Democracy's Challenges Today

Gates of Brown University

Session one for Botin Scholars was devoted to analyze democracy as an evolving process, through lectures from President Ricardo Lagos, and Brown professors Peter Andreas and James Dar Derian. From a legal framework perspective, we believe that Latin American societies should guarantee an integrated system of rights that allows the effective exercise of citizenship. Nonetheless, this is a difficult quest, since there are several obstacles that public service faces nowadays, which we will discuss in this entry.

One of the obstacles of democracies presented to us in Latin America is the lack of human security, which could be divided into well being - freedom of want - and safety - freedom of fear. These are not simple questions that we could address, as we face the “security dilemma”: what makes one feel safe is the source of insecurity for the other.

Another issue is the illicit trade and illegal flow of people, goods and information, which happens not only from south to north but also in the opposite way. Seemingly, the problem involves different factors, such as the relationship between violence and illicit trade, liberalization of economy and illicit trade, and the two faced attitude of some first world countries that affect the “democratic game” through encouraging practices that oppose its principles.

These obstacles should be addressed by effective public policies defined through the citizen’s definition on public goods. Such approach would add to democracy by gaining people’s confidence.  Also, dignity of human being is one of the cornerstones to develop effective legal frameworks that will enable the consolidation of democratic societies.
It is our role, as academic students commited to public service, to re-think the instruments necessary to build a stable, long-lasting democracy.