Introduction I need to begin with a personal disclaimer: I am neither a Latin Americanist nor a Latin American. My interest in Latin America originates from the simple fact that is where the action was during most of the two past centuries. As of 1917, 19 out of 49 independent countries were Latin American; still by 1945, 19 out of 67 were. Between 1789 and 1957, when Ghana became independent, 166 out of 341 constitutions adopted in the entire world were promulgated in Latin America, at least 533 out of 1,821 national legislative elections transpired in Latin America, 260 out of 371 coups, and 117 out of 226 civil wars. Anyone who studies modern political history must consider this vast experience, just because this is where most of it occurred.