Latin America has been of vital importance to the United States almost since the birth of our nation, and the significance of this relationship has only increased in recent decades. But mutual understanding between these regions is lacking, even as Latin Americans are striving to promote the values of democracy in their native countries and beyond. Why has this process proved to be such a struggle, and what does the future of the region hold?
In Redeemers, acclaimed historian Enrique Krauze presents the major ideas that have formed the modern Latin American political mind during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from early postcolonial authoritarian regimes to nineteenth-century Liberalism and Conservatism, and then the impact of Socialism and Marxism as well as nationalism and indigenism and the movement toward liberal democracy of recent years. Krauze looks closely at how these ideas have been expressed in the lives of influential revolutionaries, thinkers, poets, and novelists—figures whose lives were marked by a passionate involvement in history, power, and, for some, revolution, as well as a personal commitment to love, friendship, and family. Krauze’s subjects come from across the continents. Here are the Cuban José Martí; the Argentines Che Guevara and Evita Perón; the groundbreaking political thinkers José Vasconcelos of Mexico and José Carlos Mariátegui from Peru. Writers José Enrique Rodó, Mario Vargas Llosa, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel García Márquez reinforce the importance of imagination to inspire social change.
Redeemers also highlights Mexico’s Samuel Ruiz and Subcomandante Marcos and Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez, and their influence on contemporary Latin America.
In this brilliant and deeply researched history, Enrique Krauze uses the range of these extraordinary lives to illuminate the struggle that has defined Latin American history: an ever-precarious balance between the ideal of democracy and the temptation of political messianism. Through this comprehensive collage of the distinct but interconnected experiences and views of these twelve fascinating cultural and political figures, we can better understand how this balance continues to affect Latin America today and how its nations will define themselves and relate to the larger world in the years ahead.