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Volume 57 / Social Sciences


PAUL H. LEWIS, Professor of Political Science, Tulane University

STUDENTS OF ARGENTINE politics have recently tended to write on two broad themes: civil-military relations and the effects of President Menem's neoliberal reforms. Study of the former has resulted in some horrifying accounts regarding the proceso and its consequences. Uriarte's Almirante Cero, a vivid biography of Admiral Massera (item bi 95025186), and Juvenal's Buenos muchachos, which documents the use of common criminals for "Dirty War" operations (item bi 95025265), are the best of this genre. Sain's two-volume Los levantamientos carapintadas is a useful description of the military's attempts to justify its actions and end the human rights trials (item bi 95025539). People associated with the proceso are by no means universally unpopular in Argentina, however. Lacoste, et.al., Militares y politica describes three cases of former provincial interventors who have since been democratically elected as governors (item bi 95025190).

The controversy over neoliberalism is inseparable from the personalities of Carlos Menem and his economics minister, Domino Cavallo. There is an excellent biography of the latter in Santoro's El hacedor (item bi 95025530). Apart from the intelligentsia's usual disdain for capitalism, the uncontrolled corruption surrounding Menem's government provokes furious attacks. An accomplished example is Capalbo and Pandolfo's Todo tiene precio, a biography of one of Menem's shadiest cabinet ministers (item bi 95025167). More lighthearted is Walger's Pizza con champán (item bi 95025499), which tweaks the nouveau riche. On the other hand, "Civil-Military Relations and Argentine Democracy" by Zagorski (item bi 95002511), and Cavarozzi’s "Los partidos politicos argentinos"(item bi 96001124), give Menem high marks for reconciling two previously alienated groups, the military and the entrepreneurs, and drawing them into the democratic mainstream.

Paraguayan writers, too, tend to divide their attention between two issues: the Stroessner period and the contemporary struggle to institutionalize democracy. Miranda's Lucha armada en Paraguay (item bi 95025523) and Esteche Notario's Movimiento "14 de mayo" (item bi 95025184) describe attempts by young guerrillas to invade Paraguay from exile during the early 1960s. Trinidad Alderete, on the other hand, offers a fairly objective portrait of Gen. Stroessner at the height of his power. Pactos politicos, by Frutos and Vera (item bi 95025257), examine the caudillo politics that formed a background to the stronato. Studies of the transition to democracy tend to be journalistic and quickly dated. One exception is Borda's "Empresariado y transición a la democracia en el Paraguay," which sheds light on the role of business in politics (item bi 94009420).

In Uruguay, Latin America's most developed welfare state, the challenge of neoliberalism has produced a societal split in which the traditional two-party system has given way to a four-party system. Two new parties of the left now control the Montevideo municipal government, while the traditional Colorados and Blancos alternate as heads the national government. There is, unfortunately, no book-length study of this interesting situation, but Mieres’, "Venturas y desventuras de las izquierda uruguaya" (item bi 94009870), Perelli and Rial’s, "Las elecciones uruguayas de noviembre de 1989" (item bi 94006216), Puchet Anyul’s, "Elecciones, cambios politicos, y nuevos gobiernos en el Uruguay" (item bi 94005456) Rodriguez Larreta, "El ‘plebiscito’ municipal" (item bi 94004256) and Varela’s, "Rasgos de la permanencia" (item bi 96001125) all treat various aspects of this multi-party system.

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