Aid and Politics in Latin America

Christopher Mitchell
1978 Latin American Research Review  
When Teresa Hayter's Aid as Imperialism was published in 1971, it signaled and helped to bring about an important change in the debate on economic aid to Latin America. Previously, aid and politics usually had been discussed in separate analytical compartments. Writers who focused on the economic process of aid wrote as though it were, or could be made, relatively free from political pressures. 1 Those who stressed the United States' political motives underlying the Alliance for Progress, on
more » ... other hand, generally shared those "reformist" aims, and thus seldom questioned their economic consequences. 2 Hayter reunited these two analytical strands in a critical argument and added an original new target: the multilateral institutions, which were just then coming into fashion as "apolitical" alternatives to the old bilateral aid efforts. Hayter argued vigorously that the policies of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development, responded to the political interests of the United States and other developed countries. "No issues are purely technical," she wrote, "the agencies' policies presuppose a liberal form of economic organization and adherence to international rules as defined in the West" (p. 151). Aid as Imperialism went on to charge that the lending institutions' demands for financial and monetary stability, and their insistence upon the use of market mechanisms to achieve development, "distract attention from, and frequently conflict with, action to improve the conditions of life of the majority of Latin Americans" (p. 155). Hayter's book was one of those works that periodically break free of the strictly scholarly circle, popularizing among a wider audience conclusions that professional observers of Latin America had been coming to for some time. (A book that had a similar impact was James Petras and Maurice Zeitlin's edited volume, Latin America: Reform or Revolution?3) Such books help to change the tone and direction of research. Though Hayter's detailed findings and critical conclusions probably had only a modest direct effect on her fellow scholars, 319
doi:10.1017/s0023879100031241 fatcat:fp26sy2ypfasjil745m5qgy4fq