Latin America is constantly being tested by leaders and bureaucrats hungry for more power. This is in part due to lingering authoritarian tendencies that prevent the development of strong democratic roots, which in turn leads to public policies that are neither based on local needs nor responsive to civil society concerns.
Política pública y democracia en América Latina: Del análisis a la implementación (Public Policy and Democracy in Latin America: From Analysis to Implementation), a collection of essays by 34 Latin American scholars, offers a solution: building a democracia ciudadana (participatory democracy), in which the public and private sectors and civil society are involved in every stage of the policymaking process. The book, available in Spanish, is the product of two academic seminars held in 2007 and hosted by the Escuela de Graduados en Administración Pública y Política Pública (EGAP) at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, in conjunction with researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and France.
The 22 essays in the book, alternating between theoretical discussions and country-specific case studies, examine how the implementation of public policies can help to explain the daunting challenges facing the region’s democratic institutions. While the solid democratic achievements over the past decade are acknowledged, the authors conclude there are major shortcomings that need to be addressed. Vidal Garza Cantú, associate director of EGAP, summarizes this concern: “Latin American countries have reached electoral democracy and its basic freedoms, but they have not advanced to consolidate a democracy led by citizens…”