Latin America’s Military Factor

BUENOS AIRES – In 2009, Latin America scored an unrecognized achievement: the global economic crisis did not affect the continent as dramatically as it did other regions.   Politically and institutionally, however, Latin America’s weaknesses and perils worsened.

Indeed, while the various legislative and presidential elections held throughout Latin America reinforced – beyond the outcomes in each case – popular commitment to pluralism and democracy, they also reflected growing levels of political polarization and persistent institutional shortcomings. In a way, this reveals a paradox of Latin American democracy: exclusive, minority governments that devalue and weaken the state are no longer acceptable, while the rise of personalismo – a concentration of power and coupled with refractory political tactics – are bringing about fragmentation and unruly governance.