Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism

Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism

Article excerpt

LEFT BEHIND: LATIN AMERICA AND THE FALSE PROMISE OF POPULISM

Sebastian Edwards

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 296 pages.

A specter is haunting Latin America: populism. And where communism ultimately fell prey to its own economic unsustainability, Sebastian Edwards maintains that the failure of populism can be attributed to the institutional vacuum left in the wake of its leaders' soaring oratory.

The disparity between the rhetoric of populist politicians and the misery they unwittingly unleash on their countries is a leitmotif in Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism. The region, Edwards suggests, collectively suffers from institutional incompetence. But in the wake of the global financial crisis and the Washington Consensus reforms that preceded it, Latin America has chosen to ignore its crumbling internal political frameworks and to fixate instead on external actors. The consequence, Edwards laments, has been a series of misguided policy cocktails, whose frequent ingredient--pegging local currencies to the American dollar--wreaks havoc on economic stability. …

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