These essays, 11 country reviews and two general essays prepared jointly by the editors, argue that the brief period from the end of World War II to the onset of the Cold War was a defining one in Latin America's political and social history. As the war ended, Latin America seemed poised to begin a period of democratic growth, involving greater working-class participation in politics, social and economic improvements for the poor, and industrial growth. But what seemed an auspicious moment for social democratic forces soon gave way in most countries to authoritarian repression, restrictions on the left, military coups and conservative consolidation. This illuminating volume analyzes why this occurred, concentrating on the interplay between domestic economic and social actors and the influence of U.S. policy.
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