The Politics of Freeing Markets in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and Mexico

The Politics of Freeing Markets in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and Mexico

The Politics of Freeing Markets in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and Mexico

The Politics of Freeing Markets in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and Mexico

Synopsis

In the 1980s and 1990s, nations throughout Latin America experienced the dual transformations of market liberalizing reforms and democratization. Since then, perhaps no issue has been more controversial among those who study the region than the exact nature of the relationship between these two processes. Bringing a much-needed comparative perspective to the discussion, Judith Teichman examines the politics of market reform in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico, analyzing its implications for democratic practices in each case.

Teichman considers both internal and external influences on the process of Latin American market reform, anchoring her investigation in the historical, political, and cultural contexts unique to each country, while also highlighting the important role played by such international actors as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Informed by interviews with more than one hundred senior officials involved in the reform process, her analysis reveals that while the initial stage of market reform is associated with authoritarian political practices, later phases witness a rise in the importance of electoral democracy. She concludes, however, that the legacy of authoritarian decision making represents a significant obstacle to substantive democratization.

Excerpt

Market reform in Latin America has signified a dramatic reversal in widely accepted values and practices. It usually faced stiff opposition from many quarters, not just from groups in society but also from within the state. Indeed, market reform has involved fierce political struggles with important contingents of losers and potential losers, at least in the short term. Among those losers were state bureaucrats and businessmen, as well as populist party die-hards and trade unionists. Moreover, by the early 1990s, in most cases the process was well understood to be one largely insulated from public scrutiny, not fully discernible from the print media, the public pronouncements of government leaders, or government documents. The role of multilateral lending institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, has added another dimension to the process, one that raised the always politically sensitive issue of external involvement in domestic policy choices. Given this context, much of the research incorporated in this book was acquired through open-ended interviews with key actors. Interviews were carried out in each of the three countries: Mexico in 1991 and 1999, Argentina in 1995, and Chile in 1996. In addition, interviews of World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials involved in the policy reforms of each of the three countries were undertaken in 1997. Appendix 1 provides a descriptive breakdown of the interviews for each country and for the multilateral officials interviewed. Because of the political sensitivity of the issues being raised and my wish to encourage respondents to speak openly and frankly, interviewees were given a pledge of confidentiality. This was especially important for officials currently holding government posts and for the officials of multilaterals. Almost all of my informants appeared grateful for the promise of anonymity. Hence, citations will not identify interviewees by name but will give descriptive nonidentifying details. The term "senior official” when used in the text refers to respondents at the ministerial rank, to those at one of the two levels below this rank, or to the personal advisers of ministers. I have used this generic term to identify sources in this category when to give more detail would reveal the identity of the source.

This book would not have been possible without the generosity of those many individuals directly involved in the market reform experience—government and multilateral officials, business and labor leaders, and politicians . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.