The Road to Democracy in Latin America
International Political Problems
Chesapeake, VA 23320
Democracy in Latin America: Success, Challenge and the Future The Latin American political scene today offers no perspectives for revolutionary change in the sense of break in the class politico-institutional order, even though the factors that traditionally create the substantive or objective conditions for the unfolding of revolutionary processes are present: namely, growing poverty, a general deterioration in the standard of living, a lack of socio-economic perspectives, insufficient access to basic resources for large sections of the Latin American population, both rural and urban. The interest of the task force is in identifying economic policies that will strengthen the economic progress of the countries of the hemisphere without undermining their near-universal commitment to democracy. It is in terms of economic progress that so many Latin American countries had turned in disappointing results ever since the start of the debt crisis in 1982. But we are seeking to remedy this without jeopardizing the area in which the region has by most people’s standards made historic progress since 1982, is establishing democracy. There is a small but pretty robust econometric literature on the relationship between democracy and growth (e. g., Barro 1996, Helliwell 1994, Svensson 1999, Tavares and Wacziarg 2001). There is a little evidence has much impact on growth overall; some channels are favorable, some are unfavorable but overall the effect is at best modest. The net effect may be slightly negative, but this effect is neither definite nor powerful enough to change the mind of anyone who believes in the value of democracy for its own sake. In contrast, there is strong evidence to believe in a positive relationship going from growth to democracy. As people become richer, one of the things they want is a say in how they are governed. Nondemocratic countries that are becoming richer are very likely to confront a problem at some stage. In some respects within Latin America are sharper today than ever before, at least post World War II. There is oft-remarked contrast between the modernizing socialism of Bachelet and Lula as against the old-fashioned populist socialism of the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales. Latin America on the road to Democracy and Humanism
The great revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara left Cuba for Bolivia with a mission to spread the struggle against world imperialism and was murdered by a CIA agent in Bolivia. In December, 2005, after nearly 39 years, Evo Morales, a poor coca farmer was elected Bolivia’s new president. In Bolivia, on the occasion of his installation, Morales requested a minute’s silence for Che and other millions of people who sacrificed their lives all over Latin America. He said in his speech that his struggle was a continuation of of Ernesto Che Guevara’s mission. Evo Morales, Carlos Mesa was a neo-liberal politician who was thrown out of office, through elections followed by popular revolt. Ironically, he was himself brought to power in an upsurge of protest. But he failed to challenge neo-colonization and corporate greed and had to go long before his stipulated time in office. The first signs of the regional revolt came in Venezuela in February 1989, when the poor spontaneously rose up against International Monetary fund-imposed price rises on basic goods. Through out the 1990s, movements against neo-colonialism grew. In Ecuador, President Luis Gutierrez was forced out from office in mid 2005, by an uprising. Although elected on an anti-neo-liberal platform, Gutierrez, like Bolivian president Mesa, abandoned his promises in an attempt to keep...
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