by Antonio Costa Pinto
New York: Routledge, 2020. Pp. x, 120.
Tables, notes, index. $45.90. ISBN: 0367243857
Fascism in Latin America in the Interwar Period
From the mid-1920s onwards, some Latin Americans found the authoritarian “corporatist” ideas of Fascism – of the Italian, German, or Iberian variety – an appealing alternative to liberalism, socialism, or communism. Fascistic movements were common across most of Latin America, and many countries ended up with dictators preaching a corporatist message.
Prof. Costa Pinto (Lisbon) gives us what he calls a “comparative-historical analysis” of Fascist movements and governments in nine countries during the ‘20s and early ‘30s, exploring how local elites adapted “institutional models of corporativism for their own countries” (p. 108), each creating a somewhat different regime, at least on paper.
Curiously, Costa Pinto doesn’t consider the degree to which these strongmen and the faction of the national elites that they represented were actually committed to such “corporatist” ideas; most seem merely to be preaching these ideas as a way of maintaining power. Certainly most of the dictators more or less espousing such ideas – e.g., Getulio Vargas, Anastasio Somoza, and Rafael Trujillo (not all of whom are discussed) – rather quickly came to support “democracy” as the U.S. edged closer to entering World War II.
Despite this, Latin American Dictatorships in the Era of Fascism, a volume in the series “Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right”, offers good look at the appeal of Fascism in Latin America, which endured across most of the twentieth century; the young Fidel Castro collected and admired the works of Mussolini and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera.
Note: Latin American Dictatorships in the Era of Fascism is also available in several e-editions.