chapter  5
14 Pages

Capitalism in Latin America and the Caribbean

It is a matter of considerable debate when feudalism gave way to capitalism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nevertheless this exploration of the nature of Latin American capitalism traces the evolution of capitalism from the colonial period and through to the export economy period after independence. It then analyses some of the key phases of how capitalism developed in Latin America through what Hobsbawm (1995) has categorized as the ‘short twentieth century’ from 1914 to 1991. The short twentieth century is associated with a period of inward orientation in the trajectory of Latin America’s version of capitalism within which three phases can be distinguished: external dislocation and the shift to inward orientation, 1914-45; state intervention and industrialization, 1945-80; the debt crisis and the lost decade from 1980 to 1991. Since 1991 it could be argued that Latin America has entered a new phase of capitalist development in which economic and political liberalization have become key features. These themes are explored in Chapters 7 and 13 respectively.