Democracy in Central America: How Strong?

Washington, D.C.

February 19, 2009

During the 1970s and 1980s, Central America was a major Cold War battleground, torn by violence and internal conflict.  The Cold War drew to an end in Latin America as a wave of democratization swept the region. Today, however, the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his brand of populism, Iranian adventurism, organized crime and drug trafficking, and the world-wide economic downturn are endangering democratic gains in Central America.  To shed light on challenges to democracy in Central America, Hudson's Center for Latin American Studies, in partnership with IFPA, brought together a select and distinguished group of experts on the region.

The Panelists

Jorge Vargas is the director of the annual report, "State of the Region," and is a columnist for La Nacion in San Jose, Costa Rica.  He also teaches at the University of Costa Rica

Anne Krueger is a professor of international economics at John Hopkins' School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS). Before joining SAIS, Krueger served as first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Caleb McCarry is a senior associate with Creative Associates International. He previously served as the Cuba transition coordinator at the State Department and as staff director with the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

John P. Walters (keynote speaker) is executive vice president at the Hudson Institute and former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House.

Jaime Daremblum (moderator) is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Latin American Studies. The former Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S., Daremblum has written widely on threats to democracy in Latin America.