Symposium explores the political situation in El Salvador and Guatemala

After decades of revolution, civil war and military rule, Central American nations are now struggling to reassert themselves in a constantly changing global climate. The Colloquium on the Global South’s upcoming symposium, "Neoliberal Oligarchs: Central American Power Structures After the Wars", will delve into how El Salvador and Guatemala are faring.

Panellists will discuss the topic on Wednesday, Jan. 30, from 2:30 to 4:30pm, in Room 305, York Lanes. They will discuss the interaction of neoliberal policies and local political and economic structures in an attempt to map out new lines of dominant power in a post-war Central America.

Right: Map of El Salvador

York PhD candidate and symposium organizer Simon Granovsky-Larsen will give a presentation on "Retrenchment, Regression: Guatemalan Elites and the Neoliberal Peace", while Carlos Velásquez Carrillo, also a York PhD candidate, will present "The Reconstituted Salvadoran Oligarchy: Finance, Import-Based ‘Growth’ and the Remittance Economy".

Liisa North, York political science professor emeritus and coordinator of the Documentation Centre at York’s Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean, will chair the symposium.

The panel will look at the political and economic situation in El Salvador and Guatemala today given that Central American nations have long been under the political and economic control of small sectors of powerful local elites – oligarchic networks who commanded the resources and maintained a system of inequality for centuries.

Left: Map of Guatemala

The 1970s through to the 1990s saw many Central American nations in the grip of civil war, revolution or military rule. Today, the elites are trying to reassert their traditional power while maneuvering changes in the global political economy and confronting new influential actors. The symposium participants will discuss how the elites are shaping the political landscape in El Salvador and Guatemala and the global impact of their actions.

Granovsky-Larsen’s current research focuses on mining projects in Guatemala and their connection to the emerging shape of post-war violence and social movements as well as the shifting oligarchic and organized criminal structures in post-war Guatemala.

Velásquez Carrillo’s areas of specialization include Central American political economy, international relations and comparative and development politics. His PhD dissertation will study the reconstitution of the Salvadoran oligarchy in the era of neoliberal reforms and the impacts of this process on El Salvador’s democratic aspirations, social justice and integral economic development.

The University Consortium on the Global South (UCGS) is an inter-unit initiative based at York that encourages academic engagement with the global south. UCGS’s Colloquium on the Global South series provides an open space for debate and critical inquiry for students, faculty, NGOs, social activists and policy makers.

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