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Populism in Latin America

Second Edition

Michael L. Conniff, Kenneth Roberts, Jorge Basurto, Michael L. Conniff, Paul W. Drake, Steve Ellner

Publication Year: 2012

This updated edition of Populism in Latin America discusses new developments in populism as a political phenomenon and the emergence of new populist political figures in Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela in particular.
For more than one hundred years—from the beginning of the twentieth to the early twenty-first century—Latin American populists proved amazingly successful at gaining high office, holding on to power, maintaining their followings, and renewing their careers.  They raised more campaign money, got more voters to the polls,and held followers’ allegiances far better than traditional politicians.  Certainly some populist leaders were corrupt, others manipulated their followers, and still others disgraced themselves. Nevertheless, populist leaders were  extraordinarily effective in reaching masses of voters, and some left positive legacies for future generations.
Populism in Latin America examines the notion of populism in the political and social culture of Latin American societies as expressed through the populist leaders of several Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. This second edition also includes a new preface by Kenneth M. Roberts, professor of comparative and Latin American politics and the Robert S. Harrison Director of the Institute for the Social Sciences at Cornell University.
Jorge Basurto / Michael L. Conniff / Paul W. Drake / Steve Ellner / Joel Horowitz /
Kenneth M. Roberts / W. Frank Robinson /Ximena Sosa / Steve Stein / Kurt Weyland


Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Few political phenomena are as adaptable and resilient as populism in Latin America. Political opponents and detractors routinely proclaim populism’s demise, if not its extinction, reflecting a belief, perhaps, that populism is rooted in historical political and economic conditions that are no longer present in the region. “Modern” Latin America, it is often thought, holds no place for such ...

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pp. 1-22

Looking back upon Latin American politics in the last century, we can see certain patterns in leadership styles. In some countries, military dictators predominated. In others, old-fashioned parliamentarians rose to commanding positions. Occasionally a reformer or socialist gained dominance in the political arena. In all, Latin America displayed a wide variety of leaders of all stripes....

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1. Populism and Its Legacies in Argentina

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pp. 23-47

Populism and its aftermath have dominated the political history of modern Argentina. Much of the style and rhetoric of politics derives from populism. More important, some seemingly unbridgeable schisms in today’s society can be traced directly to populism. While populist movements attracted the support of masses of people, they simultaneously repelled major sectors of society. Populists defined themselves as the saviors of the nation and their opponents...

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2. Brazil’s Populist Republic and Beyond

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pp. 48-70

Populism began late in Brazil because entrenched antidemocratic political leaders resisted opening up the system to broader participation. But by midcentury populism reached a fever pitch. During the 1950s nearly a dozen figures fought for national office in populist fashion, and they left a major imprint on the political culture. The military takeover of 1964 brought the demise of the so-called Populist Republic, the most intense political arena in the Americas at the time....

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3. Chile’s Populism Reconsidered, 1920s–1990s

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pp. 71-85

When Chile returned to democracy at the end of the 1980s, some politicians and social scientists feared that populism would be unleashed. They were apprehensive that it might bring destabilizing and inflationary campaigns for mass mobilization and redistribution. Despite their worries, populism failed to capture center stage, reflecting its historic weakness in Chile. This essay will examine...

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4. Populism in Mexico: From Cárdenas to López Obrador

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pp. 86-109

At its very core, Mexican populism addressed the needs of the people, mainly the poorest classes. Populist policies made the masses winners in the political game, rather than losers. Populists provided more opportunities for the masses to improve their lives. Unlike the neoliberals who govern Mexico today, populists spoke for government action to achieve a more equitable distribution of...

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5. The Paths to Populism in Peru

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pp. 110-131

Populism arose in Peru in the 1930s to fill a need for a more modern, inclusive politics for the masses. The old regime could no longer respond to the powerful social and economic changes brought on by urbanization after World War I. This was especially true in and around the capital of Lima. The old political elite was morally and politically bankrupt.1...

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6. The Heyday of Radical Populism in Venezuela and Its Reappearance

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pp. 132-158

The story of populism in Venezuela centers on one movement and to a certain extent on one man, Rómulo Betancourt, the maximum leader of the party called Acción Democrática (Democratic Action—AD) for many decades. The party’s precursor organizations began among exiled students during the dictatorial regime of Juan Vicente Gómez in the 1930s. At first heavily Marxist in orientation, they shifted their public stands after Gómez’s death in 1935 and ...

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7. Populism in Ecuador: From José M. Velasco Ibarra to Rafael Correa

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pp. 159-183

Ecuador has had the second-most intense experience of populism after Brazil. However, Ecuador does not fit the typical mold of Latin American populism nor does the country display all of its characteristics. While the chapter discusses two recent populist presidents, Jaime Roldós and Lucio Gutiérrez, it concentrates on three figures who have dominated the Ecuadorian political scene since ...

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8. Panama for the Panamanians: The Populism of Arnulfo Arias Madrid

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pp. 184-200

On August 17, 1988, hundreds of thousands of Panamanians jammed the streets of the capital city to pay tribute to their most prominent and controversial leader in this century, Arnulfo Arias Madrid. His death a week earlier in Miami raised concerns for the ruling military government. Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega braced himself for the antigovernment demonstrations he believed would follow...

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9. Populism in the Age of Neoliberalism

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pp. 201-222

At the beginning of the 1980s, Latin Americans could look back upon a long history of populist politics. But did populism have a future in the region? The military regimes of the 1960s and 1970s tried to exorcise it on the grounds that it incited instability and radicalism. Would the economic crises of the 1980s deal it the coup de grâce? Populist leaders had always built support by distributing benefits to large numbers of followers. The debt crisis and the resulting...


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pp. 223-224


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pp. 225-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386139
E-ISBN-10: 0817386130
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817357092
Print-ISBN-10: 0817357092

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 8 illus.
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 2nd ed.