Neoliberalism and Democracy Promotion: Hernando de Soto and US Foreign Policy

  • Kate Geoghegan
Part of the Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World book series (SCCCW)


This chapter examines how Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto shaped the US approach to foreign aid in the 1980s and early 1990s. It argues that US policymakers, development experts, and democracy promoters relied on important but understudied ways on de Soto as they reconfigured the relationship between democratization and economic growth in response to the global ‘Third Wave’ of democratization, punctuated by the collapse of Soviet bloc communism. Revealing important ‘South-East’ links, it traces how de Soto sold ideas developed in the Peruvian context to US officials who applied them globally, including to the socialist ‘second world.’ Ultimately, it demonstrates how de Soto helped shape the US approach to democracy promotion and economic development and provided conceptual links that encouraged their uneven, but growing integration.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Geoghegan
    • 1
  1. 1.Center Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian StudiesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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