Democratization is not the only great political change to have swept Latin America in the last two decades. Tim Campbell's overview shows the equal significance of decentralization and the promise and challenges facing the region's cities.
As if by unseen signal toward the end of the 1980s, many Latin American governments suddenly transferred money and decision-making power to local municipalities. At the same time, national authorities allowed local governments to choose their leaders in free and open elections. The resulting revolution has been profound in its reach and stunning in the silent shift of power from central to local authorities.The Quiet Revolution traces the growth and effects of decentralization and democratization in Latin America throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Based on first-hand accounts from mayors, local officials, and neighborhood leaders, Tim Campbell focuses on those cities and towns that made the most of their new intergovernmental arrangements. He further argues that the reforms, which are vital to long-term sustainable growth in the region, are in danger of being smothered by current policy responses from national and international institutions. Campbell's research, conducted over a ten-year span, counters conventional wisdom about the role of development banks in the process of state reform and offers timely insights into similar events taking place in other parts of the world.
Useful and innovative. . . . As a primer on the topic, it is a work that academics and policymakers will ignore at their peril.
A. Suresh Canagarajah taught English in the war-torn region of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, for ten years before joining the faculty of the City University of New York (Baruch College) in 1994. He is the author of Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching.