Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives

Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives

by David Pion-Berlin

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Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: New Analytical Perspectives by David Pion-Berlin

The armed forces may no longer rule nations throughout Latin America, but they continue to influence democratic governments across the region. In nine original, thought-provoking essays, this book offers fresh theoretical insights into the dilemmas facing Latin American politicians as they struggle to gain full control over their military institutions. Latin America has changed in profound ways since the end of the Cold War, the re-emergence of democracy, and the ascendancy of free-market economies and trade blocs. The contributors to this volume recognize the necessity of finding intellectual approaches that speak to these transformations. They utilize a wide range of contemporary models to analyze recent political and economic reform in nations throughout Latin America, presenting case studies on Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela. Bridging the gap between Latin American studies and political science, these essays not only explore the forces that shape civil-military relations in Latin America but also address larger questions of political development and democratization in the region.The contributors are Felipe Aguero, J. Samuel Fitch, Wendy Hunter, Ernesto Lopez, Brian Loveman, David R. Mares, Deborah L. Norden, David Pion-Berlin, and Harold A. Trinkunas.Latin American Studies/Political ScienceContributorsFelipe Aguero, University of MiamiJ. Samuel Fitch, University of Colorado at BoulderWendy Hunter, University of Texas at Austin Ernesto Lopez, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (Buenos Aires, Argentina)Brian Loveman, San Diego State UniversityDavid R. Mares, University of California at San DiegoDeborah L. Norden, Whittier College (Whittier, Cal.)David Pion-Berlin, University of California, Riverside Harold A. Trinkunas, Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, Cal.)—>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807875292
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 01/14/2003
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Lexile: 1560L (what's this?)
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

David Pion-Berlin is professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside.

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Civil-Military Relations in Latin America

New Analytical Perspectives

The University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 2001 University of North Carolina Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8078-2656-0


Abraham F. Lowenthal

As I write this Foreword, questions abound about the role and intentions of Peru's armed forces in response to President Alberto Fujimori's surprise resignation from the presidency and call for new elections in which he would not be a candidate. No one seems certain whether Peru's top military officers forced this resignation, will accept Fujimori's plan, or are prepared to take power directly.

Peru is not the only Latin American country where the political role of the armed forces is in doubt. Chile's top officers recently defied President Ricardo Lagos in staging an unauthorized welcome for former president Augusto Pinochet on the latter's return from the United Kingdom, where he had been detained for human rights violations. Colombia's top seventeen officers last year announced their resignations, together with the minister of defense, to protest President Andres Pastrana's approach to negotiating with the guerrilla insurgency there. Ecuador's armed forces toppled the elected president last year and had to be cajoled into letting the vice president take office. In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, a cashiered former colonel who led a bloody but unsuccessful military coup several years ago, has now won office through election and drawn on military cronies for key government positions, and the only credible alternative to Chávez in the 1999 elections was another former military leader. And in Cuba, so long ruled by Fidel Castro, experts are debating what role the Cuban armed forces will play in an eventual post-Fidel transition.

Despite the regionwide turn from authoritarian rule toward democratic governance, the thorny issue of civil-military relations has by no means been resolved. The exact form this issue takes has changed from the days of caudillo politics in the 1950s and 1960s or the bureaucratic-authoritarian regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, but the centrality of armies to Latin America's politics remains.

More than twenty-five years ago-at a time when the armed forces governed directly in almost every country of South America and in several Central American nations, as well-I focused on the political role of the region's military leaders and institutions. In my review essay in World Politics in 1974 and then in my edited volume Armies and Politics in Latin America (1975), I argued that it was important to distinguish carefully among the different political roles played by Latin American military institutions at various stages and in varying contexts and particularly to focus on the relationship between the levels of institutionalization of civilian politics and of military organizations as a key factor in determining how soldiers affected politics. I offered this hypothesis by way of illustrating the need for more comparative research and better theoretical lenses to help interpret, explain, and predict a central feature of Latin America's politics.

This field of inquiry has developed impressively over the past twenty-five years, with a great number of case studies, comparative treatments, and historical and theoretical approaches. The literature I reviewed in 1974, which seemed extensive at the time, is but a small fraction of what has been published since. Studies abound of the military as rulers, of the transitions from authoritarian regimes, of the policy consequences of military and civilian rule, and of the military's role in the initial and consolidation phases of democracy-building.

There is clearly a need to take stock of what has been learned and chart new areas of research, and that is the signal contribution of this volume. Editor David Pion-Berlin has succeeded in convening some of the ablest scholars working on the political behavior of the military in Latin America today, and with them, he has produced a comprehensive, empirically grounded, and theoretically informed symposium.

This volume succeeds in bridging political science approaches and those found in Latin American studies to give scholars greater leverage on understanding civil-military complexities. It does so by anchoring its studies around a few key analytical points that emerge from the discipline, which are informed by empirical observations from the region. By distinguishing among and illustrating three main analytic orientations in work on Latin America's military and relating these to broad schools of thought in contemporary political science as a whole, Pion-Berlin and his colleagues have shown the relevance of research on Latin America to wider political science debates, thus avoiding the all-too-familiar relegation of work on Latin America to a neglected area-studies backwater. And by tackling contemporary issues about the military's role in the processes of democratic institution-building, consolidation, and disenchantment, Pion-Berlin and his colleagues have produced a work that is both timely and policy-relevant.


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From the Publisher

Required reading within the field of civil-military relations.—The Americas

This book should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding the current state of knowledge about contemporary civil-military relations in Latin America. It provides work of both emerging and established scholars, showcasing different analytical methods in a systematic way and addressing major issues facing the region today.—Jonathan Hartlyn, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

[An] important book. . . . Clearly establishes the importance of theory in considering civil-military relations.—Choice

Pion-Berlin has assembled an impressive group of scholars for this project. The high quality of the chapters results in a fine collection. . . . This book is a major contribution to the literature on civil-military relations and, in general, democratization in Latin America. It is of great value for both area specialists and comparativists.—American Political Science Review

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