Latin American Populism in the Twenty-first Century
Edited by Carlos de la Torre and Cynthia J. Arnson
Johns Hopkins University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2013, 416 pp.
During the twentieth century, a majority of the countries in Latin America developed market economies and representative democracies. Yet in some of these countries, the promises of a liberal society did not match the magnitude of citizens’ demands, provoking calls for democracies that were more representative and for states that were more active in the production and distribution of goods and services. Latin American leaders including Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, the Kirchners of Argentina, and even Álvaro Uribe of Colombia all rose to power partly through promises to be more effective and just in the mediation between citizen demands and state resources. Chávez shared so generously with his supporters that Venezuela’s petroleum revenues proved insufficient to cover the runaway costs. Morales, for his part, has also shared with his supporters, but he has managed to maintain budget discipline, taking advantage of high commodity export prices. De la Torre and Arnson’s volume addresses these varieties of populism, concluding with a wide-ranging essay by the editors that analyzes the continuing significance of this durable political phenomenon in Latin America.