State Formation in Central America: The Struggle for Autonomy, Development, and Democracy

State Formation in Central America: The Struggle for Autonomy, Development, and Democracy

State Formation in Central America: The Struggle for Autonomy, Development, and Democracy

State Formation in Central America: The Struggle for Autonomy, Development, and Democracy

Synopsis

Lentner analyzes four basic components in the formation of states: the capacity to govern, security and freedom of action, economic development strategy, and citizenship and political participation. He focuses on five Central American countries--Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. His conceptual guidelines apply to the worldwide strivings today for autonomy, unity, economic development, and democracy. His extensive research into original and little-known secondary sources from the independence of these states to the present both in the United States and Central America make this an unusually rich text for graduate students and scholars dealing with Latin American studies, Inter-American affairs, and U.S. foreign policy.

Excerpt

Like most Americans, I knew little about Central America before U.S. foreign policy toward the region became controversial in the early 1980s. My image -- accurate as it turns out -- was that the Central American countries were small and weak, lacking any capacity to do injury to the United States. the Reagan administration's policy of intense hostility toward Nicaragua, therefore, seemed to me to be wholly out of proportion, and I set out to try to understand it.

As intellectual journeys are wont to do, this undertaking led me to unforeseen pathways to new knowledge and insight. It became clear that to understand these countries one had to use the language of their people; and so I learned Spanish. a grasp of the impact of American policy on the Central American countries required placing their developments into a framework, and the one I found most useful was a theory of the state derived from Hegel.

My first visit to the region occurred in 1988, and I returned the following year for a month and then spent seven months of a sabbatical year in 1990 and 1991. Funds for travel and maintenance were provided by grants from the City University of New York Faculty Research Award Program for 1989 and 1990. I am grateful for this support and for the encouragement shown by my colleagues at the City University of New York: Kenneth P. Erickson, Thomas Halper, and Ronald Hellman. On all of these occasions, my work took me largely to capital cities where I pored over written materials in libraries and research institutes.

I express my gratitude to the following institutions for the use of their facilities. Where individuals gave special help to my extensive requests for . . .

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