Latin America Political Context

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					Latin America Political Context

             RIZA NOER ARFANI

                        The background

 To comprehend Latin America exceedingly diverse area
  as well as commonalities in terms of law, language,
  history, culture, sociology, colonial experience, and
  overall political patterns
 Debate over Latin American heritage & future:
     Western or non-Western
     Feudal, capitalist, or socialist
     First world (developed nations) or Third world (developing nations)
     Evolutionary or revolutionary change
 Consensus among Latin American countries nowadays:
  democracy in political sphere, modern-mixed economy,
  and greater integration with the rest of the world
                   The driving forces...

 Democratization
   Democracy as overwhelmingly the preferred form of
    government of Latin America
   Takes forms that are often different from that of the US
   Still threatened by upheaval, corruption and vast social
 Globalization
   Affects Latin America in all areas of life: culture, society
    (behavioral norms), politics, and above all economics
   Latin America as part of global market economy
   Latin America has little choice but to open its markets to
    global trade & investment
                     The key features...

 Countries/nations: 18 Spanish-speaking, 1
  Portuguese-speaking (Brazil), 1 French or patois-
  speaking (Haiti)
 Area: South America, Central America, Mexico, and
  the Carribean islands, encompasses 8 million square
  miles/21 million sq kms/about 1/5 of the world’s
  total land area.
 Population: over 500 million/almost twice that of
  the US
    Note: former Dutch & British colonies in the area are not
     culturally, socially, religiously, or politically “Latin”America
              Social & racial composition

 Countries in which a mestizo population dominates:
    South America: Venezuela & Colombia
    Central America: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama &
 Countries overwhelmingly European in character:
    Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica
 Countries with conspicous Indian groupings, generally
 inhabiting the highlands:
    Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay
 Countries dominated by African admixtures:
    Brazil
    The Carribean: Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti
                         The economies

 Foundation of Latin American economies:
 rapacious/predatory & exploitative...
    Mercantilist era: colonies such as Spain and Portugal existed solely for
     the benefit of the mother countries
    Colonial and after-independence era: feudal or semi-feudal estate
     patterned after the European model, with Spaniards & Portuguese as the
     overlords & Indians and blacks as peasants & slaves
    Last half of the 19th century: feudal estates began to be converted into
     more capitalistic enterprises producing more intensively for world
     market as well as home consumption
    First half of the 20th century: industrialization began in the 1930s
     precisely because the countries had no export earnings to purchase
     imported manufactured goods
    Post-war era: Latin America developed rapidly on the basis of ISI model
    1990s: the economic growth in many countries was still anemic and debt
     continued to be a burden
                    Classes & social forces

 Two-class system as a reflection of feudal Spain and of
  the medieval Christian conception
     Strict social hierarchy: immutable & in accord with God’s ordering of
      the universe
 This two-class structure of the society and rigid class
  structure was reinforced by racial criteria...
     The onset of economic growth in the late 19th century &
      industrialization in the 20th century gave rise to new social forces
 Latin America today: more pluralistic than before
     Al lower-class levels important changes are also occuring: labor
      organization, peasants mobilization, and other community groupings
      (women, Protestantism, racial/ethnic, environmental)
                   Political culture

 Elitism/authoritrianism as derivation of elitist power
  structure, biblical precepts & medieval Christianity which
  emphasize on top-down rule, and the chaotic and often
  anarchic conditions that seemed to demand strong
 Corporatism: the organization of the nation’s interest
  group life under state regulation & control, not on the
  basis of freedom of association
 Patronage/patrimonialism: a system of mutual
  obligation, a favor for a favor...
 Socialism/marxism, social-democratic, populism, liberal

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