THE PAN-AMERICAN DREAM by Lawrence E. Harrison


Do Latin America's Cultural Values Discourage True Partnership with the United States and Canada?
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 An intriguing, discursive inquiry into the variant wealth of Latin and North American nations, from a former foreign aid official who knows the territory. Before evaluating whether Central and South American countries can begin to match the economic and sociopolitical successes made by El Norte, Harrison (Who Prospers?, 1992) reviews what he terms the cultural divide. In brief, the author argues that the North's Anglo-Protestant heritage has produced results greatly superior to those of a South burdened by an authoritarian Ibero-Catholic tradition that devalues initiative and mistrusts free markets. Getting down to business, Harrison assesses the blessings democratic capitalism has conferred on Canada and the US while caudillos, clerics, leftist revolutionaries, and assorted others have arrested the development of their New World neighbors. With time out to excoriate intellectuals on both sides of the equator for perpetuating unfounded Marxian myths of Yanqui exploitation, he goes on to provide detailed reports on four bellwether nations (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico) that could make their own way as stable industrial powers in the foreseeable future. Also covered are such sore subjects as the traffic in drugs, immigration (illegal and otherwise), trade imbalances, and the extension of NAFTA. On balance, Harrison concludes, there are grounds for believing that in time many Latin countries can achieve reforms sufficient to make them full-fledged members of a world-class community within the Western Hemisphere. A savvy observer's perceptive (and optimistic) take on a populous part of the world that remains an afterthought for most North Americans.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1997
ISBN: 0-465-08916-X
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1996