If democracy hit Central America like a wave in the mid-1980s, it was one that left more than a few bubbles of authoritarianism behind. As recent turmoil confirms, the region’s transitions from dictatorship to democracy were interrupted or left incomplete. Now, a coup in Honduras, electoral fraud in Nicaragua, and assassinations in Guatemala are just a few signs of trouble ahead.
The region’s crisis is one of leadership — of a cadre of elite who promised democracy but have failed to provide it. Central Americans today are tired of the same-old political elites and parties, many of which are left over from three decades ago. Today, they can boast only neglected public bureaucracies and economies wracked by global shocks. Yet in spite of their failings and a groundswell of discontent, ruling parties across the region are refusing to go.
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