In Venezuela, the issue of civil-military relations has traditionally been very controversial. The origin of the controversy is complex, but basically it is about the historical problem related to the political significance that the military have played in the conformation of the State and the place they should occupy in Venezuelan society. But, fundamentally, the Venezuelan civilian political leadership did not have, nor has it had until now, the capacity, the interest, the political will and clarity, conceptual consistency and doctrinal conviction, and even the need to implement a set of mechanisms and techniques to exercise an effective civilian control over the historical praetorian potential of the Venezuelan military. Thus, it can be affirmed that in the matter of Venezuelan civil-military relations, after the failure of the ruling praetorianism of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, we have not had a real and true civilian control over the military. On the contrary, what we have had is an understanding, agreement, fusion, alliance and military-civilian and political-military symbiosis; not written, but operative and effective. After several centuries of barbarism, backwardness and uncivilization, the 21st century may be for Venezuela the century of the definitive defeat of the praetorianism virus and the final supremacy of the Venezuelan civil society over the military and its armed institutions.
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Ecuador has been one of the last countries in the region to have a civilian minister of defense. Traditionally, this task has been given to retired military officers. The military has been and continues to be an area that civilian and academic society has little desire to learn about. President Correa himself has accepted that he knows very little about security issues, to the point that in one of his weekly media briefings, he offered to read and learn more about the subject. Despite knowing little about the subject - as he admits - during his government, a civilian minister for defense was appointed for the first time in more than 35 years. So far in his government two ministers have been women - one of whom died in a military helicopter crash. The current minister is a former journalist who, through his column in one of the national newspapers, was a sometimes unfair critic of the activities of the Armed Forces.
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This paper examines the Honduran Coup of 2009 as a case study of the application of the Organization of American States Inter-American Democratic Charter. The Charter, unanimously approved by the Organization in September 2001, consolidated and built upon earlier OAS efforts to support and defend democracy in the hemisphere. The study highlights the steps taken by the OAS and its member states and examines the difficulties multilateral organizations have in trying to effect democratic changes inside of a state. While the OAS took the severest actions permitted by the accord, the coup was not reversed. The sanctions remained in place nearly two years afterwards.
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Americans are so committed to elections and democracy as the only legitimate path to political power that it is sometimes hard to conceive of politics by other means. Moreover US policy-makers tend to believe that elections occupy a higher realm of moral authority, and hope that, with democracy-assistance programs, Latin America and other developing areas will "move beyond" revolutions, coup d'états, general strikes, and other non-electoral routes to power. But as the Silvert quote below indicates, non-electoral paths may still be pursued especially in crisis circumstances; furthermore, these extra-electoral means may enjoy both legitimacy and constitutional mandate. In this article we test these propositions as they apply in Latin America.
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The use of military forces in the fight against all criminal threats that affect democracies is viable and necessary, but the important thing is to know when and how force can be used as a first option in order not to incur in an illegitimate and illegal act. This article develops the assertion by first recognizing the terms "human rights" and "international humanitarian law" and how the actions of the armed forces can be applied and restrained within the territory of a country. In addition, it recognizes the danger of the type of non-traditional warfare currently occurring against the populations of some countries, and how the mission of police and military forces must be re-evaluated and adapted to the new operating environments. Finally, this article addresses the daunting questions of how to complete these new missions successfully within legal parameters, and how to respond to "enemy" allegations and attacks that may take the form of political and judicial tactics
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