UCL Institute of the Americas


The Foreign Policy of Latin American Populist Governments

09 October 2018, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

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UCL Institute of the Americas – UCL Americas
+44 (0)20 3108 9721


Lecture Room 103
UCL Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

Latin America has traditionally been identified as fertile ground for populist leadership. Perón and Vargas in the 1950s, Menem and Fujimori in the 1990s, and Chávez in the 2000s have become icons of populist leadership. Yet they also show the diversity this phenomenon encompasses. While a considerable body of scholarship has explored populism, its international dimension and manifestations in Latin American foreign policy are scant. Thus, this paper focuses on what forms populism takes internationally by focusing on the roles populist Latin American governments’ conceive and play. The overall role theory framework adopted in this paper is augmented by some analytical dichotomies that reflect the national and international dimensions of populist presidencies in Latin America, such as left and right political ideology, neoliberal and protectionist development models, and autonomy and dependency. These dichotomies are taken as sources and transmission belts for foreign policy roles that a populist government has and displays in its bilateral relations, regional cooperation, and multilateral organisations. This paper examines this analytical framework in the context of two cases: the foreign policy of Carlos Menem of Argentina and of Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

About the Speaker

Dr Leslie E Wehner

Dr. Leslie E. Wehner is a Senior Lecturer in Foreign Policy Analysis at the University of Bath, UK. Previously, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hamburg (2010). His research interests include theories of foreign policy analysis, international relations theory, and international political economy, as well as regional cooperation and trade strategies of Latin American states. His most recent work has been published in Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Review, International Politics, Journal of International Relations and Development and Oxford Encyclopedia of Foreign Policy Analysis