Cross-Currents in Latin America

Issue Date January 2015
Volume 26
Issue 1
Page Numbers 114-127
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Trends in democratization have been mixed in Latin America. Four trajectories are discernible in the current century: stable, high-quality democracies (Chile, Costa Rica, and Uruguay); stable democracies with more salient shortcomings (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Panama); low-quality, stagnant democracies (Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, and Paraguay); and cases of democratic erosion and even backsliding into authoritarianism (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, and Nicaragua). The twenty-first century democratic erosions occurred where presidents with hegemonic ambitions confronted poorly institutionalized party systems and ultimately gained control over weak state institutions, including pliant courts and low-capacity agencies unable to check the executive.