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The Comeback of the Latin American Armed Forces: Continuities, Changes, and Challenges to Democratic Security Governance

Against the backdrop of a security situation perceived as an extraordinary threat to national stability, governments across Latin America have strengthened armed forces on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War. The project "The Comeback of the Latin American Armed Forces: Continuities, Changes, and Challenges to Democratic Security Governance" examined this comeback of the Latin American military. It was the first project to examine the challenges that this (re)militarisation poses to public security and democratic governance in the region from an interdisciplinary and historically informed comparative perspective.

The project assessed the historical dimension of militarised public security in Latin America and examined the current role of the military in the fight against crime and violence. To analyse the related challenges to democratic governance, the project brought together scholars from the fields of political science, history and Latin American studies. The project focused on empirical case studies ranging from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia to Mexico and the "Triángulo Norte" in Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). With the support of the OX-BER Research Partnership Seed Grant, the project team worked with a wide range of experts in the field of civil-military relations and security policy to develop a joint research programme. It aimed to develop a database on military interventions and a comprehensive research proposal to strengthen cooperation between the research communities in Berlin and Germany.The aim of the project was to assess the specific constellations of civil-military relations as well as the regional patterns from a diachronic and synchronic comparative perspective. To achieve this, four main questions were addressed:

1. why do Latin American citizens trust the armed forces, and what do they expect from the military?

2. why and under what conditions do civilian policymakers rely on the military to fight violence and crime?

3) What are the consequences of the (re)militarisation of internal security for democratic governance, the rule of law, public security and human rights in Latin America?

4. how does this "comeback" of the military in the region affect the democratisation process in the region?

The project ran from November 2019 to December 2020 and was conducted by Prof. Dr Marianne Braig, Dr Carlos A. Pérez Ricart and Dr Markus Hochmüller and funded by a seed grant from the OX/BER Research Partnership.