Democracy in Latin America: Visions and Realities

Democracy in Latin America: Visions and Realities

Democracy in Latin America: Visions and Realities

Democracy in Latin America: Visions and Realities

Synopsis

This important new volume collects articles that evaluate different models of democracy, challenging the realities and myths of the practice of democracy in various countries throughout the region. This is a provocative and revealing study of the critical issues in the struggle for democracy and current events in the Third World and the United States. Through the writings of leading Latin American and U.S. scholars, including James Petras, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, and Max Azicri, the book addresses such important topics as whether Washington's "model democracies" are truly democratic, and how Guatemala's civilian regime compares to Nicaragua's revolutionary democracy.

Excerpt

The two years since the initial publication of this volume have seen many new developments, yet remarkably little structural change, in the hemisphere. the contradictions of the "redemocratization" schemes have become clearer, as crises have worsened in "civilian" regimes compromised with (or run by) counterinsurgency armies. Haiti -- briefly a Reagan administration "democratic success story" -- exemplifies most dramatically the instability of the model. the experiences of Guatemala and El Salvador -- and even some of the Southern Cone "democracies" (such as Argentina and Uruguay) -- leave few illusions as to the viability of counterinsurgency states in which "democracy" is reduced to a civilian facade. At the popular level, however, there are genuinely new developments; mass-based social movements are growing more rapidly than ever, even in the face of unmanageable economic crises. Increasingly these movements defy control by even the most repressive state apparatus and begin to develop their own models for popular democracy. Although still incipient, these phenomena open up new alternatives for the future.

In a second arena, Reagan policy -- specifically the Reagan Doctrine embodied in the "rollback" policy against Nicaragua -- has been discredited by Contragate and weakened by its own internal contradictions. U.S. military aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, at its height in the mid-eighties, has now been suspended, as its destabilizing consequences eventually forced even the staunchest of U.S. allies in Latin and Central America to seek an alternative (hence Contadora and the Central American Peace Accords). the development of a new "relative autonomy" on the part of Latin American governments vis-à-vis the United States -- an incipient restructuring or redefinition in the . . .

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