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State and Society in Conflict

State and Society in Conflict: Comparative Perspectives on the Andean Crises

Paul W. Drake
Eric Hershberg
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    State and Society in Conflict
    Book Description:

    State and Society in Conflictanalyzes one of the most volatile regions in Latin America, the Andean states of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. For the last twenty-five years, crises in these five Andean countries have endangered Latin America's democracies and strained their relations with the United States. As these nations struggle to cope with demands from Washington on security policies (emphasizing drugs and terrorism), neoliberal economics, and democratic politics, their resulting domestic travails can be seen in poor economic growth, unequal wealth distribution, mounting social unrest, and escalating political instability.

    The contributors to this volume examine the histories, politics, and cultures of the Andean nations, and argue that, due to their shared history and modern circumstances, these countries are suffering a shared crisis of deteriorating relations between state and society that is best understood in regional, not purely national, terms. The results, in some cases, have been semi-authoritarian hybrid regimes that lurch from crisis to crisis, often controlled through force, though clinging to a notion of democracy. The solution to these problems--whether through democratic, authoritarian, peaceful, or violent means--will have profound implications for the region and its future relations with the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7299-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 The Crisis of State-Society Relations in the Post-1980s Andes
    (pp. 1-40)

    Since the 1980s and accelerating thereafter, the five Andean countries have been suffering a crisis of deteriorating relations between state and society. Conflicts between state and society have been escalating. Arousing international concerns, this crisis has been manifested in economic distress, social unrest, and above all, political corrosion. The outcome of this crisis could determine the quality and durability of the latest era of democracy in Latin America. Just as that current wave of democratization began its move forward in Ecuador and Peru at the end of the 1970s, so it could begin to recede in the same region in...

  2. 2 Unfinished States: Historical Perspectives on the Andes
    (pp. 41-73)

    Andean states are, more than most countries, works in progress. Formed states are a species of political system in which subjects accept and are able to live by some set of basic ground rules and norms governing public affairs. Being finished need not imply an end to politics or history, but simply that a significant majority of a country’s population acknowledges the legitimacy of ruling systems and especially the rules that determine how rules are supposed to change.

    For historical reasons, this is not the case in the Andes. In Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela (the countries analyzed in this chapter),...

  3. 3 A Transregional Security Cartography of the Andes
    (pp. 74-98)

    Following the southern cone dictatorships and political convulsions in Central America during the 1980s, the Andean region emerged as the flag bearer of Latin American crisis. Democratic fragility, institutional weakness, poor articulation between state and society, social and economic exclusion, and unregulated forms of participation are among the most critical problems besetting the five Andean countries (Gutiérrez 2003; chapter 1). The ensuing combination of ungovernability and social disintegration has made the northern part of South America the epicenter of hemispheric instability at the start of the millennium.

    These problems are common to all the states of the region, yet manifest...

  4. 4 The Andean Economies: Questions of Poverty, Growth, and Equity
    (pp. 99-133)

    The five andean countries considered here share several structural characteristics that make it difficult to achieve anything resembling equitable patterns of development. That does not make them radically different from the majority of Latin American countries, though they are on the high side of regional averages for poverty. Between 1980 and 2000 income per capita fell for all of them except Colombia. That put them all, even the previously higher-income Venezuela, at levels of income below the average for Latin America. They have in varying degrees been making some of the kinds of changes that could open up a more...

  5. 5 Technocrats, Citizens, and Second-Generation Reforms: Colombia’s Andean Malaise
    (pp. 134-156)

    A core contention of this book is that throughout the Andean region there is an exceptionally pronounced gap between public expectations of democracy and development and the capacity of the political-economic order to even remotely satisfy these expectations. We see this state of affairs, and the upheavals that it engenders, as rooted in factors that are both internal and external. Andean democracies operate with scant room for maneuver in an international economic environment in which conventional prescriptions for achieving growth decidedly favor forms of liberalization that populations believe—correctly or not—likely to generate negative consequences for their welfare. Because...

  6. 6 Turning Crisis into Opportunity: Achievements of Excluded Groups in the Andes
    (pp. 157-188)

    The intensity and depth of ethnic and racial cleavages distinguish the Andean region from others in Latin America. Outside of Guatemala, the central Andean countries have the highest proportion of unassimilated, culturally distinct indigenous communities. Outside of Brazil and the Caribbean, Colombia and Venezuela contain the proportionally highest population of African descent (see table 6.1). In the Andes these identities often coincide with geographic regions, deepening the barriers among social groups. Regional identities may mask ethnic and racial identities that are not expressed because such identities are considered incompatible with national myths ofmestizaje(racial mixing).¹ The persistence of distinct...

  7. 7 Ethnic Politics and Political Instability in the Andes
    (pp. 189-219)

    Indigenous movements and mobilizations have become a significant part of the contemporary Latin American political landscape. This marks a historic and consequential change for a region where ethnic cleavages were once widely characterized as comparatively weak. Indeed, by the end of the twentieth century, indigenous movements had emerged throughout North, Central, and South America—shaping political debates (e.g., about constitutions, decentralization, representation, and political parties), demanding economic reforms on a wide range of issues (e.g., land reform, privatization, dollarization, and drug policy) and even mobilizing cross-class coalitions that took part in pushing elected presidents from office. Nowhere has this sea...

  8. 8 Contesting the Terrain of Politics: State-Society Relations in Urban Peru, 1950–2000
    (pp. 220-256)

    The explosive internal conflict in colombia and the decision of the U.S. government to commit significant resources to aiding that country’s government under the guise of the war on drugs has raised the profile of the Andean region in both scholarly and journalistic analyses. In Peru, the collapse in late 2000 of a mafia-like predatory state run by Alberto Fujimori and his shadowy advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos, revealed how electoral processes and the formal separation of powers may conceal authoritarian power relations and massive corruption. Massive social uprisings resulting in the peaceful but unconstitutional overthrow of elected presidents in Ecuador and...

  9. 9 Checks and Imbalances: Problems with Congress in Colombia and Ecuador, 1978–2003
    (pp. 257-287)

    Throughout the andean region, congresses have at one time or another been a major focus of popular discontent, and opinion polls in Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia consistently show that they are among the least trusted and poorly evaluated of political institutions. These circumstances have opened the way for politicians with authoritarian leanings, and for scandalmongers of various sorts, to advance rhetoric and political platforms that target the legislative branch of government as the root of all social problems. Widespread repudiation of Congress appears linked to the noteworthy deterioration in popular belief in democracy as an appropriate form of...

  10. 10 Sowing Democracy in Venezuela: Advances and Challenges in a Time of Change
    (pp. 288-314)

    The stunning recent upheavals and conflicts in Venezuela demonstrated that even a robust democracy (1958–2004) was vulnerable to the Andean crisis. As in the rest of the region, the severe breakdown of relations between the state and society began with the economic downturn of the 1980s. Social protests erupted, moreover, when governments attempted to respond to worsening economic conditions with market-oriented structural adjustments. Feeling betrayed by institutions and leaders that either converted to neoliberalism, as did President Carlos Andrés Pérez, or failed to revive the economy by any means, as did President Rafael Caldera, protesters rejected the political establishment...