In This Review

Foreign Assistance: U.S. Democracy Programs in Six Latin American Countries Have Yielded Modest Results (Report to Congressional Requesters)
Foreign Assistance: U.S. Democracy Programs in Six Latin American Countries Have Yielded Modest Results (Report to Congressional Requesters)
By The U.S. General Accounting Office
U.S. General Accounting Office, 2003, 139 pp

The GAO is one of the glories of the U.S. government; it is a pity its reports are not more widely circulated. In this study, the GAO examines the nature and impact of democracy assistance to Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Peru. Between 1992 and 2002, the United States spent more than a billion dollars on promoting the rule of law, transparency, respect for human rights, and free and fair elections in Latin American and Caribbean nations. The GAO flags some successes, especially in electoral reform, but concludes that the programs had limited impact and did not receive essential support from the host governments. The GAO also found fault with the approach taken by the State and Justice Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and therefore urges a more comprehensive, coordinated, and systematic strategy. These sobering recommendations might have some relevance for those now seeking to promote democracy in the inhospitable ground of Iraq and Afghanistan.