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Using One Case In Latin America, Illustrate What The Biggest Obstacle To Democracy Is.

1159 words - 5 pages

Using one case in Latin America, illustrate what the biggest obstacle to democracy is.

A history of militarism and colonialism are the biggest obstacle to democracy in South America. Using the case of Argentina, this paper will be discussing how its famous history of militarism and consequent military rule has undermined the concept of a democracy. I will then go into detail about the certain aspects of military rule, ( ‘The Dirty War’, gross economic mismanagement and patron client relationships), that make it such an obstacle to democracy. I shall also try and explain how a history of colonialism has made Argentina more susceptible to military rule than perhaps other countries in the region.

Democracy is a word used a lot in international relations and political debate. It is without doubt one of the most important concepts in the current assessment of the legitimacy of governments and the kind of prestige they have on the international stage. Disguised behind all this, however, is the fact the term democracy itself is fiercely disputed It is now fairly well agreed on that that using the works of Robert A. Dahl that a perfect democracy is a theoretical utopia with no country achieving the ideal of a democracy. Using his book ‘Democracy and Its Critics’ Dahl outlines five criteria which would have to be achieved to reach a perfect democracy. These include effective participation, voting equality , enlightened understanding, control of the agenda and inclusiveness.

During the colonial period, Argentina was colonised by the Spanish who were attracted to Buenos Aires as it was seen as a natural port and a great way to import and export out of South America. One of the major and most lucrative imports where slaves brought over from Africa. Like elsewhere in Latin America, the backbone of the colonial economy was the ‘encomienda system’. A Spanish settler would take charge of a piece of land and man it with native labourers and slaves. The slaves were banned from interbreeding in order to maintain a two tier class system. However of course interbreeding took place, with children born to a free mother also classed as free. This mix created a new race known as the ‘Criollos’ - Argentine born Spaniards as opposed to the ‘Peninsulares’ who were born in Spain. As the population of Criollos grew to outnumber the Peninsulares the gap between political agendas grew and grew. With the incentive of the Peninsulares to maintain order and governance over a two tiered system that gave them a high position in society. As you would imagine, the Criollos had no such plans to maintain this imperialist system that gave them few rights and opportunities. This growing tension led to revolution.
The Spainish empire, riddled with economic mismanagement and corruption, saw its power of the world stage greatly reduced. When Napoleon turned on his ally Spain, imprisoning the Spanish royal family, chaos was unleashed across Spanish America. In 1810 the Spanish viceroy,...

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