Latin American Politics in Perspective

Latin American Politics in Perspective

Latin American Politics in Perspective

Latin American Politics in Perspective

Excerpt

It seems only fair to begin a book with a statement of the author's reasons for presuming on the reader's time. The writer on Latin America may find himself under varying degrees of constraint on this score, since public interest in the area waxes and wanes markedly in response to the vicissitudes of international politics, rising if today's crisis is a Latin American one, dropping when the headlines concern a country in the Eastern Hemisphere. Why should the conscientious North American feel he ought to know what goes on in the countries to the south?

One often hears the argument: these countries are after all our closest neighbors and so should have first call on our attention; and much is written and spoken that starts out from the premise that the United States and the countries of Latin America are indeed neighbors, living next door to each other in a single hemisphere. Now this argument may have some force if one is referring to Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean. It is rather weak, though, as applied to the countries of South America-- the major cities of Brazil or Argentina are closer to those of West Africa, for example, than they are to the cities of the United States: Buenos Aires is 5800 miles from New York, and only 3000 from Dakar, Senegal; Natal, in the Brazilian Northeast, is only 1800 miles from Dakar. In fact, New York is closer to Moscow by air than it is to Buenos Aires.

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