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Volume 55 / Social Sciences


ALDO C. VACS, Associate Professor of Government, Skidmore College

DURING THIS BIENNIUM there has been an intensification of interest in the new context and contents of foreign policies formulated by South American nations, particularly in aspects such as their security, economy, politics, and diplomacy. We can attribute this interest to many factors, among them, the end of the Cold War, the consolidation of economic liberalism, the acceleration of the globalization and transnationalization process, and finally, the expansion of democratic trends throughout most of South America.

As a result, there has been a notable increase in the number of publications devoted to issues such as: 1) the new security challenges; 2) the reinsertion of South American countries into the world economy; and 3) the effect of international developments on the strengthening of democracy. As in the past, the majority of these works focus again on the largest countries of the region - Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela - and are written by specialists in those nations. However, the production of international relations studies in smaller countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Uruguay continues to grow, while the recent democratization of Paraguay has been accompanied by the opening of a fruitful debate on the features and prospects of its foreign policies.

There is an apparent decline in traditional subjects such as territorial confrontations and geopolitical issues as well as in the nationalistic biases often associated with such studies. Despite this decline, there continues to be a significant number of studies of territorial disputes (e.g., Argentine-British, Bolivian-Chilean, Ecuadorian-Peruvian, Colombian-Venezuelan). Other topics that have gained prominence in recent years include the impact of the end of the Cold War on regional and national security, particularly in reference to the transformation of the inter-American defense system and the problem of drug trafficking; the features and prospects of neoliberal foreign economic policies, especially as regards the integration processes, relations with Asian countries, and restructuring the links to developed economies; and the relationship between democratic regimes and international relations, as illustrated by the formulation and implementation of foreign policies by elected governments.

Among studies analyzing the overall impact of the end of the Cold War on regional security, we should note works sponsored by the Comisión Sudamericana para la Paz (items bi 93020581, bi 93020814, bi 94001644, and bi 94001650) and Gamba-Stonehouse's article (item bi 93016033). These publications offer the best appraisal of the new situation and advance reasonable policy recommendations regarding hemispheric and regional defense systems. Concerning the impact of the New World Order on foreign policies of particular countries there are some excellent works including volumes edited by Russell on Argentina (item bi 94001673), Varas on Chile (item bi 93020613), and Ferrero Costa on Peru (item bi 94001663), as well as the works by Tokatlian and Cardona on Colombia (item bi 92016356), and Abreu and Fillol on Uruguay (item bi 94001691). The security dimension of the drug problem, particularly in reference to the role played by the US, is critically assessed in articles by Andreas {et al.} (item bi 93001376), Bustamante (item bi 91028074), Goodman and Mendelson (item bi 91016662) and Perl (item bi 93021661), while important aspects of the Bolivian, Colombian, and Peruvian security dilemmas and options are adequately examined in studies by Bedregal and Viscarra (item bi 94001660), Botero (item bi 94001651), and Thornberry (item bi 91016630) respectively.

In the realm of international economic relations the most interesting contributions are those related to the study of integration processes and new links between South America and Asia's newly industrializing countries and between South America and the developed nations. Useful examinations of economic integration in the La Plata basin are found in Alimonda (item bi 93022281), Chudnovsky (item bi 93025059), Hirst (items bi 91020619 and bi 91020620), and Sánchez-Gijón (item bi 93020858) while some of the integration initiatives implemented in the Andean countries are discussed by Deustra (item bi 94003440), Ondarza Linares (item bi 93020553), Cardona {et al.} (item bi 94001679), and Carrera de la Torre (item bi 94001680). The economic role and prospects for the region in the Pacific basin are competently examined in a work edited by Armanet (item bi 94001634) while the particular cases of Chile and Peru are adequately evaluated by Valdivieso {et al.} (item bi 94001653) and Torres (item bi 92018533). The significant number of valuable publications on the current features and prospects of economic relations established by the region as well as by several individual countries with the US, Western Europe, and Japan makes it impossible to enumerate all of them but taken as a whole they indicate a long-term interest in redefining the direction and contents of trade and investment links as an essential component of the ongoing processes of economic opening and liberalization.

Interest in analyzing and explaining the relationship between a democratic regime and its foreign policies was already noted in this chapter in the previous volume (see {HLAS 53,} p. 630-632). Moreover, the increase of interest in recent years has resulted in several interesting theoretical and empirical studies. Although most authors acknowledge that the correlation between democracy and specific types of foreign policies is weak, the majority agree in pointing out: 1) the more cooperative nature of civilian administrations' initiatives vis-à-vis those of non-democratic regimes; and 2) the importance of international factors in strengthening - or weakening - these democratic regimes. Among the most valuable contributions on this topic are works by Paradiso on Argentina (item bi 94001674), Barrios Morón on Bolivia (items bi 91013652 and bi 93018284), the edition by Muñoz on Chile (item bi 93020559), Pardo and Tokatlian on Colombia (item bi 93020562), Simón on Paraguay (item bi 94001587), Kisic on Peru (item bi 93021752), and Luján on Uruguay (item bi 94003378).

The literature on territorial problems and geopolitical issues, though still much lacking in objectivity and dominated by nationalistic prejudices, includes some commendable exceptions. Among studies of territorial disputes which transcend such biases are: Borón and Faúndez's edited work (item bi 93020573) and Cardoso {et al.'s} updated edition (item bi 93020578), both on the Falklands/Malvinas conflict; Montenegro's analysis of the Bolivian-Chilean negotiations (item bi 93020606); Orrego Vicuña's edited volume on Chile-Argentina (item bi 93020571); Barrera's collection on Colombia's border relations with Ecuador and Venezuela (item bi 94001667); Valencia's study of the Ecuadorian-Peruvian dispute (item bi 94001590); Palau's analysis of Paraguay's border regions (item bi 91022457); and Granda's work on Peru's border situation (item bi 91022461). Valuable geopolitical analyses that rise above the conventional nationalistic mold are those written by Ballester (item bi 94001683) and Mercado Jarrín (item bi 94001626) as well as Child's study of the evolution and prospects of geopolitical thought in the region (item bi 92002753).

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