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Unformatted text preview: Latin American Politics Final Exam Study Guide Week 1: Introduction (Jan 16, 18) Gary Wynia, The Politics of Latin American Development , pp 46-101 Wynia sets up the idea of the major players in Latin American politics, asking four questions about any potential actor: first, who are they? (from which social class or ethnic background, etc); second, what do they want from politics, if anything?; third, what resources do they have and how do they use them to influence authorities?, and; fourth, which set of rules do they prefer and how successful are they at getting their rivals to live by them? These questions really have come to dictate the way we have looked at political actors, be they parties, unions, foreign governments (mostly the US), businesses, etc. The first actor Wynia describes is the rural elites, or the oligarchy. Though once very powerful in Latin America in terms of being able to control the rural peasantry that operated on their land, the traditional oligarchy no longer represents a significant player in the political sphere. Rural elites are generally concerned with two things: losing access to cheap labor and losing land via agrarian reform. This explains why they act in the way that they do, and why urbanization (and the subsequent rise of the labor unions) represents a nemesis for the oligarchy. Rural elites have always been able to use their local influence in the political arena, trading services for support in a clientelist model, but now with their relative ability to influence matters so diminished under the current democratic framework, much of their power has been diminished. Wynia moves on to talk about business elites. Their wishes are fairly obvious: they want the sort of protective tariffs that allow their businesses to grow without being crushed by the international markets, and want low minimum wages (or none at all) to keep costs down and profits up. This explains why they are generally seen as conservative and traditionally against the labor unions. Before turning to the masses, Wynia discusses the middle sector. He notes that many of the leaders in Latin America today are from this middle sector, showing how influential a role it has played in politics for decades. The middle sector is, according to Wynia, a key component to democracy, as they are often at the center of the push for expansion of government. While we may tend to think of the masses as a salient group, Wynia explains that this has for the most part not been the case. Race, ethnicity, regional identities, and other factors have traditionally separated the poor in Latin America from one another in terms of political cohesiveness. One way to see this is with organized labor. Organized labor represents a sort of elite within the masses, as its interests are the ones that come into play at the political level. One reason for this was the rise of populism. On the other hand, the rural poor has almost never had much say in politics, and in comparison to organized...
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course POLS W4461 taught by Professor O'neal during the Spring '07 term at Columbia.
- Spring '07
- American Politics