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Review

Author(s): Christian Anglade


Review by: Christian Anglade
Source: International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 66, No.
3 (Jul., 1990), pp. 644-645
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2623190
Accessed: 27-06-2016 03:00 UTC

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Latin America and Caribbean

which are perhaps a little ill defined or impressionistic. The first is a fairly general problem with
much of the 'redemocratization' approach to Latin American politics which-almost by
definition-implies the previous existence of democratic regimes which never existed, unless one
equates democratic rule with civilian rule. There is an inherent problem in defining democracy
purely in terms of competitive party politics without entering the debate of what democracy is
about, particularly when the nature and degree of party competition is of the type exhibited by
a majority of Latin American party systems. On the other hand, examples of impressionistic
analytical categories can be found in chapter two, where little justification is given to back up the
labels (monarchical, oligarchic, sultanistic and feudal) which are used to classify contemporary
military regimes in the area.
The third chapter, on the political impact of military rule, focuses on the continuity/
discontinuity of party systems pre- and post-authoritarian rule. When the author asserts that 'the
longer military regimes remain in power, the more party systems change' (p. 70), one wonders
why the Chilean party system has resisted so well! Is it not precisely because it was both well
established and-contrary to most party systems in Latin America-representative of real social
cleavages as well? Elsewhere, the author asserts that 'regime change may make a significant
[economic] difference even if regime type does not' (p. I06) but, regrettably, without then
returning to the argument of the centrality of the state referred to earlier in the book.
The second part, on Chile, is useful and well informed. The first part is more tentative but also
much more challenging. It is always easier to write about one country than to attempt to
compare several country cases. The author addresses that challenge, despite the inherent
problems, and must be praised for her attempt to use a comparative perspective.

Christian Anglade, University of Essex

The dictionary of contemporary politics of South America. By Phil Gunson, Andrew


Thompson and Greg Chamberlain. London: Routledge. I989. 3 I4pp. Index. / 20.00. ISBN
0 4I5 02808 6.

The only criticism one can make of this handy volume is that the publishers have excluded
Central America from it and covered that other part of 'Latin' America in a separate book.
(Panama appears to be regarded as part of Central America for these purposes.) This is an
informative volume: under Chile, for example, all the main protagonists of the Allende and
Pinochet regimes have separate biographical entries, as do each of the major political parties and
groupings (including one under 'Chicago boys'). All the main figures in recent Argentine politics
are covered, including the leading military men. This book will be particularly useful for the
writer or commentator dealing with the less well known countries such as Paraguay or Bolivia.
Above all, this book will help the roving correspondent, who is assumed to be capable of
reporting and interpreting news from any country simply by going there, to avoid howlers.

David Stephen

Belize: case study for democracy in Central America. By Julio A. Fernandez. Aldershot:
Avebury. I989. II2pp. Index. fI9.50. ISBN a 566 0572I 2.

There is nothing new or original in this work. Yet the very basic aim, 'to inform and to raise
general awareness about the democratic experience' of Belize (p. i), has been somewhat achieved.
Fernandez emerges with little more than a description of Belizean political institutions and some
economic, social and international factors which impact upon them.
There are several glaring repetitions. Moreover, the work would be improved if the map on
page seven included communications, agriculture, demography etc., most of which Fernandez
discusses, or if other maps with the information were provided. However, the major deficiencies
are an uncritical acceptance of a Western, especially Reaganite, framework and a failure to analyse
the material presented. 'Democracy' (p. 46), 'revolutionary turmoil', 'political instability',
'independent' (p. i) and other terms are employed in an unqualified manner which limits

645

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