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Political Science Department


Government 309 Aldo C. Vacs
Fall 2005 Ladd 319 (X 5249)
Ladd 207 Office Hours:
Tu-Th: 11:10 - 12:30 pm Tu-Th: 9:00-10:30 am
e-mail: avacs@skidmore.edu Wed: 9:00am-12:00pm

The purpose of this course is to examine the relations between the Latin American countries and the United States, including their political, strategic and economic aspects. The course reviews some of the major interpretations made about the characteristics of these relations (Western hemisphere idea, sphere of influence, hegemony, dependency, and interdependence), and analyzes some crucial historical events (Monroe Doctrine, Central American and Caribbean interventions, the Good Neighbor policy, the Cuban revolution, Alliance for Progress, Central American crisis of the 1980s, etc.) as well as some important contemporary issues (interamerican collective security, financial and trade problems, economic integration, U.S. role in Latin America's democratization, drug traffic, immigration, etc.). Special emphasis is placed on problem areas such as instability and security issues, revolutionary change, imperialism, anti-imperialism and nationalism, debt crisis and capital flows, human rights, the surge of democracy, drug policy controversies, and illegal migration.

Course requirements

Class attendance and participation are required. Attendance will be taken by signing an attendance sheet. Class participation is an important component of this course. In order to be able to participate in the discussions you must read the assignments BEFORE the day they are scheduled for analysis in class. To ensure the informed participation of most of the class in these discussions a number of short reaction papers are required.

In addition to the specified readings, students are expected to keep informed of current issues related to the topics analyzed in class. Good sources of information are major newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor) and national weekly magazines (Time, Newsweek) that can be accessed electronically. To study more in-depth certain topics and update the information contained in the texts it is recommended to consult some of the specialized journals found in the Scribner Library, including among them: Latin American Politics and Society (formerly known as the Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs), the Journal of Latin American Studies, the Latin American Research Review, and Latin American Perspectives. One of the best web sites containing information on Latin America and U.S.-Latin American relations is LANIC (Latin American Network Information Center) maintained by the University of Texas [Electronic address: http://info.lanic.utexas.edu]. There you will find the information organized by topics and countries as well as a number of links to other important sites that may be useful to consult before the class discussions, to prepare the outlines of the final papers, and to write these papers.

The discussion of issues of interest for the students that are related to the contents of the course is encouraged. In order to follow the lectures and participate in the discussions it is necessary to become familiar with the names and map locations of the Latin American countries.

* Class attendance and participation are taken into account to calculate your final grade. (20% of the grade). Unexcused absences and lack of adequate preparation for class discussions will affect your grade. Attendance will be taken by signing an attendance sheet. Class participation is an important component of this course. In order to be able to participate effectively in the discussions you must read the assignments BEFORE the day they are scheduled for analysis in class. You should read the assigned materials carefully and come to class prepared to examine them critically. Class discussion of current issues of interest for the students that are related to the contents of the course is strongly encouraged.

* Three short papers, around 5 typed pages, double space, in length. These reaction papers will be focused on readings to be analyzed in class and should present your critical reaction to the materials rather than summarizing them. These position papers should be completed in advance and delivered at the end of the session in which the issues are scheduled to be debated in class. (30% of the final grade).

* An outline of the term paper (10% of the grade). The topic is selected by the student but should be discussed in advance with the instructor. This outline should include a thesis statement, a clear enumeration of the intended contents of the paper, and a tentative bibliography (books, articles and other sources not assigned as readings in this course).

* Final research paper --around twenty (20) typed pages, double space, in length, including footnotes and bibliography-- based on your outline and following the established rules for academic research (40% of the final grade). This paper must be the result of your personal effort. All materials taken from someone else's work should be acknowledged using quotation marks and footnotes, if quoting directly, or using footnotes, if paraphrasing. Remember that plagiarism is a serious violation of the College's code of conduct. If you have any doubt concerning this aspect please consult with me about the appropriate use of footnotes or read the guide published by the Writing Center. A draft of the final paper might be presented before the end of the course for comments and suggestions.

*** Late assignments will lose half a grade point for each day they are late ***

Required Texts (available at the Skidmore shop)

Jorge I. Domínguez, ed. The Future of Inter-American Relations (New York: Routledge, 2000)

Frank Mora & Jeanne Hey (eds.), Latin American and Caribbean Foreign Policy (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)

Peter H. Smith, Talons of the Eagle. Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations. Second edition. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Other Selected Sources (useful for consultation):

Werner Baer and Donald B. Coes, eds., United States Policies and the Latin American Economies.

Victor Bulmer-Thomas and James Dunkerley, eds., The United States and Latin America: The New Agenda.

John Coatsworth & Alan Taylor, eds. Latin America and the World Economy since 1800.

Albert Fishlow and James Jones, eds. The United States and the Americas: A Twenty-First Century View

Mark T. Gilderhus. The Second Century. U.S.-Latin American Relations since 1889.

Jonathan Hartlyn, Lars Schoultz, & Augusto Varas, eds., The United States and Latin America in the 1990s: Beyond the Cold War.

M. LaRosa & F. Mora, eds. Neighborly Adversaries. Readings in U.S.-Latin American Relations.

Abraham F. Lowenthal. Partners in Conflict. The United States and Latin America.

Abraham F. Lowenthal, ed. Exporting Democracy. The U.S. and Latin America: Themes and Issues.

Abraham F. Lowenthal and Gregory F. Treverton, eds. Latin America in a New World.

John D. Martz, ed., United States Policy in Latin America: A Quarter Century of Crisis and Challenge, 1961-1986.

Kevin J. Middlebrook and Carlos Rico, eds. The United States and Latin America in the 1980s.

Harold Molineu. U.S. Policy toward Latin America. From Regionalism to Globalism.

NACLA--Report on the Americas, Report on US Policy: Window of Opportunity.

Robert A. Pastor. Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean.
-------------- Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America and the Caribbean.

Lars Schoultz, Beneath the United States. A History of U.S. Policy toward Latin America.

Schoultz, Smith, & Varas, eds., Security, Democracy and Development in U.S.-Latin American Relations.



September 8 - 15
1. The Early Setting of the Relations between Latin America and the United States: The Western Hemisphere from Independence to Cold War.

Smith: Introduction (pp. 1-8); and Part I, "The Imperial Era" (pp. 9-113).

September 20 -27
2. The Postwar Evolution of the Relations between Latin America and the United States: The Sphere of Influence during the Cold War Years.

Smith: Part II, "The Cold War" (pp. 115-216).
Mora & Hey: Chapter 1 (Covarrubias: Mexico)
September 29First Class Discussion
Topic: A Complicated Neighborhood:
Continuity and Change in the Relations between Latin America and the United States

First reaction paper due, in class, September 29, 2005


October 4 - 6
3. The Recent Evolution of the Hegemonic/Dependent Relationship
Smith: Chapter 9 ("Hegemony by Default"), pp. 217-234.
Pastor: Chapters 5, "The Bush Administration" (pp. 87-107); and 6, "The Clinton Administration" (pp.109-134)
Mora & Hey: Chapters 3 (Fagot Aviel: Nicaragua); and 4 (Sanchez: Panama)

October 11 - 18
4. New Challenges and Prospects in the Latin American - U.S. Relations.

Fishlow & Jones, eds.: Chapter 5 (Lowenthal, "United States-Latin American Relations at the Century's Turn", pp. 109-136).
Smith: Chapter 12 ("Latin America: In Quest of Alternatives"), pp. 318-352.
Mora & Hey: Chapters 10 (Hey: Ecuador); and 15 (Vacs: Argentina)

October 13: Yom Kippur (No Class)

October 20 Second Class Discussion
Topic: Conflict and Cooperation in the Post-Cold War Era: Traditional Issues and New Opportunities in Latin American-United States Relations.

Second reaction paper due, in class, October 20, 2005


October 25 - November 1
5. U.S. Economic Influence, Latin American Dependency and Integration in the Americas
Dominguez, ed: Hunter, "International Financial Institutions" (pp. 113-130); Devlin et al., Some Economic and Strategic Issues in the Face of the Emerging FTAA" (pp. 153-196); and Bouzas, "Trade and Investment Issues in the Americas" (pp. 197- 214).
Smith: Chapter 10, "The New Economic Agenda" (pp. 249-283)
Mora & Hey: Chapters 7 (Erisman: CARICOM); and 14 (Guilhon Albuquerque: Brazil)

November 1: Outline of Final Paper Due in Class

November 3 - 8
6. The Search for Democracy in Latin American-U.S. Relations: Interference vs. Cooperation

Bulmer-Thomas & Dunkerley, eds.: Chapter 6 [Cerdas Cruz, "United States Foreign Relations and the Promotion of Democracy in Latin America", pp. 123-139].
Dominguez, ed.: Issaacs, "International Assistance for Democracy" (PP. 259-286); and Muñoz, "Toward a Regime for Advancing Democracy in the Americas" (pp. 287-299)
Mora & Hey: Chapters 2 (Peeler: Costa Rica); and 13 (Morandé: Chile)

November 10 - 157. The Perception of Security Threats: Sovereignty and Intervention

Domínguez, ed.: Mares, "Securing Peace in the Americas in the Next Decade" (pp. 35-48); and Yopo, "Hemispheric Security: Toward the Twenty-First Century (pp. 49-62).
Schoultz, Smith & Varas: Chapter 1 (Varas, "Post-Cold War Security Interests and Perceptions of Threat in the Western Hemisphere"), pp. 33-56.
Mora & Hey: Chapters 5 (Fernández: Cuba); and 8 (Cardozo da Silva & Hillman: Venezuela)

November 17 Third Class Discussion
Topic: Real Threats or Imaginary Menaces: Security Concerns in the Post Cold War Years
Third reaction paper due, in class, November 17, 2005

November 22 - 299. The Issue of Migration in the Context of the Bilateral Relations.

Bulmer-Thomas & Dunkerley, eds.: Chapter 11 [Suarez-Orozco, "Latin American Immigration to the United States", pp. 227-244].
Domínguez, ed.: Mitchell, "The Future of Migration as an Issue in Inter-American Relations" (pp. 217-236); and Fernandez de Castro & Rosales, "Migration Issues" (pp. 237-258).
Smith: Chapter 11 ("Illicit Flows and Military Force"), pp. 300-317.
Mora & Hey: Chapters 1 (Covarrubias: Mexico); and 6 (Spanakos & Wiarda: The Dominican Republic)

November 23 - 27: Thanksgiving Vacation

December 1 - 68. The Problem of Drug Traffic and Transnational Crime: Policies and Controversies.

Dominguez, ed.: Griffith, "Transnational Crime in the Americas" (pp. 63-86); and Serrano, "Transnational Crime in the Western Hemisphere" (pp. 87-110)
Hartlyn, Schoultz & Varas: Chapter 9 (Bagley and Tokatlian, "Dope and Dogma: Explaining the Failure of U.S.-Latin American Drug Policies"), pp. 214-234.
Smith: Chapter 11 ("Illicit Flows and Military Force"), pp. 284-300.
Mora & Hey: Chapters 9 (Tickner: Colombia); and 12 (Quesier Morales: Bolivia)


December 8 - 13
10. From Confrontation to Cooperation in the Inter-American Context?

Domínguez, ed.: Domínguez, "The Future of Inter-American Relations: States, Challenges, and Likely Responses", pp. 3-34
Pastor: Chapter 14, "The Century of the Americas" (pp. 283-315).
Smith: "Conclusion: Structure and Change in U.S.-Latin American Relations" (pp. 353-370)

December 13, 2005: Final paper due in class