[Home] [Current Tables of Contents]

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]

Volume 59 / Social Sciences


ALDO C. VACS, Professor of Government, Skidmore College

WORKS REVIEWED THIS BIENNIUM on the international relations of South America (except Brazil) reaffirm a trend observed in previous years: the rising quality of academic literature published in the region and a growing emphasis on nontraditional issues, such as regional integration and economic relations, democratic consolidation and foreign policy, drug traffic, and alternative approaches to regional security. Although a significant number of publications continue to focus on traditional issues, such as border disputes and geopolitical situations, these works have been declining in quantity and their typically nationalistic biases often have been replaced by a more measured approach, calling for peaceful resolution of territorial conflicts. As in the past, most of the books and articles focus on the largest countries in the region—Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela—and are written by experts from these countries. At the same time, however, there has been a noticeable improvement in the quality and quantity of the literature on international issues produced in some of the smaller countries of the region, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Uruguay.

The challenges posed by world economic transformations, including the rise of globalization, free trade, and private financial flows, as well as problems resulting from transitions to free-market economies and the implementation of neoliberal economic programs have continued to generate interest in regional or subregional economic integration agreements, mechanisms, and institutions. As a result, an abundant literature on integration attempts has emerged in the last few years. The most frequently studied topics include opportunities and problems faced by Mercosur, the transition from the Andean Pact to the Andean Community, bilateral economic cooperation initiatives among several South American countries, and the establishment of relations between regional integration organizations and other regional or extraregional institutions. It is notable that, following the refusal of the US Congress to grant former President Clinton "fast track" authority and in the absence of appropriate US economic integration proposals with the South American countries, there has been a decline in the number of works analyzing prospects for economic associations with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Meanwhile, there has been a substantial increase in the number of publications examining subregional agreements and relations among these groups and extrahemispheric countries and organizations. Among the most interesting contributions focused on Mercosur, it is possible to mention the studies by the Fundación Centro de Estudios Políticos y Administrativos (item #bi 98007538#), Grandi and Bizzozero (item #bi 98008570#), Jaguaribe (item #bi 00002361#), Rapoport et al. (item #bi 00003547#), Recondo, ed. (item #bi 98007528#), Saccone (item #bi 99003638#), and Schonebohm (item #bi 98004276#). Valuable analyses of different aspects of the transformation of the Andean Pact into the Andean Community as well as its relations with the European Community and Mercosur can be found in Cruz Vilaça (item #bi 98004032#), Flores (item #bi 99009445#), and Rico Frontaura (item #bi 98007520#). Bilateral economic cooperation initiatives between Bolivia and Peru are cogently discussed in a work published by the Embajada de Bolivia en el Perú (item #bi 98007573#); between Chile and Argentina in a work issued by Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales CARI (item #bi 98007482#), as well as in works by Fuentes (item #bi 98007519#), and Fuentes and Martín (item #bi 99003656#). Colombian and Venezuelan initiatives are described by Delgado (item #bi 00002035#); Gerbasi (item #bi 00002031#); Lanzetta Mutis, ed. (item #bi 98007504#); Ramírez León (item #bi 00002033#), and Tarchov (item #bi 98013640#); and Colombian-Ecuadorian relations are discussed by Moreno (item #bi 99003659#) and Ramírez (item #bi 97008573#).

Most of the works on regional security contend that the end of the Cold War and the democratization of the region favored the emergence of new opportunities for security and defense cooperation and the implementation of confidence-building measures among South American countries. Among these works are the well-documented studies by Fuente (item #bi 97008262#), Hirst (item #bi 99004888#), and Kacowicz (item #bi 99003650#). The impact of post-Cold War circumstances and of domestic political democratization and economic liberalization in determining national security policies has favored growing South American participation in UN peace missions and promoted new forms of bilateral, subregional, and regional security cooperation that are perceptively appraised by different authors. Diverse aspects of Argentina's security policies and initiatives are well analyzed in the works by Brigagão and Valle Fonrouge (item #bi 00002581#), CARI (item #bi 98007493#), David and Valiente (item #bi 99007783#), Escudé and Fontana (item #bi 99004886#), Huser (item #bi 98010646#), and Larrinaga (item #bi 00006657#). Chile's democratic security policies are analyzed in Rojas Aravena (item #bi 99004887#) and Vera Castillo (item #bi 00003983#). The security dimension of the drug traffic problem and its impact on relations with the US are critically discussed in the insightful works by Gamarra on Bolivia (item #bi 98013446#); Drexler (item #bi 98007488#), Salah Chorny and Tokatlian (item #bi 98007577#), and Tokatlian on Colombia (items #bi 00004952# and #bi 99000816#); and Palmer (item #bi 99004449#) and Pardo Segovia, ed. on Peru (item #bi 99003691#). The majority of these authors criticize the US supply-side, military-oriented approach to drug control as ineffective and consider it a policy likely to generate growing political, socioeconomic, and human rights problems in the targeted countries, particularly Colombia and Peru.

Traditional issues such as border disputes and territorial claims remain the focus of numerous works, especially regarding the Ecuadorian-Peruvian, Colombian-Venezuelan, and Argentine-Chilean disputes, as well as the Argentine-British confrontation over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands. However, it is important to note that the relative number of these works has been declining and that, with some exceptions—for example, Rizzo Romano on Chile (item #bi 98007479#), Dobronski on Peru (item #bi 98007544#), Fournier Coronado on Ecuador (item #bi 98007557#), and Angeli on Colombia (item #bi 99003642#)—the aggressive nationalism of past works has been replaced by more objective attempts to analyze the territorial problems and propose mutually acceptable peaceful solutions. This moderate approach emerges clearly in some of the recent Argentine examinations of the Falklands/Malvinas conflict (Bologna (item #bi 98007541#), Cairo Carou (item #bi 98007560#), and Menéndez (item #bi 99003660#)); in several Colombian and Venezuelan analyses of their territorial dispute (Delgado (item #bi 00002035#), and Nweihed and Vásquez (item #bi 98007536#)); and even in Ecuadorian and Peruvian discussions of their most recent military confrontation and its aftermath (Lecaro Bustamante (item #bi 99003681#), and Bonilla (item #bi 98005114#)).

Another traditional topic that has resulted in an important number of interesting works are the bilateral relations established between specific South American countries and their neighbors, the US, and Western European countries. The literature on these issues has been diversified in the last few years by the welcome addition of a number of works dealing with the relations between South American countries and a number of Asian, African, and Eastern European nations and organizations. Although too numerous to be individually mentioned here, it is important to emphasize the increasing number of informative and enlightening publications devoted to the analysis of relations with the Asian Pacific nations and organizations and with the European Community and South Africa.

Go to the:

Begin a Basic Search | Begin an Expert Search

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ | Comments ]

Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian (11/01/11)