Democracy's Discontents

Listen / Download

They are democracy’s new discontents, the more than 225 million people in Latin America who live below the poverty line. The United Nations recently polled nearly 20,000 people in Latin America and found that more than half of them would prefer life under a dictator over democracy, if it meant economic prosperity. This report is a stark wake-up call for a continent just turning the corner on its first generation of democratic rulers.

Strides have been made. Free and fair elections have replaced military and authoritarian regimes in 18 Latin American countries, from Argentina to Venezuela. But many in the region see a troubling divide between the expectations that democracy has raised, and the reality it has delivered. Who gets the fruits of the franchise?


Elena Martinez, director, United Nations Development Program Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean and commissioner of the report “Democracy in Latin America: Towards a Citizens’ Democracy”

Carina Novarese, reporter, Diario El Pais newspaper in Uruguay and fellow, the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, professor of law at Harvard Law School and author, “Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative”