Changing Latin America: New Interpretations of Its Politics and Society

Changing Latin America: New Interpretations of Its Politics and Society

Changing Latin America: New Interpretations of Its Politics and Society

Changing Latin America: New Interpretations of Its Politics and Society

Excerpt

The United States suddenly became aware of Latin America in the late 1950s. Before, it was considered a backwater where the United States had only a few economic and security interests. Now it was viewed as a region caught in social, economic, and political changes of worldwide significance. The revolution apparently sweeping the region seemed likely to thrust it into the arms of the United States's cold war antagonists. In the face of crisis, action was the order of the day.

In that rush of enthusiasm, worries about the subtler aspects of the enormous changes going on in the region were set aside. Models that did not fit exactly were used on the theory that they were the best available, and the crisis required that one get on with the job. Now, in the frustrating 1970s, it is increasingly clear that many critical problems must be confronted more directly. Triumphant success might have prolonged the life of the grand simplifications, but, instead, reexamination is in order. This volume presents a part of the effort to find a more realistic view of this vast region.

The first set of essays discusses problems that Latin Americans and their sympathetic North American allies have faced as they have sought to adapt policies and debated political strategies to meet their internal problems. William E. Carter, Robert G. Myers, and Benjamin Viel reconsider the areas of major reforms in the 1960s—land use, education, and population—and find that policies have been based on unclear, inaccurate, or increasingly inapplicable assumptions. Wayne A. Cornelius shows how new research has revised simplistic assumptions about the political attitudes of new migrants to Latin America's cities. Ivan Vallier looks at the political strategies of radical priests, a group given little attention in writings about Latin America a decade ago, and suggests that those who carry out their radical efforts in the religious sphere may be more significant than those who more sensationally . . .

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