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Democracy in Latin America

John Wonder, the pessimist, replies to David Crow, the optimist:

"Like so many people, David Crow seems to regard his aspirations and hopes as reality. I am constantly reminded of Ortega's essay entitled "La magia del debe ser". As long as the economic, social, and educational levels are not appropriate, it seems ridiculous to talk of democracy. Absent a strong authoritarian rule, such putative democracy simply becomes mob rule, control by a monied oligarchy, or utter chaos a la Colombia. Indeed, what other types of governments other than these are viable if the tradition and custom of democracy have not been built up over the years?

It is true that Costa Rica has a viable democratic tradition, but what is the ethnic background there? Chile, because of its homogeneity, geographic isolation, and other favorable circumstances (the presence of Andrés Bello as an example), seems to be an exception. Brazil has a very spotty history. It seems to be a democracy -- if democracy is taken to mean the cultivation of a lot of popular traditions --; however, the corruption of the military, the police, and politicians does not bear close examination, nor does the attitude of amused detachment on the part of the urban upper and middle classes bode very well for a viable democracy. (I hate to say I see something of the same attitude developing in this country.)"

My comment: We now know where the two sides stand, or crouch in their trenches. WAIS is primarily concerned with current issues, so we must ask both sides to lay down their arms.

Ronald Hilton - 04/03/99