Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy

By John A. Booth | Go to book overview

1
LATIN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AND COSTARICA

Costa Rica is famed and important beyond its size and numbers . . . as a verdant oasis of democracy and political maturity in a desert of dictatorship and political violence.1

A tidal wave of military dictatorship swept Latin America in the 1970s, crushing both the Chilean and Uruguayan constitutional regimes in 1973. These democratic breakdowns of two older Latin democracies left Costa Rica as the region's longest surviving democratic regime.2 Many feared then that Costa Rica's civilian, representative, constitutional regime might have become the last survivor of a soon to be extinct species.

Costa Rican democracy survived, however, in spite of the revolutions, military dictatorships, political upheaval, and geopolitical meddling that engulfed Central America over the next two decades. Today this tiny nation of approximately 3.7 million people has as neighbors several fledgling democracies where many reasonable observers expected none.3 Indeed, as the twentieth century ends, the exceptions to this recent wave of democratization in Latin America, such as Cuba, now seem glaringly anomalous.4

Despite recent improvements, pessimism about the prospects for democracy in Latin America has long been widespread among students of the region. Scholars cite many well-known cultural and institutional features of Ibero­

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Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Acronyms xvii
  • Preface xxi
  • 1 - Latin American Democracy and Costa Rica 1
  • Notes 12
  • 2 - Contemporary Costa Rica In Central America 17
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - The Historical Development of Costa Rican Democracy 32
  • Notes 53
  • 4 - The Political Framework of Democracy 56
  • Notes 78
  • 5 - Social Structure and Civil Society 82
  • Notes 100
  • 6 - Political Participation 103
  • Notes 125
  • 7 - Political Culture 129
  • Notes 151
  • 8 - Political Economy in Transition 154
  • Notes 174
  • 9 - Costa Rica in the World 177
  • Conclusions 192
  • 10 - Analysi5 and Conclusions: Can Democracy Survive? 195
  • Notes 208
  • Appendix 211
  • Index 219
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