Here is an accessible compilation of 17 lively essays by senior international relations theorists that describe how Latin American nations-ever more democratic, divided, and assertive-are interacting with one another and with the fast-changing global system. The scholars generally welcome the relative decline of U.S. influence in the region; some of them pin their hopes on "U.S.-free" subregional institutions and on an emerging Brazilian diplomacy that ostensibly fosters South American solidarity. Strong chapters on the Organization of American States assess its innovative democracy promotion and election monitoring, as well as its recent paralysis (but would not have predicted the OAS's unified, if unsuccessful, efforts to restore Manuel Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras). Thomas Legler offers a compelling description of the powerful and polarizing "Chavez effect" on the region's multilateral institutions and ideological discourse. Absent from this book is an informed, sympathetic assessment of U.S. policies, but various contributors are probably correct that the future of inter-American diplomacy lies in issue-specific clusters of interested parties.
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