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Distant Reality: Democratic Policing in Argentina and Brazil

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2005 Pages: 75-100
Mercedes S. Hinton
Date Published
February 2005
26 pages
This article analyzes the state of policing and political unrest in Argentina and Brazil.
Although military rule in Argentina and Brazil ended in the early 1980's, democratic policing in these countries remains elusive. Governing authorities in these countries have consistently subverted the police and the rule of law for the purpose of containing perceived social and political schisms. The author examines the historical, social, and political roots that contributed to the politicization of the police during military rule and highlights the factors that have had deleterious effects on police governance and the institutionalization of political checks and balances since the restoration of a democratic state. Pronounced deficiencies in the external structures of civilian oversight and management have proven difficult to overcome and the failure to professionalize the police forces of these countries can be closely linked to enduring political patterns involving corruption. Despite the introduction of “new” police forces and “megaplans” to resolve police and political crises, these societies have not yet demonstrated the capacity to establish accountable governance of core state functions. The author ties the corrupting influence of the drug trade to the poverty and inequality in these countries. Finally, it is noted that the similarities found within the political unrest in Argentina and Brazil carry foreboding implications for the prospects of establishing democratic rule in Latin America as a whole. Tables, notes, references


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