Democracy In South America

1016 Words5 Pages
South America is a land of different cultures and has a history of as many different types of government, mostly dictatorships. Most of South America won independence from Spain and Portugal between 1810 and 1824. In 1823, President James Monroe enunciated the first US policy on Latin America. The Monroe Doctrine warned European nations against interfering in the affairs of independent nations in the Western Hemisphere. In 1904, Roosevelt's Corollary said the US would act as a "policeman", intervening militarily when US interests were at risk. After W.W.II, the independent countries of the Western Hemisphere formed the Organization of American States, a military alliance to prevent aggression against any American nation. South America is the fourth largest continent. It ranks fifth in population. The continent is divided into 12 independent countries and two political units. The countries consist of Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guinea. In the 12 countries of South America, democracy has slowly been on the rise since 1959. The rise started in Venezuela and ended in Surinam last year. One by one South America's countries have turned form dictatorships into democracies where the voters control the elections. Even with democracy taking control, the countries still have many problems. The largest problem is the tradition of corruption of the political leaders. The corruption has mainly been the use of bribe-taking and bribe-giving. "By definition, democracy presumes equal opportunity; bribery and corruption make the playing field uneven and weakens democracy's foundations." Recently, corruption has reached into high places in Venezuela and Brazil. President Carlos Perez (1993) and Fernando Collor de Mello (1992) were forced to resign when faced with corruption charges. The large drug trade has also caused problems for the rise of democracy in South America. Each year, hundreds of tons of Cocaine feed an illegal US drug market. It is worth an estimated $38 billion a year. This illegal money has found its way into the pockets of many people in high places. In Columbia, a major source of illegal drugs for the US, President Ernesto Samper was accused of taking a $6 million bribe to allow drug trafficking to continue as usual. Laundered drug money has financed development in many South American cities, but it has also brought bloodshed. The large gap between rich and poor of South America has presented another challenge for democracy. In South America, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.
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