Contemporary Latin American Politics Jonathan Hartlyn UNC-Chapel Hill. World View and others March 2010

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1 Contemporary Latin American Politics Jonathan Hartlyn UNC-Chapel Hill World View and others March 2010

2 Outline I. Broad regional trends and challenges: Democracy, Development, Drugs and violence. II. U.S.-Latin American relations: Region more assertive but politically divided Many significant intra-regional and within country variations

3 Source: Van Cott JOD

4 I. Contemporary Challenges A. Democracy Current wave most extended and longest lasting (using procedural definition of democracy)

5 Cycles of democracy Smith 2005, 27

6 Political democracy: a contested term Electoral democracy Free elections for principal offices Rotation in office Minimum conditions to assure fair competition Populist democracy Majoritarian and personalistic Rule-of-Law Democracy Democratic civilian control over armed forces Executive accountability, checks and balances

7 Populism and democracy (Weyland) Populism: A political strategy whereby an individual leader seeks or exercises government power based on: support from large numbers of followers, espousing anti elite rhetoric, and challenging the status quo. -- Populists see democracy as majority rule (no concern for minority rights ). -- At what point competitive authoritarianism?

8 This slide: Latinobarometro 2009

9 What has sustained Electoral Democracy currently? Structural transformations of modernization (mostly middle income countries) Higher per capita GDP over past several decades Urbanization and education Post-Cold War era (decreasingly relevant) Ideological depolarization Political democracy revalued Globalization U.S., OAS support for electoral democracy Trans-national civil society and networks But, imperfect floor: Honduras, Venezuela

10 I.B. Contemporary Challenges: Development What inhibits rule-of-law democracy? Continued (in some cases exacerbated) levels of inequality; Latin America is the most unequal region in the world Over-all low growth rates; frequent crises Weak civil society and weak state institutions

11 Poverty and inequality: Regional and ethnic dimensions

12 % change GDP pc 6.00% 5.00% Latin America: Percent change in GDP per capita, % 3.00% 2.00% 1.00% 0.00% -1.00% -2.00% -3.00%

13 Development and populism Tensions between democratic citizenship and social exclusion Left populist-nationalist governments in countries with weak party systems: Chávez in Venezuela; Morales in Bolivia; Correa in Ecuador; to some extent Ortega in Nicaragua. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina partially in this group; as is Fernando Lugo in Paraguay.

14 Other governments also in power Social-democratic governments: Lula in Brazil; José Mujica in Uruguay; until recently Michelle Bachelet in Chile. Seek reforms within model. More centrist or right governments: Piñera in Chile; Uribe in Colombia; García in Peru; Calderón in Mexico; Martinelli in Panama; Arias in Costa Rica; Fernández in Dominican Rep.

15 I.C. Contemporary Challenges: Drugs, crime and a dark side of globalization Market-oriented reforms facilitated drug trafficking (weakening states, displacing labor, facilitating arms-drugs and other networks) New consumer markets in Latin Am, Europe and Russia Crime rates also up dramatically in the region

16 High levels of crime & violence

17 II. US policy toward Latin America President Obama: Better image, but not improved relations To date, low priority, mostly reactive, captive of partisan politics: Nominations held up (Honduras crisis) Immigration reform (high priority for Mexico, Central Am and Cb) and trade (Colombia, Panama, Mexico) postponed

18 The U.S. and a politically divided region Distrust over US-Colombia military pact

19 President Obama: % favorable view Source: Latinobarometro 2009

20 President Hugo Chávez: % favorable view Latinobarometro 2009

21 Other key issues: Counter-narcotics policy: Focus on eradication, interdiction and report cards has been costly and ineffective. Cuba: Some modest, important changes; still isolates us from regional allies

22 Summing up Latin America: more democratic, more assertive yet more politically divided as well Our economies and societies are still extensively linked (with regional variations), for extensive mutual benefit We must remain engaged also to manage narcotics and crime issues

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