Courts, a Last Line of Defense for Latin American Democracies

By Tamara Taraciuk Broner, Rebecca Bill Chavez

Judiciaries have, with some exceptions, been a check on leaders trying to concentrate power.

In Latin America today, traditional coups are no longer the biggest threat to liberal democracy. More perilous are democratically elected leaders who, once in power, deliberately and gradually undermine basic guarantees, such as judicial autonomy, electoral integrity, independent press work and free expression.  These quasi-authoritarian leaders may undermine judicial independence to perpetuate themselves in power, to avoid accountability or to push through their agenda. Their chances of succeeding are higher without an independent judiciary acting as a check on executive power, as...

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