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Polarization and Legitimacy in Latin America

  • Paul E. Sigmund (a1)

This article examines the trends of democratic transformation in Latin America, focusing on the notion that transitions there occurred despite the absence of the accepted cultural and economic preconditions for democracy. Radical leftist guerrilla movements historically inspired by Castro and the Dependencia politics that infiltrated the continent in the 1950s and 1960s were challenged by rightist military doctrines based on the national duty to protect the country and install order. This ideological polarization served as the ultimate impetus for moderation in policies on the continent. Sigmund is optimistic that the new consensus of conservatives, liberals, Catholics, and Marxists has made prospects for democracy in the region more positive now than at any time in history.

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1 See, for example, the classic article by Theotonio Dos Santos, “The Structure of Dependence,” which concludes, “Everything now indicates that what can be expected is a long process of sharp political and military confrontations and of profound social radicalization which will lead these countries to a dilemma: governments of force which open the way to fascism, or popular revolutionary governments which open the way to socialism.”American Economic Review, Vol. 60, No. 2 (1970) p. 236.

2 Gutierrez, Gustavo, A Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1973).

3 Gall, Norman, “The Legacy of Che Guevara,” Commentary, Vol. 44, No. 6 (1967) pp. 3144.

4 See Rouquie, Alain, The Military and the State in Latin America, trans. Sigmund, Paul E. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987) chapters 4 and 11.

5 Patrick Moynihan, Daniel, “The American Experiment,” The Public Interest, No. 41 (Fall 1975) pp. 67.

6 See, for example, Wiarda, Howard, Corporatism and National Development in Latin America (Boulder: Westview Press, 1981); Roett, Riordan, Brazil: Politics in a Patrimonial Society (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1978); Moreno, Francisco José., Legitimacy and Stability in Latin America (New York: New York University Press, 1969); Veliz, Claudio, The Centralist Tradition in Latin America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980).

7 For the evolution in official Catholic attitudes toward democracy, See Sigmund, Paul E., “The Catholic Tradition and Modern Democracy,”The Review of Politics, Vol. 49, No. 4 (September 1987) pp. 530–48.

8 See Brett, Donna Whitson and Brett, Edward T., Murdered in Central America (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1988).

9 See Sigmund, Paul E., “Chile, Utopian Libertarianism or Market Fascism?” Worldview, Vol. 24, No. 10 (October 1981) pp. 46.

10 See Foxley, Alejandro, Latin American Experiments in Neo-Conservative Economics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); Ramos, Joseph, Neo-Conservative Economics in the Southern Cone of Latin America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1986); Wesson, Robert, ed., Politics, Policies, and Economic Development in Latin America (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1984); Sheahan, John, Patterns of Development in Latin America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).

11 See the argument of my forthcoming book, Liberation Theology at the Crossroads: Democracy or Revolution?, to be published by Oxford University Press in 1989.

12 For a comparison of Cuba and Costa Rica, see Carmelo Mesa Lago, “Growth and Equity in Costa Rica and Cuba” (mimeograph) University of Pittsburgh, Center for Latin American Studies, 1986.

13 Kozyrev, Andrey V., from an article in International Affairs (Moscow), published by the Soviet Foreign Ministry; reprinted in The New York Times, January 7, 1989, p. 27.

14 Gutierrez, Gustavo, “Aún Es Tiempo,”Páginas, Vol. XL, No. 86 (Lima: July 1986); Assmann, Hugo, “Democracy and the Debt Crisis,” This World, No. 14 (Spring-Summer 1986) pp. 92–94; Weffort, Francisco, For Qué Democracia? (São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1984); Bitar, Sergio, Sonalismo, Democracia γ Desarrollo (Mexico City: Siglio XXI, 1979); Moulian, Tomas, Democracia γ Socialismo en Chile (Santiago: FLACSO, 1983). On the changes in the Chilean Socialist Party since 1973, See Walker, Ignacio, “Socialism and Democracy” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation) Politics Department, Princeton University, 1988.

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Ethics & International Affairs
  • ISSN: 0892-6794
  • EISSN: 1747-7093
  • URL: /core/journals/ethics-and-international-affairs
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