In This Review

Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot
Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot
By Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner, and Alvaro
Madison Books, 2000, 218 pp

Three Latin Americans team up to shred the slavish political correctness that they see dominating Latin American elites. With wicked examples, they charge their subjects with the crimes of unquestioning self-absorption, obsession with victimhood, and fondness for cliches. But this book (already a bestseller in the region) also has a serious purpose. By constantly seeking Yankee scapegoats, the authors believe, Latin Americans evade responsibility for the real economic and political problems surrounding them and work against the healthy democratic practices of consensus and reciprocal concessions. Few targets are spared as the authors take on the totalitarian illusions of Latin America's revolutionary left, the long love affair with the Cuban Revolution, liberation theology (in a chapter mischievously called "Rifles and Cassocks"), and good old Yankeephobia. Exaggerated, even unfair at times, this book nevertheless provides a rollicking good read. It ends with ten pages of pertinent quotations, including those from a "reformed" idiot (one of the authors) who has reproduced his battle cry of anti-American slogans shouted outside the White House in 1984.