Drawing on his own previous writings, his extensive experience in and around Washington, and some new research, Wiarda explains Latin America's remarkable transition toward democracy during the 1980s, assesses its likely durability and considers the implications for U.S. policy. He concludes that democracy in Latin America has been renewed largely because of a series of coincidences: a combination of special circumstances that temporarily improved the prospects for civilian and participatory politics, but could still give way to a new authoritarian cycle. On U.S. policy, Wiarda argues for "a prudent, balanced, restrained, and ultimately somewhat modest agenda in the areas of human rights and democracy" and for a "prudent, comprehensive, realistic and mature overall policy toward Latin America." He briefly translates these very general biases into specific recommendations. Of particular interest is his generally favorable evaluation of the first year's experience of the National Endowment for Democracy.
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