Crisis and regression: Ecuador,
Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela
Heinz R. Sonntag
During and until the end of the 1970s, the societies of the Latin American and Caribbean region were under authoritarian governments, with five exceptions: Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela. 1 At the beginning of the twenty-first century, all countries – except Cuba – have elected governments and undergo periodical processes of legitimization through elections and thus can replace their governments by alternative ones.
The general reasons for and features of this proliferation of democracy during the 1980s (and, in the cases of Ecuador, Peru and Nicaragua, during the last years of the 1970s) are explored in other contributions to this volume. But like any general rule, the democratization of Latin American and Caribbean political systems and states during the last two decades of the twentieth century has its exceptions. The objective of this essay is to analyse both the common and the individual characteristics of the cases whose democracies are experiencing deep crises and regressions.
These cases are Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. Each is as different from the others as each society of the region is with respect to the rest – yet they share certain common patterns. 2 These differences and similarities make comparative analysis in Latin America and the Caribbean so attractive and enriching: the existence of the differences makes it difficult, though not impossible, to fall into the trap of overall general-