Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present

Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present

Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present

Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present

Synopsis

This seventh edition of a book of readings on Latin American civilization combines some of the best of the previous collections with new material on modern developments.

Excerpt

Since the appearance of the last edition of this book, what may be called the "permanent" crisis of Latin America has significantly deepened. By mid-1999 the economic storm that began in the Far East in 1997 had spread to Latin America, throwing much of the area into political and social turmoil sometimes verging on chaos. In Ecuador, for example, a general strike with over- whelming popular support forced the president to rescind his neoliberal economic program amid continuing demands for his resignation. Some of the strongest economies of the region -- Brazil, Argentina, Chile -- were in deep recession, with growing unemployment and desperate efforts, as in the case of Brazil, to bolster their failing currencies with loans from the IMF and other traditional neoliberal remedies. Colombia experienced the worst economic crisis in its history combined with a major political crisis as a thirty- year-old Marxist guerrilla organization, the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), moved from victory to victory over the U.S.-supported military and a variety of right-wing paramilitary forces. It now controls almost 50 percent of the national territory. In neighboring Venezuela a military populist, Lieutenant Colonel Hector Chávez, won a stunning electoral victory in December 1998 to become president with an anti-neoliberal program and a promise to end the pervasive corruption and make drastic constitutional changes. Inevitably, the growing economic and political crisis engendered loss of faith in and rejection of such prophets of neoliberalism as President Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and President Carlos Menem of Argentina. There was growing evidence that the Latin American economic crisis formed part of a cyclical world capitalist depression whose basic cause was overproduction. The duration and long-term effects of this depression cannot be foreseen, but it was clearly bad news for Latin America.

Given the prime importance of the economic factor and the great number of political events, of varying importance, I have chosen to summarize developments in those areas by updating the introductions to the twentieth- century chapters. An important addition, filling a long-felt need, is a new chapter, "Latin American Women, Past and Present: The Struggle for Equality and Social Justice." It traces the course of women's struggle from Aztec and Inca times to the present and introduces the reader to some of its heroines, including such little-known figures as Micaela, wife and adviser of rebel Tupac Amaru; Flora Tristan, gifted and enchanting early-nineteenth century Peruvian feminist; and Amanda Labarca, the early-twentieth-century . . .

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