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Sergio Junco

A Mirror for ‘Observers’

(Autumn 1963)

From International Socialism (1st series), No. 14, Autumn 1963, p. 0.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Revolutions of Latin America
J. Halcro Ferguson
Thames and Hudson

Mr Ferguson tried to deal, within 174 pages, not only with such a large and complex subject as The Revolutions of Latin America, but indeed with the whole of Latin American history in the last two hundred years. It is hardly surprising that the result was a large collection of facts with very little analysis of the most important historical events of the period. As far as collecting facts is concerned, history textbooks are more useful and adequate. Even Ferguson’s fact-gathering is deficient. For instance, in the chapter entitled The Mexican Revolution such important names as Emiliano Zapata and Lazaro Cardenas, who have been intimately connected with Mexican social reforms, are not mentioned even once. In the chapter entitled The Rise of Castro one finds no less than five factual errors (e.g., the author tells us that Castro was born in 1927 and within the same chapter he commits the obvious error of telling us that Castro was a post-graduate law student in 1942!).

In dealing with Castro’s Revolution, Ferguson is completely unable to distinguish the distribution stage (1959 and 1960) from the period of economic crisis (1961 and afterwards). Thus, after quoting a report from The Times of London summarizing the obvious gains during the early stages of the Revolution, the only comment he adds is a very brief reference to the decline of the Cuban tourist industry, plus the remark: ‘Much of this report is now naturally out of date ...’ (p. 138). He does nothing to bring the report up to date.

It goes without saying that being a somewhat naive liberal journalist, Ferguson doesn’t do much to communicate to his readers the evils of American imperialism and of the totalitarian practice of the Castroite variety of Stalinism.

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