_América Latina en cifras, the additional document, offers a graphical and quantitative radiography of the demographic, economic and social situation
_José María Aznar, Andrés Pastrana and Javier Zarzalejos presented both documents produced by FAES this afternoon
_It analyzes the problems of consolidation and democratic quality, institutional mistrust and economic performance of Latin American countries
_FAES Foundation has presented both texts during the Ibero-American Summit held in Guatemala this week
_First published in 2007 and reissued in 2012, it has inspired electoral programs and fueled academic and political debate
FAES Foundation presented its strategic report América Latina. Una Agenda de Libertad this afternoon, a diagnosis of the health of freedoms, the rule of law and the quality of democracy in the region. Furthermore, FAES has published América Latina en cifras, an additional document that makes a quantitative radiography of the demographic, economic and social situation of Latin American countries. FAES also presents both texts this week during the Ibero-American Summit in Guatemala.
Can we affirm that the socialism of the 21st century has been defeated? Has it really lost legitimacy? Are the successful liberticidal and authoritarian visions in several Latin American countries in crisis? Which countries can still swing towards the loss of freedoms and democratic guarantees? What new uncertainties do the victories of López Obrador in Mexico and Bolsonaro in Brazil add? The new FAES report reflects on these and other issues, on the freedom and threats that Latin America faces in the second decade of the 21st century.
After more than three decades of elections and alternation, democracy still shows problems of consolidation, more evident in countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia and, of course, Venezuela. For their part, stable democratic regimes have been unable to achieve the desired democratic quality, overcome institutional mistrust and improve economic performance. The Agenda analyzes these challenges and reviews the most at-risk countries and the healthiest ones.
Directed by Javier Zarzalejos, director of FAES, and coordinated by Eduardo Fernández Luiña, this is a document for the evaluation, denunciation and promotion of representative democracy, the free market economy and the rule of law. This presentation coincides with the one FAES is making this week in Guatemala during the Ibero-American Summit.
América Latina. Una Agenda de Libertad is a very useful tool to know the reality of each country. It is based on the analysis of data and statistics on social, political and economic indicators published by the main public and private institutions that study the region, such as the World Bank's Doing Business, the UN's Human Development Index, the Rule of Law Index or the Latin American Public Opinion Project, among others. From this compilation work has emerged the additional document América Latina en cifras, which offers a graphical and quantitative radiography of the demographic, economic and social situation of each of the countries of Latin America.
Time of transition and uncertainties
Latin America is immersed in a process of transition. FAES has always believed that the region "is part of the western community, with which it shares values. Democracy, political and economic freedom and the rule of law are the only valid way to achieve the complete development of all Ibero-American nations". But the truth is that there is uncertainty and risk in the region.
Elections in nations of extreme importance for regional stability have painted an uncertain picture. Messages sent from Argentina, Colombia or Chile favor trust and stability, but there are setbacks and they are not minor. López Obrador's victory in Mexico, and the situation in Nicaragua, Venezuela or Cuba contribute to the vision of 'the two Latin Americas'. One with the desire to move forward and to be part of globalization. The other, self-absorbed and victim of an outdated discourse that inevitably leads to dictatorship and the loss of freedom. The victory of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil adds new uncertainties in one of the great nations of the region.
In order to analyze in depth all these circumstances, the report América Latina. Una Agenda de Libertad is structured in four chapters.
- The first one presents the current situation in Latin America and how this 'third democratic wave' has developed during the 21st century. A performance problem becomes evident: a large part of Latin American political systems have not been able to generate opportunities for their citizens, causing high levels of institutional distrust that have favoured the development of an authoritarian culture. This explains the citizenry's defence of 'strong' candidates: in 2016, 15 per cent of Latin Americans considered an authoritarian government preferable to a democratic one.
- The second chapter analyses the quality of democracy through elections and the health of the rule of law in the region. In 2016, 61.8 percent of citizens were "not very satisfied" or "not at all satisfied" with the functioning of their democracy. In general terms, Latin America has few quality-oriented democracies (Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay), some that advance along the path of dictatorship (Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua) and, between the two axes, a 'grey zone' of which countries such as Mexico and Brazil are part, those that in the coming years could tip towards the loss of democratic freedoms and guarantees.
- The third chapter is devoted to the economy, and shows that its poor performance in the region has nothing to do with free trade or capitalism, as the leftists point out. On the contrary, the data subscribe that it is the result of their isolation and weak incorporation into the globalized economy. Its development depends on the promotion of free markets and economic integration, fundamental ingredients for growth and a way out of poverty.
- The cases of Venezuela and Nicaragua occupy the fourth and final chapter. Both nations move at accelerated steps towards dictatorship and use violence and unscrupulous repression in order to consolidate the oligarchy in power. Faced with this, the report appeals to the culture of denunciation. Believing in freedom and defending democracy also means articulating instruments for denounces that show the abuses that both countries are committing on life, property and freedom. Both dictatorships cannot be fought without democratic states and citizens assuming our responsibility and ethical commitment.
The report América Latina. Una Agenda de Libertad has been consolidated as a benchmark over the years. FAES published its first edition in 2007, promoting the union of like-minded people around common ideas -consolidation of liberal democracy, respect for individual freedoms, enforcement of the rule of law, institutional strengthening and open economy- and encouraging political projects that have proven viable. Updated and expanded in a second edition in 2012, the document has inspired electoral programs, has served as a source of consultation and has fed debate in academic and political forums.
The new edition ends with hope, but being aware of the endogenous and exogenous dangers that threaten the structure of rights and freedoms of Latin Americans. Latin America is a region with great opportunities. It is up to its elites and citizens whether countries advance along the path of freedoms and development, or stagnate or evolve into dictatorial or liberticidal political forms.
Transalted by David Outeda