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Evangelizing the State: Mennonite Brethren Technocrats in Paraguayan State Reform, 2003-2008

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20791

Evangelizing the State: Mennonite Brethren Technocrats in Paraguayan State Reform, 2003-2008

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Title: Evangelizing the State: Mennonite Brethren Technocrats in Paraguayan State Reform, 2003-2008
Author: Thompson, Warren
Advisor(s): Schrank, Andrew
Committee Member(s): Wood, Richard
Field, Les
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Sociology
Subject(s): technocracy, state reform, Mennonites, Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte
LC Subject(s): Church and state -- Paraguay -- 21st century
Paraguay -- Economic policy -- 21st century
Mennonites -- Paraguay -- Political activity -- 21st century
Degree Level: Masters
Abstract: Nicanor Duarte Frutos assumed the Presidency of Paraguay in August 2003 amidst the country’s worst financial crisis since the end of the dictatorship. With low revenues, depleted reserves, and an inheritance of defaulted debts, he had little choice but to turn to international financial institutions when he took office in August 2003. To negotiate IMF and World Bank loans, as well as to orchestrate the reforms and implement the structural adjustments that would inevitably come with it, Nicanor Duarte turned to a small group of technocrats outside his ruling Colorado Party. The technocrats in the Nicanor administration were not the “Chicago Boys”-style monetarists that that occupied so many other Latin American cabinets, but members of a the Mennonite Brethren, a remarkably insular religious sect known for its traditional distrust of the political arena. How should this departure be explained? Why, in light of a literature that posits technical expertise as the key to appointment in Latin American economic ministries, would Nicanor consider religious criteria in making his appointments? And why, in light of religious dicta that discourage political involvement, would these Mennonites accept? This thesis argues that in some cases, an appeal to expert knowledge may be an inadequate source of a technocrat’s legitimacy. Because laypersons are prone to explain economic and political crises in moral and intentional terms rather than instrumental terms, presidents may appeal to the moral aspects of their technocratic appointments in situations where domestic actors hold considerable power. However, as this study concludes, this strategy has its own potential dangers.
Graduation Date: May 2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/20791

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