Arch Puddington at Freedom House has a great essay on Latin America’s Wavering Democracies.
Yes, there is some positive growth in individual countries, but the over all trend in Latin America for democratic government and institutions is down.
Why is this important to anyone in the USA, besides the obvious that we like democracies?
Think about the political, social and economic turmoil that happens when non-democratic governments replace democratic ones.
- People flee to the nearest democracy with a stable economy. (That usually means the USA.)
- Lower income in the countries means fewer imports from industrialized countries, which means fewer jobs in the exporting countries. (Again, often the USA but also Brazil.)
- Political repression translates into controlled media, which means the only information getting out is either from rumors (unreliable) or official government pronouncements. (Also unreliable.)
- Controlled media means investors do not have a good idea about market, social, political or economic situations, so there is less investment. (Which leads to further political, social and economic turmoil.)
- Controlled media also means no checks and balances against corrupt government officials. (It is no surprise that the MOST corrupt countries in the world also do not have free press.)
So there really is quite a bit to worry about when looking at the Freedom House numbers. And the worries are not just for or about the people in Latin America. diminished democracy in Latin America has a direct social, economic and political impact on the United States right on down to Main Street.
It would be nice to see some reporting that looks at these connections.