The Constitution of Tyranny: Regimes of Exception in Spanish America

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The Constitution of Tyranny: Regimes of Exception in Spanish America

By Brian Loveman
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993
488 pp. $49.95

Brian Loveman, a professor of political science at San Diego State University, has produced an unusually interesting and important history of "regimes of exception" in Spanish America tracing the origins and function of this institutional mechanism in legitimizing political repression. In effect, Loveman argues persuasively that there is a legalistic foundation for dictatorship in Latin America and that to ignore this pervasive tradition is to be naive about the ingrained constraints on democracy and the degree to which regimes of exception facilitate military participation and undermine civil liberties and human rights. Loveman argues that without abolishing or severely limiting regimes of exception, "transitions to elected civilian governments guarantee neither democracy nor constitutional rule." This is a powerful indictment buttressed by comprehensive research and lucid presentation. It is essential reading for anyone involved in the debates concerning Latin American democratization and democracy's prospects in the region.

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