The State of Democracy in Latin America: Post-Transitional Conflicts in Argentina and Chile

The State of Democracy in Latin America: Post-Transitional Conflicts in Argentina and Chile

The State of Democracy in Latin America: Post-Transitional Conflicts in Argentina and Chile

The State of Democracy in Latin America: Post-Transitional Conflicts in Argentina and Chile

Synopsis

The State of Democracy in Latin America presents a critical analysis of the contemporary democratic state in Latin America. In a shift away from the more typical analyses of Latin American political change during the 1990s, this book presents a more state-centric perspective that seeks to explain why transitions to democracy and trends towards better governance have failed to provide more political and social stability in the continent. Through a deeper analysis of underlying social relations and values and how these manifest themselves through institutions, the state is understood not purely as an institutional form but rather as a set of interdependent relations that are shaped by particular collective and individual interests.

Excerpt

Political crisis in Argentina and Venezuela, social mobilisation in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and state failure in Colombia. This is the Latin American political landscape at the beginning of the twenty-first century. There are currently few countries in the region that can be described as increasingly stable; the cases of Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay may be the exceptions that prove the rule in this regard, although they are not without their internal divisions and conflicts. This lack of stability can be explained to a large extent by the considerable social, political and economic upheaval that took place across the region during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Following a period of state-led agricultural transformation and industrialisation during the middle decades of the century, the continent was dominated by the strategies of militarism and economic neoliberalisation during the final decades. Both of these strategies gave rise to major reconfigurations in the social relations of Latin American societies.

Rather than a period of certainty and stability, the last twenty years have witnessed new forms of organisation by state institutions and civil society and new sources of antagonism and unrest. the ideological challenges presented by the political and economic strategies imposed during this period were at their most dramatic following the debt crisis triggered by the Mexican default in 1982, and during the 'lost decade' of conflict in Central America during the 1980s. the debt crisis led to an intensive process of 'opening-up' of the economies and societies of the region, using the same formula that had been applied in Chile as early as 1975 under the Pinochet regime.

The shifts away from authoritarianism to democracy, and from Import Substitution Industrialisation (ISI) to neoliberalisation have provided the dominant backdrop to Latin American social change since the 1970s. the authoritarian regimes in the region left deep scars on society, while the liberalisation process has been wide-ranging and dramatic in its impacts on the livelihoods of Latin Americans. Labour flexibilisation, privatisation

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