The Governmental System of Peru

By Graham H. Stuart; Carnegie Institution of Washington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX. CONCLUSIONS.

Since Woodrow Wilson characterized the world war as a struggle to make the world safe for democracy, the word democracy, like charity, has been made to cover a multitude of sins. In fact, the term has been so used and abused that even a political spellbinder hesitates to use the word too frequently. When Russia under the soviet regime, and Italy under the fascisti, and Britain under the labor government, are all cited as representative types of the democratic form of government, the term democracy ceases to have much value as a definition. But when the 20 Latin-American republics are added, and also receive the same classification as democracies, the word ceases to have any real meaning whatsoever as to defining the form of government. Yet, in spite of the fact that there has been anarchy in Haiti, tyranny in Paraguay, monarchy in Brazil, oligarchy in Chile, and despotism in Venezuela, there is a real reason for speaking of the democracies of Latin-America; for no matter what the form of government may be in fact, the democratic ideal is always in the background, and, what is even more important, the struggle to reach it is constant and unceasing.

In the study of the government of Peru this fact stands out with particular emphasis. Peru has lived under the dictatorship of San Martín and Bolívar, the benevolent despotism of Santa Cruz, and the military autocracy of Castilla, and yet during all these regimes democratic constitutions existed and were not entirely without influence. The difference beween the theory and facts of government may easily be overemphasized. The Peruvians did not have the training in the operation of constitutional government which practically all the 13 North American colonies had received, and the constitution of the state must be regarded almost as much the theoretical ideal of government to be reached ultimately, as the organic law of the state actually in force.

If such an explanation be accepted as reasonable, we can find reason for an optimistic outlook on the political development of Peru both from the standpoint of theory and fact. Casting a glance backward over the constitutional progress of the state, it must be conceded that it has been steady and substantial. The constitution of 1860 was undoubtedly the most perfect instrument of government which served the Peruvian state as organic law until that time. In fact, it was so well drawn that it required very few changes in the course of 60

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