Democratic Erosions in Latin America
“Cross-Currents in Latin America” by Scott Mainwaring and Anibal Perez Li~nan talks about the various democratization trends in Latin America and how it has developed over time. Although Brazil becomes a stronger democracy in Latin America, democracies in Guatemala, Haiti, and Paraguay, persist to be weak. The writers also still question the future of democracies in Latin America because, in these past few decades, democracies does not seem to be doing very well. For instance, in the Andean region such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, democracy has been failing. These countries experience coups and breakdowns of democratic regimes. Also, democracy is still strong in Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, and Uruguay. The only country that remains authoritarian in Latin America is Cuba.
According to Mainwaring and Perez Li~Nan, to categorize a country as a democracy, it has to pass these four aspects: First, the regime has to have free and fair elections to elect the government officials. Second, there has to be a universal adult suffrage except for non-citizens/immigrants. Third, the state must protect civil liberties and political rights. Fourth, the militaries, paramilitary and criminal organizations should not have a significant influence towards government policies. I think these are some excellent points that the authors have made to categorize democracy. I believe that for Latin America, the third and fourth reasons are the most significant reasons of democracy remaining in a weak state. In Colombia and Mexico, it was hard to achieve democracy due to the high crime and gang violence rates. As an example, Mexico has claimed that it is a democracy, I still think that Mexico is still transitioning to democracy. Mexico is not a fully democratic nation yet, and the people remain struggling with violence and corruption. I consider Mexico to be a not so functioning democracy, what I mean by that, is that Mexico does not have a federal government or authorities that are working to strengthen their public institutions and bureaucracies, which can eventually fight crimes and corruption forcefully. I feel like violence and corruptions root from broken domestic principles and institutions, which is why these issues should be fought from the top. The key problem exists within the Mexican government, not the bottom of it.
Moreover, many Latin American countries such as Haiti, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala are still doing bad economically. Severe economic conditions can make democratization process more difficult as it can cause the loss of illegitimacy in the system. Overall, the future of democracy in Latin America does not seem bright. This is mainly because most Latin American countries may have claimed to be democracies and they appear to fulfill the four aspect of a democratic nation, in reality, most of them does not. Violence, corruption, and poverty are the main obstacles that prevent some Latin American countries from fully transitioning to democracies. To tackle these issues, those Latin American countries must first fix their broken domestic principles and institutions.