Maria D'Alva G. Kinzo
More than 20 years have passed since the so-called “third wave of democratization” 1 reached Latin America. In some countries, civilian rule replaced military-authoritarian regimes after a peaceful transition; in others this was only possible after several years of civil war. In countries where authoritarianism had never had the form of military dictatorship – as in Mexico – the wave of democratization came with reforms that significantly expanded political competition. In still others, this wave reached the beach but retreated in the face of instability or reversion, such as in Peru and more recently in Ecuador and Venezuela. This variety of experiences within a region whose countries have shared similarities in their processes of development, suggests the importance of assessing Latin America's democratization in the light of the diversified paths it has taken.
Brazil, together with Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Uruguay, forms the group of transition cases: a pattern of democratization resulted from the reestablishment of civilian rule after the military's peaceful return to the barracks. The examination of Brazil as a separate case of transition is due less to any singularity arising from this country's continental size and complexities, than to the assumption that most of the achievements and limitations of Brazil's democratization concern specific features of Brazil's transition which, in turn, are related to some peculiarities of its experience of a military-authoritarian regime. Thus, an assessment of Brazil's current