State of Democracy in South America

South AmericaBy Kristy Grahn

After many years of social and political unrest, South American countries adopted democracy as their form of government. Despite this, the Andean countries such as Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and landlocked Paraguay display signs of instable democracies as they have been experiencing uprisings. The most stable democracies in South America can be found in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile. So why do the democracies vary in terms of functionality and stability? Perhaps this is because the most stable democracies in South America are found in the countries with the most prosperous economies.

Many democracies all over the world are unstable and are (for a lack of a better word) useless. As numerous authoritarian rulers rise to power with subsequent controversy, the quality of their democracies are questioned.  In South America’s case, the difference lies in its ability to contribute as a key stakeholder in the global economy. Also, with technological and educational advancements, civilians are now aware of the benefits that a democracy has. The most stable democracies in South America happen to also have the most prosperous economies (with the exception of Bolivia).  Is it safe to say then that in order to have a functional and stable democracy, a country must also have a functional and prosperous economy as well? My argument is that the quality of democracy in fact is interconnected with the quality of the economy.

How can a government provide a true democracy for its citizens without the economic means to do so? For example, Africa exports raw goods to core countries that then take those raw goods and produce manufactured goods out of those to sell to their public and other countries. Since Africa does not purchase manufactured goods from developed countries, it has no foothold in the global economy as the materials it exports are bought at a very low price. The monetary gain of the democracies in Africa is barely enough to keep their heads above water, let alone run an efficient and effective democracy. Either way, even though half of South America’s democracies are struggling, they are still more effective than the governments in play prior to 10 years ago, and there is only one way to go up from there… UP!

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