Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

[i]Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left [/i]

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Over the past two decades, Latin America has experienced a dramatic political makeover. In January 1990, just three years before Jorge G. Castañeda published his classic analysis of the post–Cold War Left, Utopia Unarmed, only two Latin American countries had leftist governments: Cuba and Nicaragua. In neither case did the head of state come to power through the ballot box. Today, the electoral map has been turned upside down: almost two-thirds of the continent’s population is now governed by democratically elected leftist leaders.

Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left reviews and updates the basic tenets and future prognosis for the region’s left-wing movements and parties. Castañeda, a New York University professor and former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs, teams up with Marco A. Morales, one of the university’s doctoral students, to edit a book that is recommended for well-informed readers as well as a broad professional audience. The two editors and 12 contributing authors go beyond simple explanations to identify concrete patterns and conditions that have led to the surge in left-leaning governments across the region.

Their task was not easy. The rise of the Left has been accompanied by a striking diversification that has produced, what they argue to be, two Lefts that occupy different ends of the political spectrum. One is strident, authoritarian and anti-North American, reflecting the traditional style of Latin American strongmen or caudillos. The other is moderate, reformist and pragmatic, both in its economic vision and its relationship with Washington…

Tags: Jorge G. Castaneda, Leftovers: Tales of the Latin American Left, Marco A. Morales, Pablo Diaz
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