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The Southern Cone Countries of South America: A Comparative Sociological Analysis. Ted Goertzel Sociology Department Rutgers University, Camden NJ. The “Southern Cone” countries considered here are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. .

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the southern cone countries of south america a comparative sociological analysis

The Southern Cone Countries of South America:A Comparative Sociological Analysis

Ted Goertzel

Sociology Department

Rutgers University, Camden NJ


The “Southern Cone” countries considered here are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.


The largest

country, Brazil,

has its major


centers in the

South although

it is often

better known

for the


and Amazon


andean region
Andean Region
  • There are, of course, other ways to divide up a region
  • Bolivia, for example, could be treated as part of an Andean region with Peru and Ecuador
  • But the five “Southern Cone” countries provide an interesting comparison.
comparative perspective culture
Is “Latin America” a civilization of its own or part of Western civilization (Huntington, “Clash of Civilizations)?

Portuguese versus Spanish cultural heritage

Quechua and Guarani and other native American cultures especially in Bolivia and Paraguay

Each country has its own “national culture”

Comparative PerspectiveCulture

Anglo America

Hispano America

comparative perspective economics
All are “developing nations” or part of the “South” or “Third World

But the differences in levels of economic development may be greater than the similarities

Recurrent conflicts between adherents of nationalist, social democratic and “neoliberal” economic models

Corruption, government inefficiency and inflation are recurrent problems

Comparative PerspectiveEconomics

Gross National Product in 1995 Dollars







comparative perspective politics
All are democracies with republican constitutions

All have a history of military dictatorship in recent decades

Political party systems differ greatly

Comparative PerspectivePolitics
  • Political traditions and social movements are rooted in each country’s history
  • Political instability makes the quality of leadership more important than in North America or Europe

Democratic transition from from Fernando Henrique Cardoso to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as President of Brazil, January 1, 2003


The Scapegoat:

Finance Minister Domingo Cavallo

Unemployed Youth Protest

January 2002 (AFP)

Argentina 2001/2002

Economic Collapse


Salvador Allende President of Chile

Killed in 1973

Military Coup

General Pinochet

leader of the 1973 coup

on trial in 2003

From La Jiribilla, Havana, Cuba

  • Predominately European immigrants
  • Was as wealthy as Canada in 1900, one third as wealthy in 1990
  • Statist policies and political instability inhibited growth
  • Liberalization in the 1990s led to 2001 collapse due to corrupt leadership

President Nestor Kirchner, a Peronist from Patagonia, is fighting police corruption and keeping the lid on things

  • The economy has recovered with the fiscal stability
  • People do not seem to be expecting dramatic solutions to their problems
  • Increasing frustration with leftist demonstrators who block intersections causing massive traffic jams
  • Population 35% Quechua, 30% mestizo 25% Aymara 15% white
  • Market-oriented reforms successful from 1993-1997
  • Economic downturn and coca eradication led to major civil disturbances in 2000 and 2002
  • Strong nationalist and movements opposed to export of natural gas

Continued resentment of the loss of the Arica port to Chile in 2884


The rebellion in Bolivia offers inspiration to anti-globalization activists who see it as a hopeful sign of global rebellion against the world capitalist system


President Gonzalo Sanchez de Morales or Goni is forced to resign

President Carlos Mesa takes over

Evo Morales leader of Bolivia’s coca growers.



  • Population is mostly mestizo, small indigenous and European groups, mostly urban
  • Salvador Allende, first Marxist elected by popular vote in Latin America, in 1970
  • Repressive military government after 1973 coup d’etat stabilizes economy and builds foundation for growth
  • After a plebiscite and 1989 elections political democracy has been stable
  • Free market-oriented economic policies have been remarkably successful
  • Population 88% white, 8% mestizo, 4% black
  • Military coup in 1973 suppressed the Tupamaro guerillas
  • Democratic governments since 1985 have struggled with inflation and debt
  • Uruguay’s economy is closely linked to Argentina’s and it was dragged down by the 2001 crisis

TUPAMARO by Roberto Muso

Soy un guacho del 63,

el barrio Palermo fue el que me vio crecer,

y ahí conocí al mago Pantaleón

que vive acá abajo por la calle Yaguarón.

Y una vuelta que andábamos remamados

dijo: "yo te puedo hacer que viajes al pasado"

pensé: "con la celeste dar la vuelta en el 50,

o ser un tupamaro de los 60".

Tupamaro, no me equivoqué

Tupamaro, yo quise ser

Tupamaro, le pedí al mago. (continues)


Tupamaro: the board game

The social movement today

  • Population 95% mestizo, Spanish and Guarani are the official languages
  • Market economy with a large informal sector, lots of smuggling to Brazil
  • Political uncertainty, corruption, and debt have inhibited economic progress
  • Dictator Alfredo Stroessner ruled from 1954 to 1989
  • Democratic elections since 2000 have focused on corruption

Partido Nacional o Blanco

Partido Colorado

Frente Ampla

National Flag

Uruguayan politics has been divided historically between the Colorado and Nacional or Blanco Parties, but the Encuento Progresista, a left-of-center united front has challenged the Colorados in recent elections.


Brazil with184 million people is larger than Spanish speaking South America.

It is a federation of Portuguese speaking states.








Populations of Southern Cone Countries


The Brazilian flag has 27 white five pointed stars, one for each state and the federal district, arranged in the same pattern as the night sky over Brazil, including the Southern Cross.

The slogan”Order and Progress” reflects the influence of Auguste Comte’s positivist theories in Brazilian social thought.


An excerpt from a description of the flag on a Brazilian WEB site. Portuguese is closely related to Spanish, but the pronunciation is different.

A legenda, escrita em verde, "Ordem e Progresso", é um resumo do lema de Auguste Comte, criador do Positivismo, do qual Teixeira Mendes era adepto. O lema completo era "o amor por princípio e a ordem por base; o progresso por fim." Segundo o próprio Teixeira Mendes, o objetivo do lema era mostrar que a revolução "não aboliu simplesmente a monarquia", mas que ela aspirava "fundar uma pátria de verdadeiros irmãos, dando à Ordem e ao Progresso todas as garantias que a história nos demonstra serem necessárias à sua permanente harmonia.”


January 1, 2003

Democratic transition from from Fernando Henrique Cardoso to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Lula da Silva

Born 27 Oct 1945 in the interior of Pernambuco

Seventh of eight children

Father left for São Paulo and his wife’s cousin just before Lula was born

Raised in extreme poverty in the interior of Pernambuco

Mother, Dona Lindu, the dominant influence in his childhood

Fernando Henrique

Born 18 June 1931 in Rio de Janeiro

First born of three

Good relationship with both parents

Raised in a family with a distinguished history

Father a leftist army officer, lawyer and politician

Paternal grandmother dominant figure at home


Fernando Henrique with his mother and his paternal grandmother.

Lula at 3 years old with sister Maria. The clothes and shoes were loaned to him for the photograph.


FHC: Scion of the Aristocracy

Parents and siblings

Father beside a bust of FHC’s grandfather.

Grandfather on his white horse


Cardoso is a Social Democrat but is often stigmatized as a “neoliberal.” He was elected President in 1994 by an alliance between his Brazilian Social Democratic Party and the Party of the Liberal Front. He was sent to the Senate in1982 by the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. As a youth, he was affiliated with a cultural group of the Brazilian Communist Party.

lula on his father
Lula on His Father
  • “I feel bad about my father (tenho mágoa) because I think he was very ignorant. He was a fount of ignorance (um poço de ignorância). He died in1978 as an indigent.”
  • Lula’s father was illiterate and did not want any of his children to surpass him by going to school. He carried a newspaper to work, sometimes upside down.
  • He earned enough as a longshoreman in Santos to support two families.
lula on his mother
Lula on His Mother
  • “I thank God for my mother’s courage… At a time of great misery, my mother raised five sons who became poor but honest men and three daughters who did not have to prostitute themselves. I believe this is a very noble thing.”
  • “My mother sold her watch, her donkey, her religious statues, her family photographs, she sold everything, everything she had to leave the Northeast.”
a mother s boy
He felt humiliated and neglected by his father

He told his brothers the best thing their father ever did for them was to leave with another woman

He rebelled against his father by getting an education and having a more successful career

He cried the first time he spent a night away from his mother - on his honeymoon

His mother strongly supported his drive to get an education

He won the struggle for his mother’s love when she broke with his two-timing father

A Mother’s Boy
Lula da Silva

Mother and siblings moved to Santos in the back of a truck when he was seven

Worked as vendor, shoe shiner and delivery boy

Public elementary school

Mother separated from abusive husband, moved to São Paulo with children

Won admission to three-year training program as a lathe mechanic

Fernando Henrique

Father encouraged him to pursue his literary and intellectual interests

Did well in school, but failed Latin exam for law school

Majored in social sciences because of interest in Brazilian nationalism

Involved with an intellectual journal linked to the Communist Party


Lula with youthful friends.

Fernando Henrique with wife Ruth and son

young adulthood
Lula da Silva

Marries a fellow worker

Wife and newborn die in childbirth with poor medical care

Works as a lathe operator

Marries a widow, Marisa, who has a son

Becomes active in the metal workers union

Jailed briefly by military regime as a strike leader

Fernando Henrique

Marries a fellow student and starts a family

Joins Marxist study group with friends who become leading intellectuals

Begins academic career

Forced into comfortable exile by the 1964 military coup

Becomes intellectual star in exile in Chile and France

Young Adulthood

Arrested by the military police in 1980 during a 41 day general strike in the industrial suburbs of Sao Paulo.


Lula’s wife Marisa in front of the church where they were

married, and showing the first PT flag which she sewed.

entering politics
Lula da Silva

Decided to join the group forming the Workers Party in 1979 when the military allows multiple parties

Joins in forming an independent labor federation, the Central Única dos Trabalhadores in 1983

Joins the campaign for Direct Elections Now! in 1984

Fernando Henrique

Decides not to join the Workers Party and joins the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement

Elected as Alternate to the Senate on MDB ticket, succeeds to Senate when Franco Montoro becomes governor of São Paulo

Joins the campaign for Direct Elections Now! in 1984

Entering Politics
lula s political campaigns
Lula’s Political Campaigns
  • 1982, loses campaign for governor of São Paulo
  • 1986, elected to Constituent Assembly to draft new constitution, FHC one of the leaders
  • 1989, loses run-off for Presidency to Fernando Collor, later impeached for corruption
  • 1994, loses Presidency to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the Finance Minister who ended inflation
  • 1998, loses Presidency to Fernando Henrique Cardoso as country weathers economic storm
  • 2002, elected President of Brazil on the first round after moderating his platform

Time goes by and so many at work.

Suddenly, this clarity to notice

Who has always been sincere and to trust,

Without fear of being happy.

I want to see it come...

Lula-lá! A star is shining!

Lula-lá! Hope grows!

Lula-lá! In this child-Brazil and in the joy of embracing...

Lula-lá! With sincerity,

Lula-lá! Certainly!

Lula-lá! For you, my first vote,

Lula-lá! To make our star shine!

Lula-lá! That's we together!

Lula-lá! It was worth the wait!

Lula-lá! My first vote

To make our star shine!

("Lula lá!", by Hilton Acioly, theme-tune of the 1989 campaign).


1994 Campaign photos

Upper left with Manoelzao

Lower left with Cinta Larga

and Surui Indians





personal history
Personal History
  • FHC: His privileged family background and intellectual brilliance make it difficult for him to relate to common people, through the mass media. He is strong in one-on-one relationships.
  • Lula - His success story is inspiring and gives him the ability to empathize with common people. People of all classes really want him to succeed.
  • Lula - His mixture of radical rhetoric and pragmatic policies is rooted in his experience as a union leader and speaks to the emotional and practical needs of the Brazilian people
biographer brito alves on lula s personality
Biographer Brito Alves on Lula’s Personality
  • Restless , pugnacious, well spoken, authentic, charismatic, strong willed, persistent and determined, full of initiative, creativity and leadership spirit
  • Ethical and engaged, struggles tooth and nail for the interests of the workers
  • Has much in common with George Bush: informality, frankness and human warmth
  • Likes soap operas, magazines, cooking on a wood stove, smoking, informal socializing.
  • Emotional, cries easily, likes to touch people, doesn’t like being alone, doesn’t hold grudges
leadership traits
Leadership Traits
  • Strength - FHC and Lula are both strong leaders working in a democratic framework
  • Competence - FHC is exceptionally competent, Lula relies on advisors
  • Empathy - Lula is warm and expressive, FHC is dry and academic, perceived as “distant from the people”

Communicating feelings at a press

conference with Finance

Minister Antonio Palocci

political parties
Political Parties
  • The Workers Party is more organized and disciplined than Brazil’s other major parties, with the ideological left a marginalized minority
  • It has a reputation for honesty and idealism, sadly compromised by some recent scandals
  • Its historic base is the labor aristocracy and state employees - a sort of UAW/AFSCME merger
  • Cardoso’s Social Democratic Party has more business and middle class private sector support.
  • The other parties are more regional and careerist, often focused around leading personalities
  • Party affiliations are often fluid Brazil
  • Lula was always a “bread and butter” unionist and democrat, not a leftist ideologue
  • The term “Neoliberalism” is used as a way of expressing anti-market feelings without advocating a non-market economy.
  • “Liberalism” is a positive term as is “Socialism” but neither is used to refer to explicit policies
  • Both FHC and Lula are social democrats with similar policy goals, but it is not not expedient for Lula to admit this.
  • Lula is more sympathetic to nationalist and state-led development ideas

Lula is a social drinker whose job requires him to attend a great many social events. He also is inclined to gain weight from attending too many banquets.

  • All the countries have had problems with inflation, and inefficient and corrupt government spending. Rooted in class inequality and a history of colonial exploitation
  • All have debt and fiscal problems
  • All had a history of radical movements and military regimes and have democratized
  • All have adopted a version of free market economic policies despite popular reluctance
  • All have some nostalgia for a “national project” and reluctance to join the global system
  • All have more leftist political cultures than the United States
  • Bolivia has a major social division between the white and indigenous populations which has made the political problems more difficult
  • Argentina seems to have a more severe political divisions and worse problems with corruption and poor leadership
  • Chile has maintained exceptional political stability and consensus after democratization
  • Brazil had the advantage of exceptionally good leadership under Fernando Henrique Cardoso
  • Brazil has a national culture of working things out, “dar um jeito” while Argentina has a culture of messing things up
  • Under Lula da Silva, Brazil has a leader who is highly popular, yet who is continuing market-oriented policies
future speculation
Future Speculation
  • Revolutionary politics will be limited to failed states, such as Bolivia. Even after a total collapse of Argentine capitalism, few wanted to turn to socialism
  • Globalization will continue, with the countries becoming more similar in economic and political policies
  • Major future problems will be crime, drugs and improving social services