The Pan-American Dream: Do Latin America's Cultural Values Discourage True Partnership with the United States and Canada?

Lawrence E. Harrison, Author
Lawrence E. Harrison, Author Basic Books $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-08916-1
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8133-3470-7
Ebook - 325 pages - 978-0-7867-5139-6
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Harrison (Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind) of course answers yes to his subtitle's question, stressing that ""the traditional Ibero-Catholic system of values and attitudes"" fosters authoritarianism, orthodoxy, leisure and a present-tense orientation. Similar arguments are made about the ghetto poor here; still, many observers see an interplay between culture and environment. Thus Harrison's absorbing book, if overstated or cursory in places, helps foster a new debate, as Latin American intellectuals, long reliant on Marxist ""dependency"" theory to explain their region's faults, have now begun to probe the question of culture. After slaloming through Canada and attacking radical intellectuals of the past (which leads him to defend the United Fruit Company), Harrison devotes chapters to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, concerning all of which he is cautiously optimistic that social and political reform will continue. Noting the potential for narco-corruption, he urges that a greater effort be made to lower American domestic demand than to stop drugs at the source. He suggests an immigration policy based on skills and education, citing that non-Hispanic immigrants acculturate better to America. His advice to American policy-makers regarding Latin America is caution: work steadily to open markets and build democratic institutions. (Jan.)
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