Dukardo Hinestrosa is a young Colombian journalist with a heart, and his heart rather than his intellect dominates this set of viñetas about Latin America. Divided into two parts—“Panorama actual de los pueblos Latinamericanos” and “Proceso histórico de los movimientos populares en América Latina—the book contains outlines of the general problems characteristic of the area in the first and then illustrates the contemporary scene in each country (including Puerto Rico and the Guianas) in the second. In the latter the author has used examples from the past to illuminate his argument and, as it is largely concerned with polities and economics, it might be more just to talk of “movimientos impopulares.”
The heroes of this book are not the machetes, the rural and urban masses, but the men who would give inspiration to the rebellion. The ghosts of Jorge Gaitán and Emiliano Zapata filter through the pages leading the masses toward a better life, which the author, an obvious humanitarian socialist, suggests can be achieved by a breakdown of the traditional society. He vigorously attacks the oligarchs, the businessmen, the military leaders, and the Church. He does not spare the United States government or its citizens who invest in Latin America, and he also attacks those who seek to bring about social change through total control by the State. In Hinestrosa’s Latin America private initiative will not be stifled, and the State will cooperate with and aid individuals in their projects.
The reader should be warned that this book is not to be read for its historical accuracies. The chapters dealing with individual countries are stimulating and challenging. But the author has a cause to plead, and he is not concerned with the correctness of his interpretation. He perhaps goes too far, e.g., when he implies that foreign companies in concert with the Dominican oligarchy planned the overthrow of Juan Bosch. In order to substantiate his position he apparently feels that economic imperialism had to be present; yet he would have been just as effective if he had used the ample evidence available to show that clerics and military leaders were involved in bringing down Bosch.
It is also interesting to note that he does not have any opinions on the economic program espoused by Lachlan Currie, an advisor to Hinestrosa’s own government. It is easy to call for agrarian reform, but what is to be done for the vast number of people who now live in urban areas? Or for those who continue to stream into the city from the countryside? The author has no answer and barely discusses this immense problem.