Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hugo Chávez and the Death of Populism

One of the greatest failings of the Obama administration has been the absence of a concerted effort to better understand our neighbors to the South. Not only is US foreign policy towards Latin America now almost the same as that under President GW Bush, but there is no apparent interest in learning about the ideas and intellectual trends that lead to particular forms of governing in the rest of the Americas.

The death of Hugo Chávez should give us pause to think about this lacuna in American foreign policy and in mainstream culture in general. Why is there so much ignorance about the history of ideas in Latin America, at a time when the percentage of Hispanics in the overall US population has surpassed that of African Americans, and when globalization has made the Western Hemisphere more tight-kit? The answer is that ideas from the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking areas of the continent are simply not taught and disseminated in the US. The US does this at its own peril, for this creates a cultural gulf between the two Americas, and it generates misleading policy choices that are based on simplistic, caricaturist versions of reality.

Read on here.

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