ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Left in Latin America and the Caribbean

The New Left in Latin America and the Caribbean has not only come into being, but has also survived because of manifest failures of the ruling class in several countries. Its legitimacy has been reaffi rmed through democratic elections. Strong management of natural resources, generous social and redistributive programmes, tight political control over the party apparatus as well as over the military establishment, have ensured longevity. Traditional patterns of economic collaboration have been successfully challenged by these leaders, and efforts to dislodge or discredit them have not met with great success.

The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region consists of three principal subregions: the South American continent; Central or Meso America, from Mexico to Panama; and the Caribbean. The region comprises 33 disparate countries, from tiny island states to mighty Brazil. Racial, ethnic, lingui­stic, historical, political, and economic differences have complicated ­efforts at regional integration.

In 1791, African slaves in the Caribbean revolted against their French colonisers, and on 1 January 1804, Haiti ­became the first independent country in the region. On the other hand, Brazil, the largest country in the region, achieved a peaceful transition from the Portuguese empire to its own monarchy in 1822. Independence in most of Hispanic Latin America came at a heavy price. Though debilitated by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Spanish empire would not give up its possessions without a fight. From Mexico down to Chile, ­Creole1 armies gained independence by force of arms in the course of the early 19th century. They were inspired in part by the American and French revolutions, aware of the weakness of the Spanish empire, and backed in many cases by anti-Spanish (mainly British) merce­­naries. Most of the English-speaking Caribbean states won their independence well into the 20th century. The Caribbean ­islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe, and French Guiana on the South American continent, are still French territories. The Dutch Antilles have been granted considerable autonomy, but are still ­dependent on the Netherlands for their budgets and certain aspects of their ­international affairs.

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