Latin American Presidencies Interrupted

Issue Date October 2004
Volume 15
Issue 4
Page Numbers 5-19
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Over the last two decades, Latin America has seen thirteen presidents leave office prematurely: Raúl Alfonsín (Argentina); Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti); Joaquín Balaguer (Dominican Republic); Abdalá Bucaram (Ecuador); Fernando Collor de Mello (Brazil); Raúl Cubas (Paraguay); Alberto Fujimori (Peru); Jamil Mahuad (Ecuador); Carlos Andrés Pérez (Venezuela); Fernando de la Rúa (Argentina); Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (Bolivia); Jorge Serrano (Guatemala); and Hernán Siles Zuazo (Bolivia). This group has suffered the indignity of early removal through impeachment or forced resignation, sometimes under circumstances of instability that have threatened constitutional democracy itself—as in the case of military coups. While Latin Americans still broadly support democracy and prefer it to dictatorship, they are increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of their democratic governments. It is time to consider changing constitutional designs that promote conflict rather than more consensual ways of doing politics.

About the Author

Arturo Valenzuela is professor of government and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University. During the Clinton administration, he was deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs and later senior director for inter-American affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.

View all work by Arturo Valenzuela