- Toward Post-Neoliberalism in Latin America?
In the first decade of the new millennium, Latin America is far from Francis Fukuyama's prediction of the end of history. At both the elite and mass levels, liberal democracy and market economics are neither the only nor necessarily the preferred models for development. In fact, democratically elected leaders such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Néstor Kirchner in Argentina, and Evo Morales in Bolivia have implemented economic policies at odds with the prescriptions of the Washington Consensus. At the same time, various social movements and leaders have emerged, [End Page 225] demanding not only the nationalization of economic resources but also new forms of political articulation beyond liberal politics. In this light, it is not surprising that interesting debates are taking place on the (re)emergence of the Latin American left and on the search for new models of development. These debates are at the heart of the six books reviewed here.
These books make strong and different contributions to scholarship on alternatives to the neoliberal paradigm in Latin America. Latin American Neostructuralism provides a detailed account of the evolution of economic thinking by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) since the end of the 1980s. Beyond Neoliberalism in Latin America? offers novel analyses of why, and to what extent, several Latin American nations have reached a turning point. This collection explicitly seeks to be interdisciplinary and includes chapters by anthropologists, geographers, political economists, and political scientists. Basing itself more squarely in political science, Challenging Neoliberalism in Latin America asks why social movements in certain countries, and not others, opposed expansion of the market economy, thus paving the way for new political alliances and left-of-center governments.
From the perspective of political science, Contemporary Latin America shows not only that the Washington Consensus had—and still has, in some countries—an important degree of popular support but also that its decline is due to ideological changes at the global level, as seen in entities such as international financial institutions (IFIs). Consistent with these findings, Governance after Neoliberalism in Latin America looks at newly emergent paradigms, with both individual and comparative analyses by specialists in political science, political economy, and development. Post-Neoliberalism in the Americas provides an overview of recent trends in economic policy in North, Central, and South America to attempt to answer the question of whether Latin America's turn to the left implies the death of neoliberalism or rather neoliberalism's inclusion of progressive alternatives. Its contributors vary greatly in orientation, representing development studies, gender studies, international relations, political economy, political science, and sociology.
In beginning, it is worth mentioning that, even though the works under review provide a good overview of recent developments in Latin America, neither Central America nor the Caribbean receives much attention. As well, despite Mexico's geopolitical importance, it is the subject of a single case study (along with two chapters comparing it to Canada in Post- Neoliberalism in the Americas). In contrast, Bolivia is accorded much attention as a paradigm of the challenges facing Latin America. One may therefore ask whether Mexico—given its close ties to the United States and its unique democratic transition—presents an exceptional trajectory, or whether instead...