Term Paper: Advancing Democracy in Latin America Through the Church

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Advancing Democracy in Latin America Through the Church

The whole of Latin America has been weighed down by dictatorial regimes. The age of Human rights and democracy had been met with brute force. Many of these military takeovers had been planned extremely methodically and the political forces could do nothing else but avoid any all-out confrontation with the military generals. However, a few groups who did resist the takeovers had been crushed in a short time. Also, due to lack of accountability and prevalent state of lawlessness, corruption became widespread (Edward, 1997).

It is important to note that during the cold war America directed many secret CIA operations throughout Latin America. These operations created a bad mind set amongst the people of Latin America for the United States. Also, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, public opinions between United States and Latin America had started to differ on major fundamental issues and as a result have created a huge gap between the two regions (Richard, 2001). However, one institution remains firmly intact with its roots both in Latin America and United States: the Catholic Church. And in light of the latest developments in international politics, it has become imperative for United States to promote its interests of democracy, human rights, economic growth and political stability.

This paper will assess the current state of democracy in Latin America and will then assess the cultural, political, social and economic standing of the Catholic Church so as to understand the role it can play in the promotion of the global interests of the United States of America. The paper will also briefly review the various religious factions emerging in the region and also discuss the potential barriers that may arise should the Catholic Church be used to promote American interests throughout the Latin American Countries.

Current State of Democracy in Latin America

Introduction

It is not surprising to note that many scholars in Latin America have emphasized an increased role of the government in maintaining business and cultural ethics along with the growth and development of the economy. This is because the entire Latin America is moving towards free market economy and it is critical to conduct businesses in an ethical manner. Furthermore, many scholars have asserted that it has been extremely difficult to intervene in the social, economic as well as political matters of the state and the scholars blame the principals of neo-liberalism for the inflexibility (Thomas, 2002).

What has made matters worse for the Latin American governments is that the local and international media has been very severe continuously disclose the rampant corruption in the public service organizations throughout the region; along with the incompetent policies carried out by these governments. Lawlessness is prevalent throughout Latin America and women, children, and racial minorities have been subject to rape, murder, torture and consistent abuse, both by the law enforcement agencies as well as the underground mafias (Thomas, 2002).

Therefore it is critical to understand the rapidly growing social order of the countries in Latin America so as to understand the socio-economic and political dynamics that have been influencing that region. Also many scholars have pointed out that the civil society has been playing a critical role in reshaping the societal values at the grass root level. Therefore to understand the state of democracy in these countries, it is important to understand the growing civil society and its culture (Thomas, 2002).

Human Rights

The state of human rights has been pretty poor right through Latin America. Corrupt law enforcement agencies, inefficient judiciary and lackluster government are the primary reasons for poor human rights record. The worsening human rights situation has made the people loose faith in the electoral process and the weak judicial system. Colored people, women and children suffer the highest level of abuse. A number of NGO's have been pressurizing the governments to come up to the international standards of human rights and allow their people to live in a culture free of torture, rape, murder, extortion and drugs. Huge strides have to be taken so as to transform the legal system of Latin America from repressive laws to governmental policies to people friendly laws and governmental policies (Thomas, 2002).

The social Culture

The conditions at the state level are extremely hopeless and any transformation at the highest governmental level needs years of persistency. However, the scenes at the grass root level throughout the Latin American region have been extremely encouraging to note. One of the reasons for this is the growing awareness of the contemporary economic opportunities and threats that have emerged due mainly to the process of globalization (Thomas, 2002).

Education

The world is moving towards becoming an open society. However, very little has been done to develop the education system of Latin America in this regard. Furthermore, the education system has been hijacked by the government throughout Latin America, both philosophically and meticulousness (Thomas, 2002). Education is being treated as a market product and as a result has become a matter to business and competition. Also the education system has allowed the rich families to give private, high-quality education to their children while the under privileged families have no option but to send their children to low-standard government schools (Alvaro 2002).

Economic Growth

The Latin American countries have been under a tremendous amount of debt. This foreign debt amounts to hundreds of billions of American dollars. This culture of acquiring loans from foreign sources started during the 1960's and became a severe burden during the 1980's as well as the 1990's. It is believed by many economic scholars that the present amount of debt cannot be paid back. The huge debt has been the primary reason for the poor economic growth throughout the Latin American countries, since it has caused widespread poverty, joblessness and illiteracy (Thomas, 2002).

Political Stability

The condition of political accountability at the state level has been extremely fraudulent and crooked. This has caused skepticism and mistrust amongst the people and has resulted in creating a huge gap between the governmental officials and the public. And since the people do not seem to show concern towards the doings of the state, the quality of the state institutions have been deteriorating for the past several decades. Furthermore, the present international structure of politics has made matters worse since decision-making has become extremely complicated due to the global impact of the decisions being made at the local level (Thomas, 2002).

The factors mentioned above have been extremely influential in creating the political instability and the lack of universal common good throughout the countries in Latin America. Furthermore, this political instability has been a haven for the underground mafias and the industrial giants in the region who have cashed in on the prevailing political environment (Thomas, 2002).

Role religion plays in Latin American culture and its relationship with the state and non-state actors.

Due to the rampant corruption throughout Latin America, people have been extremely dissatisfied with the way the democracy has progressed; inequality has increased all over the region. However, the future is not completely dark since a number of grass root church groups have sprung up to facilitate the ever increasing poor groups (Paul, 2004).

The religions field has become subject to competition since the traditional Catholic Church has been challenged by the newly emerging religious groups throughout Latin America. These groups hold a very strong position in the poor communities and are seen as a ray of hope for the poor people who have been sick and tired of dancing in the circles broken promises. However, the down side of this scenario is that struggle for power has become widespread amongst these different church groups who have emerged to stand up against the catholic monopoly throughout the region (Paul, 2004).

Due to the process of globalization, the people of Latin America like people else where, have been exposed to the international cultures and traditions. This exposure has been a major influence in the relationship between the people of Latin America and the church. The growth and development of the means of communication and transportation has lead to uncountable religious movements with diverse dynamics and structures. This is due to the augmentation in the cultural and economic exchanges throughout the world. People of all regions, particularly the Latin Americans, have been open to new religions interpretations of polygonal foundations. These proceedings have not only developed a very strong bond between the people and the church but also have renewed and augmented the status and standings of religious figures in throughout Latin America, who are seen as the only ray of hope for the poor and the under privileged (Jean-Pierre, 1998).

Also, it is important to note that throughout the 1950's and 1960's, Latin American countries had been autonomous in their economic activity and the relationship between the industrial power houses and the church had been very healthy. However, market reforms and modernization has struck a severe blow in their relationship and now everyone has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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