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The Role of Traditional Political Parties in the Democratization Process in Latin America - Essay Example

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The Role of Traditional Political Parties in the Democratization Process in Latin America Latin America had always been known for its political instability. This is especially true in the 1900s, when many of the countries in the region were ruled by the authoritarian governments…
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The Role of Traditional Political Parties in the Democratization Process in Latin America
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"The Role of Traditional Political Parties in the Democratization Process in Latin America"

Download file to see previous pages Almost each of the nations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean had experienced having such kinds of governments in their history. Among the most prominent names in Latin America’s list of authoritarian governments are Somoza of Nicaragua, Batista of Cuba, Duvalier of Haiti, Trujillo of Dominican Republic, Peron of Argentina, Noriega of Panama, and Pinochet of Chile. The path to power that is quite common among them is the coup d’etat. A number of these dictators were brought to power after they had overthrown duly elected governments. There were also those civilians who were democratically elected into office only to usurp all the powers vested in the legislative bodies and ruled by decrees instead with the aid of the military. Despite the fact that major parts of the region were under military dictatorships for long time, there were still traditional parties that did assert their influence on politics in each of the countries in Latin America. The impact of the traditional political parties in governance was, however, reduced with the rise of authoritarian regimes. It must be pointed out though that it was the main characteristics of the said political parties that brought about the emergence of dictators and despots. In the 19th century, when many of the countries in region won their independence from Spain and other colonizers, political power was exclusively held by the upper classes, particularly the landed and the business elites. However, the upper classes were also divided when it comes to issues related to how their country must be governed. Upon the departure of the Spanish colonialists, political debates revolved around the treatment of the Catholic Church, which virtually shared power with the colonial administrators, as well as the form of government to be established in post-colonial and modern Latin America (Bray 76). The liberals wanted a state that is absolutely free from the meddling of the Church, a form of government that devolves power to the localities, and capitalism. The conservatives, on the other hand, insisted that the Church should retain the privileges and power that it has had since the colonial era. They wanted a more centralized form of government and the protection of the interests of the landed elite. The liberals and conservatives of the 19th century were the origins of the traditional parties that later on developed and gained greater influence by the 1900s. It is clear though that with such respective agenda, neither of the two political forces had the democratic interests of the masses in their minds, although the liberals were sympathetic to the masses because they need public support for their issues against the conservatives. However, both the liberals and the conservatives do not address “the basic problem of incorporating masses of Indians and Negroes into society or to the overwhelming poverty and ignorance of the general population” (Bray 76). Hence, even if government power changed hands between the two, real democracy did not occur but the traditional political parties remained. It was only when social turmoil worsened because of inequalities, that the military officers took over through coup d’etat. The usual excuses made by the military officers for launching the coups were that public order needs to re-established, that the spread of communism must be prevented, and that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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