After a period dominated by de facto regimes, the political landscape in Latin America shifted in the closing decades of the 20th century. Democracies began to flourish, ushering in a political renaissance with administrations respectful of human rights, basic freedoms, and new constitutional orders.
But as reminders of the region’s dictatorial past emerged in the early years of the 21st century, the optimism that came with the democratic shift began to wane. Regimes that took root under the guise of rule of law began to build their own dictatorial apparatuses. Leading the movement away from democratic governance was Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, quickly followed by Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. Additionally, Cristina Kirchner has been receiving financial aid from Venezuela in order to strengthen her authoritarian style in Argentina.
On May 8th, Hudson Institute’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis hosted a discussion of the challenges to democracy in Latin America featuring Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary for Political Affairs at the Organization of American States and former Vice President of Costa Rica, René León, former Ambassador of El Salvador to the United States, and Hector Schamis, adjunct professor at Georgetown University and columnist for El País. Ambassador Jaime Daremblum, Senior Fellow and Director of Hudson’s Center for Latin American Studies, moderated the discussion.
Hudson Institute is grateful to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation for their generous support for this series of conferences.