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Volume 55 / Social Sciences


JOSE Z. GARCIA, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University

DURING THE EARLY 1990s some of the best writings on government and politics in Central America were historical studies that shed light on relatively unexplored subjects. Among the most impressive of these were Knut Walter's The regime of Anastasio Somoza, 1936-1956 (item bi 94002148), a major work on the Somoza regime's support structure and strategic imperatives; Harry Vanden and Gary Prevost's Democracy and socialism in Sandinista Nicaragua (item bi 93021480), an unusually non-polemical description of Sandinista democratic political theory as it evolved in power; Víctor Valle's Siembra de vientos (item bi 94002157), about formative experiences of future guerrillas in El Salvador during the 1960s; José Luis Chea's Guatemala: la cruz fragmentada (item bi 93021461), the first detailed analysis of the political role of the Catholic Church in recent Guatemalan history; Graciela García's Porque quiero seguir viviendo (item bi 93021465), a personal accounting of several decades of the labor movement in Honduras; and Manuel Solís' Costa Rica: ¿reformismo socialdemócrata o liberal? (item bi 94002156), a new thesis about the driving forces behind the ideological evolution of the Partido de Liberación Nacional (PLN).

Otherwise, reporting on human rights has improved (see especially item bi 94002147 on Guatemala), as have country-specific works on parties, elections, the prospects for democracy as in works by Salazar Mora (item bi 93021475); Córdova Macías, (item bi 93017403); Monica Toussaint (item bi 94005438); Guillermo Castro (item bi 94006394); Oscar René Vargas (item bi 93021492); and Juan Arancibia Córdova (item bi 94006397). Unfortunately the domestic politics of Guatemala, Belize, and Panama remain seriously understudied. Finally, in spite of many attempts, there is little examination and even less analysis of how Central American domestic and international politics have been affected by the same transnational forces that are affecting countries everywhere: new patterns and politics in migration, new forms of organized crime, new manifestations of de-territoriality and re-territoriality, changes in regional/local identities, new political discourses and intellectual agendas, reductions in - and in other places consolidations of - sovereignty, and so on. With few exceptions, the selection of most topics and the use of conceptual tools in works annotated below belong to the out-of-date perspectives of the 1980s.

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