June 27, 2011
Americans are so committed to elections and democracy as the only legitimate path to political power that it is sometimes hard to conceive of politics by other means. Moreover U.S. policymakers tend to believe that elections occupy a higher realm of moral authority and hope that, with democracy assistance programs, Latin America and other developing areas will “move beyond” revolutions, coup d’états, general strikes, and other nonelectoral routes to power. But, military coups remain a regular and recurrent feature of Latin American politics, and nonelectoral paths may still be pursued there, especially in crisis circumstances, Furthermore, some of these extra-electoral means may enjoy both legitimacy and constitutional mandate. In this report, the authors test these propositions as they apply to various countries in Latin America.