A History of Latin America
STUDIA MULTIETHNICA UPSALIENSIA / UPPSALA 2011
ACTA UNIVERSITATIS UPSALIENSIS
|Hernán Horna's synthesis of Latin American history includes its ethnic and cultural diversity as well as a political and economic overview. The Latin American identity and even the identities of the various national states are still in the making. The unity of Latin America remains a project. Latin America is an area of contrasts but the geographic nearness, cultural similarities, and shared historical experience constitute the region's greatest bonds. The post-Columbian world found its first miscegenation frontier in Latin America. Latin America is mostly Amerindian, African and European, and the boundaries of the contemporary national states do not necessarily coincide with their ethnic or racial boundaries. Those boundaries are the consequence of colonial domination. Latin American independence was led by Criollo or white elites and they would also become the real inheritors of colonial power. Latin America is the region of the Third World that has the oldest postcolonial period, and yet it still remains underdeveloped and not completely independent.
One of Latin America's geographic conditions is its proximity to the United States. Both the United States and Latin America were former European colonies whose post-independence periods would continue to diverge in the emerging global system. Their asymmetric power relations have not yet created a win-win relationship between the two sides of Rio Grande. It is a challenge for the leaders of the Western Hemisphere who claim to defend democracy. Although the first native school of development economics (Dependency) in the Third World was created by Latin Americans, the region remains underdeveloped. Latin America has the historic ills of Third World underdevelopment; that is, extreme poverty of the masses and the utmost affluence of socio-economic elites. Moreover, the ineffectiveness of political institutions led many Latin Americans to support individual leaders (caudillos). Certainly, the road to democracy is an uphill endeavor for the peoples of Latin America.
Key-words: anti-elites, Aztecs, caudillos, center–periphery, dependency, drug-traffic, elites, ethnicity, globalization, hegemony, Incas, Mayas, neocolonialism, populism.
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