Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives

Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives

Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives

Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives


The armed forces may no longer rule nations throughout Latin America, but they continue to influence democratic governments across the region. In nine original, thought-provoking essays, this book offers fresh theoretical insights into the dilemmas facing Latin American politicians as they struggle to gain full control over their military institutions.

Latin America has changed in profound ways since the end of the Cold War, the re-emergence of democracy, and the ascendancy of free-market economies and trade blocs. The contributors to this volume recognize the necessity of finding intellectual approaches that speak to these transformations. They utilize a wide range of contemporary models to analyze recent political and economic reform in nations throughout Latin America, presenting case studies on Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela. Bridging the gap between Latin American studies and political science, these essays not only explore the forces that shape civil-military relations in Latin America but also address larger questions of political development and democratization in the region.

The contributors are Felipe Agero, J. Samuel Fitch, Wendy Hunter, Ernesto Lpez, Brian Loveman, David R. Mares, Deborah L. Norden, David Pion-Berlin, and Harold A. Trinkunas.


As I write this Foreword, questions abound about the role and intentions of Peru's armed forces in response to President Alberto Fujimori's surprise resignation from the presidency and call for new elections in which he would not be a candidate. No one seems certain whether Peru's top military officers forced this resignation, will accept Fujimori's plan, or are prepared to take power directly.

Peru is not the only Latin American country where the political role of the armed forces is in doubt. Chile's top officers recently defied President Ricardo Lagos in staging an unauthorized welcome for former president Augusto Pinochet on the latter's return from the United Kingdom, where he had been detained for human rights violations. Colombia's top seventeen officers last year announced their resignations, together with the minister of defense, to protest President Andrés Pastrana's approach to negotiating with the guerrilla insurgency there. Ecuador's armed forces toppled the elected president last year and had to be cajoled into letting the vice president take office. in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, a cashiered former colonel who led a bloody but unsuccessful military coup several years ago, has now won office through election and drawn on military cronies for key government positions, and the only credible alternative to Chávez in the 1999 elections was another former military leader. and in Cuba, so long ruled by Fidel Castro, experts are debating what role the Cuban armed forces will play in an eventual post-Fidel transition.

Despite the regionwide turn from authoritarian rule toward democratic governance, the thorny issue of civil-military relations has by no means been resolved. the exact form this issue takes has changed from the days of caudillo politics in the 1950s and 1960s or the bureaucratic-authoritarian regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, but the centrality of armies to Latin America's politics remains.

More than twenty-five years ago—at a time when the armed forces governed directly in almost every country of South America and in several Central American nations, as well—I focused on the political role of the region's military leaders and institutions. in my review essay in World Politics in 1974 and then in my edited volume Armies and Politics in Latin America (1975), I

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