Democracy | Wilson Center


Policing Democracy: Overcoming Obstacles to Citizen Security Reform in Latin America

Mark Ungar, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Adriana Mejía-Hernández, Organization of American States

Latin America's crime rates are astonishing by any standard—the region's homicide rate is the world's highest. This crisis continually traps governments between the need for comprehensive reform and the public demand for immediate action, usually meaning iron-fisted police tactics harking back to the repressive pre-1980s dictatorships.

A Forum on President Obama's Trip to Latin America

In anticipation of President Barack Obama's trip in March 2011 to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador, the Latin American Program and the Brazil Institute hosted a discussion with two of the principle architects of U.S. policy in the region. Dan Restrepo, special assistant to the President and senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council, and Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State, provided an overview of the objectives of the trip at a March 16, 2011, event at the Wilson Center.

A New Approach to Social Policy: Measuring Access to Opportunity

Ten of the fifteen most income-unequal countries of the world are based in the Western hemisphere; indeed, by some measures, nearly all Latin American countries suffer from greater income inequality that those of Sub-Saharan Africa. On September 30, 2011, Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, opened a discussion on how to reduce that inequality.

Challenges for Latin American Police Forces: The Complex and Changing Environment

The Latin America Program held a seminar that included a panel of experts from the region discussing the challenges of police reform throughout Latin America.

Contemporary U.S.-Latin American Relations: Cooperation or Conflict in the 21st Century?

On June 28, 2010, the Latin American Program hosted a discussion of the recently published Contemporary U.S.-Latin American Relations: Cooperation or Conflict in the 21st Century?, edited by Jorge Domínguez and Rafael Fernández de Castro.

The Funes Administration in El Salvador: A Review of the First Year

The March 2009 presidential election of Mauricio Funes in El Salvador represented a turning point in the country's progress towards democracy. Following a bloody twelve-year civil war and almost two decades in the political opposition, the former guerrilla group-turned political party, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), won the country's presidential election.

Crime and Violence in Central America: A Human Development Approach

Fifteen years following democratic transitions and the end of civil conflicts, Central America is experiencing more violence than ever.

Common Crime and Organized Crime in Latin American Cities: Commonalities and Differences

The Latin American Program held the conference, "Common Crime and Organized Crime in Latin American Cities: Commonalities and Differences," on May 19, 2010, to deepen the understanding of the connection between existing levels of delincuencia, or common crime, and the growing presence of organized crime in the region.

A Discussion of the Future of the OAS With Secretary General José Miguel Insulza

Following his re-election to a second five-year term as Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza addressed the significance the Organization holds today, what topics it should address, and what reforms could be undertaken at a May 11, 2010, seminar co-sponsored with the Inter-American Dialogue, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Brookings Institution.

Religion and Values in the Formation of a Democratic Public Space in Latin America

In the 1980s and ‘90s, Peru experienced one of the longest economic and political crises of its history. The debt crisis and hyperinflation of the 1980s coincided with the growth of terrorist violence by Sendero Luminoso, followed by the authoritarian government of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). Peruvian democracy continues to grapple with the legacies of the recent past. According to Catalina Romero, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Peru's Catholic University and Public Policy Scholar under the Henry R.