Democracy in Latin America: (Re)Constructing Political Society

By Manuel Antonio Garretón M.; Edward Newman | Go to book overview
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Foundations: Central America
Edelberto Torres-Rivas


Recent political developments in Central America 1 must be considered against a backdrop of complex forces and dynamics. In the 1980s, the impact of the economic crisis which effectively came from abroad in the form of the collection of foreign debt occurred simultaneously with the effects of the political crisis, which arose from injustice in these societies. This resulted in an extreme disorganization of society that did not end until the beginning of the 1990s. This evaluation goes beyond an attempt to understand how the fratricidal conflict was brought to a conclusion. We must now think about peace and, in doing so, it is necessary to refer to other crises, in particular the authoritarian systems that gave rise to the forces that are now trying to construct democracy.

This essay is a reflection on these forces. It is divided into three interdependent parts. It begins with an introduction to the disorder that has characterized the recent history of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. It is a synthesis of the causes and effects of civil war and armed conflict, and of how the peace negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion. The essay goes on to analyse how the construction of a political democracy is becoming possible by means of the reconstruction of the political system, the electoral system, and the state. Finally the essay proceeds to a synthesis of the relationship of society, citizenship, human rights, and the evolving international context.


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