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Colonial Legacies and Democratic Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (1982-2018)
Berganza, Kevin Guillermo
Kevin Guillermo Berganza
|Issue Date:||2021-09-02 18:14:44 (UTC+8)|
Previous research shows that economic development matters for explaining the variation in levels of democracy. Yet, few studies focus on the effects of colonial legacies on democratization in new democracies. This thesis aims to fill the gap in the literature by examining the relationship between colonial legacies and democratic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. I argue that, compared to other European colonizers, British forms of liberal colonial rule helped create a more open environment for civil society, and thus facilitates democratic development in these post-colonial countries. Using data in thirty-three countries in Latin America and the Caribbean from 1982 through 2018, my empirical analysis demonstrates that ex-British colonies tend to have higher levels of democracy than countries that were colonized by other European countries. Additionally, my comparative case studies of Belize and Guatemala also provide support for my hypothesis. The case of Belize suggests that the British liberal colonial legacies provide a more open environment for social mobilizations, which catalyzed stronger democratic representation. In contrast, the case of Guatemala suggests that Spanish mercantilist colonial legacies impede the growth of civil society, and thus produce a lower level of democracy. Overall, this thesis provides solid evidence to show the importance of colonial legacies in understanding democratic development in post-colonial countries.
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