In general, I'm not a big fan of leaders in Latin America eliminating or loosening term limits so that they can stay in office longer. I also believe that recent processes of constitutional reform in many Latin American countries have been sweeping enough to warrant careful and critical review. When I picked up the article by Forrest Colburn and Alberto Trejos in the Summer 2010 issue of Dissent ("Democracy Undermined"), I had hoped that it would provide such a review. Instead, the article is a broadside filled with careless generalizations, overblown rhetoric, and statements that are either misleading or factually incorrect. It is, sadly, so smug and smothering in its biases that it precludes any sort of constructive debate about the Latin American Left.

You know an article about democracy in Latin America is going to be bad when it starts off by coming within a hair's breadth of endorsing the coup in Honduras. The authors argue that when the Honduran military removed the democratically elected president from office, "What they did was wrong, and yet, there is an alarming trend in Latin America toward dismantling democracy by legal subterfuge under the cover of populist and even socialist rhetoric."


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