Brazil and the southern cone subsystem

Wayne A. Selcher, Elizabethtown College


The 1970s produced a pattern of international politics in South America that was much more conflictual and troublesome than the current essentially cooperative tone. There were intermittent tensions between leftist and rightist regimes, several active border disputes, and ongoing rivalries between Argentina and Brazil during the period of nationalistic Peronist governments in Buenos Aires and beyond. The foreign policy results of the Falklands War for Argentina were definitely not, as some had initially feared, of a sort to cause brash vengefulness or a choice for the nuclear option to try once again to prove superior status, prestige, and regional leadership. As a group, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay have traditionally been regarded either as buffer states or as zones of competition between Argentina and Brazil. Southern Cone economies over the longer haul have been weaker and more sluggish than Brazil’s, even though the area is the most developed region of Latin America.