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Two recent books offer a chance to take stock of the political and ideological state of play in Latin America.
After a reign of 14 years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died on March 5, 2013. Regardless of what follows, Chávez’s legacy, and the damage he left behind, will not be easily undone.
An annotated Foreign Affairs syllabus on Venezuela.
After the June ousting of President José Manuel Zelaya, Honduras has become a test of the Obama administration's posture toward the whole of Latin America.
The triumph of democracy was arguably the most important development of the twentieth century, in Latin America as elsewhere. But will Latin America now consolidate its representative democracies and build strong, independent institutions and vibrant, watchful civil societies?
Shifter's update to his May/June 2006 essay "In Search of Hugo Chávez."
The debate over Hugo Chávez has been dominated by opposing caricatures -- a polarization that has thwarted a sound policy response. The Venezuelan president has an autocratic streak, no viable development model, and unsettling oil-funded aspirations to hemispheric leadership. But Washington and its allies should "confront" him indirectly: by proving they have better ideas.
Shifter's update to his September/October 2004 essay "Breakdown in the Andes"
The southern Andes, long known for social volatility and economic disarray, is on the verge of chaos. This need not be cause for fatalism, however. By reengaging with the region, Washington could help turn the political crises plaguing Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia into opportunities for change.
Colombians no longer trust their government to salvage the economy, fight the drug lords, or negotiate with the rebels. A bad neighborhood is about to get worse.