PS 240: Introduction to Latin American Politics

Library Guide ~ Fall 2009


Leadership Assessment: a 5-step guide to finding biographical, political and news resources!


1.      Locate biographical information on your chosen leader

2.      Gather background information on the country of interest

3.      Find analyses of the current political situation in journals and magazines

4.      Find current news of political events in your country

5.      For further information…


1.      Biographical information


Step beyond with these resources.  (BSC user ID & login is required for off-campus access)


Biography Reference Bank

Biographical info on more than half a million people (plus images) and links to recent articles about these individuals.


LexisNexis Academic

Click on the “People” tab to access biographical profiles and news.


Credo Reference

Search across multiple reference sources to locate biographical information on your leader and put it in context. Also a good source for country information.


Britannica Online

Includes biographical profiles, information from Britannica Book of the Year annual summaries, and links to websites.



2.      Background Information


There are several online sources that can help you gather background information on the current leaders and political & social realities in Latin American countries:


Background Notes (U.S. Department of State)

Brief profiles giving basic information about countries.


CIA World Factbook

Another good source for finding basic information about countries.


Country Studies (Library of Congress)  

Excellent book-length studies of countries’ history, culture and politics.


Political Database of the Americas (Georgetown U. and Organization of American States)

 Information on countries’ constitutions, elections, civil society, political parties, and governmental institutions.  Can be searched by name of country.


Country and Regional Profiles (U.S. Agency for International Development)

Information about US AID programs in Latin American countries plus links to country info.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (U.S. Department of State)

Official State Department reports on the human rights situation in various countries.


Amnesty International Annual Report

Documents human rights violations in countries for the most recent year. 


Global Road Warrior (BSC user ID & login required for off-campus access)

Social & cultural information about countries for the business traveler (or CIA agent posing as one!)



3.      Journal and magazine articles


The BSC Library subscribes to a number of journals related to Latin America, and offers full-text electronic access to many more.  You can locate recent articles on the political situation in your country and how your leader fits into the picture by using the following online databases available on the library home page.

General databases


These databases contain a mixture of popular and scholarly articles from a range of magazines and journals, many of them full text.  They are continuously updated.


Academic OneFile (1980 – present)


Academic Search Elite (1990 – present)

Expanded Academic ASAP
(1980 – present)

Proquest Research Library (1980s – present)


Social Sciences databases


The following databases specifically cover social science journals and documents.


Social Sciences Full Text (1983 – present)

Indexes around 400 journals in the social sciences; about ¼ are available full text


PAIS International (1972 – present + archive 1915-1976)

Indexes and abstracts articles from over 2100 periodicals, books & book chapters, conference proceedings, and government documents dealing with politics and public affairs.


Handbook of Latin American Studies (1936 – present)

An annotated bibliography listing books, articles, and essays published on Latin American topics, in the humanities and social sciences.


Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (1984 – present)

Indexes political science and government journals.

LexisNexis Congressional (full text from mid-1980s – present)

Use this database to find the full text of Congressional hearings and reports on your country.


Once you have identified some articles that sound good, you will probably notice that not all of them are available full text in the database you are searching. To see if an article is available full-text in another database, or if it's available in print or microfilm format in the Library, please consult the Ejournals link on the Library home page. If you need an article that is not available locally, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.



4.      Current news of political events


Lexis Nexis Academic (1970s – present)

The “Major US and World Publications” section of this database provides access to the full text of over 50 English language newspapers, including the Atlanta Constitution, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, London Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post.  Articles are generally available in the database within 24 hours of their publication.  A “Non-English” news section of this database also includes the searchable full-text of many Spanish language newspapers (with an emphasis on titles from Mexico and Spain).


Facts on File World News Digest (1940 – present)

 This searchable database offers brief news summaries; search by your leader’s name and you’ll be presented with a useful chronology of headlines going back through the years, as well as recent news.  Country profiles are also available from the main page of the website.



Newspapers and magazines from your leader’s country are an excellent source of information.  The “Newspapers & News” section of LANIC provides links to major newspapers by country.  There are English language newspapers available for many countries.  The “Magazines” section of LANIC (available at ) also offers links to news magazines; however, very few of these are in English.

Univision Noticias en español, Yahoo Noticias en español, and Google Noticias en español are all good current news portals for Spanish speakers.

5.      For further information…

Several sources serve as gateways to more information on Latin America, its leaders, and its politics. 



The University of Texas at Austin's gateway to "Internet-based information to, from, or on Latin America," in existence since 1992.


Organization of American States -

Provides news and papers on issues of interest to the entire region.


Washington Office on Latin America

Offers free publications and other resources.


Remember: You are welcome to contact the Library staff for assistance at any point (, x4749)