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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2007

GOV 337M • Law and Democracy in Latin America

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
40020 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
PAR 201

Course Description

"Democracy and the rule of law" seem to be the prescription for what ails the developing world. But they are harder to put into practice than they at first appear. This course explores many of the challenges to the rule of law across Latin America, and how they affect the quality of democracy in the region. We begin by examining the meaning of democracy and its relationship to the rule of law. Then we look at a series of issues that illustrate the strength or weakness of the rule of law in the region. We use academic writings primarily, but also movies, news reports and statistical reports to examine topics such as violence and crime, human rights violations, judicial independence and corruption. Rather than focusing on one country at a time or a few countries in depth, we will use events and systems in various countries as illustrations of important themes. We will then look at the possible consequences of these challenges for democracy in the region, and possible solutions. By the end of the course you will have acquired some basic information about Latin American legal systems and about the recent history of democracy in the region. More importantly, however, you will have a greater understanding of what a robust democracy should look like, where different countries fall short and why it might be so hard to implement the rule of law. You should be able to engage in a discussion about the role courts and laws do play, should play and can play in the (democratic) political systems of Latin America, and the possibility of improving that role. The grade is based on class participation - you will need to come to class prepared  quizzes and two exams.


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