The significance of this book depends principally on the question for whom it was written. Most scholars will be disappointed by it; the essays included in this publication hardly go beyond a juxtaposition of journalistic vignettes. But for people who exert a noticeable influence on some aspects of Latin American life without possessing a meaningful background on it, this book is a must. Considering that “the original task [of this study] was to analyze major trends in Latin America during the 1970s for the Department of State” (p. 7), one might conclude that the editor has skillfully accomplished it.
The book comprises six parts where the participation of Einaudi is prominent (he wrote or coauthored ten of the fifteen papers included). The first sums up the goals of the study: to identify broad regional trends likely to condition Latin American development during the 1970s and to interpret the substance of tensions observed currently in the area. Einaudi notes that the emphasis was placed on political and institutional aspects; others like agrarian reforms, population pressures, and employment policies were omitted. The impressionistic tone of the book is set from the beginning. Alluding to productivity trends, Einaudi ambiguously says that “traditional rural production has failed to keep pace with industry, and thereby contributes indirectly to population pressures and to highly visible social inequalities” (p. 6).
The second section contains four articles, which respectively discuss the political and institutional setting that preceded the Cuban Revolution, the increasing control of violence by the central authorities, and the significance of elections in Latin America. The key thesis is that Fidelismo resulted both from the shortcomings shown by APRA-oriented movements and from the subsequent upsurge of radical and Marxist proclivities; but the data supporting this statement are patchy. Moreover, Einaudi does not explore an alternative and perhaps more fascinating thesis: Fidelismo is an ideology that mainly purported national and social reconstruction, pragmatically mingling Marxist and other elements according to different internal and external circumstances. The analyst instead insists on “the increasing sectarianism of the Cuban leadership” (p. 30), insensitive to USA attitudes toward Cuba during the crucial years of the 1960s, to the dynamics of any revolution, and to the maturity acquired by Cubans during the process. In their essay on violence, Einaudi and Ronfeldt ascertain that “overall the Latin American urban sectors are generally not revolution-oriented” (p. 37), a statement later contradicted by Maullin and Einaudi’s paper (see p. 67). I feel that an assertion conveying that “the Latin America of the 1970s may well become more politically radical than the Latin America of the 1960s with particular profound consequences for land-holding elites and for U.S. economic interests” (p. 41) would need more elaboration.
The third part touches on some remarkable pressure groups: the Church and the Military. Einaudi et al. seem aware of the internal changes undergone by the Church since the late 1950s, but they scarcely look into the complexities of the subject. Will the Church overcome the risk of fragmentation posed by some priest-workers who take their calling quite seriously? By what channels will the universalistic Church link itself to the radical nationalisms observed? Is the Church definitely committed to social transformations? Instead of dealing with these questions, the authors conclude, perhaps too naively, “that Latin Americans of the most diverse political views were receptive to John F. Kennedy on the simple basis that he was a Catholic illustrates the potential for Catholicism as a link between North and South America” (p. 94).
Incompleteness features too the article written by Einaudi and Stepan on the Brazilian and Peruvian military. No effort is made to depict their different ideological leanings and status both in their own countries and in Latin America.
Economic matters are skillfully considered in the fourth section of this book. Schydlowsky presents the case for an export-oriented industrialization, stating quite daringly that “an important element in government policy to develop export markets must consist of the inducement, by carrot and/or stick, for multinational enterprises to become active users of Latin American industrial goods in the rest of their multinational enterprise system” (pp. 140-141). Hunt, in turn, throws some light on the foreign investment problem. He also affords some boldness: “although growth targets may suffer, quite possibly social welfare will be increased by stringent controls on foreign investment” (p. 160). Slighton’s unimpressive note on income redistribution concludes this section.
The last two parts discuss the international setting, and they represent the most interesting portion of the book. Ronfeldt and Einaudi seem quite right in noticing that “now . . . some governments tend to view general U.S. economic hegemony, and sometimes the specific activities of particular U.S. firms, as problems or even limited” threats, “not only for economic development but also for national security” (p. 187); nevertheless, they do not elaborate. In his last paper, Einaudi cogently perceives that both the U.S. and Latin America are reacting “with the reflexes of the past,” and he points out different ways for their reaching a more enlightening atmosphere.
Summing up, this book represents a meagre contribution for scholars devoted to Latin American affairs; for policy-makers it may be of significant assistance.