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Violence Remains In “Democratic” Latin America


Violence Remains A Viable Option Throughout “Democratic” Latin America

Guatemala, Colombia and El Salvador still are not safe havens for those calling for reforms “Democracy” often more apparent than real

Intimidation and murder often accompany political rallies and free elections Skeptics noticeably aside, Latin America’s transition to democracy is now widely, if perhaps mistakenly accepted as reflecting a genuine sea change.

Regional boosters, like Secretary of State Colin Powell, will insist that, with the possible exception of Cuba, there are no overtly authoritarian or military governments left in the region.

And it is a fact that the Bush administration showed itself eager to embrace the attempted coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in April of 2002, and that what saved the day was the immediate and widespread condemnation of the failed effort both within and outside that country.

Some would argue that the failure of the coup demonstrated that there’s little tolerance these days for frontal attacks on democratically-elected governments, with Haiti a lamentable exception. While an argument could be made to uphold this thesis, evidence also exists that many democratic institutions remain under profound threat in many Latin American societies.

W. John Green, Ph. D., is a COHA Senior Research Fellow and a specialist in Colombian history. Issued 29 March, 2004

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.”

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