, and the omnipresent auto are inundating national societies. Brazil is already the eighth largest economy in the world, and more and more products on the world market come from Brazil and other countries in the region...(Vanden & Prevost 174)

Vanden and Prevost go on to say that many areas of Latin America are gaining status through the social implications of some of the key indicators of capitalistic growth. "Mexico is generating more and more millionaires and now counts some of the wealthiest people in the world among its population." (Vanden & Prevost 174)

In addition to the remarkable financial changes within the Latin American countries there have also been other market changes that indicate Colburn's theory has a marked validity. One point that Vanden and Prevost make includes the reality of capitalistic privatization. "The new mantra is globalize, globalize, globalize and in Latin America it was combined with the specifically neoliberal mantra of privatize, privatize, privatize..." (Vanden & Prevost 167) It is important to note that the reasons that Vanden and…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Colburn, Forrest D. Latin America at the End of Politics. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Vanden, Harry E., Gary Prevost. Politics of Latin America: The Power Game. New York:

Oxford University Press, 2002.

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