UTOPIA UNARMED by Jorge G. Castañeda


The Latin American Left After the Cold War
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 With the collapse of the Soviet Union irrevocably altering class struggles throughout the world, Casta§eda (Political Science/Autonomous Univ. of Mexico; coauthor of The Limits to Friendship, 1988) takes a close, sympathetic look at the current sociopolitical situation in Central and South America. Casta§eda groups the historical impulses for social change in Latin America into two categories, Communist and populist, with the degree of interaction between the two contingent on the particular time and place. In general, he says, the Marxist influence was felt most forcefully after the Cuban revolution in 1959, when the presence and support of Castro gave heart to those struggling for similar goals in their own countries. Although the Cuban imperative to export regional revolution waned sharply as economic demands made coexistence more attractive than relentless guerrilla warfare, the left remained active, able to rely on the intellectual community and middle-class students, as well as on more rural, grass-roots organizations. With armed struggle put down brutally in Chile, Argentina, and elsewhere, and with the US more than willing to intervene, leftist victories remained few--even the Sandinista triumph in Nicaragua ended in a 1990 democratic defeat. Increasingly, Casta§eda says, those seeking change in Latin America turn to democratic reforms to substitute caring, responsive forms of government for the present-day oligarchies and their ever- increasing inequity in the distribution of national wealth. A sustained analysis of the bleak situation in much of Latin America, and a well-reasoned prescription for change--but this is more grist for the policy-wonk mill than general food for thought.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-58259-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1993


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