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Article

Identity in Latin American Regionalism: The Andean Community  

Germán C. Prieto

Latin America is usually referred to as a homogeneous region that shares a collective identity based on common history, language and culture in general. As a result, it is broadly expected that collective identity should underpin and facilitate regional integration among Latin American states. However, the idea of a Latin American identity can be problematized, arguing that the concept of “Latin America” is more an exclusionary one than an integrator. Moreover, addressing collective identity as a social construction among state elites reveals the political disputes that lay at the backdrop of regionalism as a political enterprise. The relationship between identity and regionalism in Latin America can be discussed using a study of the role of collective identity in the unfolding of three case studies of the Andean Community. A constructivist approach can be engaged to show that it is possible to observe three dimensions of collective identity in the Andean Community, whose interplay led to advancing regionalism in certain ways but also caused disagreements and failures. Instead of taking a simplistic view of identity as the sharing of similarities, disentangling collective identity into cultural, ideological, and intergroup dimensions helps in understanding that identity is mostly a political issue and therefore a disputed one, and that analyzing the relationship between these three dimensions contributes to explaining the unfolding of regionalism in terms of advance and stagnation.

Article

The Electoral Representation of Evangelicals in Latin America  

Taylor C. Boas

Evangelical Christians have drawn attention for electoral victories throughout Latin America, yet their engagement and success with electoral politics also varies significantly across countries and over time. Scholars’ explanations for this cross-national variation generally fall into one of several categories. Sociological or demographic explanations argue that evangelicals should be better represented in countries where they are a larger share of either the population or the socioeconomic elite. A second set of explanations focuses on factors that might politicize evangelical identity and provide the motivation for contesting elections. Among these are the postmillennial and prosperity theology associated with neo-Pentecostalism; the influence of co-religionists from abroad, particularly the United States; historical struggles for religious freedom and legal equality with the Catholic Church; and the rise of values issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. A third set of arguments focuses on the degree to which electoral and party systems are open to new entrants, thus facilitating the electoral ambitions of a mobilized faith community. Finally, arguments focused on voting behavior examine how a candidate’s religion affects electoral support, especially among fellow believers, and whether this tendency varies across countries. Explanations for cross-national variation in evangelical political representation also help us understand their electoral surge in the early 21st century, as issues such as same-sex marriage have arrived on the political agenda in a roughly contemporaneous fashion in much of the region, providing a common motivation for electoral contestation.

Article

Brazil’s Role in Latin American Regionalism  

Javier A. Vadell and Clarisa Giaccaglia

The roots of Latin American regionalism blend together with the birth of the region’s states, and despite its vicissitudes, the integrationist ideal represents the most ambitious form of regional feeling. It is an ancient process that has undergone continuous ups and downs as a result of domestic and foreign restrictions. In the early 21st century, the deterioration of the “open regionalism” strategy, along with the rise to power of diverse left governments, led to the development of a “physical-structural,” “post-liberal,” “post-neoliberal,” or “post-hegemonic” integration model. In this context, Brazil—governed by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—constituted itself as a crucial protagonist and main articulator of the South American integrationist project. From this perspective, in addition to the existing MERCOSUR, UNASUR was created, and it encompassed the whole subcontinent, thus reaffirming the formulation of regional policies regarding the concept of “South America.” At present, however, a new stage of these regionalisms has started. Today, the Latin American and Caribbean dynamics seem to bifurcate, on the one hand, into a reissue of open regionalism—through the Pacific Alliance—and, on the other hand, into a fragmentation process of South America as a geopolitical bloc and regional actor in the global system. Regarding this last point, it is unavoidable to link the regional integration crisis to the critical political and economic situation undergone by Brazil, considered as the leader of the South American process. In short, the withdrawal of the Brazilian leadership in South America, along with the shifts and disorientations that took place in UNASUR and MERCOSUR, have damaged the credibility of the region’s initiatives, as well as the possibility to identify a concerted voice in South America as a distinguishable whole. That regional reality poses an interesting challenge that implies, to a great extent, making a heuristic effort to avoid being enclosed by the concepts and assumptions of the processes of regionalism and integration that were born to explain the origin, evolution, and development of the European Union. From this perspective, the authors claim that the new phase experienced by Latin American regionalisms cannot be understood as a lack of institutionality—as it is held by those perspectives that support the explanations that they “mirror” the European process—but rather it answers chiefly to a self-redefinition process influenced by significant alterations that occurred both in global and national conjunctures and that therefore, have had an impact on the regional logic. Given the regional historical tradition marked by vicissitudes, the authors believe that they can hardly talk about a “Sudamexit” (SouthAmexit in English) process, namely, an effective abandonment of regionalisms. Recognizing the distinctive features of Latin American and Caribbean countries, rather, leads us to think of dynamics that generate a complex and disorganized netting in which the political-institutional course of development of Brazil will have relevant repercussions in the future Latin American and Caribbean process as a whole.

Article

Costa Rica’s Historical Development and New Age of Progress  

Adam Golob

Costa Rica has historically faced many of the same challenges as its Central American neighbors, but to a less dramatic extent. This has put the country on a unique path of political and economic development. Even today, it outperforms its neighbors, often including its more developed neighbors, like the United States, in essential measurements of human development, happiness, lack of corruption, and economics. Many Costa Rican scholars have concluded that the nation benefitted from its time as a colonial outcast and from a lack of exploitable resources like gold and silver. The common misbelief that Costa Rica was settled without the destruction of natives, that the country gained a peaceful independence, and that it somehow avoided all the pitfalls of Latin American development is now met with resistance, and a better understanding of Costa Rican history has emerged. Although Costa Rican development has not been without its complications, issues, and bloody epochs, it has been far less extreme and far more open to change, democracy, and progress. Costa Rica was able to gain a semi-peaceful independence, form a strong republic, and endure the “lost decade” better than many other countries in the region. Since 2008, this tiny country has progressed rapidly. It joined CAFTA-DR, elected its first female president, ended 70 years of two-party dominance, survived national-level scandal, legalized gay marriage, and elected a progressive leftist president in 2018 despite a global shift to the right for political leaders. Yet along with progress comes continued struggles. Costa Rica faces new challenges in the 21st century. In the new millennium, it confronts issues of social injustice, rising crime rates, economic dependency on international monetary institutions, corruption, and human rights, to name a few.

Article

The Cyclical Phenomenon of Resource Nationalism in Latin America  

Francisco J. Monaldi

Latin America has seen recurrent episodes of resource nationalism, particularly in oil and gas, characterized by increased state control over the industry and investment expropriation. These episodes tend to occur in cycles induced by structural forces, in particular high resource prices and the end of successful investment cycles, increasing production and reserves. State-owned enterprises tend to play a dominant role in the region, which is magnified during the resource nationalism episodes. During such episodes, governments increase taxes and renege on contracts with private investors. Ideology and institutions can limit or exacerbate the intensity of these events in each country, but the cycle is largely driven by the structural factors. The reverse occurs with resource price busts and when a new investment cycle is needed, countries liberalize the oil sector and the state retreats. Between 2002 and 2012, the production boost produced by the liberalizations of the 1990s, combined with the oil price boom, led to a powerful wave of resource nationalism, including contract renegotiations and nationalizations, in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Even in Brazil, the country with the most successful and stable oil policy in the region, state-control increased. In contrast, after 2014, a new liberalization period has been prompted throughout the region by the decline in commodity prices, the financial weakness of state-owned companies, and the need for a new private investment cycle. Understanding the dynamics behind resource nationalism in the region is crucial for designing institutional frameworks that limit the cycles and induce long term resource policies that foster the development of the abundant resource endowments in the region.

Article

Agrarian Elites and Democracy in Latin America after the Third Wave  

Belén Fernández Milmanda

The historical role of landed elites as obstacles to democratic consolidation in Latin America has been widely studied. Four decades after the onset of the third wave, however, the issue of how these elites have adapted to the new democratic context remains unexplored. The question of why these elites who supported military coups each time a government threatened their interests have mostly played by the democratic rulebook during the past four decades still needs to be answered. Important structural and political transformations took place in Latin America during the last half of the 20th and the first decade of the 21st century that affected agrarian elites’ incentives and capacity to organize politically. The first change was urbanization, which undermined agrarian elites’ capacity to mobilize the votes of the rural poor in favor of their political representatives. The second was an increase in the importance of agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange and revenue for Latin American countries thanks to the commodity boom of the 2000s. The third change was the arrival to power of left-wing parties with redistributive agendas, threatening agrarian elites’ interests in the region with the highest land inequality in the world. However, the fact that these governments relied on revenues from agriculture to fund their policy agendas created tension between the leftists’ ideological preferences for a more equal distribution of land and their fiscal needs. Dominant theories in political science suggest that democratization should lead to redistribution from the rich to the poor, as democracies represent the preferences of a wider spectrum of citizens than nondemocracies. Landowners, given the fixed nature of their assets, should be easy targets for increased taxation or expropriation. However, these theories understate landowners’ capacity to organize politically and use democratic institutions to their advantage. In fact, if we look at contemporary Latin America, we see that four decades of democracy have not changed the region’s extremely high land inequality. Agrarian elites in Latin America have deployed a variety of political influence strategies to protect themselves from redistribution. In some cases, such as Chile and El Salvador, they have built conservative parties to represent their interests in Congress. In others, like Brazil, they have invested in multiparty representation through a congressional caucus. Lastly, in other countries such as Argentina and Bolivia, agrarian elites have not been able to organize their electoral representation and instead have protected their interests from outside the policymaking arena through protests.

Article

The Washington Consensus in Latin America  

Judith Teichman

Washington Consensus policies evolved over time, both in Washington and among Latin American policymakers. These policies, involving trade liberalization and privatization (among other measures), were widely adopted in the region by the early 1990s. A generation of scholarly work sought to explain how and why Latin American countries embarked on economic reforms that governments had strongly resisted in the past. While many researchers focused on the top-down nature of the market-liberalization process, others called attention to its pluralist character and argued that the process had considerable public support. When the original Consensus ideas proved ineffective in promoting growth and improved living standards, technocratic Washington added new policies. By the early 2000s, Washington’s goal became that of reducing poverty while ensuring the completion of the original Washington Consensus reforms. In Latin America, however, there was a growing disillusionment with the original reform agenda and a strong challenge to key reforms. With the rise of social mobilization critical of neoliberal reforms and the election of left regimes challenging their main precepts, scholarship turned to a discussion of the nature of the new regimes and the extent to which their policies deviated from the Washington Consensus (both its original formulation and the later expanded version). While most scholars identify the left leaders of Ecuador, Bolivia, and particularly Venezuela, as offering the greatest challenges to neoliberalism, there is no consensus on the extent of the challenge to neoliberalism presented by Latin America’s left regimes. Research has also given attention to the rising demand of China for Latin American commodities as a key ingredient in the region’s left turn away from neoliberalism. The fall in commodity prices, however, set the stage for a resurgence of the political right, its business supporters, and the re-introduction of some key aspects of the original Washington Consensus.

Article

Latin American Labor Regulation in the 21st Century  

Matthew E. Carnes

The labor market of the 21st century is evolving at a rapid pace, making traditional manufacturing and agricultural jobs increasingly precarious and generating significant pressure for turnover, retraining, and adaptation by workers. Latin America’s labor regulation, adopted in the middle of the 20th century to foster industrial development and incorporate urban workers, has been slow to adapt to these conditions. Its restrictive and costly hiring and firing rules offer stronger protections than in many other parts of the world, but they often apply to a diminishing minority of laborers. Despite a few exceptions, once-strong unions have been hollowed out in the region, and workers have become increasingly atomized in their job seeking. The region’s educational systems are plagued by underinvestment, and they struggle to provide the needed technical skills that could galvanize investment that would provide higher-wage employment. Large segments of the workforce—a majority in most countries—find themselves in the informal sector, in jobs that are not registered with the state and that do not make contributions to pensions and social security systems. Why has Latin America—a region endowed with a variety of natural resources and a resilient entrepreneurial spirit—exhibited these patterns in its labor market regulation? The answer lies in an overlapping nexus of economic and political influences in the region. In this complex mix, one strand of scholarship has documented the lasting and recurrent alliance between organized labor and political parties on the left. Another strand has highlighted the concentrated power of business interests—both local and transnational—that have had the power to shape policies. And a third body of research concentrates on the electoral dynamics that have given rise to a growing set of politically motivated policies that seek to support informal sector workers, but may incentivize their remaining in that status. Finally, considerable attention has been given to the under-resourced state agencies that are not adequately monitoring labor regulations, allowing for widespread evasion of required payroll taxes. A change-resistant cycle has predominated in the region, in which protected insiders in the unionized sectors seek to preserve a set of protections that apply to a shrinking few, while politicians court support among outsiders with direct benefits that address immediate needs but have not yet achieved long-term or intergenerational change. Business interests have largely benefited from the status quo of labor law evasion and social security avoidance, so they have been slow to invest in upgrading the workforce or changing technology that would inspire additional investment in education. Addressing this situation will require efforts at both the political and economic levels, perhaps loosening the partisan ties that lock in preferential policies, as well as increasing the skill levels that would attract higher-tech industries and higher-paying jobs.

Article

Trade Union Politics in Latin America  

Graciela Bensusán

The links between unions and political parties have been present throughout much of the 20th century and early 21st century in most Latin American countries. Since these links were historically one of the most important resources of union power, by compensating the structural weakness of wage-workers in the labor market, their weakening in the framework of economic transformations and ideological turns generates a greater concern on the future of trade unions. In this context, there has been an increased urgency to reconsider old political identities and construct other resources for power, such as alliances with social movements and international solidarity. The new bonds forged under democratic regimes or during the transition processes were more flexible, informal and with greater autonomy between partnerships than the old ones that resulted from the initial incorporation of workers in the political arena under authoritarian regimes. Consequently, in those cases greater opportunities can be opened to democratize and revitalize unions through the construction of new sources of power.

Article

The International Political Economy of Soy Agriculture in South America  

Mariano Turzi

International agricultural production has been transformed by the consolidation of the agribusiness model. Multinational chemical and trading companies leveraged their scientific and technological superiority over the producers to advance sales of agrochemical and biotechnological products at the same time that they integrated with traders and processors. By advancing financial scale advantages, international corporate actors established powerful buying positions, determined infrastructural developments, and established a globalized pattern of agricultural economic activity. This has been reinforced by converging demand trends of growing global population, a dietary transition in the emerging world that includes more animal products, a diversifying energy matrix that increasingly includes biofuels and the use of agricultural products as a financial asset class. The international political economy (IPE) of the soybean agribusiness model was articulated with the specific national political economies of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Differential institutional structures and different political economy coalitions and conditions processed these external conditions in different ways: coordination (Brazil), confrontation (Argentina), and colonization (Paraguay).

Article

Latin America’s Socioeconomic Relationship With China: Is Development Still Possible?  

Enrique Dussel Peters

The socioeconomic and political relationship between Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) with China has become increasingly significant for both since the beginning of the 21st century. This article analyzes proposals by the United States and China in their bilateral relationship and the political effects of their increasing tensions on LAC. Consistent with the proposed framework of analysis of the socioeconomic LAC–China relationship—at least in terms of trade, financing, overseas foreign direct investments, and infrastructure projects—the article examines in detail these conditions, as well as providing an in-depth example of trade. The final part of the article discusses the important potential and challenges of China for LAC’s development and concludes that so far, and based on the in-depth analysis of the trade relationship, the LAC–China relation is closer to a core-periphery than to a South–South or win–win strategy. The document proposes to understand that the political economy within the United States, particularly of its private sector, have shifted substantially against China. In addition, the structure for analysis of the LAC-China relationship in the 21st century with a concrete structure of analysis in terns of trade, financing, Chinese overseas foreign direct investments (OFDI) and infrastructure projects. In light of current discussions, the analysis suggests for the inclusion of a group of new concepts –such as the “the new triangular relationships” and the “globalization process with Chinese characteristics” with a group of effects in LAC. The impact of the increasing China-United States tensions, from this perspective, generates massive challenges in LAC, independently of their diplomatic relationships to China.

Article

Party Finance in Latin America  

Kathleen Bruhn

Modern representative democracy cannot function without political parties, however rudimentary. Parties in turn cannot function without money. The subject of party finance is therefore central to the construction of contemporary democracies. Latin American countries have attempted to meet the challenges of preserving democracy while providing for political parties across three main areas of financial regulation: provision of public finance, regulation of private finance, and limiting campaign spending. In all three areas, transparency (reporting), oversight, and enforcement of existing legal regulations remain important problems for the health of the political system. In the late 20th century, Latin American countries increasingly turned to public finance as a way of supplementing existing systems of private contributions. This trend seems to have been inspired both by a desire to reduce the inequalities inherent in Latin America’s socioeconomic structure and by efforts to contain and prevent episodes of scandal and undue influence generated by private contributors. Public finance particularly benefits small parties and parties with fewer connections to the wealthy sectors that tend to dominate private contributions. Public finance may contribute to the institutionalization of both party organizations and party systems, but it may also weaken the dependence of parties on their members and supporters in ways that undermine representation. Private finance in Latin America remains largely obscure. We know that relatively few private donors account for the lion’s share of party donations, but it is unclear in many cases exactly who donates, or what their money buys. It is therefore difficult for voters (and analysts) to determine the structure of party obligations to donors and to hold parties accountable. Partly as a result, drug money is believed to have penetrated the political systems of many Latin American countries, especially but not exclusively at the local level. Campaign spending limits, including limits on the duration of campaigns and campaign advertising, have been employed in some cases to try to contain costs and thus reduce the incentives of parties to seek out private donations, especially of questionable origin. Lax enforcement, however, limits the impact of these initiatives.

Article

Party Leadership and Institutionalization in Latin America  

Diana Davila Gordillo and Kristin N. Wylie

In Latin America, a general discontent with political parties persists, fueling challenges to the quality of democracy. Two prominent limitations of Latin American democracies stem from the weakly institutionalized and unrepresentative character of many parties and party systems in the region. A regional overview of party longevity shows that older parties are the minority, and with few exceptions (Uruguay and Colombia), they control neither the government nor the opposition. Yet while earlier studies of party institutionalization in Latin America tended to focus on longevity, subsequent studies have emphasized the multidimensionality of the concept. Party institutionalization connotes not only longevity but also routinization of formal and informal procedures, organizational complexity and cohesion, and societal roots. As evidenced by parties throughout the region, those multiple dimensions are nonmutual. Even in inchoate party systems many Latin American parties have survived and routinized (sometimes informal) decision making procedures, often in the absence of organizational cohesion and societal roots. Although strong party organizations are important for democratic governance, they may be inversely related to party leadership, with strong leaders hindering party institutionalization. Leaders can alternatively play an important role in mobilizing voters and structuring party organizations, their routinization, and the party brand. While the region has been a global leader in the adoption of gender quotas and parity regimes and in women’s parliamentary representation, as of 2012, its party leadership remained dominated by men—the regional average in parties’ representation of women on their National Executive Commissions was just 20%. Willing party leaders in institutionalized parties are critical actors in the recruitment and support of candidates and can thus marshal party resources to help diversify party ranks. The inclusion of diverse voices in party leadership is important for responsiveness, legitimacy, and the quality of democracy more broadly.

Article

Surveys and the Study of Latin American Politics  

Ryan E. Carlin

To understand Latin American politics, one must view it through the eyes and minds of Latin Americans. Since the middle of the 20th century, pollsters in academia, government, and industry have fielded public opinion surveys in an attempt to do just that. Although they are not typically considered political institutions, polls and surveys influence a variety of political processes directly and indirectly thanks to the legitimacy they enjoy among academics, policymakers, and publics. Large strides have been made toward making surveys more methodologically rigorous and toward improving the quality of survey data in the region. Scholars have leveraged the data to advance the theoretical understanding of a range of topics, especially political support, partisanship, and voting behavior. Despite these gains, public opinion surveys face clear challenges that threaten their hard-won legitimacy. To the extent that these challenges are met in the coming decades, public opinion polling’s role in shaping Latin American politics will remain, if not strengthen.

Article

Executive–Legislative Relations in Latin American Politics  

Cecilia Martinez-Gallardo and Marcelo Camerlo

Presidentialism has long been associated with democratic instability. Conflict between the executive and the legislature is at the heart of this relationship. Traditional arguments link minority presidents with policy deadlock and inter-branch conflict, especially in contexts where presidential institutions deincentivize the formation of governing coalitions that can provide presidents with stable legislative majorities. The extent to which these premises are true, however, varies significantly across the presidential countries of Latin America, as does the potential for conflict and cooperation between the executive and the legislature. The prevalence of minority presidents hinges on the fragmentation of congress as well as other characteristics of the party and electoral systems; the relative powers of the president and congress vary widely, and in many places they have been adjusted precisely to reduce inter-branch conflict. Finally, even where minority governments are the norm, the formation of governing coalitions has helped presidents obtain majority support in congress.

Article

Bureaucracy in Latin America  

John Polga-Hecimovich

The bureaucracy is a central body in the effective functioning of democracy and oversight of the rule of law, and knowledge of how public agencies interact with politics and effect policy implementation is crucial in understanding the “black box” of the state. However, this body of non-elected officials can only fulfill its mandate and achieve good governance if it meets certain conditions, such as technical expertise, a clear organizational hierarchy, meritocratic recruitment for personnel staffing, as well as political support, resources, and the autonomy to devise solutions based on expertise. Unfortunately for Latin America, its bureaucratic agencies have seldom enjoyed these conditions. Instead, public administration in the region has been characterized by patronage appointments, patrimonialism, and a weak capacity to execute public policies. Yet this blanket depiction of the Latin American bureaucracy obscures a great deal more diversity—as well as the fact that Latin American bureaucrats and public agencies are more dynamic and responsive than they are often portrayed. To begin, the size and role of the public administration have evolved constantly throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, growing under statist development policies of the mid-20th century before shrinking under neoliberalism in the 1990s and again growing during the 2000s in some countries. Moreover, the quality of the bureaucracy to efficiently provide services and implement policy varies by country, over time, and even within countries among agencies. This means that there is also variation in the scope and quality of the bureaucracy’s chief functions of policymaking, regulation, and implementation. In fact, politicians and bureaucrats in the region have found a number of creative solutions to agency weakness. Moving forward, politicians can guarantee even better bureaucratic performance by addressing some enduring challenges, such as public sector corruption and an institutional setup that favors short-term policymaking.

Article

Clientelism in Latin American Politics  

Ezequiel Gonzalez-Ocantos and Virginia Oliveros

Clientelism is a type of nonprogrammatic linkage strategy that political parties deploy to win elections. Specifically, the concept refers to the personalized and discretionary exchange of goods or favors for political support. Scholars of comparative politics investigate variation in the prevalence of clientelism across countries, as well as the organizations that parties create to distribute personalized gifts and favors. A large body of work also studies the types of voters more commonly targeted by machines. The debates about the determinants of clientelism and specific targeting patterns are important because they inform broader discussions about democratic quality in Latin America and other developing regions, where nonprogrammatic linkages such as clientelism are common. In particular, the literature on clientelism has implications for discussions about the use and misuse of public and private funds to support electoral efforts. It also raises questions about the ability of citizens to vote their conscience and hold politicians accountable in the privacy of the voting booth.

Article

Courts in Latin American Politics  

Ezequiel Gonzalez-Ocantos

In the aftermath of the third wave of democratization, Latin American courts left behind decades of subservience, conservatism, and irrelevance to become central political players. They now serve as arbiters in struggles between the elected branches, and increasingly affirm fundamental rights. Indeed, some rulings champion highly controversial rights and have huge budgetary implications, sending shock waves across these new democracies. What explains this unprecedented expansion of judicial power? In trying to answer this fundamental question about the functioning of contemporary democracies, scholars of Latin America have developed a truly vibrant and theoretically dynamic body of work, one that makes essential contributions to our knowledge of judicial politics more generally. Some scholars emphasize the importance of formal judicial reforms initiated by politicians, which resulted in more autonomous and politically insulated courts. In so doing, they address a central puzzle in political science: under what conditions are politicians willing to accept limits to their power? Inspired by rational choice theory, other authors zoom in on the dynamics of inter-branch interactions, to arrive at a series of propositions about the type of political environment in which courts are more capable to assert their power. Whereas this approach focuses on the ability of judges to exercise power, a third line of scholarship looks at how ideas about the law and judicial role conceptions affect judges’ willingness to intervene in high-stakes political struggles, championing some values and interests at the expense of others. Finally, more recent work asks whether assertions of judicial power make a difference in terms of rights effectiveness. Understanding the consequences of judicial decisions is essential to establishing the extent to which more assertive courts are actually capable of transforming the world around them.

Article

Legislatures and Representation in Latin American Politics  

Emilia Simison

The variation offered by Latin American legislatures makes them empirically and theoretically relevant to the field of legislative studies. Since the 1980s, the study of these legislatures has experienced significant growth, widening the range of topics covered and the territorial scope of the analysis. Legislative-executive relations, elections and careers, and legislative behavior continue to be the most studied topics. In addition, by the 2010s a greater number of empirical analyses have made use of cross-national comparisons of the region and studied both subnational legislatures and how internal processes and institutions shape legislative outcomes. This academic interest still coexists with a low level of citizen confidence in the legislatures, which are considered to be ineffective in policymaking. In between lies representation. Its study has attracted increased attention in a context of significant changes in descriptive representation in the region, such as the increased presence of women and minorities in legislative bodies. Taking this into account, substantive representation and its limits have been analyzed in terms of (a) the representation of women, minorities, and social classes; (b) bills’ territorial scope and subnational influences; and (c) how legislative organization impacts representation. This connection between citizens and congress members affects citizens’ perceptions of congresses as well as other democratic institutions. Despite its policy implications, this connection is still understudied, as are issues such as interest representation, amendments, and legislative speeches.

Article

Environmentalism in Latin America  

Guillermo Castro H.

The environment is considered here as the product of the human interventions in natural systems through socially organized work processes. These processes also produce environmental conflicts, when different human groups try to make mutually exclusive uses of the same ecosystem. As a consequence, every society has a characteristic environment associated with particular landscapes, as well as a peculiar environmental culture, developed along time. Environmentalism, in this perspective, expresses the cultural values and political conducts of different social sectors resulting from the contradictions inherent to their role in the production of the environment, as well as those between the natural conditions necessary for the production of goods and the reproduction of human societies. In Latin America, this has led to the formation of at least three different environmentalisms: a liberal technocratic one, closely related with international organizations, centered on the concept of sustainable development; an ecological one, centered on the conflicts associated with the fracture of the social metabolism of nature due to an extra-activist approach to human and natural resources in the region, and a popular de facto environmentalism, associated both with peasant and indigenous groups that resist the transformation of their natural legacy into natural capital, and urban popular demands for the access to basic environmental conditions of life, such as potable water, sanitation, clean air, and public spaces.