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Violent Obstacles to Democratic Consolidation in Three Countries:
Guatemala, Colombia, and Algeria

(Released July 2005)

  by Chris Adcock  


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  1. 'Waiting for Godot': regime change without democratization in the Middle East

    Holger Albrecht and Oliver Schlumberger.

    International political science review, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 371-392 Oct, 2004.

    ABSTRACT IN ENGLISH: 'When will Middle Eastern countries democratize?' is the normative question that guided the literature on regime change in the Arab world during the 1990s. Since significant political changes but no systemic transitions have occurred, this question needs reformulation: what accounts for the persistence of Arab authoritarianism? Escaping thus from the teleological tunnel permits the identification of two major developments. The first is an oscillation between controlled political liberalizations and deliberalizations, and the second consists of five areas of change within regimes: legitimation, elites, institution building, co-optation, and regimes' reactions to external influences. The second trend is particularly crucial for understanding the durability of authoritarianism in the Arab world. Our findings clarify differences, but also provide bases for comparison between the Arab world and those developing regions where political transition did occur. // ABSTRACT IN FRENCH: "Quand les pays du Moyen-Orient se démocratiseront-ils?" est la question normative determinante à la littérature sur les changements de régime dans le monde arabe des années 1990. Puisque des changements politiques significatifs, mais sans transition systématique, se sont produits, cette question a besoin d'être reformulée: qu'est-ce qui explique la persistance de l'autoritarisme arabe? Alors, échappant au raisonnement téléologique, on discerne deux développements principaux: l'oscillation entre libéralisations et restrictions politiques contrôlées, d'une part, et, d'autre part, cinq secteurs de changement au sein des régimes: légitimation, élites, mise en place institutionnelle, cooptation et réactions des régimes aux influences externes. Ce second aspect est particulièrement décisif pour comprendre la longévité de l'autoritarisme dans le monde arabe. Nos analyses clarifient les différences, mais fournissent également des bases pour la comparaison entre le monde arabe et les régions en voie de développement dans lesquelles la transition politique s'est produite.; Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd

  2. Islamism, revolution, and civil society

    Sheri Berman.

    Perspectives on politics, Vol. 1, No. 2. pp. 257-272, Jun, 2003.

    Over recent decades, Islamism - the belief that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life - has become a powerful force throughout much of the Muslim world. Through a discussion of the Egyptian case, this essay shows how the rise of Islamism can be illuminated by findings of the literatures on revolution and civil society, and vice versa. As many leading theories on revolutions would predict, the necessary precondition for Islamism's rise has been the declining efficacy and legitimacy of the state. Yet what has occurred in Egypt (and other parts of the Arab world) is not a successful revolution but a peculiar stalemate in which the existing regime retains political power while ceding substantial control over the societal and cultural spheres to the revolutionary challenger-an outcome that the literature does not envision. This stalemate, in turn, is largely a consequence of Islamists' ability to expand their presence in civil society. This expansion in Egypt and other Arab countries over recent decades is thus best understood as a sign not of benign liberalization, but rather of profound political failure, and as an incubator for illiberal radicalism.; Reprinted by permission of Cambridge University Press. An electronic version of this article can be accessed via the internet at

  3. Democracy with adjectives: conceptual innovation in comparative research

    David Collier and Steven Levitsky.

    World Polit, Vol. 49, No. 3. pp. 430-452, Apr, 1997.

  4. Continuing Military Power in Three Countries:

    R. Garst.

    Nacla Report on the Americas, Vol. XXXII, No. 3. pp. 20-21, NOV-DEC, 1998.

    Two years after the signing of the peace accords, guatemala still has not established full civilian rule of law. The guatemalan military still is being used by the government to conduct criminal investigations and to patrol the countryside as the most efficient and effective response to common crime. And most guatemalans, fearful of the criminal insecurity that besets the country, heartily applaud this military presence. On the other hand, the population considers the national civilian police incompetent and corrupt, and is increasingly taking the law into its own hands. Lynchings and burnings of suspected criminals, especially in the rural areas, have become commonplace events and enjoy widespread support.

  5. Police reform and the peace process in Three Countries:
    Guatemala: the fifth promotion of the national civilian police

    Marie-Louise Glebbeek.

    Bulletin of Latin American research, Vol. 20, No. 4. pp. 431-453, Oct, 2001.

  6. Colombia's democratic security agenda: public order in the security tripod

    Ann Mason.

    Secur.Dialogue, Vol. 34, No. 4. pp. 391-410, Dec, 2003.

    Colombia's current democratic security policy aims to re-establish internal order and to protect the civilian population from the depredations of illegal, armed organizations, within a framework of rights and protections related to the rule of law. Although the government distinguishes its 'get tough' strategy, which has been developed within institutional parameters, from previous national security approaches, in which unchecked powers led to abuses against society, the actual policy content continues to privilege a conventional military approach to security problems. Given the critical levels of violence and instability in Colombia, however, I suggest that the overall strategic orientation that emphasizes law, order, and state authority over institutional strengthening is appropriate in the short run. A comprehensive, viable security model must incorporate the three dimensions of physical safety for society and state, institutional guarantees, and socioeconomic development, yet complex security emergencies such as Colombia's warrant prioritizing the public order component of the security tripod. The challenge for the Colombian government will be to move forward quickly with second-order institutional reforms and social development programs so as to legitimate its security policies and make them sustainable in the mid and long term.; Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd

  7. Constructing authority alternatives on the periphery: vignettes from Colombia

    Ann C. Mason.

    International political science review, Vol. 26, No. 1. pp. 37-54, Jan, 2005.

    ABSTRACT IN ENGLISH: Current processes of globalization are transforming the world's social and political geography by facilitating new socio-spatial configurations that are discontinuous with state territories and incompatible with the notion of exclusive authority. This article examines the emergence of alternative sociopolitical relationships in Colombia as a result of global changes, and considers how this development has affected the more elusive aspects of statehood, such as authority and legitimacy. While alternative orders can undermine what are often already precarious structures of domestic governance and authority, as the Colombian experience attests, new spheres of authority may in fact enhance state performance and legitimacy. // ABSTRACT IN FRENCH: Le developpement actuel de la globalisation transforme la perspective sociale et politique du monde: il facilite la formation de groupements sociaux et géographiques qui ne s'alignent ni aux démarcations territoriales, ni aux pouvoirs particuliers qui y correspondent. Cet article examine l'apparution de nouvelles relations sociopolitiques en Colombie qui résultent de changements au niveau global, et considère l'effet de ce développement sur les aspects moins apparents d'un état, tels l'autorité et la légitimité. Un ordre parallèle risque d'ébranler des structures chancelantes d'ordre et d'autorité intérieures, comme le démontre l'expérience colombienne, mais l'existence de ces nouvelles structures de pouvoir peut aussi contribuer à rehausser la performance et la légitimité de l'état.; Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd

  8. The evolution of the FARC: a guerrilla group's long history

    Alfredo Molano.


    Discusses predecessors, development, and activities of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), founded 1964.

  9. Algeria - the clash between Islam, democracy, and the military

    Robert A. Mortimer.

    Current history, Vol. 92, No. 570. pp. 37, Jan, 1993.

  10. Why the rule of law matters

    Guillermo O'Donnell.

    Journal of democracy, Vol. 15, No. 4. pp. 32-46, Oct, 2004.

    Law-based rule means a set of basic conditions that make civic life possible. A democratic rule of law requires all that and more, however.; Reprinted by permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.

  11. Illusions about consolidation

    Guillermo O'Donnell.

    Journal of democracy, Vol. 7, No. 2. pp. 34-51, Apr, 1996.

  12. Insurgent Strategies in the Post-Cold War: The Case of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia

    Roman D. Ortiz.

    Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, vol. 25, no. 2, p 127, March/April, 2002.

    This article presents an overview of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and examines its adaptation in the post-Cold War through its development of new political orientations, resources, and strategies. At the conclusion of the Cold War in Latin America and the end of the civil conflict in El Salvador, a wave of optimism spread with thoughts of the demobilization of the strongest insurgent force in the continent, indicating the decline of the guerrilla movements in Latin America. However, Columbian insurgents began developing new political orientations, resources, and strategies. Evidence of this was seen by the success of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The oldest armed organization had undergone a rapid adaptation to the new strategic scenario. The result was a new model of violent action. The guerrilla movements had undergone a transformation becoming a significant risk to those fragile democracies within the region. This article discusses this critical transformation through reviewing the Latin American insurgent groups during the Cold War, the political evolution of the FARC, the new military capabilities of the FARC, and their vulnerabilities. Notes

  13. Colombia's resilient democracy

    Eduardo Posada-Carbó.

    Current history, Vol. 103, No. 670. pp. 68-73, Feb, 2004.

  14. The Political Economy of Violence: The War-System in Colombia

    Nazih Richani.

    Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 39, No. 2. pp. 37-81, Summer 1997.

  15. Political Democratization and Paramilitary Counterreform in Colombia

    Mauricio Romero.

    Politica y Sociedad, Vol. 39, No. 1. pp. 273-292, Jan-Apr, 2002.

    The work examines the phenomenon of the paramilitary in the context of the political modernization begun in 1982 with peace negotiations between the government & leftist guerrillas, the political opening, & later decentralization & initial election of mayors in 1987. Examining the emergence of armed groups with the opposite political orientation to that of the guerrillas, this article attempts to locate them in a wider convergence of opposition to any reform that redistributes power & wealth in the rural sector, as a result of a successful negotiation with the insurgents. The article identifies three key actors in the reaction against political modernization: the drug traffickers, the economic elites, & local politicians, largely rooted in the Liberal Party & sectors of the armed forces. Of the aforementioned actors, the analysis gives the role of the armed forces & their conception of the armed conflict a greater explanatory weight in the trajectory that the possible democratization has followed & the visible state dissolution over the last decade in Colombia. Yet, the work has also considered the absence of civil leadership in the political sectors, in particular in the Liberal Party, the group that held the reins of power nationally with parliamentary majorities, 1986-1998. 2 Tables, 9 References. Adapted from the source document.

  16. The Guatemalan Military since the Peace Accords: The Fate of Reform under Arzu and Portillo

    J. Mark Ruhl.

    Latin American Politics and Society, Vol. 47, No. 1. pp. 55-85, Spring 2005.

    The Guatemalan military dominated the country's politics for nearly half a century, but its political power declined during the 1990s. Democratically elected presidents Alvaro Arzu (1996-2000) and Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004) subordinated the armed forces to their authority and thereby gained an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the role of the military and institutionalize democratic civil-military relations. Unfortunately, neither of these tasks was accomplished. An analysis of the level of democratic control, combining Alfred Stepan's military prerogatives indicators with a newer system of measurement and classification designed by Samuel Fitch, shows that the armed forces retained substantial institutional autonomy and de facto legal immunity when Portillo left office in 2004. The role of the military in Three Countries:
    Guatemalan society, moreover, expanded again under Portillo after declining under Arzu. This study finds that the lack of sufficient civilian commitment to reform, rather than resistance from the armed forces, was the principal cause of these disappointing outcomes.

  17. Algerian Conflict: An Exercise in State Terrorism

    Amandeep Sandhu.

    Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict, pp. 1-15, 2001.

    Examines Algerian state terrorism in its ongoing conflict with Islamists. After defining state terrorism, it is argued that a main conceptual scheme proposed by George Lopez to analyze state terrorism is faulty. It is difficult to classify a state as terrorist because the state is perceived as a neutral arbitrator & can shift the blame for terror to individuals. However, the techniques of illegal coercion evident by the use of torture & the state-sponsored mass disappearances in Algeria are components of the state's strategy of terror. According to the article, international actors such as France & the US are against the rise of Islam, so their best strategy is to demand respect for human rights in public while supporting the Algerian government in private. After the announcement of a 1997 Civil Harmony Pact that provides amnesty to Islamists, there has been a weakening of the Algerian state, & while it is a first step in the long series of necessary actions, the author argues that the pact has failed to restore peace to Algeria. 42 References. J. Moses.

  18. Renegotiating 'law and order': judicial reform and citizen responses in post-war Guatemala

    Rachel Sieder.

    Democratization, Vol. 10, No. 4. pp. 137-160, 2003.

    This study examines reforms aimed at strengthening the rule of law in Three Countries:
    Guatemala implemented since the signing of the peace accords in December 1996. Despite nearly US$200 million in foreign aid to the justice sector, impunity remains the rule, the judicial process is subverted by military and criminal networks, citizen confidence in the judicial system remains low and recourse to non-judicial measures - the 'privatisation of justice'- is on the increase. It is argued that the institutionally-focused approach to rule of law reform currently predominating in donor thinking ignores the historical context within which understandings of 'law', 'justice' and 'rights' are shaped. Institutions do matter, but only by understanding the role of law in long-run processes of state formation and the dynamic, inter-subjective nature of legal interactions can we begin to understand the specificities of socio-legal change.; Reprinted by permission of Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.

  19. The western media and the Algerian crisis

    Fouzi Slisli.

    Race and class, Vol. 41, No. 3. pp. 43-58, Jan-Mar, 2000.

  20. Islamism in Algeria: a struggle between hope and agony

    Ray Takeyh.

    Middle East Policy, Vol. X, No. 2. pp. 62-75, 2003.

  21. Islamism: R.I.P

    Ray Takeyh.

    National interest, Vol. 63, pp. 97-102, 2001.

    Violent and preoccupied with power, Islamist ideology is a shell game whose time is up.; Reprinted by permission of The National Interest, Inc.

  22. Economic and Political Explanations of Algeria's Human Rights Violations

    Abdelaziz Testas.

    International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 8, No. 4. pp. 399-411, winter, 2004.

    This article examines the impact of economic & political variables, namely economic development, democratization, & civil violence, on the extent to which the Algerian government has violated human rights in the post-independence era. The emerging evidence is such that reversal in the country's economic fortunes since the 1986 world oil price collapse, political liberalization in the second half of the 1980s, & civil violence throughout the 1990s explain to a large extent the country's decline in human rights provision since the October riots of 1988. 1 Table, 4 Figures. Adapted from the source document.