“Such willingness to criticize the regional failures of the right, the left, and the U.S. is refreshing, as is the author’s clear concern for the poor. A work of unabashed capitalism unashamed to speak truth to capitalists, this is an important work of political economy.”
“Engaging and well-reasoned analysis.”
“Of interest to those already committed to the unrestrained-market platform. But will the caudillos, comunistas, and capitalistas listen?”
Since the collapse of the Argentine economy in 2002, experts have been asking: what went wrong? In LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; February 2005; $25.00), Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Latin America’s foremost political journalist, shows that what went wrong in Argentina has in fact gone wrong all over the continent for over five hundred years. He explains how the republics of the nineteenth century and the revolutions of the twentiethpopulist uprisings, Marxist coups, state takeovers, and First World-sponsored privatizationhave all run up against the oligarchic legacy of statism. Illiberal elites backed by the United States and Europe have perpetuated what he calls the “five principles of oppression” in order to maintain their hold on power. The region has become “a laboratory for political and economic suicide,” while comparable countries in Asia and Eastern Europe have prospered.
Alvaro Vargas Llosa divides LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA into four parts:
- In Part I, he explores the failure of Latin America, outlining the five principles of oppression: corporatism, state mercantilism, privilege, wealth transfer, and political law.
- In Part II, he examines how developed nations achieved their success and highlights elements in Latin America that point the right way.
- In Part III, he discusses every aspect of reform, ending with an assessment of the moral and cultural void into which Latin America has been thrown.
- Finally, Part IV is a call to arms, which ends with a proposal for change that establishes principles of government that might allow Latin America to change course.
The only way to change Latin America, Vargas Llosa argues, is to remove the five principles of oppression, genuinely reforming institutions and the underlying culture for the benefit of the disempowered public. In LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA, he explains how, offering hope as well as insight for all those who care for the future of this troubled region.
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