Democracy in Latin America: Colombia and Venezuela

By Donald L. Herman | Go to book overview

with historic Latin American clientelism and personalism, behavioral patterns that can be traced to the colonial era. Unfortunately, in-depth studies of how foreign training influenced traditional bureaucratic behavior in Colombia and Venezuela are not available.

To summarize, the Alliance for Progress and successor policies intended to reform social and economic structures strengthened the central governments of Colombia and Venezuela. Since these governments were in the hands of democratic leaders, this contributed to institutionalizing democracy. Here U.S. policy also assisted Colombian and Venezuelan bureaucracies in acquiring modern forms and increased technological capabilities. However, many traditional patterns of behavior persisted. Clientelistic practices remained the norm, and politicians applied performance criteria selectively. For some, this represented reasonable progress, given the burdens of history and tradition. For others, these changes were ill-conceived efforts that postponed the-necessary and inevitable revolutionary processes that some day would transform these countries.

Finally, the aforementioned lack of information about the consequences for bureaucratic performance of mixing training in the developed world with traditional Latin American values and procedures suggests a priority area for future research. Bureaucracies will remain pivotal agents for initiating and managing change, not only in Colombia and Venezuela, but throughout Latin America. If the United States continues to view the capability to channel socioeconomic change as important to the pursuit of its interests, resources will have to be allocated toward understanding the consequences for Latin American bureaucracies of training their young executives in western Europe and the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. Measuring and interpreting consequences will be difficult, time consuming, and demanding of cooperation between North American and Latin American social science. For the United States, however, the failure to sponsor such research perpetuates ignorance about the impact of a long-term, costly effort undertaken to advance important national interests.


NOTES
1
José Antonio Gil, The Challenge of Venezuelan Democracy, transl. Evelyn Harrison I. , Lolo Gil de Yanes, and Danielle Salti ( New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1981), Chapter 7.
2
Robert J. Alexander and Charles O. Porter, The Struggle for Democracy in Latin America ( New York: Macmillan 1961).
3
For a rigorous discussion of influence, see Robert A. Dahl, Modern Political Analysis, third edition ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1976), Chapter 3.
4
David Ronfeldt, Geopolitics,Security, and U.S. Strategy in the Caribbean Basin, R-2997-AF ( Santa Monica, Calif.: The Rand Corporation, 1983), pp. 48-56.
5
Margaret Daly Hayes, "United States Security Interests in Central Americain Global Perspective" in Central America:International Dimensions of the Crisis, ed. Richard Feinberg ( New York: Holmes & Meier, 1982), p. 92.

-296-

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