Five experts on Latin America will discuss the political, economic and social situation in five South American countries. There will be time for questions at each session.
Monday, March 29: Nicolas Shumway: Argentina
In the 1990’s, Argentina began privatizing state-owned companies and reorganizing its economy in accordance with IMF policies. Even so, its economy later went into a tailspin, it had four presidents in a matter of weeks, and it defaulted on its international debt for the second time in 20 years. Argentina has a well educated population, largely of European extraction, and ample natural resources, but most Argentines have lost faith in its political system. Can the current government, returning to the policies of the 1980’s, restore the people’s faith? Dr. Shumway is director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas and author of numerous articles on Latin American topics and the prize-winning book, The Invention of Argentina.
Thursday, April 8: Roberto Laserna:Bolivia
Bolivia is Latin America’s poorest country and its most ethnically diverse. A peasant uprising recently forced out its U.S.-educated president because he proposed to export natural gas to the U.S. Bolivians are at the forefront of the backlash against globalization that is now sweeping Latin America. Dr. Laserna, currently visiting professor in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs antifriction, is on leave as a tenured professor in economics and sociology at Universidad Mayor de San Simon in Bolivia. He is also president of an applied research center in validating the field of institutional reforms, economic policies and sustainable development.
Monday, April 12: David J. Myers: Venezuela
Venezuela’s current president, Hugo Chavez, was elected with the overwhelming support of Venezuela’s poor and dispossessed. He has since politicized Venezuela’s national oil company, second largest supplier of oil to the U.S., and alienated the middle class, who fear that he is becoming a leftist dictator. Political events in this country could have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy. Dr. Myers will discuss the current state of Venezuela’s democracy and what it will signify for Latin America. Dr. Myers, an associate professor of political science at the Pennsylvania State University, has served in the office of the Secretary of Defense as a consultant on Latin American affairs. He is the co-author of Capital City Politics in Latin America.
Monday, April 19: Henry Dietz: Peru
Peru, still recovering from the murderous Shining Path terrorism of the early 1990’s, is now at a crossroads. Its economy is beginning to recover but is still fragile. President Fujimori, began by defeating the Shining Path, but veered toward corruption and dictatorship, and his presidency ended after he fled the country. Alejandro Toledo, the U.S.-educated current president, has overpromised and underdelivered. What may be next for Peru? Dr. Dietz, a Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas, has worked extensively in Latin America with particular attention to Peru. He is the author of Urban Poverty, Political Participation and the State: Lima 1971-1990.
Monday, April 26: Wendy A. Hunter: Brazil
Brazil, one of the world’s largest economies, has the power to be a major player on the international scene. President Luis Da Silva is a former leftist who has demonstrated the ability to work within a free-market system. Brazil may well determine the direction that many other Latin American countries take in the next decade, but it has serious urban, environmental and crime problems. Dr. Hunter, an associate professor of government at the University of Texas, is the author of Eroding Military Influence in Brazil: Politicians Against Soldiers and a recent recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Faculty Fellowship in Latin American Studies.