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Varieties of Liberalism in Central America

Nation-States as Works in Progress

By Forrest D. Colburn and Arturo Cruz S.

Publication Year: 2007

Why do some countries progress while others stagnate? Why does adversity strengthen some countries and weaken others? Indeed, in this era of unprecedented movement of people, goods, and ideas, just what constitutes a nation-state? Forrest Colburn and Arturo Cruz suggest how fundamental these questions are through an exploration of the evolution of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica over the last quarter of a century, a period of intriguing, often confounding, paradoxes in Central America’s development. Offering an elegant defense of empiricism, Colburn and Cruz explore the roles of geography and political choice in constructing nations and states. Countries are shown to be unique: there are a daunting number of variables. There is causality, but not the kind that can be revealed in the laboratory or on the blackboard. Liberalism—today defined as democracy and unfettered markets—may be in vogue, but it has no inherent determinants. Democracy and market economies, when welded to the messy realities of individual countries, are compatible with many different outcomes. The world is more pluralistic in both causes and effects than either academic theories or political rhetoric suggest.

Published by: University of Texas Press

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-

We are colleagues at INCAE, Latin America’s premier graduate school of management. (Initially, INCAE was an acronym, but now it is the formal—and only—name of the institute.) Our work at INCAE has led us both to travel frequently throughout Central America, speaking to a diverse set of individuals, about an equally varied set of issues....

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. xi-xv

Why do some countries progress while others seemingly so similar stagnate? What explains abrupt changes in the tack of countries? Why does adversity strengthen some countries and weaken other countries? Probing deeper, in this era of unprecedented movement of people, goods, and ideas...

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ENIGMATIC NATION-STATES AND CONCEPTUAL NIHILISM

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pp. 1-13

In William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night or What You Will, Viola survives a shipwreck—“our ship did split.” Once washed ashore she asks, “What country, friends, is this? . . . Who governs here?” These two questions are timeless. The nation-state—the country—remains the locus of most important...

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GEOGRAPHY AND MYTH

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pp. 15-29

Over a tea in Princeton in the spring of 1942, the mathematician Paul Erdos introduced Peter Lax to Albert Einstein, saying he was a talented young Hungarian mathematician. Einstein turned to Erdos and asked, “Why mention Hungarian?”...

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LIBERALISM AND DEMOCRACY

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pp. 31-43

As a cluster of countries, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica share, in addition to a geographical corner and a cultural affinity, a commitment to rule by liberalism. The locus of decision making may always be the nation-state, but at times powerful currents or forces lead...

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UNFETTERED MARKETS

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pp. 45-60

On the eve of the Nicaraguan Revolution, in 1979, the population of Central America was estimated to be 17.4 million. A quarter of a century later, in 2004, the population had doubled, to 35 million. The most pronounced change in the economy of the five Central American countries since...

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WHAT WENT RIGHT?

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pp. 61-78

Like everywhere else, billboards in Costa Rica come and go. At the beginning of 2005, there was a huge billboard greeting travelers on the Pan-American Highway as they approached the Pacific coast showing a pretty girl drinking milk; its patriotic caption read: “The milk of always . . . the milk of...

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WHAT WENT WRONG?

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pp. 79-94

Beginning in 1936, Nicaragua was effectively headed by General Anastasio Somoza and his family for more than four decades. In January 1951, his government requested the World Bank to send a general survey mission to the country to assist in spurring economic development. The World Bank...

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CHOICES, CONSTRAINTS, IDIOSYNCRASIES, AND FORTUNE

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pp. 95-105

In the 1950s and the 1960s, there was a flurry of thinking and writing in the academies of the United States, Canada, and Western Europe about how the poor countries of the world could catch up, develop, modernize. As European colonialism...

PHOTOGRAPHY

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pp. 107-

NOTE

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pp. 109-

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 111-115

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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pp. 117-


E-ISBN-13: 9780292794801
E-ISBN-10: 0292794800
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292717206
Print-ISBN-10: 0292717202

Page Count: 136
Illustrations: 14 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2007