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Politics of Latin America

The Power Game

Seventh Edition

Author Harry Vanden and Gary Prevost

Publication Date - 11 November 2020

ISBN: 9780197527603

704 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

An ideal combination of thematic coverage and country case studies, this unique text analyzes the impact of race, class, gender, and political economy on politics in Latin America


Now in its seventh edition, Politics of Latin America: The Power Game explores both the evolution and the current state of the political scene in Latin America. This text demonstrates a nuanced sensitivity to the use and abuse of power and the importance of social conditions, gender, race, globalization, and political economy throughout the region. It is uniquely divided into two parts: one that treats big-picture, thematic questions, and one that focuses on particular countries through case studies of ten representative nations: Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.

New to this Edition

  • An expanded and updated discussion of populism in Latin America as it relates to climate change and globalization
  • An analysis of the first three years of the Trump administration in the U.S.- Latin America relations chapter, with particular emphasis on his hardline approach to the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua
  • Integrates the theories and debates about Latin American politics to help students identify more with the topics covered
  • Analyzes the resurgence of the political forces of the right, marked by electoral successes in Brazil and Colombia and the coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia

About the Author(s)

Harry Vanden is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Studies at the University of South Florida.

Gary Prevost is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict.


"Politics of Latin America covers multiple perspectives, disciplines, and approaches. It is global in focus and treats Latin America as a global player in the power game. I've stopped looking at alternative books since none come close to this one."--Amentahru Wahlrab, The University of Texas at Tyler

"Politics of Latin America does a superb job at providing a thematic introduction to the area that can be complemented with the country chapters."--Julia Albarracin, Western Illinois University

Table of Contents

    Maps and Frequently Cited Acronyms
    List of Tables and Figures
    Introduction: Notes on Studying Politics in Latin America

    1. An Introduction to Twenty-First Century Latin America
    Once There Were Rain Forests
    The People
    The Land
    The Mega Cities: Urbanization

    2. Early History
    People in the Americas before the Conquest
    Indigenous Civilization
    The Conquest
    How Could They Do It?
    Early Colony
    Establishing a New Social Structure: The Castas
    Women and Power
    Slavery and Other Forms of Organization
    Production, Trade, and Extraction of Riches
    The Church
    Colonial State Organization
    Governmental Organization
    The Bourbon Reforms

    3. Democracy and Dictators: A Historical Overview from Independence to the Present Day
    The French Revolution, Local Uprisings, and Independence
    Argentina, 1806-1810
    Early Drive for Independence in Hispanic America
    Brazilian Independence
    Early Years of Independence
    The Aftermath of Independence and the Monroe Doctrine
    The Mexican Revolution
    Democratic Reformism in Uruguay
    Democracy and Dictatorship in Argentina
    Authoritarianism, Aprismo, Marxismo, and Democracy in Peru
    Democracy, Socialism, Intervention, and Dictatorship in Chile
    Cuba, Colonialism, and Communism
    Earlier Attempts at Change: Bolivia and Colombia
    Brazil, U.S. Foreign Policy, and the National Security State
    The Cold War and Change
    The Dominican Case
    Central America and U.S. Hegemony
    The Post-Cold War Period and U.S. Hegemony
    Military Dictatorship and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism
    Venezuela: Dictatorship, Democracy, and the Post-Cold War Bolivarian Republic
    The Pink Tide and the Rightest Resurgence
    Growth, Persistent Poverty, and Immigration to the United States
    Central American Gangs: The Maras

    4. The Other Americans
    People of Color under Colonialism
    European Justification
    The Role of Sugar and Slavery
    Resistance to Slavery
    The Slave Trade
    Concept of Race
    Contemporary Manifestations of Racial Inequality
    Contemporary Afro-Descendant Movements
    Contemporary Struggle of the Indigenous People

    5. Society, Family, and Gender
    Family and Gender Roles
    Women and Patriarchy
    Changing Role of Women
    Class, Gender, Race, and Mobility
    Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    6 Religion in Latin America
    Indigenous Religious Practice
    Colonial Catholic Church
    The Church in Modern Latin America
    A New Political Role
    Impact of Liberation Theology
    Protestantism and Pentecostalism
    African-Inspired Religions

    7. The Political Economy of Latin America
    On Economics and Political Economy
    The Latin American Economy
    Agrarian Production
    Dependency and Underdevelopment
    Foreign Investment and Enclave Production
    The Crop that Could
    Raúl Prebisch and the ECLA
    Dependency Theory
    Import Substitution Industrialization
    Export Orientation
    Increasing Foreign Debt and the Debt Crisis
    Structural Adjustment and the Move to Neoliberalism
    Key Components of Neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus
    Privatization and Neoliberalism
    Regional Integration, NAFTA, and the Globalization Process
    Latin America's Regional Integration Projects
    Economic Legacy
    Environmental Issues
    Twenty-First-Century Prospects

    8. Democracy and Authoritarianism: Latin American Political Culture
    Authoritarian Legacy and Weak Democratic Tradition
    The Caudillo Tradition
    Democratic Deficit
    Democracy Grows
    Military Rule and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism
    Conflictual Attitudes
    Elitism and Pacted Democracy
    Strongman Rule: Caudillo, Cacique, and Coronel
    Cuartel, Cuartelazo, Golpe de Estado, and the Junta
    Políticos and Políticas
    Corporate Values and Corporatism
    Patron-Client, Clientelism, and Other Special Relations
    Improvisation and Jeito

    9. Politics, Power, Institutions, and Actors
    State of Siege
    Code Law
    The President
    Government Structure and Local Government
    Centralization, Decentralization, and Federalism
    Electoral Tribunals
    The Bureaucracy
    New Directions: Democracy and Democratization
    Political Actors
    Traditional Large Landowners: Latifundistas
    Business and Industrial Elites
    The Middle or Intermediate Sectors
    Organized Labor
    Rural Poor
    The Military
    Government Bureaucrats
    Political Parties
    Common Characteristics

    10. Struggling for Change: Revolution, Social, and Political Movements in Latin America
    Other Revolutionary Endeavors
    El Salvador
    New Social Movements
    Argentine Manifestation
    Chiapas: Regional Victory
    New Social Movements and New Politics
    The MST

    11. U.S.-Latin American Relations
    Territorial Expansion: Confrontation with Mexico
    Dreams of Cuba
    Economic Transformation
    Gunboat Diplomacy, the Big Stick, and Dollar Diplomacy
    The Roosevelt Corollary
    Dollar Diplomacy
    Latin American Reaction
    Good Neighbor Policy
    Democracy and World War II
    The Rio Treaty and the Organization of American States
    Guatemalan Case
    Alliance for Progress
    National Security Doctrine
    September 11 Coup in Chile
    Cold War in Central America
    Latin America and the Post-Cold War World
    Latin American Initiatives
    Prospects for the Future

    12. Mexico, Nora Hamilton and Patrice Olsen
    Historical Trajectory
    Early History
    Independence and the Mexican Republic (1810-1910)
    The Mexican Revolution (1910-1940)
    Mexico's Political Economy
    The "Perfect Dictatorship": 1940-1982
    The "Mexican Miracle"
    Economic Liberalization
    Uneven Progress Toward Democracy
    Government Structures and Political Organizations
    Interest Groups, NGOs, and Dissidents
    Business Groups
    Labor and Peasant Groups
    Indigenous Groups
    Women and Gender Issues
    Drug Cartels
    Human Rights, Civic, and Environmental Organizations
    Foreign and International Groups
    Other Groups and Organizations

    13. Argentina, Aldo C. Vacs
    Political Evolution
    From Colony to Oligarchic Republic
    The Ascent and Fall of Mass Democracy
    The Rise and Decline of Peronism
    Authoritarianism and Limited Democracy
    Military Regime and State Terror
    The Return to Democracy
    Liberal Democracy and Free Markets
    Economic Crisis, Political Upheaval, and the Return of Populism
    Back to Neoliberalism
    Politics and Power
    Constitutional Framework and Political Institutions
    Main Political Parties
    Interest Groups
    Women's Roles
    Looking Forward: Argentina's Political Prospects

    14. Brazil, Wilber Albert Chaffee
    A Brief Political History
    Democratic Interlude
    Military Rule
    The "New Republic"
    Political Economy
    Foreign Policy
    Geography of Inequality
    A Culture of Discrimination
    The Political System
    The President
    The Legislature
    The Courts
    Political Parties
    Interest Groups
    Public Employees
    Agrarian Reform
    Organized Religion
    The Amazon
    Brazil Today

    15. Chile, Eduardo Silva
    Political Economy
    Political History
    Military Government
    Power and Politics
    Chilean Government Structures
    Political Institutions
    Main Political Parties
    Interest Groups
    Indigenous Peoples
    Environmental Movement
    Organized Business
    Organized Labor
    Catholic Church and University Students

    16. Colombia, John C. Dugas
    Economic and Social Context
    Economic Development
    Peasants and Urban Workers
    Dominant Economic Classes
    Demographic and Socio-Economic Changes
    Political History
    Nineteenth-Century Political Development
    Early Twentieth Century Political Development
    La Violencia
    The National Front Regime (1958-1974)
    The Post-National Front Period (1974-1990)
    The Drug Trade In Colombia
    The 1991 Constitution and Beyond
    The Human Rights Movement in Colombia
    The United States and Colombia
    The Colombian Political Regime
    Constitutional Structure
    Limitations on Democratic Governance

    17. Venezuela, Daniel Hellinger
    Geography and People
    Venezuela's History and Its Uses Today
    Oil Changes Everything
    The Rise and Fall of the Punto Fijo Regime
    Rise of Chavismo
    Survival Politics
    Venezuela's Bolivarian Constitution and Institutional Framework
    Political Actors in Bolivarian Venezuela
    Pro government
    The Opposition
    Other Actors
    Economic and Development Strategies in Bolivarian Venezuela
    Political and Socio-Economic Crisis
    An Uncertain Future

    18. Bolivia, Waltraud Q. Morales and Annabelle Conroy
    Geopolitical Overview
    Early History
    Colonial Rule (1532-1809)
    Independence and Caudillo Rule (1809-1879)
    The War of the Pacific (1879-1884)
    Republican Government (1880-1932)
    The Chaco War and the Coming of Revolution (1932-1952)
    From Revolution to Military Dictatorship (1952-1982)
    Transition to Democratic Rule
    Indigenous Resurgence and Populist Democracy
    Refounding Bolivia
    Bolivian Government
    Social Movements and Indigenous Peoples
    Important Women Activists
    Third-Term Victory
    The End of the Morales Era
    The Challenge of Vivir Bien
    Boliviain Presidents since 1930
    Bolivia: Major Political Parties Since 1952

    19. Cuba, Gary Prevost
    Revolution in Power
    Decade of the 1970s-Economic Changes
    Cuban Response to the Collapse of the Soviet Union
    Political Process
    Political and Economic Reforms
    Political Opposition and Civil Society
    Cuba's International Relations
    U.S.-Cuban Relations

    20. Guatemala, Susanne Jonas and Harry E. Vanden
    Precolonial, Colonial, and Neocolonial History
    The Revolution of 1944-1954 and the 1954 CIA Intervention
    Aftermath: Chronic Crisis
    Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the 1970s-1980s
    Transition to Restricted Civilian Rule
    Social Crisis and Reemergence of Social Movements
    Guatemala's Peace Process (1990-1996)
    Postwar Guatemala (1997-2013)
    Presidents/Regimes Since the 1930s
    Government Institutions
    Interest Groups

    21. Nicaragua, Gary Prevost and Harry E. Vanden
    The Modern Era
    Carlos Fonseca and the Roots of the FSLN
    Turning Point for Revolution
    The FSLN in Power
    Consolidating Political Institutions
    The 1990 Election and After
    The Sandinistas Return to Power
    Nicaragua's Economy
    Nicaraguan Government Structures
    Interest Groups
    Rural Groups
    Armed Forces
    Indigenous People
    Political Parties
    Liberal Parties

    Appendix 1: Presidential Elections
    Appendix 2: Recent Legislative Elections
    Authors and Contributors

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