Authoritarianism in Latin America since Independence

Authoritarianism in Latin America since Independence

Authoritarianism in Latin America since Independence

Authoritarianism in Latin America since Independence

Synopsis

This edited collection explores how different dictators and authoritarian parties and factions have frequently succeeded in rising to power in modern Latin America, often retaining political and/or military control for long periods of time. The volume examines whether there are common factors within the Latin American sociopolitical, cultural, and historical context that have allowed authoritarianism to play such a fundamental and recurrent role in the continent's development. Including chapters on Mexico, Chile, Cuba, Paraguay, and Honduras, the work will be of interest to scholars and students alike in comparative politics, Latin American history, and Latin American studies.

Excerpt

Having concentrated over the past five years on the political role of the Mexican general José María Tornel y Mendívil (1794-1853) and by default the part General Antonio López de Santa Anna played in independent Mexico, I inevitably became obsessed in trying to understand how such an infamous caudillo had succeeded in rising to power so often. in the words of Enrique González Pedrero, "Where was everybody else? Why did they not stop him? How was it possible for there to be such a complicity between actions and omissions; a complicity which paralyzed the Mexicans and turned Mexico into one man's nation?" (E. González Pedrero, País de un solo hombre: El México de Santa Anna, (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1993, p. xlv) These questions on political longevity, resilience, and endurance appear to be applicable not only to Santa Anna but also to almost all of the dictators who have dominated the history of Latin America since independence. At a time when most of Latin America's long standing dictatorships are in fact allowing certain transitions to democracy to take place it seems apt to reconsider the reasons why authoritarian regimes and leaders have been so successful in Latin America's past. Since various scholars are currently reexamining the success of authoritarianism in Latin America's history, I believe that we can benefit from discussing our work and establish possible parallels from independence to the present. Therefore, I organised a symposium entitled "Dictators and Authoritarianism in Latin America from Independence to the Present," which was held at the University of Liverpool during the annual conference of the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS), March 25-27, 1994. This volume is the result of the symposium.

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