Latin America’s Democracies Hold Strong
With some countries falling deeper into despotism, these may not be the best of times for liberal democracy in Latin America; but nor are they the worst. As crises have come and gone, the culture and institutions of democracy have proven unexpectedly resilient in Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Chile.
SANTIAGO – Just in recent months, Peru’s president attempted to dissolve Congress, Argentina’s vice president was convicted of fraud, and Brazil’s incumbent president threatened not to leave office if he lost the upcoming election. Add the consolidation of dictatorships in Venezuela and Nicaragua and the Salvadoran president’s announcement that he will seek re-election despite constitutional limits, and it would seem that democracy is in trouble in Latin America.
But a closer look reveals a different picture. The Peruvian president who tried to shut down Congress was peacefully removed by it. And while Brazil’s outgoing president spent the past six weeks sulking in his compound – Donald Trump-style – his chief aide let it be known that the transfer of power would proceed unimpeded. Similarly, though Argentina has plenty of other problems, Argentinians can be thankful that they at least have judges who can indict powerful government officials – something Russians, Chinese, or Saudis can only dream about.
These may not be the best of times for liberal democracy in Latin America, but they are not the worst of times, either. As crises have come and gone, the culture and institutions of democracy have proven unexpectedly resilient in many countries.
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