Latin American Program in the News: Latin America's Cold War History

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Mar 04, 2013

This provocative book, like other recent Cold War scholarship on Latin America, ascribes centrality to the actions, ideologies, and interests of Latin Americans

themselves in defining how the Cold War played out in the region. Brands asserts that the intensity of the Cold War in Latin America was a result of a

complex interaction between ‘the global, the regional, and the local’. These overlapping conflicts sharpened after the 1959 Cuban revolution, not only because of its symbolic

inspiration to other guerrilla movements but because the Cuban government, in greater or lesser degrees of coordination with the Soviet Union, actively sought to manage and

aid revolution in other nations of the hemisphere. Brands draws on new archives in Latin America, the United States, and former Soviet bloc countries to shed light on the

ways that ‘Cuba, the United States, and the Soviet Union competed fiercely’ to take advantage of powerful currents shaping the region, among them liberation theology,

dependency theory, and the assertion of North–South (as opposed to East–West) conflict. The outcome was often ‘ruinous’ and ‘tragic’ for Latin American citizens, he

argues, but principally because of the ways that left- and right-wing extremism acted in interdependent and mutually reinforcing ways.

 

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