Democratization, social crisis and the impact of military domestic roles in Latin America
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Civil-military relations theorists have long warned against the participation of armed forces in domestic missions in democratic societies. They argue that such domestic roles bolster the military politically and eventually lead to the overthrow of democratic governments. Yet for two decades now, democratic governments have enlisted the help of their militaries domestically without risk to the regime. Civilian leaders often provide the military with internal roles to compensate/or the inability of the state to provide the public and private goods demanded by citizens, particularly in times of internal economic or social crisis. Even in the midst of crisis. democratic governments can withstand military involvement in a range of domestic projects, from food distribution to policing to provision of health services. This article argues that military political intervention that accompanies participation in internal missions is only one possible outcome of moments of severe conflict induced by crisis, and will occur only when weak democracies with low levels of civilian control are victims of such crises. We examine this relationship in a comparison of two Latin American cases: Argentina and Venezuela.
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