Gold, Oil, and Avocados: A Recent History of Latin America in Sixteen Commodities

Andy Robinson prefers to bang out the old hits rather than deeply explore the region’s rich complexities

Avocado plantation in Latin America. ‘For all its wide travel, Gold, Oil and Avocados, with its relentless anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism is far too uninterested in the multiple other forces at work in shaping contemporary Latin America.’ Photograph:  Jose Castanares/AFP via Getty Images

Avocado plantation in Latin America. ‘For all its wide travel, Gold, Oil and Avocados, with its relentless anti-capitalism and anti-Americanism is far too uninterested in the multiple other forces at work in shaping contemporary Latin America.’ Photograph: Jose Castanares/AFP via Getty Images

When, later in life, Eduardo Galeano turned his back on his 1971 classic Open Veins of Latin America, it caused consternation among its admirers.

The Uruguayan writer’s blistering denunciation of his region’s exploitation by foreigners had long been a touchstone text among leftists and anti-imperialists around the world. Hugo Chávez presented Barack Obama with a copy at their first meeting in 2009, instantly propelling the book back up bestseller lists. 

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