1st Edition

Democracy and Security in Latin America State Capacity and Governance under Stress

Edited By Gabriel Marcella, Orlando J. Pérez, Brian Fonseca Copyright 2022
    236 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    236 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for governments to generate the necessary capacity to address important security and institutional challenges; this volume deepens our understanding of the nature and extent of state governance in Latin America.

    State capacity is multidimensional, with all elements interacting to produce stable governance and security. As such, a collection of scholars and practitioners use an explicit interdisciplinary approach, drawing on the contributions of history, political science, economics, public policy, military studies, and other fields to gain a rounded understanding of the link between security and democracy.

    Democracy and Security in Latin America is divided in two sections:

    • Part 1 focuses on the challenges to governance and key institutions such as police, courts, armed forces. and the prison system.
    • Part 2 features country case studies that illustrate particularly important security challenges and various means by which the state has confronted them.

    Democracy and Security in Latin America should appeal not only to those seeking to learn more about the capacity of the democratic state in Latin America to effectively provide public security in times of stress, but to all those curious about the reality that a democracy must have security to function.


    Gabriel Marcella, Orlando J. Pérez, and Brian Fonseca

    Part 1: Institutions

    1. The Crisis of Governance

    Phil Williams

    2. Policing

    Lucía Dammert

    3. Judicial System

    Mark Ungar

    4. Prisons

    Jonathan D. Rosen

    5. Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces

    Gabriel Marcella

    Part 2: Country Studies

    6. Colombia: Security Challenges and State Capacity

    Jennifer S. Holmes and Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres

    7. Mexico: Dilemma between Democratic Recession and Internal Security

    Raúl Benítez Manaut

    8. Brazil: The Evolution of Civil-Military Relations and Security

    Luis Bitencourt

    9. Peru: Counterinsurgency and the Rule of Law during Re-democratization

    Maiah Jaskoski

    10. Cuba: The Exceptional Case

    Brian Latell

    11. Venezuela: The Erosion of Security Capacity

    John Polga-Hecimovich

    12. Argentina: Legality or Disobedience?

    Rut Diamint

    13. Chile: A Secure Democracy?

    G. Alexander Crowther

    14. Conclusion

    Gabriel Marcella, Orlando J. Pérez, and Brian Fonseca


    Gabriel Marcella is Distinguished Fellow and former Director of the Americas Studies at the U.S. Army War College. He served as International Affairs Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief at the U.S. Southern Command, and consultant to the Departments of State and Defense on Latin American security. He has written extensively on Latin American security and U.S. policy, teaching strategy, and the Washington interagency process.

    Orlando J. Pérez is Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas at Dallas. His teaching and research interests include comparative politics, Latin American politics, U.S.-Latin American relations, civil-military relations, public opinion, and empirical democratic theory. As a consultant, he has worked on public opinion surveys, democratization, civil-military relations, and anti-corruption issues for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN Development Program. He is the author of Civil-Military Relations in Post-Conflict Societies: Transforming the Role of the Military in Central America (Routledge, 2017); Political Culture in Panama: Democracy after Invasion (2011), and Co-editor (with Richard Millett and Jennifer Holmes) of Latin American Democracy: Emerging Reality or Endangered Species? (Routledge, 2015). He received a BA in political science from Florida International University and an MA and PhD in political science from the University of Pittsburgh.

    Brian Fonseca is a Director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University’s (FIU) Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations. Brian’s technical expertise is in U.S. National Security and Foreign Policy. He also serves as a Cybersecurity Policy Fellow at the D.C.-based think tank New America and Chair of the Americas Linkage Committee at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. His recent publications include an edited volume with Eduardo A. Gamarra titled Culture and National Security in the Americas (2017) and is coauthor of The New US Security Agenda: Trends and Emerging Threats (2017). His analysis has been featured in local and national media and he serves as the on-air Political Analyst for South Florida’s WSVN-Fox News. From 1997 to 2004, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps and facilitated the training of foreign military forces in both hostile theaters and during peacetime operations.

    "This book is an important contribution for any student, professor or researcher interested in the issue of security and its relationship with Latin American democracy…Democracy and Security in Latin America: State Capacity and Governance under Stress proves to be a valuable contribution to the debate on security, governance and criminality, and could stimulate the debate on these arguments, rekindling it with new questions. Therefore, I consider this work a good exercise to understand the structural and recent challenges at continental, regional and national levels in governance and security, both continually tested by old and new threats. It is a work of an academic nature but accessible reading for all those interested in the above-mentioned topics."

    Pablo A. Baisotti, Small Wars Journal

    "A timely and valuable contribution to the scholarly production on security in Latin America. At a moment when there are more questions than answers to the challenges of violence, transnational organized crime, and cyber threats, this book sheds light to the usually dark corridors of public policy-making in one of this Hemisphere’s most complex agendas. Unwilling to deprive insecurity of its complexity, this collection of articles provides fresh approaches to issues that will prevail in this region for the foreseeable future."

    Luis G. Solis, President of Costa Rica (20142018)

    "This powerful, timely, and compelling volume analyzes the capacity of the democratic state in Latin America to effectively provide public security and national defense. Regional experts focus on four key institutional structures (police, prison system, judiciary, and armed forces), applied to eight countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. The interdisciplinary analysis, policy implications, and recommendations make this a must-read for those seeking to understand the growing challenges of state capacity and governance in Latin America."

    Lieutenant General (ret) Frederick S. Rudesheim, Director, William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies

    "This timely look at one of the most vexing issues of hemispheric democracy—state capacity in security affairs—is long overdue and fills an important niche in our understanding of regional issues. More to the point, this volume provides policymakers with some of the tools they will need to address existing and emerging challenges across the region within a democratic construct, just at a point when the democratic construct itself is under intensifying pressure. It should be widely read and referenced."

    Eric Farnsworth, Vice President of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society

    "In this book, we are finally presented with a comprehensive and much needed interdisciplinary approach to a vexing problem that has plagued academics and policymakers for years – building state capacity to address Latin America’s complex security challenges. The editors could not have brought together a more impressive list of contributors to offer analysis and recommendations to the problem of building state capacity in the region."

    Frank O. Mora, PhD., Professor of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University (FIU) and former Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center