Democratic Governance

The Program’s work on democratic governance focuses on questions of improving democratic quality and state capacity, the relationship between democratization and internal armed conflict, the resurgence of populism, and the protection of human rights.

Issues in this Series

Latin American Populism in the 21st Century

Cynthia J. Arnson and Carlos De La Torre
Leading Latin American, U.S., and European authors explore the institutional and socioeconomic contexts that give rise to populism and show how disputes over its meaning are closely intertwined with debates over the meaning of democracy.

International Support for Justice Reform in Latin America: Worthwhile or Worthless?

Luis Pásara
This paper examines international support for judicial reform in Latin America, exploring several questions.

In the Wake of War: Democratization and Internal Armed Conflict in Latin America

Cynthia J. Arnson
In the Wake of War assesses the consequences of civil war for democratization in Latin America, focusing on questions of state capacity. Contributors focus on seven countries—Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru—where state weakness fostered conflict and the task of state reconstruction presents multiple challenges.

Chronic Violence and its Reproduction: Perverse Trends in Social Relations, Citizenship, and Democracy in Latin America

Tani Adams
This report reviews a broad literature on the causes and social effects of chronic violence in Latin America and details the consistent and diverse ways that chronic violence undermines social relations and support for democracy.
La violencia crónica y su reproducción

La violencia crónica y su reproducción: Tendencias perversas en las relaciones sociales, la ciudadanía y la democracia en América Latina

Tani Adams
En este ensayo se presenta una reseña de la amplia literatura sobre las causas y efectos sociales de la violencia crónica en América Latina y se detallan las maneras diversas en que la violencia mina las relaciones sociales y el apoyo a la democracia.

The Administration of President Mauricio Funes: A One Year Assessment

Cynthia J. Arnson, Adam Drolet, Hugo Martínez, Jim McGovern, Cristina Eguizábal, Ricardo Córdova Macías, Federico Hernández, Dr. José Miguel Cruz, William Pleitéz , and Luis Membreño
Stemming from a conference held in June 2008, this report provides a spectrum of opinions on the successes and challenges faced by El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes in his first year in office.

Las políticas sociales de la nueva (vieja) izquierda uruguaya

Rossana Castiglioni
This publication explores the social policies of President Tabaré Vázquez' leftist Frente Amplio-Nueva Mayoría administration. This bulletin specifically examines measures on tax reform, welfare, national healthcare, wage boards, and education.

Seguridad y Defensa en America del Norte: Nuevos dilemas geopolíticos

Raul Benitez-Manaut
The book's authors collaborate to put forth an analysis of North American national defense policies and their implications on transnational and border security. Issues of migration and organized crime are touched upon, providing readers with an greater, in-depth understanding of security problems faced by the region as a whole.

Participatory Institutions in Democratic Brazil

Leonardo Avritzer
Brazil has conducted some of the world's most stunning experiments in participatory democracy, most notably the creation of city budgets through local citizens' meetings. Leonardo Avritzer introduces a fresh analytical approach, highlighting civic participation's most effective means and expanding the empirical base for assessing state institutions.

Iran in Latin America: Threat or 'Axis of Annoyance'?

Cynthia J. Arnson, Haleh Esfandiari, and Adam Stubits
The essays in this report reflect an effort to provide background and context for understanding Iran's relations with Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; the articles emphasize the foreign policy objectives and strategies of Latin American nations as well as the strategic objectives of the Iranian government. Originally presented at a conference at the Woodrow Wilson Center in July 2008, the papers have since been revised, translated, and updated.

Desigualdad y pobreza bajo las nuevas izquierdas en América Latina

Nora Lustig
This research paper, commissioned for the conference, provides an overview of trends in poverty and inequality throughout Latin America, comparing left and non-left governments, as well as left governments and their non-leftist predecessors in their own countries.

La Seguridad en el Caribe: Reformas y Cooperación Regional

Lilian Bobea, Hal P. Klepak, Johanna Mendelson Forman, Dirk Kruijt, and Jessica Byron
This publication purports to add to the recent years of dialogue regarding defense and security issues in the Caribbean. Bobea et al. present their analysis in the context of this diverse, complex, and dynamic region, shedding new light on the reforms of security and defense institutions and their future implications for the region.

Participatory Innovation and Representative Democracy in Latin America

Andrew Selee and Enrique Peruzzotti
This empirically grounded collection examines the growth of participatory institutions in Latin American democracy and how such institutions affect representative government. Selee and Peruzzotti analyze specific cases in Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina.

Pobreza, desigualdad y la "nueva izquierda" en América Latina

Cynthia J. Arnson, José Jara, and Natalia Escobar
This is a report of a conference held in Santiago, Chile. The December 2008 conference, "Pobreza, desigualdad, y la 'nueva izquierda' en America Latina," included participants from eight countries who explored trends in poverty and inequality under social democratic and populist left governments.

Poverty, Inequality and the New Left in Latin America

Nora Lustig
This is a research paper commissioned for the conference, by Argentine economist Nora Lustig, who provides an overview of trends in poverty and inequality throughout Latin America, comparing left and non-left governments, as well as left governments and their non-leftist predecessors in their own countries.

Are Latin America's New Left Regimes Reducing Inequality Faster? Addendum to Poverty, Inequality and the New Left

Nora Lustig and Darryl McLeod
This is an addendum to a paper commissioned for a conference, by economist Nora Lustig, who reviews trends in poverty and inequality throughout Latin America, comparing left and non-left governments, as well as left governments and their non-leftist predecessors.

Understanding Populism and Political Participation: The Case of Nicaragua

Carlos F. Chamorro, Edmundo Jarquín, and Alejandro Bendaña
The Latin American Program convened the seminar "Understanding Populism and Political Participation" to examine new forms of political participation and state-civil society interaction in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. This bulletin contains the observations of three distinguished analysts of Nicaraguan politics.

Understanding Populism and Political Participation: The Case of Venezuela

Luis Vicente León and David Smilde
Commissioned as part of the Latin American Program's Project on Democratic Governance and the 'New Left' in Latin America, these papers examine new forms of political participation and state-civil society interaction in Venezuela in the context of debates over participatory versus representative democracy.

Cuba and its Neighbors: The Challenges of Change

José Raúl Perales
In the aftermath of Raúl Castro's rise to power, this conference examined the recent evolution of key areas of Cuba's international agenda - hemispheric relations, tourism, foreign investment and economy, energy, and security. Conference experts explained the challenges confronting Cuba as it seeks a better international economic and political insertion.

Democratic Deficits:Addressing Challenges to Sustainability and Consolidation Around the World

Gary Bland and Cynthia J. Arnson
This book comparatively explores the obstacles countries face in sustaining and consolidating democratic systems. Topics include social services, poverty, and inequality, specific case studies, and how government policy and development practices improve the quality of life of citizens in democratic regimes.

La "nueva izquierda " en America Latina: Derechos humanos, participacion politica, y sociedad civil

Cynthia J. Arnson, Ariel Armony, Enrique Peruzzotti, Catalina Smulovitz, Gaston Chillier, and Giselle Cohen
This book explores the phenomenon of leftist governments in Latin America from the perspective of human rights and civic participation. Topics include accountability for past violations, new challenges in promoting human rights, political participation and civil state society, and social politics and civil society.

Corrupt Circles: A History of Unbound Graft in Peru

Alfonso W. Quiroz
This book provides a historical view of Peruvian corruption, dating back to the country's colonial period. Quinoz demonstrates how corruption has been deeply embedded and costly for Peru's state institutions, hindering the country's development, and how this corruption aided by the readiness of both Peruvians and the international community to turn a blind eye.

New Voices in the Study of Democracy in Latin America

Guillermo O'Donnell, Joseph S. Tulchin, Augusto Varas, and Adam Stubits
This publication contains papers from the two years of a competition which gave grants to PhDs to write papers on democracy. Chapters in this book shift the focus of studies on institutions to questions of efficiency and accountability, examine how democracy functions at subnational levels, and explore how concerns over gender and race affect our understanding of democratic governance.

Bolivia: Social Movements, Populism, and Democracy

Brooke Larson, Raúl Madrid, René A. Mayorga, and Jessica Varat
Bolivia has become a focal point of the academic discourse on the ‘New Left' in Latin America and this report aims to explore the dynamic between social movements as governing bodies, the populist rhetoric of Evo Morales' administration, and the implications for Bolivian democracy.

Strategies for Promoting Gender Equity in Developing Countries

Elizabeth Bryan and Jessica Varat
This Conference Report examines strategies for promoting gender equity in development. It draws upon experts to analyze individual cases from throughout the developing world. The report also aims to identify policy options for enhancing gender equity and suggests ways of rethinking current debates over the inclusion of women.

Energy and Development in South America: Conflict and Cooperation

Cynthia J. Arnson, Jessica Varat, Francisco Rojas Aravena, and Claudio Fuentes
In November 2007, experts on energy convened to discuss the role of energy resources as an instrument of cooperation or conflict in South America. The report explores the effects of the political and economic policy decisions of important energy producers on other energy-dependent, Latin American states.

Legal Standards and the Interrogation of Prisoners in the War on Terror

Cynthia J. Arnson, Philippa Strum, and Adam Stubits
The following is a Conference Report of an event on the treatment of detainees in the context of the U.S. global War on Terror held in June 2007 at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Repoliticizing Latin America: The Revival of Populist and Leftist Alternatives

Kenneth M. Roberts
This essay explores the dual "fault lines" in Latin American democracy that have contributed to the rise of new popular and leftist movements.

Governance and Security in Haiti: Can the International Community Make a Difference?

Elizabeth Bryan, Cynthia J. Arnson, José Raúl Perales, and Johanna Mendelson Forman
This publication is a summary of a meeting held on January 9, 2007 to discuss the role of the international community in addressing Haiti’s governance, security, and development challenges.

The 'New Left' and Democratic Governance in Latin America

Cynthia J. Arnson and José Raúl Perales
Based on presentations at a November 2006 workshop, this publication explores political trends and policy outcomes in eight countries and aims to understand why so many governments of the Left have come to power in Latin America at this moment in history and explores the impact of specific policies in the areas of social welfare, citizen participation, human rights, and foreign relations.

Understanding Cuba

Elizabeth Bryan
This publication presents a summary of a meeting held in December of 2006 to discuss questions regarding the future leadership of Cuba and the possibility of reform following the Cuban government’s announcement in July 2006 that Fidel Castro had temporarily ceded power to his brother Raúl.

Toward a Society Under Law

Joseph S. Tulchin and Meg Ruthenburg
The first part of the book covers general themes related to crime, including the impact of community policing, the role of advocacy networks, urban social policies and crime, and the cost of crime. The second part includes case studies of police reform, community policing, Argentina's plan for crime prevention, and crime in Mexico City.

Participación ciudadana y percepción de inseguridad en América Latina

Jessica Varat and Allison Garland
This report is part of a series of research projects aimed at analyzing the influence of citizen participation and public security.

Democracia y ciudadanía

Andrew Selee and Leticia Santin del Rio
This publication is the result of a meeting which took place in Mexico City in June 2004. Participants from Mexico, Colombia, Spain, and the United States sought to understand the theoretical possibilities and the practical achievements of citizen participation and public deliberation in local governments in Mexico.

Citizenship in Latin America

Joseph S. Tulchin and Meg Ruthenburg
Is democracy in Latin America in trouble, as many now argue? Or is the increasingly overt political participation of both "average" and marginalized citizens evidence to the contrary? This important collection focuses on citizenship to shed light on the dynamics and obstacles that the region's democracy's now face. Published by Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Gobernabilidad de la Seguridad en el Caribe

Lilian Bobea
This bulletin presents a summary of a conference held in the Dominican Republic on August 1, 2005, with President Leonel Fernández Reyna and Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés. (in Spanish)

The Role of the Media in the Consolidation of Democracy

This report summarizes a November 2004 conference co-sponsored by the Organization of American States that discussed the role the media plays in the consolidation of democracy.

Cambios en la sociedad Cubana desde los noventa

Joseph Tulchin, Lilian Bobea, Mayra P. Espina Prieto, Rafael Hernandez, and Elizabeth Bryan
This book aims to provide academics, policymakers, NGOs and the media in Cuba, Latin America and North America, with a better understanding of the changes in Cuban civil society since the collapse of the Soviet Union and their implications in the areas of research, academic and literary production, and public policy.

Changes in Cuban Society since the Nineties

Joseph Tulchin, Lilian Bobea, Elizabeth Bryan, Mayra P. Espina Prieto, and Rafael Hernandez
This book aims to provide academics, policymakers, NGOs and the media in Cuba, Latin America and North America, with a better understanding of the changes in Cuban civil society since the collapse of the Soviet Union and their implications in the areas of research, academic and literary production, and public policy.

The Social and Economic Dimensions of Conflict and Peace in Colombia

Cynthia J. Arnson
Three experts share their views on reports from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program and discuss the humanitarian toll of the conflict in Colombia.

Decentralization, Democratic Governance, and Civil Society in Comparative Perspective: Africa, Asia, and Latin America

Philip Oxhorn, Joseph S. Tulchin, and Andrew Selee
This book studies the relation of decentralization to democratization at both intermediate and local levels and analyzes how decentralization is transforming the relationship between the state and civil society. The publication presents case studies from six countries in three continents.

Decentralization and Democratic Governance in Latin America

Joseph Tulchin and Andrew Selee
This volume explores one of the crucial intersections of political and economic change: how the reform of the central state in the form of policies of decentralization has affected democratic governance in different countries and at different levels of society.The book is a product of a two-year project on decentralization which included both national-level and comparative research.

Mexico and the New Challenges of Hemispheric Security

Raul Benitez-Manaut
The essays in this book center on the debate over competing approaches to hemispheric security and how different countries, specifically Mexico, formulate their security policies in the broader context of multilateral hemispheric initiatives and of bilateral relations with the United States.

Beyond Imagined Communities: Reading and Writing the Nation in Nineteenth-Century Latin America

Sara Castro-Klarén and John Charles Chasteen
In Beyond Imagined Communities four historians examine social situations and four critics examine production of cultural objects, showing how more diverse cultural influences shaped Latin American nationalism. Order this book from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Whither Cuba? The Role of Religion

Margaret Crahan
This paper explores the role that religion plays in Cuban civil society and examines whether religions can facilitate change.

Repensando la Argentina: Antes de diciembre de 2001 y más allá de mayo de 2003

Ariel Armony, Hector Schamis, and Giselle Cohen
On April 3, 2003, meeting participants discussed economic policies, Argentina's position in world affairs, Argentine democracy and political parties, culture, education, human rights and civil society. The open discussion led to this publication.

The Politics of Education Sector Reforms: Cross-National Comparisons

Robert Kaufman and Joan M. Nelson
This report summarizes findings on education sector reforms from case studies of reform efforts in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

The Politics of Health Sector Reforms: Cross-National Comparisons

Robert Kaufman and Joan M. Nelson
This bulletin summarizes findings on health sector reform from case studies on reform efforts during the 1990s in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru.

Religion, Culture, and Society: The Case of Cuba

Margaret Crahan
Participants at the conference that produced this publication explored the applicability of the predominant analytical models used to comprehend the interaction of religion, culture and society. This was accompanied by an exploration of concepts of civil society, together with a review of the history of associationalism in Cuba and the impact of diasporas on Cuban identity.

Controlling the Armed Forces in Democratic Transitions: Cases from Latin America

Narcís Serra
This paper explores civil-military relations during the transition to democracy and during the democratic consolidation stage.

El Salvador's Democratic Transition Ten Years After the Peace Accord

Cynthia J. Arnson
This report results from a 2002 conference held to evaluate the ten years following the accord between El Salvador's government and guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. The conference aimed to assess the nature of the democratic transition and related socio-economic developments in the post-war era.

Políticas de Defensa: Desafíos Externos y Restricciones Internas

Tamara Taraciuk
This report provides a summary of a conference held in Buenos Aires on September 26, 2002 which discussed possible courses of action for implementing policy that favors legality, constitutionality, respect for human rights, and respect for democracy.

Argentina's Social Default

This publication is a report on a conference with panels on "Public Policy Choices to Address Poverty and Inequality" and "The Role of NGOs in Poverty Alleviation in Argentina."

Mexican Security and Defense Doctrines: From the 19th to the 21st Centuries

Raul Benitez-Manaut
This paper explores the role of the armed forces in Mexico from the 19th century through the 21st century and looks at issues of national security as obstacles to democratization.

Armies in Times of Peace: The Division of Labor Between Armed Forces and Police

Cristina Eguizábal
This publication examines the lack of a common definition of security and addresses the division of labor between the armed forces and the national police corps in small- and medium-sized countries.

Decentralization and Democracy: A Continuing Challenge for Venezuela

Gary Bland
This report results from a seminar held on June 13, 2002 that discussed decentralization and democratic governance in relation to Venezuela.

A New Generation of Social Reforms

Clarissa Hardy
This publication reviews social reforms and the role of the state in social issues in the 1990s and addresses what policy reforms are still necessary.

Seguridad Ciudadana, Gobernabilidad y Control Civil Democrático en América Latina

Lilian Bobea
This report is a result of a seminar, “Entre el Crimen y el Castigo: Seguridad Ciudadana, Gobernabilidad y Control Civil,” that was held on October 4-5, 2001. The seminar focused on how to confront crime and social violence.

Health Sector Reform in Costa Rica: Reinforcing a Public System

Mary A. Clark
This paper explores the political processes of health sector reform in Costa Rica.

Decentralization in Argentina: New Approaches to Municipal Governance

Andrew Selee
This report is a result of a meeting held in Buenos Aires on November 8-9, 2001 to discuss the new approaches to municipal government following increased decentralization in Argentina.

Decentralization in Guatemala: The Search for Participatory Democracy

Gary Bland
This report results from a forum held on July 26, 2001 to facilitate discussion on the process of decentralization with respect to the creation of a participatory democracy.

Empowering Parents While Making Them Pay: Autonomous Schools and Education Reform Processes in Nicaragua

Alec Ian Gershberg
This paper explores the school reform process in the Nicaraguan Autonomous Schools Program.

Interests, Institutions, and Reformers: The Politics of Education Decentralization in Mexico

Merilee Grindle
This paper uses Mexico as a case for exploring the introduction of education reform in a hostile political environment.

Decentralization in Brazil: Urban Democratic Governance and Development

Gary Bland
This publication summarizes a workshop from November 5-6, 2001 that discussed democratic governance and development in an urban setting, particularly in the Brazilian context.

Democratic Governance and Social Inequality

Joseph S. Tulchin and Amelia Brown
This volume examines the challenges that social inequities present to democratic governments. Its authors argue that issues of poverty and inequality – far from diminishing – are becoming even more important in the global environment. Bridging economic and political concerns, they consider the relationships between globalization, income and wealth inequality, and democratic governance.

The Economics of War: The Intersection of Need, Creed, and Greed

Jake Sherman
This conference report of a September 10, 2001 conference on "The Economics of War" explores greed and grievance as sources of conflict.

Bridging the Conceptual Gap: Latin American Military Views of Democracy, Politics, and Policy

J. Samuel Fitch
This article evaluates military views in Latin America on what constitutes a democracy, the nature of politics, the nature of the policy process, and the implementation of policy.

Decentralization, Civil Society, and Democratic Governance

Philip Oxhorn
This is a report on a conference held on February 20-21, 2001 in which eleven researchers presented papers on the experience with decentralization in their own countries.

The Crisis of Democratic Governance in the Andes

Cynthia J. Arnson
Experts who took part in a June 2000 discussion reveal that countries in the Andean region suffer from deep problems of governance: crisis of citizenship, reflected in widespread apathy and low levels of participation in the political process; the decline of political parties; corruption and a lack of accountability of civilian as well as military elites; weak institutions; and the military's involvement in politics.

Latin America in the New International System

Joseph S. Tulchin and Ralph H. Espach
Placing Latin America in the context of debates on economic globalization and the dramatically changing nature of the international system, this volume bridges discussions of the region and broader world politics, advancing critical insights from within the region together with reflections from a global perspective.

Mexico in Transition

Andrew Selee, Rafael Fernández de Castro, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Guadalupe González, Jose Luis Orozco, Carlos Elizondo, Santiago Levy, David Brooks, Gustav Ranis, Marta Lamas, Raul Benitez-Manaut, and Adolfo Gilly
This volume offers several of the presentations from a May 2000 this conference which address political and social transition in Mexico, new directions in economic policy, and the changing nature of U.S.-Mexico relations.

Combating Corruption in Latin America

Joseph S. Tulchin and Ralph H. Espach
As corruption continues to threaten the consolidation of democracies in Latin America, authors from across the world examine the relationship between democratic and market reforms and corruption, including national strategies for its reduction. They discuss the nature, methods, and historical antecedents of today's corrupt practices.

Social Development in Latin America: The Politics of Reform

Joseph S. Tulchin and Allison Garland
This volume provides a wide-ranging analysis of social welfare reform in the region, examining in particular the politics involved in implementing difficult and controversial social policies that often pit the middle strata of society, represented by powerful stakeholders, against the poor.Order this book from Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Education Reform in Colombia: The Elusive Quest for Effectiveness

Pamela Lowden
This paper explores the evolving context of education reform in Colombia.

Training a New Generation of Leaders

Joan Dassin, Joseph Tulchin, and Amelia Brown
To assess the state of public policy education in Latin America, the Wilson Center launched a research project to survey the institutional capacity for graduate level training in public policy in Latin America and the United States. This publication is the result and offers an overview of public policy education in Latin America while providing a groundwork for future efforts to improve its quality in the region.

Experts & Staff