This article serves as an introduction to the third special issue of International Relations on Latin American politics. Following the two previous prefaces, it reviews relevant literature to map out arguments about the development of democratization in the region and its domestic and international determinants. This helps to clarify the features and novelty of the papers included in this issue.
The twenty Latin American countries of the present century have been experiencing a slow deterioration of democracy. It is noteworthy that this is not occurring in all the countries: some have maintained a responsible democratic government while others have fallen into full autocracy. The most popular explanation of this divergence is that an unconsolidated party system gives room for the rise of a radical left president, who would destroy the checks and balances among governmental bodies and limit civil liberties. However, as recent literature points out, a party system is not the only deciding factor of the fate of democracy. Constitutional arrangement of political institutions, such as de jure power given to the executive body, and public support to the government also encourages or discourages the autocratic behavior of a president. It is not still clear which of these factors is the most crucial and how they relate to each other.
As mentioned above, emphasizing the difference between Latin American politics in this century and those in the previous one runs the risk of obscuring the continuity between them. The focus on individual research topics rather than the degree of democratization of the central government as a whole sheds light on unchanged political characteristics over the centuries (e.g. persistence of sub-national authoritarianism) and the cause-and-effect relationship between them (e.g. governance reform in the 20th century as the foundation of technocrat-driven policy making in the next century).
New trends in international affairs, such as the emergence of regional organizations without the United States of America (e.g. UNASUR), growing economic influence of China, and globalization of non-governmental activities also have some influence on domestic politics. It is important to note that each international factor plays a complex role in the democratization process. For example, globalization leads to growth of transnational crime organizations that are likely to undermine civil liberties by taking a devastating toll on civil security and provoking iron fist reactions from the government. However, globalization also empowers civil society by creating transnational solidarity with victims. Finally, amid the serious fragmentation of international relations in the Americas mainly caused by ideological conflicts among the governments, the Japanese government, which has made the promotion of democracy one of its foreign policies toward Latin America, has the potential to contribute to the democratization of the countries of the region.
Determinants of the changing size of support for the Chávez administration in Venezuela is an important research subject, especially because it has an implication on the theme as to how much, and how, world capitalism determines the politics in Latin American countries. The two simplified versions of the thesis of world capitalism’s ruling power, which is plausible given that the region has had regionwide wave-like political changes, point to its determination of Latin American countries’ macroeconomic conditions and of their economic policies. Although existing studies tend to attribute the changing size of support for Chávez to macroeconomic performance and redistributive policies, they generally do not distinguish them explicitly, much less they compare them.
This paper attempts to compare them, using survey data analysis methods. With a critical review of the literature on economic voting, which predominantly has shown that retrospective “sociotropic” economic voting is the rule, I argue that these findings might be misleading and that the effects of redistributive policies should be systematically integrated into the framework of economic voting studies. I present a working hypothesis that there are those cases in whose analyses the variables of prospective pocketbook evaluation of the low-income population can show the effects of redistributive policies and that Venezuela in the Chávez era is one of these cases. An important assumption is that the combined effects of macroeconomic performance and redistributive policies, which, in turn, are highly conflicting sometimes, are crucial for the low-income population in the developing countries like Latin American ones. Comparing the determining power of the aforementioned variables with other variables, with these considerations in mind, using the data of the Latin American Popular Opinion Project (LAPOP) survey conducted in 2010, the period which I consider crucial for this essay’s theme, I preliminarily tackle with the research subject mentioned above.
A tentative conclusion is that both macroeconomic conditions and redistributive policies played a substantial part, with an implication that, although world capitalism is very important as a constraint in Latin America, each country’s political forces have choices. Methodologically, this paper tentatively shows that standard economic-voting analysis methods, under some conditions, might verify the effects of redistributive policies on voting behavior. A theoretical implication of this paper is that a certain reconsideration of the standard economic-voting framework might be in order.
This paper explores how personalization was formed in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega according to four factors: short-term, long-term, domestic, and international perspectives. Latin America and the Caribbean countries have been strongly influenced by U.S. national strategies. Thus, Nicaraguan politics is often structured by its relationship with the U.S. and regional powers. However, the final decision of political regime change is made by domestic actors. Therefore, the process of personalization must be considered in both domestic and international politics.
Populism is an important concept that explains recent personalization in Latin America. Ortega criticizes the U.S.-led globalization to gain support from the people. Furthermore, populist ruling methods are similar to those of personalized rulers. However, is there an understanding that personalization is a political phenomenon that can always be explained by populism? In fact, the study of Nicaraguan politics has emphasized not only short-term factors, such as populism, but also long-term factors such as political culture. How can the ongoing personalization in Nicaragua be explained from both the long-term and short-term factors?
The FSLN administration tried to democratize the country to get support from the international community, but this decision triggered a regime change. However, for the new administration, a coalition against the FSLN was the only factor to bind them together. This situation led to conflicts within the government, and it was difficult to efficiently manage the administration. To overcome this difficulty, the ruling party decided to cooperate with the FSLN. In this way, the FSLN returned to power; in the meantime, it had already transformed into Ortega’s personal party. The pact between the ruling party and the FSLN determined Ortega’s return to power. Since then, Ortega has personalized not only his party but also its political regime with a skillful diplomatic dance between regional major powers and the U.S. This tendency has accelerated by less support from international society.
The analysis shows unequivocally that domestic and international factors always had an impact on political regime change in Nicaragua. However, personalization is formed mainly by domestic factors, and external factors have reinforced the domestic movement in Nicaragua. In addition, this study shows that it is difficult to explain the process of Ortega’s personalization according to short-term factors such as populism. Instead, it is a long-term factor, such as a traditional power-sharing method in a duopoly, that pushed Ortega’s personalization forward. The interaction of these four factors defines Nicaragua’s personalization.
This article identifies the characteristics of transitional justice (TJ) in Latin America compared to other world regions and explores the causes of such characteristics. The author highlights seven discernible aspects in TJ as practiced in Latin America. First, Latin America pioneered the current wave of TJ in the mid-1980s. Consequently, the Latin American experience inspired and contributed to the development of the TJ “field” at the global level. Truth commissions and “the right to the truth” may be counted among such contributions. Further, numerous perpetrators were successfully prosecuted in Latin America, perhaps on par with the Western Balkans. Second, the “post-authoritarian type” predominates in Latin America’s TJ, as opposed to the “post-conflict type.” Only four countries, i.e., El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and Colombia, had “post-conflict TJ.” Third, the punishments of the perpetrators were almost exclusively assumed by the national courts rather than international or hybrid courts. Nevertheless, prosecutions in the national courts of foreign countries had some significance. Fourth, regional human rights institutions, i.e., the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, were instrumental in advancing victims’ rights. Fifth, domestic factors were far more important than international factors in Latin America’s TJ. The limited international involvement may be explained by the pioneering character of Latin America’s TJ (as the international community only began to involve itself in TJ in the 1990s). More importantly, it may be attributable to the predominance of the “post-authoritarian type” (because the international community often serves as a mediator in internal armed conflict, but not in democratization settings). Sixth, the driving force of TJ in Latin America has been victims and their supporters, especially domestic human rights NGOs, which were far more instrumental than international and foreign NGOs in advancing TJ in their countries. Seventh, in Latin America, the principal demands of victims were the punishment of the perpetrators and the truth, although this conclusion should be qualified by several important caveats provided in the article. The truth can be divided between the “micro truth” (what happened to the particular victims) and the “macro truth” (the overall pattern of human rights violations and war crimes in the country). The victims were eager to discover the micro truth and, although most knew the macro truth, they demanded that it be recognized by the state and society. The article advocates for considering the Latin American experience to obtain a less skewed and more diversified representation of TJ around the world.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the following regional integrations were established in Latin America: ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), and CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). Initially, these new forums demonstrated a strong will to challenge U.S. hegemony and neoliberalism. However, their activities stagnated to the point of collapse in the mid-2010s, which weakened the political independence of Latin American nations.
The failure of these post-neoliberal integrations tends to be considered a failure of the left governments’ national projects. However, it should be noted that the concept of anti-hegemonic integration was already present in Brazil in the 1990s, much before the region’s move to the left. Post-neoliberal integration expanded throughout the continent and successfully promoted the integration process. However, the ultimate goal of enforcing the states’ role and capacity by establishing new schemas of integration was not derived solely from left ideology in the post-neoliberal era.
It is important to note that by joining in regional integration, Latin American nations pursue not regional but national interests. In other words, the integration process develops only under the condition that each nation considers the objects of the integration to be compatible with national interests. Therefore, the consensus mechanism was highly emphasized in UNASUR’s and CELAC’s decision-making processes. This characteristic contributed to sustaining unity in the region but prevented the establishment of measures to resolve political disputes between member nations, eroding efficiency and the raison d’être of the organizations.
It is worth analyzing how regional integration succeeded from 2000–2010. In order to achieve integration, Latin American nations needed an international circumstance unhampered by hegemonic powers or external obstacles. For example, Latin American states benefitted from an increase in national revenue due to the increased prices of natural resources in the international market. Additionally, the U.S. government did not focus on hemispheric matters after the September 11 attacks, choosing to concentrate its foreign policy on combatting terrorism.
The UNASUR process finally deadlocked when Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro was accused of leading an authoritarian administration and destroyed the atmosphere of regional cooperation. Nevertheless, South American nations never returned to the traditional Inter-American system promoted by the U.S. Rather, they sought to establish a new forum, PROSUR (Forum for the Progress and Development of South America), to maintain their own cooperation schema.
The purpose of this article is to analyze how China has been involved in Brazil’s climate change policies that promote renewable energy. In the 2000s, Latin American countries began implementing economic development with technical and financial strategic partnerships with China. From this situation, it is argued that China created new dominant and subordinate relations to replace the United States, and thus became involved in the economic development of Latin America.
However, previous studies on strategic partnerships such as Xu (2015), Wise (2020) have not thoroughly explained the dimension of “sustainability,” although some have focused on economic and trade policies. There were challenges, such as underestimating the aim and autonomy of recipient countries, considering how Latin American countries that accepted China’s involvement became subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party.
To overcome the challenges of the previous studies, this article describes China-Brazil relations about climate change policies in the Brazilian administrations of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, Dilma Vana Rousseff, and Michel Miguel Temer Lulia. First, The Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping eras turned when China began working on domestic environmental recovery. Meanwhile, in Brazil, the Lula administration had begun full-scale utilization of strategic partnerships with China and established cooperation in climate change policies based on multilateral and bilateral dialogues. The Rousseff administration upgraded its strategic partnership with China after hosting The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), entered into the Paris Agreement, and promoted domestic renewable energy policies, in which China was also involved. Then the Temer administration announced to deepen its pragmatic “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with China after it transitioned power. China strengthened its involvement in Brazil’s climate change policies by launching the “Green Belt and Road Initiative”, including the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
This process resulted in this article discovering that Brazil will maintain its economic dependence on China even if the administration’s political position changes due to transition of government. However, this article shows that Brazil utilizes China’s diplomatic strategy when involved in other countries’ policies. Brazil also has the autonomy to adjust its interests between China and other members in multilateral negotiations by utilizing the negotiation grounds of strategic partnerships such as the China-Brazil Commission of High Level of Agreement and Cooperation (COSBAN), BRICS Summit.
The theoretical implication is that the inclusion of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development in the strategic cooperation between China and Brazil also promotes comprehensive cooperation between the two. However, China’s deeper involvement in Brazil’s climate change polices might also promote negatively “Environmental Authoritarianism.”
In the 1950s, Cuba was Japan’s primary sugar supplier but maintained a protectionist policy that prevented the entry of Japanese textiles. This situation resulted in a constant trade deficit for the Japanese side. Thus, to resolve this situation, in July 1954, the Yoshida administration (1948–1954) sought to sign a trade agreement with Cuba that would eliminate such discriminatory policies and offered to Havana to buy a fixed annual amount of sugar. However, the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952–1959) maintained a non-cooperative position. In the end, Japan canceled the negotiations, and both the trade deficit and the discriminatory policies continued for several years. This situation changed with the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionary government took a favorable position towards Japan. Thus, in June 1959, a Cuban mission headed by Ernesto “Che” Guevara visited Japan. The main goal of this “famous revolutionary” was to investigate the possibility of establishing a trade agreement with the Kishi administration (1957–1960) and guarantee the continuity of Japanese importing Cuban sugar. In the end, Japan could not sign the trade agreement with Guevara’s mission, but the Kishi administration understood that the Cuban revolutionary government was willing to negotiate. Thus, in February 1960, both countries began formal negotiations and two months later signed the Agreement on Commerce between Japan and the Republic of Cuba, eliminating the discriminatory policy.
In this sense, Guevara’s mission represented a turning point in postwar Japan-Cuban relations. However, many preliminary studies, especially the biography of Guevara written by Toru Miyoshi (1971), have considered that the Kishi administration had belittled Cuba. But, was this situation true? This paper seeks to reexamine Guevara’s visit through sources in the diplomatic research in Japan, Cuba, and United States, and demonstrate the importance of Japanese-Cuban relations in Japanese diplomatic history studies. It should be noted that there are few studies on Japanese diplomatic history towards Latin American countries, using primary diplomatic sources. This paper also seeks to contribute to the increase of new studies in that area.
The first section evaluates the literature about Guevara’s visit. Then, the second reconstructs the Japanese-Cuban relations before the Cuban Revolution, to demonstrate the existing conflict between Japan and Batista. Finally, the third section analyzes the Kishi administration policy towards Guevara’s mission.
The main conclusion is that the analysis of various diplomatic sources shows that the Kishi administration was interested in Cuban and wanted to complete a trade agreement. In this sense, Japan never actually looked down upon Guevara’s visit, as much of the literature has suggested.
The year 2019 was the 151st anniversary of Japanese overseas migration: mainly in the Americas but also worldwide, including Japan. According to the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad, the total number of Nikkei is roughly 3,800,000: some 2,240,000 in LAC. Firstly Brazil (some 1,190,000), then the U.S.A. (some 1,330,000 including Hawaii (240,000)), thirdly Japan (some 250,000), fourthly Canada (some 120,000), fifthly Peru (some 100,000). The Revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in 1990, extended domestic employment privileges to second and third generation Japanese descendants who travel between Japan and LAC and contribute to exchange and interaction.
Japanese overseas migration was one of the ways to resolve domestic overpopulation and poverty but national high economic growth stopped this. Later third and forth generations took their place in Nikkei societies. The “Report of the Panel of Experts on Collaborating with Communities of Japanese Immigrants and Descendants (“Nikkei”) in Latin America and the Caribbean” May 9, 2017 was presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thus the Japanese Government has been achieving a partnership with Nikkei communities in LAC in an “All-Japan” style.
This article focuses on this diplomatic policy with Nikkei communities, and will consider the impact on Japanese diplomatic negotiations through Nikkei networks in LAC and other regions, as bilateral as well as multilateral diplomacy. To consider such multilateral diplomatic negotiations, we have collected documents on participant observations and have analyzed three international conventions: the 19th Pan American Nikkei Convention 2017 (Lima), the 59th Convention of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad (Honolulu) and the 20th Pan American Nikkei Convention (San Francisco).
Analysis results: over 3 days in each convention, participants shared the same history of host Nikkei societies and formed a Nikkei consciousness by staying and eating in the same hotels, etc. On this common foundation, the network between the Americas and Japan fosters Nikkei bonding. At these conventions participants discuss what “Nikkei” means. Proof that Nikkei people reflect on their own position in changing international affairs. Therefore, when we consider a partnership with Nikkei, collaboration with them helps us find universal solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s global goals, in which they can flourish and become a bridge between Japan and other countries.
Specifically, how to collaborate with Nikkei people depends on each country’s situation. Considering individual differences, we can extract a type of success by Nikkei people in the Americas. They are good at technological advancement, and especially agricultural technology, development and production. Nikkei people had to improve themselves and are appreciated for their success in surviving in their host country. Their Nikkei legacy thus underlines the importance of “Gaman (patience)” and “Okagesama (gratitude)”.
Focusing on the Ashida Memorandum, this article examines the rise and fall of Japan’s security plan to station US military forces in Japan in the case of emergency. On September 13, 1947, Ashida Hitoshi, the Vice Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of the Katayama cabinet, in cooperation with high officials of the Foreign Ministry, submitted a memorandum on Japan’s security to Robert L. Eichelberger, the Commander of US 8th Army. This memorandum, while stating security cooperation between the United States and Japan, argued to secure Japan’s independence through US military forces stationing in islands surrounding Japan’s mainland in peacetime. Nevertheless, the Japanese government, after the submission of the memorandum, decided to request the maintenance of US forces in Japan even after the peace settlement. This article, using hitherto used and newly declassified primary sources of Japanese foreign and police officials, and paying attention to the impact of the police reform of late 1947, reconsiders the historical process up to the formation of post-war Japan’s security policy.
Ashida and high officials of the Foreign Ministry, assuming US military forces would be withdrawn from Japan’s mainland after the peace settlement, sought to get a permission from GHQ regarding the reinforcement of Japan’s police forces to deal with internal communist threats. The Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur showed a positive stance toward Ashida’s attempt. On September 3, he told the Japanese government that the Japanese police forces would be strengthened. Based on this information, Ashida and MOFA staff worked out the plan of emergency stationing of US forces. In other words, in the background of the submission of the Ashida Memorandum, there was an optimistic expectation that GHQ would permit the strengthening of the Japanese police forces in advance of the peace settlement.
Nevertheless, simultaneous with the submission of this memorandum, due to the change of MacArthur’s stance, GHQ chose the large-scale de-centralization of the Japanese police system as the principle of the police reform. Therefore, on September 17, GHQ directed the Japanese government to initiate this reform. In contrast to MOFA’s expectation, due to the establishment of the new Police Law in late 1947, Japan’s internal security capability was largely restricted. In these circumstances, the Japanese government was forced to depend on US military forces to maintain Japan’s internal security. Therefore, Yoshida Shigeru, after coming into power in late 1948, chose to deal with internal communist threats by maintaining US military presence in Japan’s mainland. Through examining the interrelation between internal and external issues, this article argues that internal security calculation was an important rationale behind the formation of the postwar US-Japan security partnership.
The 1973 energy crisis demonstrated the thriving influence of oil producer countries while also marking the termination of the Anglo-American led oil order. This literature examines the then Prime Minister Edward Heath’s reactions to the crisis, contending that Heath’s government formulated a two-faced oil policy. On the one hand, it supported America’s initiative to form a consumer front in order to confront the producers’ attempt to raise oil prices, while on the other hand, it developed bilateral deals in order to build inter-dependent relationships with the Arab oil producers. This admittedly challenges the accepted views in the literatures in oil history and Anglo-American history. The commentators in the former realm believe that the nature of the relationship between oil majors and the British government had been changing due to their different interests in North Sea Oil, which interrupted the government’s policy-making for the long-term basis. This resulted in Heath’s ad hoc reactions to the crisis, which forced the government to seek bilateral deals with the producers in order to cover the oil loss. In a similar vein, the commentators related to the latter tend to consider that Heath’s attempt to harmonise its Middle East policy to that of the French aggravated the Anglo-American relationship and Britain was not in a position where it took a collaborative action with the United States. This literature, however, points out a distinct chasm between research in the oil history and Anglo-American history during this period. It focuses on viewing both fields not as distinct areas but as part of the whole, thereby exposing subtle nuances in British duplicitous policy during the period. Precisely, by analysing communications between Heath, his advisors and executive members of oil majors before the oil crisis, it clarifies that most of them believed that the British interest in oil market would be aggrandised through collaborative operations with the Untied States, while Heath, seeing the changing balance of power in the oil order, developed bilateral deals with Arab oil producers in cooperation with France. It subsequently examines Heath’s Middle East policy during and after the Yom Kippur War, where the pro-American thinking was buttressed by the FCO’s idea that Britain should support the US peace initiative. Heath finally showed a middle ground based on the policymaking before the crisis, leading Britain to support America’s oil initiative while also finding its position in a new oil order by promoting the relationship with producers, the policy of which was far from extemporaneous. Despite the ambiguousness, the nuanced statecraft was imperative for maintaining British interests between the conflicting agendas of the United States, France and producer countries.