Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Ratliff (William E.) papers
No online items No online items       Request items ↗
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Title: William E. Ratliff papers
    Date (inclusive): 1942-2012
    Collection Number: 88023
    Contributing Institution: Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    Language of Material: In English and Spanish
    Physical Description: 59 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 card file box. (25.8 Linear Feet)
    Abstract: Writings, correspondence, sound recordings of interviews, reports, memoranda, legal proceedings, internal bulletins, opinion polls, printed matter, and photographs, relating to communism in Latin America; political and economic conditions, and especially laissez-faire economics, in Argentina, elsewhere in Latin America, and Hong Kong; President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica; and the Socialist Workers Party of the United States and Trotskyist groups in Latin America.
    Creator: Ratliff, William E.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Library & Archives


    The collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.


    Sound recordings may not be duplicated.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1988, with numerous increments added on a regular basis.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William E. Ratliff papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives

    Biography Note

    1937 Born, Evanston, Illinois
    1959 Bachelor of Arts, Oberlin College
    1968 Master of Arts, University of Washington
    1969-Present Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
    1974 Ph.D. in Latin American and Chinese history, University of Washington
    1976 Author, Castroism and Communism in Latin America
    1986-Present Latin American Curator, Hoover Institution Library and Archives
    1986 Author, Follow the Leader in the Horn: Cuban-Soviet Presence in East Africa
    1990 Author, Changing Course: The Capitalist Revolution in Argentina (with Roger W. Fontaine)
    1993 Author, The Civil War in Nicaragua: Inside the Sandinistas (with Roger Miranda)
    2000 Author, A Strategic Flip-Flop in the Caribbean (with Roger Fontaine)
      Author, Law and Economics in Developing Countries (with Edgardo Buscaglia)
    2001 Author, Report from Havana: Time for a Reality Check on U.S. Policy toward Cuba (with Jonathan Clarke)
      Author, War and Lack of Governance in Colombia: Narcos, Guerrillas, and U.S. Policy (with Edgardo Buscaglia)
    2003 Author, Russian Oil in America's Future
      Author, Doing It Wrong and Doing It Right: Education in Latin America and Asia
    2004 Author, China's "Lessons" for Cuba's Transition?

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Acquired in 1988, with numerous increments added on a regular basis since then, the William E. Ratliff collection in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives consists largely of primary source materials relating to Latin American history, with some additional materials concerning the transfer of Hong Kong to Chinese rule. There is also a considerable amount of printed matter in the collection relating to Trotskyism in Latin America and elsewhere.
    As the Latin American curator of the Hoover Library and Archives, and as a scholar in the field of Latin American studies, Ratliff has made frequent research trips to Central and South America, as well as to Cuba, and has written extensively on topics pertaining to political and social developments in Latin America. He went to El Salvador in 1984 to monitor that country's elections and later wrote several analyses of this event. A number of Ratliff's many published articles are contained in the Speeches and Writings series of the collection.
    A major component of the collection is the extensive series of interviews conducted by Ratliff with prominent political figures from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Nicaragua, as well as with former officials from the United States and ex-Soviet Union with experience in Latin American affairs. A related group of interviews comprises an oral history of Costa Rican politics during the presidency of José Figueres. Other interviews cover such subjects as the civil war in El Salvador; conflict within Nicaragua during the period of the Sandinista government; views on Cuba from defectors from the Castro regime; and developments in Argentina following the end of military rule in the 1980s.
    A subject of particular interest to Ratliff has been the question of market liberalization in Latin America during recent decades, and there are a number of interviews with economists and officials from the region on this subject. A smaller part of the Interviews series consists of interviews with officials in Hong Kong regarding the transfer of sovereignty in the former crown colony to China.
    During the early 1980s, Ratliff was called as an expert witness in a trial involving a lawsuit brought by the Socialist Workers Party against the United States government, which was eventually found liable for damages inflicted during its surveillance of the Trotskyist SWP. Ratliff gave testimony on behalf of the government, giving his opinion on the relation, if any, between Latin American Trotskyism and terrorism. The Socialist Workers Trial File in the collection contains some transcripts of proceedings in the lawsuit, and an extensive amount of articles, pamphlets, and serial issues relating to Trotskyist groups in Latin America and elsewhere.
    An early research focus of Ratliff's was the question of Chinese communist influence on leftist movements in Latin America during the 1960s. The British Foreign Office File in the collection contains a large number of articles on this subject. These excerpts from small circulation newsletters on Latin American politics are arranged by country.


    [The collection is organized into nine series: Correspondence, Speeches and Writings, Sound Recordings of Interviews, Research Materials, Socialist Workers Party Trial File, British Foreign Office File, United States Information Agency File, Subject File, and Audiovisual File.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Free enterprise
    Communism -- United States
    Subversive activities -- United States
    Costa Rica -- Politics and government
    Communism -- Latin America
    Hong Kong (China)
    Internal security -- United States
    Petroleum industry and trade -- Argentina
    Public opinion -- Argentina
    Argentina -- Politics and government -- 1983-2002
    Argentina -- Economic conditions -- 1983-
    Latin America -- Economic conditions -- 1982-
    Fourth International
    Socialist Workers Party
    Figueres Ferrer, José, 1906-1990