This week’s Elections seminar with Professor Lyn Ragsdale has a new time! The October 29 and November 5 sessions of the course remain at 6:30. Please contact us with any questions. Learn more here.
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Latin America: Back to the Future?
The left is again ascendant in several Latin American countries, and economic policies that failed fifty years ago are now touted as new solutions. This course will compare and contrast the situation in Argentina, Bolivia, and Venezuela with that in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru—where successes are accompanied by problems.
January 23: Henry A. Dietz, “PERU TODAY: CALMER WATERS AFTER SEVERAL STORMS”
Since the 1980s Peru has suffered economic, political, and social catastrophies; then, it returned to democratic rule and had a remarkable economic recovery. However, much remains to be done, and there are several challenges confronting the country and its current president, Alan Garcia.
Henry A. Dietz is professor of government and graduate advisor in the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has traveled to Peru many times since he first went in 1964 as a Peace Corps Volunteer. His areas of research include urban poverty and politics, civil-military relations, and political parties and party systems. He has won numerous teaching awards and is a member of the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
January 30: Robert L. Wilson, “POLITICS AND ECONOMICS: CHALLENGES FOR CONTEMPORARY BRAZIL”
For many years political leaders of Brazil have used the slogan, “O Brasil vai para frente” (Brazil moves ahead). The response from its hard-pressed population has been “Mas o povo fica atras” (but the people stay behind). For the first time in decades, economic and political progress are aligned, and the country—despite social inequalities—is on a sound footing for the future. This overview will explore the country’s remarkable regional diversity and its challenges in the near future.
Robert L. Wilson is Mike Hogg Professor of Urban Policy and associate dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. His areas of interest include public policy in Brazil and local governance in developing countries. His publications include Governance in the Americas: Decentralization, Democracy, and Subnational Government in Brazil, Mexico and the USA (forthcoming in 2008) and many articles and policy reports. Wilson has held visiting professorships in Brazil and Portugal and was inducted into the Brazilian National Order of the Southern Cross.
February 6: Raul Madrid, “EVO MORALES, THE INDIGENOUS MOVEMENT, AND DEMOCRACY IN BOLIVIA”
In 2005, Evo Morales, the leader of Bolivia’s unions of coca growers, became the first indigenous president in the country’s history. What led to Morales’ surprising electoral triumph? What do the policies of the Morales administration mean for democracy, political stability, and economic and social progress in the region?
Raul Madrid is associate professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Retiring the State: The Politics of Pension Privatization in Latin America and Beyond and a number of articles on Latin American social policy and indigenous politics. He is currently working on a book on indigenous-based political parties in Latin America.
February 13: Nicolas Shumway, “CRISTINA KIRCHNER: WHO IS SHE, WHERE DOES SHE COME FROM, WHAT DOES SHE REPRESENT, AND WHAT AWAITS HER PRESIDENCY OF ARGENTINA?”
Argentina has often been a standard-bearer for economic trends in Latin America. Now the Kirchner government has moved toward greater state control over the Argentine economy alongside several other Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Ecuador, and Brazil. With Latin America divided between those populist governments and countries pursuing free-market economics, the fate of the newly elected Cristina Kirchner and Argentina could affect policy choices around the region.
Nicolas Shumway is the Tomas Rivera Regents Professor of Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. He has published widely, is known for his work on Argentina and Latin American cultural history, and has held visiting appointments in Brazil and Argentina. He directed the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at UT and is currently chairing the department of Spanish and Portuguese.
February 20: David J. Myers, “HUGO CHAVEZ AND THE VENEZUELAN CONSTITUTION”
In order to change the Venezuelan constitution and transform the country into a “Socialist Republic.” President Hugo Chavez has tried to limit freedom of assembly, private property, and private enterprise, and has attempted to develop the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria as an alternative to Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Protestantism. In addition to transforming Venezuela’s constitution, Chavez has also tried to develop an alliance of Latin American states, allied with Iran and China, for the purpose of limiting the influence of the United States.
David J. Myers is professor of political science at Penn State University and partner in the NISOTEC Consulting Firm, which polls public opinion in Latin American political campaigns. Myers first went to Venezuela in 1967 and has returned often. His publications include seven books and many articles on electoral politics, national security, and urban government. His most recent book is The Unraveling of Representative Democracy in Venezuela (2005), coauthored with Jennifer McCoy. He has held visiting appointments in Venezuela and Brazil and has also consulted with the Council for Foreign Relations, the Department of State, and other agencies of the United States government.
February 27: Peter M. Ward, “CALDERON’S FIRST YEAR AS PRESIDENT OF MEXICO”
Felipe Calderon, supported by the business community and the upper classes in Mexico, was elected president in July 2006 in a bitterly contested election. His opponent, supported by the poor, refused to concede and roiled the country for weeks after the election. Calderon pledged to walk a central line to appease his opponents and stabilize the country. After one year of his six-year term we can begin to reflect upon whether he has done so.
Peter M. Ward holds the C. B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in U.S.–Mexico Relations at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also professor of sociology. He teaches in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Author of a number of books on housing, politics, and urban development in Mexico, he and his wife (Dr. Victoria Rodríguez) were jointly honored by the Mexican Government with the Ohtli Medal for their services to the advancement of understanding of Mexican culture and society.
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