Latin America managed economic and social advances since the 2009 international crisis but not in democratic or institutional qualities for the common citizen, according to a report from the German foundation Konrad Adenauer, released this week in Mexico.
The Democratic Development Index, DDI for Latin America in its 2011 edition points out that democracy and institutional quality are paramount for the development of democratic societies and in this case the report does not provide encouraging news.
The countries under scrutiny for the report included Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, República Dominicana, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The DDI-Lat collected by the KA foundation worked with polls consultant Politat that pointed out that DD in Latin America again dropped this year (5.8%) on a regional average.
Politat director Jorge Arias said that the erosion is the result of the advance of governments, to the loss of citizens, through patronage networks.
The systemic approach to DD is focused on issues such as political rights, civil liberties, institutional quality and political efficiency and social and economic development.
In this latest report, (the tenth edition) countries with a High DD include Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Chile has held the lead position for the last eight years.
Medium DD has Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Panama and Peru.
Low DD, Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Honduras and Dominican Republic and with Minimum DD, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ecuador and Guatemala.
Arias said that during the 2009 crisis Latin America experienced a happy coincidence: low interest rates, low prices for industrial goods and a sustained positive price for export commodities which found a strong demand from China and India.
This enabled the region to take-off faster from the crisis but in a scenario with financially stronger governments which openly intervened in support of the needy and those punished by the consequences of the crisis.
In the item political rights and civil liberties there was an overall backdrop of 3.5%, mainly because of “rampant crime and the insecurity situation”. However Colombia and Venezuela advanced in this point, 17.9% and 14.3%, “which does mean they have become icons of respect for human rights”. They advanced because of recent elections held in both countries.
Arias underlines that narcotics and drug trading is one of the great threats to the region but the reaction of society and its leaders is not sufficiently strong, particularly in those countries hit hard by violence.
The areas most affected by this phenomenon are Central America and Mexico given their closeness with the world’s largest consumer of drugs, the US.
“The drugs problem from a democratic point of view is that we see a scarce reaction from governments, communities and media given the magnitude and gravity of the problem”, underlined Arias.
As to the current global turbulence with the double US and EU crises, Arias anticipated a similar situation to 2009, which means Latam could clear the hurdle, although it all depends on how China and India evolve.