Latin America: Equality, poverty, democracy

In the opening months of the new century, the political news from Latin America has been disheartening. This has spurred another outbreak of that ‘whither democracy?’ media commentary that seems to favour stark pessimism over bland optimism, on the assumption that the former might sound like realism while the latter can appear to be naïveté.

The World Today Updated 28 October 2020 Published 1 July 2000 6 minute READ

Andrew Crawley

Deputy Director, Institute for European-Latin American Relations, Madrid

Latin America is not a country. Its republics differ in the strength of their traditional political parties, the coherence of their civil societies, the degree to which the state is present throughout the national territory, their ethnic composition, economic potential, geostrategic significance, history of guerrilla struggle and experience of military intervention. The weight of their individual histories, as well as geography, economic performance and above all population, will shape the future of democracy in each.

‘Democracy is dead’. So said Alejandro Toledo, the candidate defeated by Peru’s incumbent President Alberto Fujimori in May following the second round of a presidential election beset by irregularities.

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