Introduction to Peru in Theory (Palgrave 2014)

Peru in Theory introduction

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Una vana pretensión: negar el racismo en el Perú – mi respuesta a una crítica de Guillermo Rochabrún

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Review of The Allure of Labor by Rossana Barragan in International Review of Social History

Barragan review

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Che’s Travels

You can read my introduction to Che’s Travels: The Making of a Revolutionary in 1950s Latin America by clicking here

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Cristo y el Cuy Horneado

A short piece (in Spanish) on the possible interpretations of one of Cuzco’s most famous, and enigmatic, tourist attractions: Cristo y el cuy horneado

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With my son, Seba, at Highgate cemetery


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John Sheahan, Searching for a better society: the Peruvian economy from 1950. University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 1999.

John Sheahan, Searching for a better society: the Peruvian economy from 1950 (University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press, 1999. Pp. xi + 211. 30 tabs. 6 figs. $55; pbk. $18.65)

How a country so rich in natural resources has achieved so little has baffled scholars interested in Peru since the Italian savant Antonio Raimondi first pondered the question in the nineteenth century. In 1978 Rosemary Thorp and Geoffrey Bertram pointed to export-led growth and foreign capital as two of the main culprits. Searching for a better society, Sheahan argues, is a ‘complement’ to the Thorp and Bertram study, although it explains the country’s problems more ‘in terms of internal divisions, inequity and social conflict’ (p. x). It begins with a useful chapter that places Peru in a Latin American context. In the course of the following five chapters, Sheahan examines a number of key issues, ranging from human resource endowment to land reform and the informal sector. Two further chapters help to place these issues in a political and historical context, considering the experience of state-led development between 1963 and 1990 and the move towards an open economy since 1990. A concluding chapter examines the options available to Peru. Rather than any external factor, Sheahan points to poverty and inequality (particularly in access to education) as the main factors holding Peru back.

Sheahan makes the obvious yet important point that both state-led development and economic liberalization have variants. In the 1950s and 1960s Latin American countries, including Peru, chose forms of state-led development that proved largely unsuccessful, in contrast with East Asian economies, where state-led development was highly successful in raising living standards and promoting growth. Sheahan argues that state-led development in Peru could have worked but was doomed by the absence of a coherent macroeconomic strategy. In the 1980s and 1990s, most Latin American countries opted for some form of economic liberalization: he suggests that the variant chosen by Peru in 1990 was least helpful in addressing the problems of poverty and inequality, despite a number of promising policy adjustments since 1993. If economic liberalization is to work, he argues, the state needs to intervene in order to promote employment and rural diversification. However, the legacy of the 1980s crisis (characterized by hyperinflation and extreme political violence) and, in particular, of the failure of the heterodox policies of the Garcia administration (1985-90), has been a generalized aversion to all forms of state intervention. This aversion has had deeply negative consequences for the reduction of poverty and inequality. Sheahan suggests that Peru could learn from the Chilean experience, which has demonstrated that ‘a promotional version of liberalization can combine economic growth with relatively inclusive economic and social policies’ (p. 188).

Some readers may baulk at somewhat glib characterizations: international investors are described as ‘a herd of sheep’ (p. 186), while ex-president Belau’nde is ‘a natural model for anyone’s favourite uncle’ (p. 139). The many typographical errors point to slack proofreading: ‘Ayucucho’ (p. 78) and ‘Huencavalica’ (pp. 109, 110) are two of many. Nevertheless, this is an important book that contributes to the current reassessment of the period of state-led development in Latin America and refines the triumphalist interpretations of the current process of economic liberalization.

 First published in The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 53, No. 2 (May, 2000), pp. 391-392.

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Oxford Chair in the History of Latin America: Copy of letter sent to Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice Chancellor, University of Oxford on 15 February 2013

Dear Professor Andrew Hamilton,

It is with great concern that we learn that the Chair in the History of Latin America at the University of Oxford will not be advertised when Professor Alan Knight retires in 2013 and will be effectively frozen and possibly eliminated.

As you know, the Chair, by virtue of its history, its previous holders, which include some of the world’s leading twentieth-century historians, such as Sir Raymond Carr and Professor Tulio Halperin Donghi, and the outstanding and greatly influential contributions of its incumbent to the history of Mexico and Latin America more generally, is the foremost post in the history of Latin America in the UK and arguably the foremost post in the field outside the Americas.

The loss of this post will impair the ability of Oxford to cover a key region of the world in the History Faculty, at a time when global history has become an important new priority, as well as the ability of the Latin American Centre at St Antony’s College to maintain the central importance of history in its flourishing masters programmes in Latin American studies. More generally, it will impact negatively on Latin American history and Latin American studies in the UK.

It is difficult to understand this decision in light of the growing importance that the UK government is placing on UK-Latin American relations, both commercial and otherwise, and the growth in Latin American students choosing to undertake both undergraduate and graduate studies in the UK. The loss of this Chair sends very negative signals about how Oxford views and values Latin America, at a time when the region’s global profile is increasingly prominent.

Just as important, it is difficult to understand how a history department in one of the world’s leading universities could, by freezing this Chair, abandon the history of a region that is home to 600 million people, that contains some of the world’s most dynamic economies, and that boasts a rich history and culture. Again, the loss of this Chair sends out the wrong message about how Oxford University, and its History Faculty in particular, view the discipline and the region.

We hope that you will reconsider this decision and that the Chair in the History of Latin America will be advertised when Professor Knight retires so that a new Chair can continue to play the key role that past holders have played in giving the history of Latin America the prominence that it deserves in Oxford but also within UK and world academia.


Aaron Coy Moulton, graduate instructor, University of Arkansas

Aaron Pollack, Profesor-Investigador, Instituto de Investigaciones Dr. José Luis Mora (Mexico)

Adam David Morton, Associate Professor of Political Economy, University of Nottingham

Adam Warren, Associate Professor of History, University of Washington

Adela Pineda Franco, Associate Professor of Spanish American Literature, Boston University

Adrián Gorelik, Director del Centro de Historia Intelectual, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina

Adrian Pearce, Lecturer in Latin American History, King’s College London.

Alan Angell, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford

Alan Ware, Emeritus Fellow, Worcester College, Oxford and Department of Politics and Public Policy, UCL

Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Senior Scientist, Spanish National Research Council

Alejandra B. Osori, Associate Professor of History, Wellesley College

Alejandra Bronfman, Professor of History, University of British Columbia

Alejandra Irigoin, Lecturer in Economic History, LSE

Alejandra Serpente, PhD candidate, Institute of the Americas, UCL

Alexandra Stern, Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of American Culture, Department of History, University of Michigan

Alfonso Herranz Loncan, Professor – Vicedecano, Facultad de Economicas, Universidad de Barcelona

Aline Helg, Professeure ordinaire, Département d’histoire générale, Université de Geneve

Allison P. Sellers, Master’s Candidate, History Department, University of Central Florida

Amy C. Offner, Assistant Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, Senior Lecturer, Centre for development Studies, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath

Ana Cristina Ramirez, Profesora, Facultad de Filosofia, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo

Ana María Lorandi, Profesora consulta de la Universidad de Buenos Aires

Ana Maria Presta, Professor of History, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Ana Romero Valderrama, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Houston

Analiese Richard, Faculty Chair, Associate Professor of Anthropology, School of International Studies, University of the Pacific

Andrae Marak, Professor of History and Political Science, Chair of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, Governors State University

Andrea Noble, Professor of Latin American Studies, Durham University

Andres Schipani, Andes Correspondent, Financial Times

Andrew Paxman, Assistant Professor of History, Millsaps College

Andrew Tillman, PhD candidate at the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

Angela Thompson, Department of History, East Carolina University

Angela Vergara, Associate Professor of History, California State University, Los Angeles

Ann Varley, Professor of Human Geography, University College London

Anna Cant, PhD Student in Latin America History, University of Cambridge

Anna Wilson, PhD candidate, Queen Mary, University of London

Anne Rubenstein, Associate Professor, History Department, York University (Canada)

Annick Lempérière, Centre de Recherche d’Histoire de l’Amérique latine et du Monde ibérique, Université Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne

Antonio Escobar Ohmstede, CIESAS, México

Antonio Espinoza, Assistant Professor of History, Virginia Commonwealth University

Antonio Sotomayor, Assistant Professor/Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian, University of Illinois

Ariadna Acevedo-Rodrigo, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav), Mexico City

Arturo Giraldez, Professor in the School of International Studies, University of the Pacific

Barbara Weinstein, Silver Professor of History, New York University

Ben Bollig, Faculty Lecturer in Spanish American Literature, University of Oxford.

Ben Fallaw, Associate Professor of History, Colby College

Benjamin D. Johnson, Assistant Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Boston

Bernhard Rieger, Senior Lecturer in History, UCL

Betsy Konefal, Associate Professor of History, College of William & Mary

Brian Connaughton, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa, Mexico City

Brian DeLay, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Bekeley

Brian S McBeth, Old Antonian

Camillia Cowling, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

Cara Levey, Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Leeds

Carlos A. Brando, Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Economic & Business Science, Univerity Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Carlos Aguirre, Professor of History, University of Oregon

Carlos Contreras Carranza, Departamento de Economía de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Carlos Dávila, Professor and Head of the History, Business and Entrepreneurship Research Group, School of Management,Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia)

Caroline Williams, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of Bristol

Carolyn Elizabeth Watson, Profesora Titular, Escuela de Historia y Ciencias Sociales, Universidad ARCIS, Santiago de Chile

Catherine Andrews, Escuela Nacional de Biblioteconomía y Archivonomía, Mexico City, Mexico

Catherine C. LeGrand, Associate Professor, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Cecilia Mendez, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Cecilia Milesi, Director of Planning and Organisational Performance at Conciliation Resources

Cecilia T. Lanata Briones, MPhil/PhD Student, London School of Economics and Political Science

Celia Szusterman, Director, Latin America programme, The Institute for Statecraft

César Gutierrez Muñoz, Miembro de Número de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, Peru

Chad Thomas Black, Associate Professor of Early Latin America, Department of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Charles Jones, Emeritus Reader in International Relations and Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

Charles Walker, Professor of History, University of California, Davis

Chiara Vangelista, Professor of Latin American History, University of Genoa

Christian Arnold, Departmental Lecturer, Latin American Centre, University of Oxford

Christina Bueno, Associate Professor of History and Latino and Latin American Studies, Northeastern Illinois University

Christine Hunefeldt, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Christopher Boyer, Associate Professor of History and Latin American and Latino Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago

Christopher Fulton, Associate Professor, Head Art History Program, Department of Fine Arts, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville

Christopher Heaney, Harrington Doctoral Fellow in Latin American History, University of Texas at Austin

Claire Brewster, Senior Lecturer in Latin American History, Newcastle University

Claire Taylor, Reader in Hispanic Studies, University of Liverpool

Clara Lopez Beltrán, Profesor investigador, Instituto de Cultura, Universidad Católica Boliviana

Claudia Briones, Instituto de Investigaciones en Diversidad Cultural y Procesos de Cambio (IIDyPCa), Universidad Nacional de Río Negro-CONICET

Claudia Parodi, Professor of Spanish, University of California, Los Angeles

Claudia Rosas Lauro, Coordinadora de la Especialidad de Historia, Facultad de Letras y Ciencias Humanas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Colin M. Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Latin American Economic History, London School of Economics, and Professorial Fellow, Institute of the Americas, UCL

Coralia Gutiérrez Álvarez, Area de Historia, Instituto de Ciencias, Sociales y Humanidades, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, México

Cosimo Maria Mazzoni, Research Fellow St. Anne’s College, Osney Thermo-Fluids Laboratory, Engineering Science Department, Oxford University

Cristina Ana Mazzeo de Vivó, Profesora Asociada, Departamento de Humanidades, Pontificia Universidad Católica Perú

Cristobal Aljovin, Professor of History, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Peru

Cynthia Campos. Visiting Fellow, Art History Department, University of Essex

Cynthia E. Milton, Canada Research Chair in Latin American History/Associate Professor, Département d’histoire, Université de Montréal

Cynthia Radding, Distinguished Professor of History and Latin American Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Dain Borges, Associate Professor of History, The University of Chicago

Daniel Rey, MPhil candidate in Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

Daniela Marino, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México / Posgrado en Historia y Etnohistoria – ENAH / SNI-CONACYT

David J. Robinson, Dellplain Professor of Latin American Geography, Syracuse University, New York

David M. J. Wood, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

David Nugent, Professor of Anthropology, Emory University

Deborah Cohen, Associate Professor of History, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Diana Schwartz, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Chicago

Diego Armus, Professor of History, Swarthmore College

Diego Sánchez-Ancochea, University Lecturer in the Political Economy of Latin America, University of Oxford

Dolores Trevizo, Professor of Sociology, Occidental College

Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams Professor of Romance languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies, Harvard University

Doug Yarrington, Associate Professor of History, Colorado State University

Dudley Ankerson, Director Latin Insight Consulting and Special Adviser to the Director of the Americas in the Foreign Office

Eduardo Elena, Associate Professor of History, University of Miami

Eduardo L. Ortiz, Prof. Em., Imperial College London

Eduardo Zimmermann, Director, Departamento de Humanidades, Universidad de San Andrés

Edward J. McCaughan, Professor of Sociology, San Francisco State University

Elizabeth Baquedano, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Elizabeth Graham, Professor of Mesoamerican Archeology, University College London

Elizabeth Penry, Assistant Professor of History, Fordham University

Elsie Rockwell, Centre for Research and Advanced Studies, Mexico City, Mexico

Emily A. Maguire, Associate Professor, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Northwestern University

Enrique Ballón Aguirre, Comité Scientifique de l’Institut Ferdinand de Saussure, Paris

Enrique S. Pumar, Chair, Dept. of Sociology, Catholic University

Eric Van Young, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, San Diego

Eric Zolov, Associate Professor of History, Stony Brook University

Erick D. Langer, Director, Center for Latin American Studies, Professor of History, Georgetown University

Ernesto Bohoslavsky, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento and CONICET, Argentina

Esther Padilla Calderón, Professor-researcher, El Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo, México

Ethelia Ruiz Medrano, Full Professor, Instituto Nacional deAntropología e Historia, Mexico (INAH)

Eugenia Scarzanella, Professor of Latin American History, University of Bologna

Ezequiel Gallo, Emeritus Professor of History, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Fernando Cervantes, Reader in History, University of Bristol

Francesca Lessa, Junior Research Fellow (St. Anne’s College) and Postdoctoral Research Officer (Latin American Centre), University of Oxford

Francis Korn, Investigadora superior, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología- CONICET (Argentina)

Francisco A. Ortega, Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Francisco A. Scarano, Professor of History and Director, Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Francisco Quiroz Chueca, Professor of History, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos
Teresa Vergara Ormeño, Associate Professor of History, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos

Gabriel Pereira, Doctoral candidate, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

Gabriela Martinez Sainz, PhD Candidate in Education, University of Cambridge

Gabriella Chiaramonti, Associate Professor in Latin American History, Università degli Studi di Padova

Gerardo Esquivel, El Colegio de México

Gerardo Leibner, Senior Lecturer in Latin American History, Tel Aviv University

Gerardo Renique, Associate Professor of History, City College of the City University of New York

Gilbert M. Joseph, Farnam Professor of History and International Studies, Yale University

Graciela Márquez, Professor-Researcher, Centro de Estudios Históricos, El Colegio de México, México

Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University and American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Guillermina del Valle Pavon, Directora de la Revista America Latina en la Historia Economica, Departamento de Historia, Instituto Jose Luis Maria Mora, Mexico-Df Mexico

Guillermo Delgado-P, Anthropology Department,Field Studies Director, UCSC

Guillermo Mira Delli-Zotti, Profesor Titular de Historia de América, Universidad de Salamanca

Guillermo Palacios y Olivares, Profesor Investigador, Centro de Estudios Históricos, El Colegio de México

Gustavo Lorenzana Durán, Departamento de Historia y Antropología, Universidad de Sonora

Guy Thomson, Professor of History, University of Warwick

Hana Muzika Kahn, Assistant Professor, Spanish & Latin American Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia

Heather Fowler-Salamini, Professor Emerita of Latin American History, Bradley University

Hector A. Reyes-Zaga, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Dickinson College

Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, Professor of History, Fordham University

Henry Stobart, Reader in Music/Ethnomusicology, Royal Holloway, University of London

Hettie Malcomson, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, University of Southampton

Horst Pietschmann, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Hamburg

Hugo Ceron-Anaya, Visiting Assistant Professor, Lehigh University

Ignacio Almada, El Colegio de Sonora

Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado, Associate Professor of Spanish and International and Area Studies, Washington University in Saint Louis

Ignacio Telesca, CONICET, Argentina

Ilan Bizberg, El Colegio de México

Iñigo Garcia-Bryce, Associate Professor of History, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces

Ivan McLaughlin, University College Cork, National University of Ireland

Jaime Antonio Preciado Coronado, Profesor Investigador, Universidad de Guadalajara

Jaime E. Rodríguez, Professor Above Scale, Department of History, University of California, Irvine; Editor of the journal MEXICAN STUDIES/ESTUDIOS MEXICANOS

James Dunkerley, Professor of Politics, Queen Mary University of London

James Krippner, Professor of History, Haverford College

James Stout, PhD candidate, University of California, San Diego

James W. Wilkie, Professor of History, UCLA, President of PROFMEX (Worldwide Consortium for Reseach on Mexico)

Javier Fernández Sebastián, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad del País Vasco

Javier Puente, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Georgetown University

Jaymie Patricia Heilman, Associate Professor of History, University of Alberta

Jean E.F.Starr  (retired)

Jean Piel, Professeur émérite d’Histoire de l’Amérique latine à l’Université Denis Diderot – Paris 7

Jean Stubbs, Associate Fellow, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London

Jelke Boesten, Senior Lecturer in Social Development and Human Security, University of Leeds

Jennifer Scheper Hughes, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Riverside

Jens Andermann, Associate Professor of Iberoamerican Literature, University of Zurich

Jens R Hentschke, Professor of Latin American History and Politics, Newcastle University

Jeremy Adelman, Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilization and Culture, Princeton University

Jo-Marie Burt, Associate Professor in Public and International Affairs, George Mason University

Joanna Crow, Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of Bristol

Jody Pavilack, Associate Professor of History, University of Montana

Joel Outtes, UFRGS- Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Joel Wolfe, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst

John Coatsworth, Provost, Professor of International and Public Affairs and of History, Columbia University

John Fisher, Emeritus Professor of Latin American History, University of Liverpool

John Gledhill, Max Gluckman Professor of Social Anthropology, The University of Manchester

John North, Acting Director, Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, London

John Paul Rathbone, Latin America editor Financial Times, St Antony’s senior member

John Womack Jr. Robert Woods Bliss Professor Latin American History and Economics, emeritus, Harvard University

Jon Beasley-Murray, Associate Professor in Hispanic Studies, University of British Columbia

Jonathan Truitt, Assistant Professor of Latin American History, Central Michigan University

Jordi Díez, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Guelph

Jorge L. Catalá Carrasco, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, Newcastle University

José Alberto Moreno Chávez, El Colegio de México

José Antonio Ocampo, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

José C. Moya, Professor of History, Barnard College, Columbia University and Professor Emeritus, UCLA

José Carlos de la Puente, Assistant Professor of History, Texas State University-San Marcos

José Edgardo Cal Montoya, Catedrático de Historiografía de Guatemala, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala

José Ragas, PhD student in Latin American History, University of California, Davis

José-Juan López-Portillo, external tutor, Pembroke College, Oxford University

Josefina Saldaña, Director, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Department of Social & Cultural Analysis, New York University

Joy Langston, Professor of Political Science, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico City

Juan Carlos Medel, Graduate Student, University of California, Davis

Juan Carlos Sarazúa Pérez, State Building in Latin America Project, European Research Council (ERC), Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Juan Luis Ossa, Executive Director, Centre for the Study of Political History, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

Juan Ossio, Senior Professor, Department of Social Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and former Minister of Culture of Peru

Juan Pablo Scarfi, PhD Candidate, Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

Juan Pedro Viqueira Alban, Centro de Estudios Históricos, El Colegio de México

Judith Adler Hellman, Professor of Political and Social Science and Coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, York University, Toronto

Judith Ewell, Newton Professor of History, Emerita, The College of William and Mary

Julie Stewart, Asst. Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Utah

Karen B. Graubart, Carl E. Koch Associate Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

Karen Racine, Associate Professor of Latin American History, University of Guelph, Canada

Kathryn Burns, Professor of History, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Ken Lehman, Squires Professor of Latin American History, Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia

Ken Shadlen, Reader in International Development, LSE

Kenneth Mills, Professor of History, University of Toronto

Kevin Middlebrook, Professor of Latin American Politics, Institute of the Americas, UCL

Kimberly Gauderman, Associate Professor of History, University of New Mexico

Klaus Gallo, Associate Professor of History, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Kristina A. Boylan, Associate Professor of History, SUNY Institute of Technology, Utica

Lance Ingwersen, PhD Student, Latin American History, Vanderbilt University

Laura Machuca Gallegos, CIESAS, México

Leigh Payne, Director of the Latin American Centre/Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford

Leonardo Weller, Lecturer, Sao Paulo School of Economics, Fundacao Getulio Vargas Sao Paulo

Leslie Bethell, Emeritus Professor of Latin American History, University of London and Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford

Leticia Reina, Dirección de Estudios Históricos, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

Lewis Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool

Lidia Ernestina Gómez García, Colegio de Historia, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla

Liliana Regalado de Hurtado, Profesora Principal, Departamento de Humanidades, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Linda B. Hall, Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor, Department of History, University of New Mexico

Linda Newson, Director, Institute for the Study of the Americas, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Lindsey Churchill, Assistant Professor of Latin American History, University of Central Oklahoma

Line Schjolden, Independent researcher

Lisbeth Haas, Chair of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

Luciano Ciravegna, Lecturer, Royal Holloway School of Management, University of London

Lucy Luccisano, Associate Professor of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Lucy Taylor, President, Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS); Co-Editor, Bulletin of Latin American Research (BLAR), Adran Gwleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol / Department of International Politics, Prifysgol Aberystwyth University

Luis E. Coronado Guel, PhD Candidate in Latin American History, University of Arizona

Luz del Carmen Martínez Rivera., Posgrado en Historia, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Lynn Stephen, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Anthropology, Director, Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon

Mahrukh Doctor, Lecturer in Political Economy, University of Hull

Mallory Matsumoto, MSt Student in Linguistics, University of Oxford

Manuel Alejandro Guerrero, Dean, Department of Communication, Universidad Iberoamericana/ UNESCO Chair in Communication & Society

Manuel Arroyo-Kalin, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Manuel Barcia Paz, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of Leeds

Manuel Llorca Jaña, Lecturer in History, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez & University of Santiago

Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra, CLAS, University of Cambridge

Marc Becker, Professor of History, Truman State University

Marcelo Bucheli, Associate Professor of Business Administration, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Marcos Cueto, Professor of History, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos/Fiocruz

Margaret Cerullo, Professor, Sociology and Feminist Studies, Hampshire College

Margaret Chowning, Professor of Latin American History, University of California at Berkeley

Margarita Carbó Darnaculleta, Professor of History, UNAM

Margarita Garrido, Professor of History, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá

María Dolores Lorenzo, Profesor- investigador, El Colegio Mexiquense

Maria Manuel Lisboa, Professor of Portuguese Literature and Culture, University of Cambridge

Maria Regina Celestino de Almeida. Universidade Federal, Fluminense, Niterói/Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Maria Rosaria Stabili, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Università degli Studi Roma Tre

María Teresa Fernández Aceves, CIESAS-Occidente, Guadalajara, Mexico

Marisa Belausteguigoitia Rius, Directora del Programa Universitario de Estudios de Género, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Marisa Ruiz, Centro de Estudios Interdisciplinarios, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación, Universidad de la República (Uruguay)

Mark Dries, Graduate Student in Latin American History, University of California, Davis

Mark Millington, Professor of Latin American Studies, University of Nottingham

Mark Rice, PhD candidate in Latin American History, Stony Brook University

Marta-Laura Suska, PhD candidate at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Martín Bergel, CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Martín Castro, CONICET-UBA/ Professor of History, Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (Argentina)

Martin Monsalve, Professor of Economic History, Centro de Investigación de la Universidad del Pacífico (Peru)

Martin Scurrah, Senior Researcher, Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales (CEPES)

Mary Goldsmith, Professor, Departamento de Política y Cultura,  Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco (México)

Mary Kay Vaughan, Professor Emerita of History, University of Maryland College Park

Matthew Brown, Reader in Latin American Studies, University of Bristol

Matthew Butler, Associate Professor of Modern Mexican History, History, University of Texas at Austin

Mauricio Tenorio, Professor of History, The University of Chicago and the College; Director, Center for Latin American Studies, The University of Chicago

Maxine Molyneux, Director, Institute of the Americas, UCL

Maya Aguiluz-Ibargüen, Researcher, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Sciences and Humanities, National Autonomous University of Mexico

Melanie Huska, Doctoral Candidate in History, University of Minnesota

Michael Crawford, Emeritus Professor of Ancient History, UCL

Michael Goebel, Center for European Studies, Harvard University

Michael Snodgrass, Associate Professor of Latin American History, Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis

Miguel Angel Centeno, Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, Princeton University

Mikael Wolfe, Assistant Professor of History, Stanford University

Miles Taylor, Director, Institute of Historical Research

Miriam R. Martin, PhD Candidate in History,Vanderbilt University

Monica Serrano, Profesor Investigador, Centro de Estudios Internacionales, El Colegio de Mexico

Nancy Leys Stepan, Professor of History, Emerita, Columbia University

Nancy Priscilla Naro, Emeritus Reader, King’s College London

Natalia Majluf, Directora, Museo de Arte de Lima

Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, University of Kent

Natalie Zacek, English and American Studies, University of Manchester

Nathaniel Morris, DPhil candidate in Latin American History, University of Oxford

Natividad Gutierrez Chong, Profesora – Investigadora, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Neal Polhemus, Department of History, University of South Carolina

Nicanor Dominguez Faura, Profesor contratado, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru

Nick Morgan, Lecturer in Latin American Studies, Newcastle University

Nicola Miller, Professor in Latin American History, UCL

Nils Jacobsen, Professor of History, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Nohemy Solórzano-Thompson, Associate Professor of Spanish, Chair of the Spanish Department, Whitman College

Nora E. Jaffary, Associate Professor, History Department, Concordia University

Norma Klahn, Professor of Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz

O’Neill Blacker-Hanson, Department of History, Valparaiso University

Odile Cisneros, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies/Program in Comparative Literature, University of Alberta

Olga Magdalena Lazin-Andrei, UCLA Professor of History, UCL; President of PROFMEX (Worldwide Consortium for Reseach on Mexico)

Paloma Aguilar, Professor in Political Science, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)

Patience Schell, Chair in Hispanic Studies, University of Aberdeen

Patricia Méndez, CONICET, Argentina

Patricia Palma, PhD Student in Latin America History, University of California, Davis

Patrick Kelly, PhD candidate at the University of Chicago

Paul Garner, Cowdray Professor of Spanish, University of Leeds

Paul Gootenberg, Professor in History & Sociology, Stony Brook University

Paula Laguarda, Adjunct Professor at Universidad Nacional de La Pampa/Researcher in National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET)

Paulo Drinot, Senior Lecturer in Latin American History, Institute of the Americas, UCL

Pete Sigal, Associate Professor of History, Duke University; Senior Editor, Hispanic American Historical Review

Peter Guardino, Professor, Department of History, Indiana University

Pierre-Louis Le Goff, Research Assistant, Latin American Centre, University of Oxford

Polly Wilding, Lecturer in Gender and International Development, University of Leeds

Professor Catherine Davies, Professor of Hispanic and Latin American Studies, University of Nottingham

Rafael Chambouleyron, Associate Professor, Universidade Federal do Pará (Brazil)

Raffaele Nocera, Storia dell’America Latina, Dipartimento di Scienze Umane e Sociali, Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”

Raúl Acosta, Research Fellow, Centre for Applied Ethics, University of Deusto

Raziel Dasha Valiño Alvarado, PhD Candidate, Sociomedical Sciences and Cultural Anthropology, Columbia University

Rebecca Earle, Professor of History, Warwick University

Regina A. Root, Class of 1963 Term Distinguished Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, The College of William and Mary

Regina Grafe, Associate Professor of History, Northwestern University

René Torres-Ruiz, Professor in Political Science, Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de México

Ricardo Pérez Montfort, Associate Proffesor and Researcher “C” III, Audiovisual Lab Coordinator, CIESAS/México

Ricardo Salvatore, Professor of History, Universidad Torcuato di Tella

Robert Curley, Profesor-Investigador Titular, Universidad de Guadalajara

Robert F. Alegre, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Philosophy, University of New England

Roderic Ai Camp, Donald McKenna Professor of the Pacific Rim, Claremont McKenna College

Rory Miller, Reader in International Business History, University of Liverpool and Joint Editor, Journal of Latin American Studies

Rosalba Piazza, Universitá di Catania, Italia

Rosalina Ríos Zúñiga, Instituto de Investigaciones sobre la Universidad y la Educación, UNAM (Mexico)

Roy Hora, Profesor Titular, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes

Ryszard Stemplowski, Professor, Akademia Ignatianum in Kraków

Salikoko S. Mufwene, The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College, University of Chicago

Salomon Nahmad, Investigador titular, CIESAS

Salvador Salinas, PhD candidate in Latin American history at the University of Texas at Austin

Sandra Aguilar, Assistant Professor in History, Moravian College

Sandra Kuntz Ficker, Profesora-investigadora, Centro de Estudios Históricos, El Colegio de México

Sandro Patrucco Núñez-Carvallo, Profesor Asociado, Departamento de Humanidades. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Sarah Degner Riveros, Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish, Valparaiso University

Sarah A. Radcliffe, Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge

Sarah Washbrook, Lecturer in Latin American Studies, University of Manchester

Scarlett O’Phelan, Profesora Principal, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Scott Ickes, Asst. Professor Latin American History, University of South Florida

Sebastian Dorsch, Latin American History, University of Erfurt

Sergio Mejia, Assistant Professor of History, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Sergio Miguel Huarcaya, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Royal Holloway, University of London

Sergio Miranda Pacheco, Investigador Titular A Definitivo, Área de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM

Sergio Zendejas Romero, Profesor-Investigador Titular, Centro de Estudios Rurales, El Colegio de Michoacán

Servando Ortoll, Instituto de Investigaciones Culturales-Museo, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Sian Lazar, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Silvia Espelt Bombín, Teaching Assistant, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University

Sinclair Thomson, Associate Professor of History, New York University

Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Oxford

Stefan Rinke, Distinguished Professor in Latin American History, Freie Universität Berlin

Stefania Gallini, Professor of History, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Stephen Andes, Assistant Professor of History, Louisiana State University

Stephen D. Morris, Professor and Chair of Political Science, Middle Tennessee State University

Stephen E. Lewis, Professor of History, California State University, Chico

Stephen Taylor, Professor of History, Durham University

Steve Cushion, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London

Steve Topik, Professor of Latin American History, University of California at Irvine

Susan M. Deeds, Emeritus Professor of History, Northern Arizona University

Susan V. Webster, Jane Williams Mahoney Professor of Art History and American Studies, College of William and Mary

Tanya Filer, Leverhulme Trust Visiting Research Scholar (2012-13), Universidad de San Andrés, Buenos Aires; PhD candidate, Latin American Studies, University College London.

Tanya Harmer, Lecturer in International History, LSE

Tatiana Seijas, Assistant Professor of History, Miami University of Ohio

Thomas Muhr, Research Associate (Global Development), University of Bristol

Thomas Rath, Lecturer in the History of Latin America, UCL

Tomás Undurraga, Research Associate, University of Cambridge.

Tracy Gwendolyn Bassett, St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford

Tristan Platt, Professor of Anthropology, University of St Andrews

Ulrike Bock, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

Verónica A. Gutiérrez, Assistant Professor of Latin American History, Azusa Pacific University

Veronica Zarate Toscano, Comite Mexicano de Ciencias Historicas

Vicente M. Lopez Abad, PhD Dissertator (ABD) in Spanish, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Honorary Professor, Institute of the Americas, UCL

Víctor Gayol, Profesor Investigador, Centro de Estudios Históricos, El Colegio de Michoacán

Victor Maqque, PhD candidate in History, University of Notre Dame

Vivienne Bennett, Professor, Liberal Studies Department, California State University San Marcos

Wil G. Pansters, Professor of Latin American Studies, especially Mexico, University of Groningen

Will Fowler, Professor of Latin American Studies, University of St Andrews

William B. Taylor, Muriel McKevitt Sonne Professor of History, Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

William Booth, Research Fellow, Institute of the Americas, UCL

William C. Van Norman, Jr., Associate Professor of History and Chair, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, James Madison University

William F. Cooper, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Baylor University

William Suarez-Potts, Associate Professor of History, Kenyon College

Yanna Yannakakis, Associate Professor of History, Emory University

Yazmín López Lenci, Profesora Adjunta, Instituto Latinoamericano de Arte, Cultura e Historia ILACH, Universidad Federal de Integración Latinoamericana UNILA, Foz do Iguacu – Paraná – Brasil

Zulema Trejo Contreras, El Colegio de Sonora

Cc. Prof. Shearer West

Cc. Prof. Jane Humphries

Cc. Prof. Ian Neary

Cc. Prof. Roger Goodman

CC. Prof. Margaret Macmillan

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Carlos A. Forment, Democracy in Latin America, 1760–1900 : Vol. 1, Civic Selfhood and Public Life in Mexico and Peru

Carlos A. Forment, Democracy in Latin America, 1760–1900 : Vol. 1, Civic Selfhood and Public Life in Mexico and Peru  (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. xxix+ 454, £24.50, hb.

 This book is the first instalment of a diptych that tries ‘ to understand why Latin Americans practise democracy more readily and intensely in some terrains than in others ’ (p. 20). The first volume deals with Mexico and Peru; the second volume, not yet published, will deal with Argentina and Cuba. This volume (as, presumably, the next) has at its core a number of historical chapters, largely based on a trawl through various Latin American hemerotecas, flanked by a theoretical discussion which sees Forment – to continue the fishing metaphor – angling in varied theoretical rivers from his ‘Tocquevillian perch’ (p. 6). Thus the book (1) is said to be in ‘conversation’ (p. 31) and ‘dialogue ’ (p. 33) with the work of Partha Chaterjee and Mahmood Mamdami; (2) takes issue with the ‘ sociologists and political scientists [who] have been scrambling across the continent chasing after late-breaking events in order to develop a ‘‘ theory ’’ of ‘‘democratization ’’ ’ (p. 6) as well as studies that interpret the emergence and development of democratic life in Latin America as a ‘structural by-product of ‘‘state-building ’’, ‘‘economic development’’ and ‘‘modernization’’’ (p. 29) ; and (3) is inspired by Michael Walzer’s ‘ little book on social criticism ’ (p. 21), which, strangely, convinced Forment to accord nineteenth-centuryLatin Americans ‘the very same authority that I had previously been willing to grantonly to contemporary scholars in the field of Latin American Studies ’ (p. 12). In so doing, Forment claims to have ‘unearthed’ a specifically Latin American democratictradition distinct from ‘state and market-centred forms of life ’ (p. xii).

Forment calls the democratic tradition he has ‘unearthed ’ Civic Catholicism. Unfortunately, what he understands this to be is never made fully explicit. Despite the centrality of Civic Catholicism to his study, we have to wait some 200 pages before the term receives some discussion (prior to this point it is merely alluded to) and even that discussion is far from clear. We are told that Civic Catholicism is a ‘new vocabulary’ and that ‘ central to this new narrative was the religious colonial dichotomy of ‘‘ passion-reason’’, and the new civic concern for ‘‘ association’’ and ‘‘ personal liberty ’’ ’ (p. 208) and that ‘ citizens used Civic Catholicism in order to make sense of themselves and each other in civil society, economic society, political society and the public sphere itself ’ (p. 209). In the last chapter of the book Forment introduces a distinction between ‘Neo-Colonial Catholicism ’ and ‘ Civic Catholicism ’ but the meaning of both terms is again left vague. From the discussion he offers they would seem to be rhetorical substitutes for the ideas associated in much of the literature on nineteenth-century Latin America with ‘Conservatives ’ and ‘Liberals ’, but this can only be a supposition. It is surprising that in a book that deals with ‘democracy’ in nineteenth century Latin America there is no index entry for either ‘ Liberal ’, ‘ liberalism’, ‘Conservative ’ or ‘Conservatism ’, or, indeed, any discussion of these terms and how they, presumably, are inadequate or unsuitable to the argument put forward by the author.

According to Forment, Civic Catholicism took root in Mexico as early as the 1840s, as witnessed by the proliferation of associations of various types and discussions in newspapers, but was less successful in Peru. Unfortunately, Forment does not attempt to explain the differences between the two countries. He notes the differences on several occasions (‘ in contrast to Mexicans, the overwhelming majority of Peruvians remained attached to their old authoritarian habits ’ (p. 130) ; ‘associative life in Peru nevertheless remained embryonic, and it was not nearly as stable as it had been in Mexico in the first half of the century ’ (p. 285)), and he signals some of the factors that may explain the divergence (enduring militarism and racism in Peru), but he does not explore them to any satisfactory degree. Equally problematic is the fact that Forment appears to view the development of associations or, to use his jargon, ‘ associative life ’, as evidence of democratisation and the associations as democratic in themselves (as ‘models of and models for democratic life ’ (p. xi)), in contradistinction to governments, which he sees as inherently antidemocratic, thus leading to the conclusion : ‘democratic life had become rooted throughout public life except in political society, which remained under the control of authoritarian groups’ (p. 440). How this squares, for Peru at least, with the fact that ‘ the vast majority of voluntary groups in the country excluded indigenous peoples, blacks, and Chinese, marginalized mixed bloods, and remained relatively hierarchical in terms of the practice of democracy in daily life ’ (p. 285) is left unexplored beyond noting that ‘ in Latin America, the citizenry’s habits pertaining to marginalized groups remained the least changed (most mechanistic) ’ (p. 437).

The theoretical shortcomings are matched by organisational and methodological weaknesses. In the core section of the book, Forment marshals considerable ‘ historical evidence’ to support his thesis. However, the organisation and presentation of this evidence is unimaginative and, more important, unconvincing. Every chapter has a similar structure, with a brief presentation of the author’s data on varied forms of associations in tabular and graph form (and some maps) accompanied by a lapidary sentence the function of which, one assumes, is to summarise the chapter but which is often far from clear. Such sentences include : ‘ public life remained moribund during the occupation’ (p. 100) ; ‘ public life remained relatively stable’ (p. 241) ; ‘ public life remained relatively flat and one dimensional throughout the decade’ (p. 340). The chapters on civic associations, electoral clubs and debates in the press are not uninteresting, but they are almost exclusively descriptive. Although Forment does group his examples into different categories (say, ‘Associativepractices in Civil Society’, ‘Associative practices in Economic Society ’, etc.), the telegraphic style employed – Forment favours the term ‘ ‘‘semi-thick ’’ description ’ (p. xx) – gives one the impression of reading the author’s note cards. Too often hetakes his evidence at face value. He rarely interrogates his sources and, on occasions, infers too much from them. Or, at least, that is the impression produced by the style. In covering so much ground, it would seem, Forment is forced to paint with too broad a brush, so that many subjects in his canvas are only implied and sometimesbecome unrecognisable.

In his introduction, Forment rails against ‘the abstracted empiricism, hyperpresentism, jargonistic cant and scientism that passes for common sense in Latin American Studies ’ (p. 11), but he is himself guilty of some glib and muddled reasoning. Sentences such as ‘ like a jazz musician who improvises a new melody from an old tune, Latin Americans used their own judgment to reconcile their own vision of the future with their memory of the past in terms of the constraints and opportunities they faced in the present ’ (p. 428) are common. The noun/verb ‘practice ’ is rendered almost nonsensical by its careless use: ‘the practice of antipolitics weakened democratic life ’ (p. 359), and ‘Peruvians adopted a Jacobin notion of politics and construed themselves as ‘‘ the nation-at-arms ’’, which led them to practice democracy primarily in guerrilla groups’ (p. 365). The impression of methodological and rhetorical sloppiness is not helped by the fact that some translations are poor (in one quote Abajo el Puente, the popular name of Lima’s Rímac district on the other side of the Rímac river, becomes ‘underneath the bridge ’ (p. 222)) ; some typos have crept in (the city of Tumbes becomes Tumber (p. 378), the district of Chorrillos becomes Chorrillo (p. 381)) ; and there are a number of errors in the footnotes (the author of ‘El probabilismo en el Perú en el siglo XVIII ’ is Pablo Macera, not Luis Macera (p. 87 fn 72)).

Forment makes some bold claims for his book, both at a theoretical and at a political level. This study, he suggests, contributes to a ‘new science of politics ’ (p. xxviii). Readers are invited to consider ‘whether I have also succeeded in reviving the democratic tradition in Latin America’ (p. 12). In a sea infested by Tocquevillian ‘ egoists ’ – his short hand for ‘ guerrilla socialists ’ and ‘ neoliberals ’, who now control all positions of power in Latin America, ‘ like a pearl diver ’ (p. 14) the author heroically plunges into ‘the breach that now exists in the democratic tradition with the goal of salvaging whatever treasures remain scattered in the wreckage that is Latin American public life ’ (p. 13). He ends his book in a celebratory tone and states that ‘the most enduring contribution Latin Americans have made to the theory and practice of modern democracy is their faith in civic democracy’ (p. 422).

Forment seems to want to provide Latin Americans with ‘what Albert Hischmann calls possibilistic accounts of democratic life in the region’ (p. 8) to counteract their ‘ [diminished] capacity to imagine and practice democracy ’ (p. 4). Perhaps this flows from his contention that ‘ it was in the twentieth century, not the nineteenth, that authoritarianism became rooted in the region ’ (p. 36). He seems to suggest that, contrary to received wisdom, Latin Americans have a democratic tradition. It just happens to be different to democracy in the core countries : ‘In contrast to New Englanders, who relied on doux commerce  (economic society), and French Republicans, who relied on state governance (political society), Latin Americans relied on sociability (civil society) ’ (p. 431). Forment brings together a large body of evidence to back up his argument but his treatment of the historical evidence is unconvincing and his failure to address the fact that, as he himself admits, ‘ Latin Americans practiced democracy in daily life and ranked each other accordingly, except in the case of indigenous peoples, blacks, mixed-bloods and women’ (p. 435) raises the question of whether there is much to celebrate about Latin America’s democratic tradition.

Originally published in Journal of Latin American Studies 37:02 (2005), pp 387-389

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Versión completa del artículo que salió publicado en La República (Perú) el 7/11/12

La paz en Colombia y sus consecuencias para el Perú

Paulo Drinot

Las conversaciones de paz entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC constituyen un desarrollo positivo para Colombia y para América Latina. De tener éxito, el proceso iniciado por el presidente Juan Manuel Santos pondrá fin a uno de los conflictos armados más longevos del hemisferio occidental. El éxito dependerá de muchos factores. Si las FARC están dispuestas a negociar es, sin duda, consecuencia en buena parte de la exitosa estrategia militar (financiada por Estados Unidos en el marco del Plan Colombia) iniciada por el presidente Álvaro Uribe y continuada por el presidente Santos, la cual ha conseguido golpear duramente a la cúpula de las FARC eliminando a la mayoría de sus líderes históricos (y, en consecuencia, abriendo espacio para una nueva generación de líderes, al parecer, más moderada).

El Plan Colombia, y lo que implica en términos de la injerencia de los Estados Unidos en la política interna de un país soberano (y de la proyección del “coloso del norte” en América latina), puede no gustarnos. Pero hay que reconocer que si bien en el tema de las drogas es poco lo que se ha avanzado (mas allá de desplazar una parte de la producción de cocaína a países vecinos como el Perú) en el plano de la contrainsurgencia la estrategia ha dado resultados. Las FARC no han sido derrotadas militarmente, y en algunos frentes tienen aún muchísimo poder, pero es difícil negar que se encuentran debilitadas. A esto debemos sumar el hecho que con el fin de las guerrillas centroamericanas y de conflictos como el norirlandés o el vasco y con Cuba reorientando su política exterior y el presidente Hugo Chávez de Venezuela marcando distancias, las FARC se encuentran más aisladas que nunca. 

Ha habido otras negociaciones entre las FARC y gobiernos colombianos y todas han fracasado. Pero hay razones para pensar que esta vez el desenlace será distinto. Al incorporar en el proceso de negociación a actores como Cuba y  Venezuela (en particular al presidente Chávez) al igual que temas de fondo como la reforma agraria, Santos ha creado un marco de negociación que le permite a las FARC percibir, y presentar el proceso de paz, tanto a sus militantes como a la sociedad colombiana, como una negociación en la que ambas partes tienen algo que ganar. La habilidad política de Santos es evidente en este y otros aspectos del proceso de negociación. Si la alternativa a la opción militar es la opción política, esa opción tiene que poder ser asumida por las FARC como propia.

Sin embargo,  aún cuando el proceso culmine en una paz pactada, la pacificación de Colombia no será nada fácil. ¿Podrá la cúpula de las FARC convencer a todos sus militantes que la desmovilización es preferible a continuar la lucha armada (o el lucrativo negocio de las drogas)? ¿Podrá el estado colombiano asegurar la seguridad de los desmovilizados y de la cúpula de las FARC (a diferencia de lo que ocurrió con el M19)? De ser desmovilizados, ¿a qué se dedicarían los ex FARC? Algunos analistas advierten ya que existe la posibilidad de que surjan FARCRIM, grupos armados delincuentes análogos a las BACRIM (acrónimo para las nuevas Bandas Criminales)  surgidas  a raíz de la desmovilización de los grupos paramilitares de derecha (las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia). Una desmovilización exitosa dependerá de la capacidad del estado y de la sociedad colombiana de reincorporar a los desmovilizados a la sociedad civil (y política en el caso de los líderes). Y todo aquello dependerá de cómo se enfrentan los temas de justicia transicional (juicios, amnistías, indultos, etc.) en el proceso de negociación.

Otro tema complejo que atañe a la geopolítica regional y a los intereses geoestratégicos peruanos, es qué pasará con las fuerzas armadas colombianas, potenciadas en los últimos años por el Plan Colombia. Hoy las fuerzas armadas colombianas son la segunda en tamaño en América del sur (después de Brasil), y la mejor equipada y preparada, incluso por delante de las brasileñas. Sin frente interno, las fuerzas armadas colombianas, tanto por su tamaño como poderío, representarán un factor de desequilibro en la correlación de fuerzas en la región y en particular con los países limítrofes, entre ellos el Perú.

Por ultimo, de ser exitosa la desmovilización de las FARC, en particular en las zonas de producción de coca, es muy probable que el vacío dejado por ella  no sea efectivamente cubierto por el Estado colombiano y, más bien, sea ocupado por otros actores al margen de la ley como los carteles mexicanos, en busca de una mayor integración vertical en el negocio de las drogas. Si los carteles de Juárez y Sinaloa pasan a controlar al comercialización de la droga en Colombia, el Perú no tardaría en convertirse en un escenario más de la sangrienta “guerra contra las drogas” que venimos perdiendo todos los latinoamericanos desde hace muchos años.


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