The Transition to Democracy in Latin America: The Role of the Military

Synopsis

This book examines the role of the military in the wave of democratization that has swept through Latin America in the past decade. Although much of the leading literature on the transition to democracy recognizes the importance of "hardline" and "softline" factions within the military in this process, the author takes this study one step further to investigate the motivations of the military officers themselves. Using the cases of Brazil and Bolivia, and relying on dozens of interviews with military officers, politicians, jurists, and other observers throughout Latin America, he determines that the factions' attitudes do not depend primarily on ideological commitment but on the leaders' calculation, as to the career benefits to their followers of either supporting or opposing democratization. In terms of policy making, it is important to recognize this distinction in order to help preserve the fragile democracies which are already under threat from the military once again.