by Ronaldo Munck
The time is ripe to (re)consider Latin America from a holistic perspective. Not all would agree with the assumption by Katz, in his broad review of current events and tendencies, that Latin America can be treated a whole, but I think it is at least a good starting point. Katz poses two alternative overarching perspectives against which he advances his own positions. One is the post-neoliberal approach, for which the Washington Consensus is well and truly in the past and a more equitable development perspective beckons. The other, which is shared to some extent by Katz but from which he distances himself in the end, is the commodities consensus view, according to which Latin America is being re-primarized under a new global order that condemns the region to extractivism rather than production. Katz recognizes that in the present global crisis Latin America is not going the way of the 1930s. Much has changed, and, for example, as he argues, Brazil has more in common with Spain than with Ecuador. The “Empire” still rules, however, and Katz mentions the various U.S. bases and involvement in the misnamed “war on drugs.” Coercion is still seen as a major means for maintaining the subjection and dependency of Latin America.
In terms of politics, Katz counterposes the center-left governments of Kirchner (Argentina) and Rousseff (Brazil) to what he sees as the more radical governments of Morales (Bolivia) and Maduro (Venezuela) in terms that some might find somewhat simplistic. He places his hopes, however, in the ALBA countries led by Cuba and Venezuela and totally dismisses the prospects of the Mercosur led by Brazil and Argentina. Analytically this has considerable merit, but it is noticeable that his focus is on the nation-state and national governments and not on …
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Latin American Perspectives
July 2015 vol. 42 no. 4 52-54