f_0016619_14361

f_0016619_14361 - Democratic Transformation in Latin...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Democratic Transformation in Latin America by Jennifer L. McCoy W e are currently witnessing a demand to expand citizenship to civil and social realms in Latin America, the region of the world with the most unequal income distribution. This may be seen as a new stage of democratization within the Third Wave begun in 1978, one that inherently creates conflict over the redistribution of power and resources. During the initial years of the Third Wave, Latin American societies adopted formal procedures of democracy and created a broad consensus on macroeconomic liberalization. In the second stage, citizens—particularly the urban poor and indigenous groups—are striving to move beyond the broadly established political rights of electoral competition in order to also enjoy civil rights (freedoms and access to justice) that are incompletely and inconsistently applied, and social rights (providing the basic capabilities to citizens to make free choices) that are woefully underprovided. 1 Middle class groups are insisting that their governments perform better, deliver promised services, and represent broader societal interests. With existing political institutions failing to adequately include these groups in political and socioeconomic terms, they are finding their voice through street politics and the ballot box. Nearly a dozen presidents have been forced out of office prematurely in the last decade as a result, at least in part, of citizen mobilization and street protests. One interpretation sees this as a threatening sign of mob rule or even “civil society coups.” Another interpretation views the active participation of citizens voicing their demands as a welcome sign of more truly democratic societies. This article seeks to make sense of the current attempts at democratic transformation in Latin America. H EIGHTENED F RUSTRATIONS Latin America is once again in a moment of transition regarding both its democratization and the global context, creating opportunities for innovation and new models. Previously, the Great Depression and World War II interrupted trade relations between Latin America and the North. These events also ushered in Jennifer McCoy is a professor of Political Science at Georgia State University and Director of the Americas Program at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. 19
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MCCOY The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations economic, theoretical creativity led by the Economic Commission of Latin America (ECLA) school of thought and a period of state capitalism in the region. After a spate of military authoritarian regimes in the 1960s and 1970s, along with the debt crisis of the 1980s, Latin America was a leader in the Third Wave of democratization. This wave ushered in the most extensive period of democracy in the region’s history, alongside the reopening of the economies to market capitalism and globalization. However, after two and a half decades of democracy and market reform that
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 351 taught by Professor Shaw during the Fall '08 term at Boise State.

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f_0016619_14361 - Democratic Transformation in Latin...

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