Scope and Content of Collection
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
59 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 card file box.
(25.8 Linear Feet)
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.
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.
Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives in 1988, with numerous increments added on a regular
[Identification of item], William E. Ratliff papers, [Box no., Folder no. or title], Hoover Institution Library & Archives
||Born, Evanston, Illinois
||Bachelor of Arts, Oberlin College
||Master of Arts, University of Washington
||Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
||Ph.D. in Latin American and Chinese history, University of Washington
Castroism and Communism in Latin America
||Latin American Curator, Hoover Institution Library and Archives
Follow the Leader in the Horn: Cuban-Soviet Presence in East Africa
Changing Course: The Capitalist Revolution in Argentina (with Roger W. Fontaine)
The Civil War in Nicaragua: Inside the Sandinistas (with Roger Miranda)
A Strategic Flip-Flop in the Caribbean (with Roger Fontaine)
Law and Economics in Developing Countries (with Edgardo Buscaglia)
Report from Havana: Time for a Reality Check on U.S. Policy toward Cuba (with Jonathan Clarke)
War and Lack of Governance in Colombia: Narcos, Guerrillas, and U.S. Policy (with Edgardo Buscaglia)
Russian Oil in America's Future
Doing It Wrong and Doing It Right: Education in Latin America and Asia
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
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
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-
Socialist Workers Party
Figueres Ferrer, José, 1906-1990