There must be something about Latin America which invites generalization. It could be the common Iberian ancestry-although North America's British roots do not appear to have had the same effect-or the common religion, or simply the legitimate fact of relative ignorance about too many countries which have long remained outside the mainstream of international interest. Even when there is an awareness of diversity, it is often accompanied by impatience at this unhelpful "balkanization," a desire to conceptualize the unwieldy region into an homogeneous, manageable whole. This is a problem peculiar to Latin America; an important political change-say, in Greece-is unlikely to be accepted as a valid indicator of the direction of European affairs generally, let alone as a satisfactory solution for domestic problems in France or Finland. But when a major political change takes place in a Latin American country, the immediate temptation-which few resist-is to see it not only as a portent of things to come elsewhere in Latin America, but also as a possible answer to problems faced by other nations in the region.
This certainly happened after the Cuban revolution when too many foreign observers spent much effort trying to discover which Latin American country was to become the "second Cuba"-an attitude apparently shared by influential minds within the U. S. government which, after all, decided on the invasion of Santo Domingo, presumably to save it from that fate. Equally hasty though perhaps less bizarre was the reaction to the 1964 Christian Democratic electoral victory in Chile; numerous articles, books and learned papers were published after this event, suggesting that Christian Democracy was, after all, the wave of the future for the whole region. More recently, the unorthodox behavior of the Peruvian military régime moved many to fear, or hope, that here at last was a grass-roots "Nasserism" that was going to engulf the continent.
Now it is Chile's turn once more to be cast in the unwanted role of test case, first domino (or second?) in
Loading, please wait...