Latin America Leans ForwardRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: Latin America
Enrique Krauze is a historian, director of the literary magazine Letras Libres and author of “Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America.” This article was translated by Hank Heifetz from the Spanish.
MEXICO CITY — A few months ago, I engaged in a public dialogue at Princeton with Mario Vargas Llosa, whose novels explore the troubles and horrors of Peru and Latin America. For years, Mr. Vargas Llosa held a dark and pessimistic view of the region, but Latin America’s new realities have changed his thinking.
In this new world, the Nobel laureate sees the glass as half-full; I see it as half-empty. Yet on one point we agreed perfectly: There has been major progress in Latin America, compared with a long period of military coups, civil wars, soaring inflation and financial crashes.
Latin America of late has shown a maturity without precedent in its turbulent history. Our longtime tendency toward anarchy and dictatorship has veered into formal respect for electoral democracy. Equally encouraging has been our reaction to the worldwide financial crisis. We have certainly been damaged by it, but a number of our economies have responded solidly and effectively in a way that it as admirable as it was unexpected. Along the way, many of the governments concerned have learned key lessons: never ignore social problems so long that popular violence breaks out, and always attend to the poorest and most marginalized citizens....
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