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Reassessing the Causes of Nongovernmental Terrorism in Latin America

  • Andreas E. Feldmann and Maiju Perälä


For years, nongovernmental terrorism in Latin America was considered an epiphenomenon of the Cold War. The persistence of this type of political violence in the 1990s, however, not only belied many assumptions about its causes but also led scholars to reexamine the phenomenon. This article investigates the validity of a number of hypotheses by applying a pooled time-series cross-section regression analysis to data from 17 Latin American countries between 1980 and 1995. Findings indicate that nongovernmental terrorist acts in Latin America are more likely to occur in poorly institutionalized regimes characterized by varying degrees of political and electoral liberties, a deficient rule of law, and widespread human rights violations. The analysis also shows that nongovernmental terrorism in the region tends to surface in cyclical waves; but it finds no association between economic performance or structural economic conditions and the incidence of nongovernmental terrorism.



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