At a time when an entire generation has grown up under democracy in Latin America, a leading publication on politics in the region decided to tackle a tough question.
What does the resurgence of the armed forces in the political arena mean for democracy in the region?
Americas Quarterly – the award-winning magazine produced by the nonprofit Americas Society/Council of the Americas – turned to leading experts from FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs to write their cover story – and to guest edit the entire 60-page special report, now available online.
“I never thought we would be sitting here talking about this topic in the year 2020 of soldiers being back, front and center in Latin American politics,’’ said Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of AQ and vice president for policy at AS/COA. “Most of us convinced ourselves that those days ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War and yet here we are.”
Winter spoke at a launch event for the magazine’s special report, titled Back in the Spotlight: Latin America’s 21st Century Militaries, at FIU.
“The question that still remains unanswered is whether this is some sort of temporary disturbance because economies are doing badly and because people are upset and expectations are high, or whether it’s part of some bigger cyclical thing, and we’re in danger of collapsing back into a new cycle of authoritarian rule,’’ he said.
Winter was joined by Frank Mora, director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center; Brian Fonseca, director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy; and Randy Pestana, assistant director of the Gordon Institute.
Each of them participated in the production of the special report, with Mora and Fonseca co-authoring the cover story, “It's Not the 1970s Again for Latin America's Militaries. Here's Why.”
In their piece, Fonseca and Mora argued that Latin America’s militaries have evolved since the dark chapters of the past.
“Several scholars and journalists were quick to declare a return of militarism in Latin America,’’ Mora and Fonseca wrote. “Some even suggested militaries were acting in a way similar to the military-led authoritarian regimes of the Cold War era. But we do not believe that is the case, at least for now. Based on our interviews and research, Latin American militaries today are generally reluctant to plunge into the middle of contested domestic politics precisely because of their disastrous experiences in the not-so-distant past.”
Part of AQ’s first issue of the new year, the report includes a piece by Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, in which he calls for greater collaboration in the region to address common threats and opportunities.
“Everywhere we look, we see willing and capable militaries and security forces that want to do more, on their own, and with the United States,’’ Faller wrote. “We’ve only just started to scratch the surface when it comes to what our partners can do, and how they can contribute leadership, capabilities and resources to our collective security and readiness.”
Mora, who also participated in a launch event this week in New York, said he hopes the collaboration with AQ and Council of the Americas will continue.
“AQ is among the top publications in the country analyzing politics, business and culture in the Americas,’’ Mora said. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Americas Society/Council of the Americas as we explore other areas to collaborate on policy research with a premier institution known for the quality and impact of its work.”
- Alexandria Rodriguez contributed to this report.