1st Edition

Latin American Military and Politics in the Twenty-first Century A Cross-National Analysis

Edited By Dirk Kruijt, Kees Koonings Copyright 2023
    300 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    300 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume offers a comparative analysis of the role of the military in Latin America in domestic politics and governance after 2000.

    Divided into four parts covering the entirety of Latin America, the book argues that the Latin American military as semi-autonomous political actors have not faded away since 2000 and may even have been making a comeback in various countries. Each part outlines scenarios which effectively frame the various pathways taken to post-military democratic society. Part 1 critically examines textbook cases of political demilitarization in the Southern Cone, Peru, and Costa Rica. Part 2 contrasts the role of the military in the post-2000 politics of two regional powers: Brazil and Mexico. Part 3 examines the political role of the military facing ‘violent pluralism’ in Colombia and the Northern triangle of Central America. Finally, Part 4 identifies country cases in which the military have been instrumental in the rise, sustenance, and occasional demise of left wing revolutionary projects within Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.

    Latin American Military and Politics in the Twenty-First Century will be of interest to scholars, students and professionals in the fields of Latin American history, international relations, military studies and studies concerning democracy, political violence and revolution in Latin America elsewhere.

    1. Introduction - The Latin American Military And Politics in the 21st Century

    Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt

    Part 1: Back to the Barracks?

    2. Peru - The Armed Forces in Search of a Place in the World

    Martín Tanaka

    3. Chile - A Democracy with Semi-Autonomous Armed Forces: A History of Civil-Military Relations Since 1990

    Jaime Baeza Freer and Francisco Rojas Aravena

    4. Uruguay - The Military and Politics in the Twenty-First Century: The Chronicle of a Conflictive Relationship

    Constanza Moreira

    5. Argentina - The Re-Invention of the Armed Forces in the Face of the Challenge of De-Militarizing the Nation-State

    Sabina Frederic

    6. Costa Rica - The De-Militarization of Politics: An Exceptional Story

    Luis Guillermo Solís

    Part 2: Regional Powers under Siege

    7. Brazil - The Military and Politics at the End of the ‘New Republic’

    Celso Castro

    8. Mexico – The Armed Forces: Revolution, One-Party Rule, and the Uncertainties of Democratization and Insecurity

    Wil G. Pansters

    Part 3: Violent Pluralism

    9. Guatemala – The Sword of Damocles: Deficient Civilian Control and Relative Military Autonomy

    Bernardo Arévalo de León

    10. El Salvador – The Armed Forces in Politics: Support and Tutelage

    Alberto Martín Álvarez

    11. Honduras – The Militarization of Politics or The Politicisation of The Military? The Armed Forces in Times of Political Crisis, Corruption, Drug Trafficking and The Covid-19 Pandemic

    Leticia Salomón

    12. Colombia – Civil-Military Relations in the Twenty-First Century

    Armando Borrero

    Part 4: Armoured Bolivarianism

    13. Venezuela – The Osmosis Between the Dominant Political Party, the Military and the Public Administration

    Dirk Kruijt

    14. Cuba – The Cuban Armed Forces: From Revolutionaries to Entrepreneurs

    Rut Diamint and Laura Tedesco

    15. Nicaragua – The Changing Ethos of the Nicaraguan Army: From a Revolutionary Army to an Advocate of Democracy and, Finally, a Financial Emporium and Silent Accomplice to the New Dictatorship

    Roberto Cajina

    16. Bolivia – The Armed Forces and the Crisis of the Plurinational State of Bolivia: Neo-Conservatism Versus the Popular Movement in the Twenty-First Century

    Jhohan Oporto

    17. Military Officers for Democracy: The OMIDELAC in the 1970s and 1980s

    Raúl Vergara Meneses

    18. Conclusions – Latin America’s New Civil-Military Politics

    Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt


    Dirk Kruijt is Professor Emeritus of Development Studies at Utrecht University, and currently is a research fellow at the Centre for Military Studies (CEMIS) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and at the Centro de Estudios Internacionais (CEI) at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL). He has published about military governments and revolutions; insurgency and counterinsurgency; and urban violence and non-state armed actors. His two most recent publications are Ethnography as Risky Business: Field Research in Violent and Sensitive Contexts (2019, Kees Koonings, Dirk Kruijt, and Dennis Rodgers, eds.), Defence Diplomacy and National Security Strategy: Views from the Global South (2020, Liebenberg, Kruijt and Paranjpe, eds.), and Latin American Guerrilla Movements: Origins, Evolution, Outcomes (2020, Dirk Kruijt, Eduardo Rey Tristán, and Alberto Martín Álvarez, eds.).

    Kees Koonings is Professor of Anthropology of Development and Conflict in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University and Professor of Brazilian Studies at the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA), University of Amsterdam. His research interests are urban development, citizenship and social exclusion in Latin American cities, conflict and violence in Brazil, Colombia and Central America. Two of his recent publications are Brazil Under the Workers' Party (2014, Fabio de Castro, Kees Koonings, and Marianne Wiesebron, eds.) and Ethnography as Risky Business: Field Research in Violent and Sensitive Contexts (2019, Kees Koonings, Dirk Kruijt, and Dennis Rodgers, eds.).

    "Has the political role of the military endured or re-emerged in Latin-America since the new millennium? This is the central question of this book, a fundamental and timely contribution to understand the current state of civil-military relations in the region. It offers analytical depth, comparative focus, and empirical diversity. A must read."

    Helena Carreiras, Director of National Defense Institute, Portugal, and Associate Professor at the Instituto Universitário Lisboa

    "In this insightful book, nineteen senior analysts of civil-military relations combine rigorous scholarship with local expertise to demonstrate the new political roles assumed by Latin American militaries during the 2000s, from the old political militarism of the Cold War decades to renewed civil-military politics. This book should be a required read for practitioners and scholars interested in Latin American politics and militarism."

    Yagil Levy, Professor of Political Sociology at The Open University of Israel and Vice-President of the Israeli Sociological Society (ISS)

    "In this outstanding volume Kruijt and Koonings have managed to provide a solid and genuinely comparative analysis of the Latin American military in domestic politics and governance during the last two decades. They convincingly demonstrate that the Latin American armies have been able to retain their importance in national imaginaries and their role as a semi-autonomous political actor in many countries of the region."

    Patricio Silva, Professor of Modern Latin American History, Leiden University

    "In times of great uncertainties, this book explores with deep insight the civic-military politics in Latin America, offering different analysis of the military role in the region. Democratic governments must provide access to essential public goods where security is a central priority, together with safeguarding human rights, political dialogue, and inclusive participation."

    Josette Altmann-Borbón, Secretary-General of the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)

    "Where are the Latin American military today and what are they up to? This question is as important as it is absent from the contemporary political and academic debate. This book is necessary because it fills an analytical gap and because it insightfully dissects the various strategies developed by the Latin American armed forces to preserve a relevant role in the (post?-)democratic political arena. With its exceptional line-up of authors, the work identifies a fourfold dynamics that mark the military in different countries: returning to the barracks, playing a latent yet central role, engaging in low-intensity violent confrontations, and sustaining political regimes."

    Salvador Martí i Puig, Professor of Political Sciences at the University of Girona and researcher in CIDOB-Barcelona

    "Illuminating how Latin American militaries have adapted to a new twenty-first century reality, this ambitious collection by renowned specialists shows how the region’s armed forces, rather than retiring to their barracks, have in fact found multiple and diverse ways to influence politics under democratic—and not-so-democratic—regimes."

    Lilian Bobea, Assistant Professor at Fitchburg State University, Massachusetts, USA and former co-chair of Latin American Studies Association section ‘Defense, Public Security and Democracy’

    "This book is a welcome contribution to the field of civil-military relations that captures the diverse relations between the armed forces and society in Latin American countries. The richness lies in the diversity of the chapters, that capture the underlying power dynamics that problematize the influence of the military in politics, the economy, and broader civil society within the unique context of each country."

    Lindy Heinecken, Vice-Dean Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University