Enablers and obstacles to democratic consolidation and civil-military relations reform: a comparative analysis of Argentina and Guatemala
Fetting, Nathaniel C.
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Argentina and Guatemala are separated by more than 3,000 miles, and their societies are in many ways dissimilar. Yet they share similarities in the undermining of democracy throughout their histories. Both countries were caught up in the Western fear of communism during the Cold War. With considerable backing from the United States, both countries crafted military governments with the mission of better governance and removal of their internal communist threats. Human rights were repeatedly violated by militaries and terrorists alike in each country. Both countries began democratizing in the 1980s; however, Argentina has made great strides toward democratic consolidation and civil-military relations reform. For Guatemala, these goals remain elusive. The Argentine case study serves to validate the mode-of-transition argument, which states that the dynamics of the transition to democracy deeply affect democratic consolidation and civilian control of the military. This case study, however, argues that Argentine civil society was a pivotal factor in preventing the military from controlling the transition. Civil society affected the outcome via protests and political participation. The Guatemalan case study also validates the mode-of-transition argument. This case study illustrates the negative consequences whenever the transition is under military control. It also supports the argument that civil society's actions are a pivotal factor in determining the military's ability to control the transition, via its active protesting of the regime and its participation in the electoral process, or lack thereof. In Guatemala's case, civil society participated in politics early on; over time, however, its participation dwindled.
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