Regionalization and Globalization in the Modern World Economy: Perspectives on the Third World and Transitional Economies

By Alex E. Fernández Jilberto; André Mommen | Go to book overview

11

THE POLITICS OF OPEN REGIONALISM AND NEO-LIBERAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION IN LATIN AMERICA

The case of Chile and Mexico

Alex E. Fernández JilbertoandBarbara Hogenboom

INTRODUCTION

The political legitimation of neo-liberal restructuring, and of the political regime that it accompanies, towards civil society depends on the success in transnationalizing the economy. In the case of Mexico, entry into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been very important in this respect. For Chile, association with the Mercado Común del Sur (Common Market of the South, MERCOSUR) and, possibly later on, entry into NAFTA seems to be the route followed. This chapter studies the regionalization process of both economies and the effects on the nature of the political regime and the relations between state and civil society.

Open regionalism is the new dominant strategy for the economic integration of Latin American countries. This neo-liberal approach to insertion into the world economy by means of regionalization constitutes a clear shift away from the variant of Keynesianism that had dominated in Latin America: import-substitution industrialization (ISI). Instead of a focus on national industrialization, efforts are now directed at industrialization on a regional scale. Open regionalism is the attempt to link the economic interdependency of the Latin American countries to liberalization and deregulation. This policy grants a fundamental role to market mechanisms in the assignation of resources in the production process. At the same time, open regionalism is directed at regulating and controlling the integration of Latin America in the globalization process, and improving the region’s international competitiveness.

The consolidation of neo-liberal policies in Latin America, which in the 1980s were initiated by military regimes (Chile) or civil authoritarian regimes (Mexico), has coincided with fundamental political changes. The old populist political parties like the Partido Democrata Cristiano (Christian Democratic Party, PDC) and the

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