Plunder and Prosperity:

The legacy of the US Cold War policy in Latin America


Maria Victoria Murillo

MA/PhD Harvard, 1997
Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs
Director of Institute of Latin American Studies

Columbia University

September 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the bloody coup in Chile, endorsed and supported by the United States, against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. It instituted a dark age of unspeakable violence, mass murder, and extreme suppression of democratic voices. Arguably, it also raised Chileans to the highest average standard of living in Latin America. The effect of US foreign policy in Latin America in the second half of the 20th century seems to be a similar mixed bag of ruin and remedy.

In this timely presentation, Prof. Maria Victoria Murillo, Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University examines the role of the United States in Latin American political, economical, and social lives during the Cold War, and its interaction with populist leaders from Arbenz to Allende. She will then share her perspective on what the US can learn from this checkered legacy on how to protect its intellectual and material interests in today's Latin America with the recent rise of populist strongmen from both sides of the political spectrum.

Time will be allocated for Q&A.

Cosponsored by Harvard Club of Washington DC.

Picture1.jpgMaria Victoria Murillo holds a joint appointment with the Department of Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs and is currently the Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS).

Murillo is the author of several books, among them Labor Unions, Partisan Coalitions, and Market Reforms in Latin America, and Political Competition, Partisanship, and Policymaking in the Reform of Latin American Public Utilities. She is also the co-author of Non-Policy Politics: Richer Voters, Poorer Voters, and the Diversification of Electoral Strategies with Ernesto Calvo (Cambridge University Press 2019) and Understanding Institutional Weakness: Power and Design in Latin American Institutions (Cambridge University Press, Element in Latin American Politics and Society Series, 2019) with Daniel Brinks and Steven Levitsky. Her work has also appeared in International Organization, World Politics, American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, World Development, the Annual Review of Political Science, and many Latin American academic journals.

Murillo's research on distributive politics in Latin America has covered labor politics and labor regulations, public utility reform, education reform, agricultural policies, and economic policy more generally. Her more recent work focuses on electoral behavior, contentious dynamics, and the analysis of institutional weakness. Her empirical work is based on a variety of methods ranging from quantitative analysis of datasets built for all Latin American countries to qualitative field work in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Venezuela and survey and experiments in Argentina and Chile.

Murillo received her B.A. from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Murillo has taught at Yale University, was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University (Harvard Academy for Area Studies & David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies), and at the Russell Sage Foundation, as well as a Fulbright fellow.

September 07, 2023 at 6:30pm - 8pm


Washington, DC
United States

Miyako Yerick


Will you come?