Latin American Politics

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Latin American Politics

Spring 2011

M 4:30-7:10

HUM 115

Ş. İlgü Özler

Office: JFT 912

Phone: 257-2635


Office Hours: M, T 2-4 or by appointment

Course Description

This class focuses on the process of political development in Latin America. Populist regimes of the 1930s faced violent coups in the 1960s in many Latin American countries. Political systems transitioned back into electoral politics starting in the 1980s. While not all countries followed the same trajectory, all Latin American countries have experienced populism, authoritarian regimes and electoral politics in some form. With primary focus on Venezuela, Chile and Mexico, we will study populism, military intervention and the transition from authoritarian to civilian rule. The three countries have different experiences in the process of democratization but also share common economic, cultural and institutional elements. A stable democratic process arose in Chile. Venezuela is going through a process of redefining Latin American populism and liberalism. And, Mexican democratization has been slow but steadily progressing faced with challenges from violence. These examples will be used to explore the international, institutional, economic and cultural explanations to Latin American political development in the 20th and 21st century.

Course Requirements

Attendance and Class Activities

You are required to attend class regularly. Everyone is expected to participate in class discussions. Unless excused in advance or you have proof of emergency, you may not miss more than one class periods without penalty. Do not come to class late. If you walk in late, you will be marked (unexcused) absent, unless you have a legitimate excuse to be late with documentation. More than 2 unexcused absences will result in a zero for participation grade.

All students are expected to participate in the discussion on that week’s readings. Given that this is a seminar class, the students are expected to understand and be ready to discuss the main questions presented and lead a meaningful discussion on the readings.
Readings (Available from Inquiring Minds Bookstore 6 Church St. New Paltz or Campus Bookstore)

You must do all the readings for the week before coming to class. Additional readings that are not included in the syllabus may be assigned by the instructor.

Required text:

1) Mexican Lives. Hellman, Judith Adler (1995). ISBN: (1-56584-178-6)

2) Pamela Constable and Arturo Valenzuela, A Nation of Enemies 1993
The rest of the readings are on Eres library or Eres class site.

Copied Articles Eres:

Blake, Charles, 2005, “Chp2: A Bird’s-Eye View of Latin American History” in Politics in Latin America, Houghton-Miflin
De La Torre, Carlos, “The ambiguous meanings of Latin American populisms.” Social Research; Summer92, Vol. 59 Issue 2, p385, 30p
Collier, David, ed. 1979. “Overview of the B-A Model” in The New Authoritarianism in Latin America, Princeton University Press.
Ellner, Steve, 2007, “Introduction” Venezuela Hugo Chavez and the Decline of an Exceptional Democracy, Rowman and Littlefield.
Ganze-Morse and Nichter. 2008. “Economic Reforms and Democracy” Comparative Political Studies, Vol 41, Issue 10 pp 1398-1426.

Krueger, Anne O. 1992. “Economic Policy Reform in Developing Countries.” Blackwell.

Mahony, “Long-Run Development and the Legacy of Colonialism in Spanish America” American Journal of Sociology, Volume 109 Number 1 (July 2003): 50–106
Mainwaring Scott and Timothy Scully. 1995. “Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America,” Stanford U. Press.
Mainwaring, Scott and Matthew Shugart. 1997. “Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America,” Cambridge University Press.
O’Donnell, Guillermo A., 1979. “Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism.” UC Berkeley.
Pastor, Manuel and Carol Wise The Lost Sexenio: Vicente Fox and the New Politics of Economic Reform in Mexico Latin American Politics and Society; Winter 2005; 47, 4
Przeworski, A. and Limongi, “Modernization: Theories and Facts,” World Politics 49.2 (1997) 155-183
Roberts, Kenneth R. “Social correlates of party system demise and populist resurgence in Venezuela” Latin American Politics and Society; Fall 2003; 45

Scully, Timothy. “Reconstituting Party Politics in Chile” in Mainwaring and Scully

Valenzuela, J. Samuel and Arturo Valenzuela. “Modernization and Dependency: Alternative Perspectives in the Study of Latin American Underdevelopment,” Comparative Politics 10 (1978): 535-557.

Weldon, Jeffrey. “Political Sources of Presidencialismo in Mexico” in Mainwaring and Schugart.
Weyland, Kurt. “Latin American Neopopulism: Neopopulism and Neoliberalism in Latin America: how much affinity?” Third World Quarterly, Vol 24, No 6, pp 1095–1115, 2003
Wynia, Gary. 1990. “Chile: democracy destroyed” in The Politics of Latin American Development. 167-192, Cambridge University Press.
Paper Requirements:

The students are required to write an 8-10 page literature review for this course on a topic of their choice that is related to Latin American Politics. After writing the literature review, the students are expected to write a proposal outlining a research design for a paper based on the literature review.

Detailed instructions on this assignment will be distributed in advance.
Feb 7 Topic Proposal due (2 points)

March 14 Bibliography due (3 points)

April 11 Literature review due (20 points)

May 9 Research Design due (5 points)

There will be two written exams. These exams are made up of essay and short answer questions. No make up exams are given unless you have a doctors note or other extreme circumstances.

Grading Policy

Mid Term Exam 25%

Final Exam 30%

Paper (see listed breakdown above): 30%

Class Participation 15%

Total 100%

You are responsible for all of the policies explained in this syllabus. Ignorance of these policies is not an acceptable excuse for failing to meet the course requirements. You are encouraged to read over this syllabus very carefully and refer to it regularly throughout the course. On rare occasion, changes in policy which supersede the syllabus may be announced in class. You are responsible for knowing any updated policies regardless of whether you were in attendance when new policies were announced.
Academic Integrity

Plagiarism of any form will not be tolerated and will result in appropriate action by the instructor. You are responsible for learning about plagiarism. If you have questions regarding academic integrity, you should approach the instructor during office hours to get further information on university’s policies.




Week 1

January 24

Introduction: History and Political Actors in Latin America

Blake, “A Bird’s-Eye View of Latin American History” (15-33)

On BB class page

Perspectives on Latin American Political Development

Week 2

(January 31)

Colonialism and Its Legacies:

Social, Economic and Political development in Latin America
Political Culture:

Modernization and Dependency

Mahony, “Long-Run Development and the Legacy of

Colonialism in Spanish America”

On BB class page
Przeworski and Limongi, “Modernization: Theories and Facts

Week 3

(February 7)

Political Economy:

Bureaucratic Authoritarianism (Paper Topic due)

Valenzuela and Valenzuela. “Modernization and Dependency: Alternative Perspectives in the Study of Latin American Underdevelopment,” 535-557
Dependency reading (TBA)

Week 4

(February 14)

Political Economy:

Liberal Reforms

Collier, David “Overview of the B-A Model” On BB class page
Ganze-Morse and Nichter, Economic Reforms and Democracy (1398-1426) on BB.

Week 5

(February 21)

Populism and Neo-populism

Carlos de la Torre, The ambiguous meanings of Latin American populisms
Kurt Weyland, Latin American Neopopulism

Week 6

(February 28)

Mid-Term exam


Week 7

(March 7)

Political Institutions: Presidential Systems

Mainwaring and Schugart. Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America1-54 and 394-437

Week 8

(March 14)

Political Institutions: Party Systems

(Bibliography due)

Mainwaring and Scully. Building Democratic Institutions 1-34 and 459-474

Week of March 21

Spring Break

Case Studies

Week 9

(March 28)

Breakdown of Democracy:


Wynia, 167-192

In Class BB

Constable and Valenzuela, A Nation of Enemies (All)

Week 10

(April 4)

Rebuilding Democracy in Chile

Scully, Reconstituting Party Politics in Chile 100-137

Week 11

(April 11)

Mexico: Economic Liberalization and transition to democracy

(Literature Review due)

Weldon, Political Sources of Presidencialismo in Mexico 225-259
Pastor and Wise, Lost Sexenio

Week 12

(April 25)

Why the PRI lost its reign

Hellman, Mexican Lives (All)

Week 13

(May 2)

Venezuela: Chavez and neo-populism

Roberts, Social correlates of party system demise and populist resurgence in Venezuela

Week 14

(May 9)

Venezuela A new era?
(Research Design due)

Ellner, Introduction: New Perspectives and Chavez Phenomenon,

Ellner and Salas, Venezuelan Exceptionalism Thesis: Separating Myth from Reality

Final Exam

Thursday, 5/16/2011


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