Please register for this online-event: firstname.lastname@example.org The United States brought the Cold War to Latin America by twice destroying Guatemalan experiments in social democracy launched
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The United States brought the Cold War to Latin America by twice destroying Guatemalan experiments in social democracy launched by Juan José Arévalo, a professor of philosophy who described his approach to governance as “spiritual socialism.” Ridiculed by US officials and overshadowed by the CIA coup of 1954 that overthrew his successor, Jacobo Árbenz, Arévalo has been largely forgotten by history, although he offered a Latin American “third way” for national development between the poles of extractive capitalism and revolutionary communism that shaped decades of violent conflict in the most unequal region in the world. This lecture connects Arévalo’s political thought to his experience while in exile in Argentina of the krausista tradition inspired by the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, a contemporary (and rival) of Hegel’s, who envisioned peaceful societies based on justice and harmony. It analyzes his writings and policy initiatives, which can be characterized by an effort to address Guatemala’s extreme levels of poverty and inequality while preserving the dignity of the individual, largely by maintaining freedom of expression and emphasizing the role of public education. It also reveals the role of the United States in thwarting Arévalo’s likely return to power in 1963 when another, forgotten coup d’état was authorized in secret by John F. Kennedy. The doppia morte of Arévalo’s vision, twice blocked by U.S. covert action, helped snuff out the possibility of a Latin American alternative in the Cold War, radicalizing the Latin American Left, fueling the Cuban Revolution’s repressive turn, and contributing to an era marked by shocking levels of violence in the Central American civil wars.
Bio: Max Paul Friedman is Professor of History and International Relations at American University in Washington. He holds a PhD from UC Berkeley and a BA from Oberlin College. He is the author of the prize-winning book Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Rethinking Anti-Americanism: The History of an Exceptional Concept in American Foreign Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2012). He is co-editor of Partisan Histories: The Past in Contemporary Global Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and the forthcoming Cambridge History of America and the World.
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