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Communism in Latin America

Democratic Transition

As the twentieth century came to a close, a phenomenal shift occurred in Latin America from authoritarian and—in the case of Nicaragua but not yet Cuba—communist regimes to incomplete democracies. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the poor economic and social conditions of the four remaining communist states in the world (China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba), the Marxist-Leninist model was less appealing than ever. The nineteen Latin American democratic states, with Cuba remaining the only nondemocratic one, each had a unique experience with a liberal transition, but the region as a whole changed from a rural peasant-agricultural society to a modern, urban, industrial, and diversified one. While it experienced improved economic conditions, better human rights records, and political liberalization after its transition from authoritarianism, Latin America was still far from stable in the early 2000s.

The gap between rich and poor was the largest in the world and still widening. Economic development was continuing at a slow pace, with major collapses in several states. Political participation and civic engagement were not entirely free; patrimonialism, cronyism, and corruption continued, with most governments closely monitoring and regulating political parties and associational life. In the view of most Latin Americans, democracy had yet to deliver on its promises, and polls indicated declining support for it. This disillusionment, exacerbated by the continued two-class system and the dire straits of the poverty-stricken masses, made a return to authoritarianism increasingly appealing to many Latin Americans and led to a revival of Marxist language, but a resurgence of communism or communist parties is highly unlikely. With globalization, new openings in free trade, and numerous successful models of liberal economic and political systems worldwide, it is unlikely that Marxism-Leninism will be revived or that even the Cuban regime will remain communist for long after the eventual passing of the resilient Fidel Castro.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cluster compound to ConcupiscenceCommunism in Latin America - Anticommunism In Latin America, The Cuban Model, Guerrilla Insurgents, Democratic Transition, Conclusion, Bibliography