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Video: Latin America's Resurgent Armed Forces

Monday, February 10, 2020


  • Roberta Jacobson, Senior Advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group; former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
  • Raul Jungmann, former Brazilian Defense & Public Security Minister
  • Juan Carlos Pinzón, President, ProBogotá; former Colombian Defense Minister
  • Frank Mora, Director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, Florida International University
  • Brian Winter, Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly; Vice President of Policy, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (moderator)

Are military institutions in Latin America searching for power in the region again, thereby putting democracy at risk? Or is the military filling a void and left by declining confidence in political institutions? Americas Quarterly hosted a discussion with experts on the reemergence of the military in the political spotlight. When discussing recent news from El Salvador, Roberta Jacobson talked about what presidents who communicate directly with the population through Twitter believe they can do. Bukele’s high approval, said Frank Mora, “sends a message to other political entrepreneurs that ‘I can get away with this.’”

Juan Carlos Pinzón said he sees the military as responding to emergencies that politicians have not been able to address in the short term rather than seeking power. For Raul Jungman, the military has been redefining its role and strategy in each country in Latin America since the Cold War. "Democratization in the region brought new roles to the military such as security, the fight against drug trafficking, and the environment," he explained. But having a bigger role outside the arena of security falls outside the sector's expertise, Jungman explained, adding: "And that, I'm not sure, is good for democracy."