Edited by Jean L. Pyle and Robert Forrant
Chapter 6: Feminists and Technocrats in the Democratization of Latin America: A Prolegomenon
1 Verónica Montecinos I. INTRODUCTION Analyses of recent experiences of democratization often identify a successful transition from authoritarian regimes with an ensuing process of democratic consolidation. This language is dangerously deceptive. It seems to suggest that democracy, once achieved, can be institutionalized, made durable and stable. The image of a consolidated democracy obscures the inherent ambiguities of democratic ideals and practices. Historically, the very idea of democracy has been subject to considerable reforms and innovations: ‘democracy is a moving target, not a static structure’ (Markoﬀ, 1999, p. 689). The meaning and even the existence of democracy are matters of continuous debates as political and social actors struggle to reconstruct existing practices and institutional arrangements in directions that more adequately reﬂect their needs and aspirations. Military regimes dominated most of Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. A region-wide movement towards democratization occurred in the 1980s, and a decade later, only socialist Cuba had not embraced electoral competition. Eﬀorts to consolidate democracy have captured the attention of political elites and scholars alike, in part because of the high level of economic uncertainty that accompanied the replacement of authoritarian regimes by elected governments. The democratic transition coincided with the devastating consequences of the debt crisis, persistently high levels of inequality (about 40 percent of Latin American households lived below the poverty line in the 1990s), and the growing constraints imposed by transformations in the international economy. In the past two decades, policy elites faced the challenges of political liberalization...
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