Democracy in Latin America: (Re)Constructing Political Society

Democracy in Latin America: (Re)Constructing Political Society

Democracy in Latin America: (Re)Constructing Political Society

Democracy in Latin America: (Re)Constructing Political Society

Synopsis

This publication examines the process of democratic transition in post-authoritarian and post-civil war countries of Latin America. Issues discussed include: a broad definition of democracy based upon the existence of a 'political society'; the need to deal with past abuses of human rights by balancing justice and reconciliation; integrating societies into global market economics; the role of civil society; the problems of achieving a sense of citizenship in many communities; and issues of ethnicity.

Excerpt

Democracy offers great opportunities for Latin America after a turbulent and sometimes painful recent history. It also presents a host of challenges in the context of international economic and political trends that condition the dynamics of political communities from the outside. (Re)democratization in most of the region has had to confront the legacy of civil war and repression, and also the social dilemmas inherent in the integration of the region into the global market-based economy. Moreover, the struggle for (re)democratization has had to address a destabilizing colonial legacy of social and ethnic division and power structures that preceded democratic institutions. The evolution of Latin American democracies – as countries that have recently experienced conflict and authoritarianism – and the degree of success in consolidating democracy hold great importance for the people of the region. This process also has implications for divided societies elsewhere which share similar obstacles to the attainment of true democracy.

This volume examines democratic transition and consolidation in postauthoritarian and post–civil war Latin America. A range of issues can be embraced within such a remit: justice and reconciliation; integration into global economic institutions and the transition to market economics, with the accompanying social and political impact this has brought; the manner in which external actors – such as the United Nations, international financial institutions and multinational corporations – have conditioned or facilitated democracy; the role of civil society; the problems of achiev-

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