The most democratic of the three are Costa Rica. It is stable and not as exciting. Not populist, no ethnic
conflict etc…However, there are important lessons to draw out for the leadership, system in place.
Fundamental Case: How can a small democratic country heavily dependent on the coffee bean plant be
so stable and successful? I
It is NOT a historic accident but rather the choices of leaders and citizens.
The leaders in Columbia made devastating choices. Theme: Agency. The role of actors in shaping
I. Pacted Democracies
Social economicscorrelation between socio economic coups vs. economy.
o The lower income range tends to have more coups.
o Costa Rica and Venezuela might be different.
Economic Data in our cases (2010)
Country GDP (income) HDI Pop % urban % indigenous
Costa Rica 7660 0.744 3.8 million 61 0.75
Columbia 5,510 0.609 46 million 72 2.7
Venezuela 11,590 0.696 28 million 93 1.5
Is it really the economics driving it? It prob. has to do with political factors that led to divide in
elite attitudes etc…
One other measure: Gini Coefficient. One of the highest is Columbia, much lower in Bolivia etc…
It is always the politics that drive the relationships.
Political explanation rather than an economic one. The last couple of weeks; military
intervention in politics. When society becomes polarized, the military people will step in.
In the cases of the three countries above, the elites worked together for democracy. They
pushed pacts to make sure that the consensus did not break down and polarization in society
What is a pact?
A democratic pact is called an “elite governing pact” which is an agreement between political
elites to build support for democracy by ensuring victory by centrist and moderate parties and
to exclude political forces that might pursue alternative economic and political models.
This can be done formally e.g. Party parity
o All legislative bodies are equally divided between the parties
o OR IT CAN BE Informal agreement: opposition promises to minimize social mobilization
for their policies to be pushed forward.
No mobilization of supporters
Underneath democracy, there must be some sort of agreement: socialist vs. capitalist system,
national identity issues, and religious. (some pact formed among all parties) o That is exactly what some political scientists present
II. Costa Rica
Social welfare state
Historically, there were very few people living there, no gold/silver/value. They never caught the
attention of the Spaniards. (few indigenous people)
As a result, Europeans settled down over there and small farms were established by European
o Small family farming
Majority of people were living in this plateau that was not connected to pacific or Atlantic
Ocean. No export route and instead, the country focused inwards instead of outwards.
Led to a high degree of equality in society.
Workers who did work on these farms had equal salaries, egalitarian, and do not idealize Costa
Rica as a paradise.
More importantly, in the colonial era and post independent era, economy was domestic, never
had elites, no strong elite class that is politically significant. In this case of Costa Rica, the power
of elites tied to the church/ Spanish Bureaucracy/export market was limited in CR.
Some of the benefits of having the elites on the same page, they managed to avoid the
destruction that occurred in other countries.
CR escape the liberal (secularization) and Conservatives debate (more pro church)
o Avoided destructive conflicts between liberals and conservatives
Lack of ideologically driven pressures + own common interests facilitated elite compromise and
peaceful conflict resolution.
Political stability and respect all led to concentration of real issues at work.
Coffee-early entrance into coffee industry, and into the economic development.
o No politics to debate about
o Weak elites, and more export income was better distributed in CR than anywhere else.
When bananas that occurred for CR, in this case, since the state was so stable, they were able to
conduct a reasonable deal to export bananas for sale. (railroads were built from United Fruit
(company), where their contract was upheld unlike other LA countries, where corruption was
COMMON SENSE OF DESTINY- social proximity, tiny population. Population was only 65 000 and
a lot harder to get things over, as in cheating. Your reputation was important as everyone knew
No pronounced ethnic divisions and no coercive labor. And paid their workers well.
No extreme wealth and poverty as they lived together.
1930sGreat Depression eroded the workers’ quality of life, and there were labor unions
o Communist Party Unionstarted to show polarization.
o Held elections in 1940 as a result.
Things could have gone wrong at this point
But the President was a doctor. (Dr. Rafael Calderon) elected
Social Harmony through state intervention for social programs (platform that
got him the top job) o 1943made alliance with communist party
o 1944his candidate was elected
o 1948Dr. Rafael won elections under suspicious circumstances.
Tension over votes.
One of the other candidates in the election: Jose Figueres (small industrialist)
said that there was no way Calderon wontensions rose as he raises the
movement against presidentCivil War of 1946 (5 weeks) and 2000 people
Brief civil war.
Irony: Jose is a small industrialist who merely disagreed with the Calderon
because he wanted to be the one to be the “progressive one” and the “hero” in
establishing the same policies.
o Pact Idea between Figueres and Calderon:
Key to democratic exceptionalism
Pact between competing elites and conflicting social classes to lay the groundwork for
Jose Figueres had 18 months to run the country and then it goes over to democracy
o He nationalized banks, legislated right to women and black for vote, took money from
all the military and put into social programs and created the National Guard.
o His conservative candidate got elected
o Social democracy
o Even with the debt crisis of 1980s, they started to borrow heavily to subsidize the social
Trust in the government and even when Neoliberalism hit, citizens never thought of leaders as
corrupt and that they were taking money for themselves.
Columbia was a different case, repress the movements.
III. The worrisome case of Columbia
Land of Paradox: fascinating and frustrating
Home to LA’s oldest military guerillas and region’s longest lasting democracy
Most violent place in 1990s. Admired for sound economic planning but admonished for
corruption and drug wars.
They cannot guarantee civil liberties.
Geography is smuggler’s paradise, bordering Caribbean and pacific sea, state does not reach
outpost. (can smuggle everything)
IN 1849, the regional strongmen struggled violently to gain control of state. BY 1940s, there was
a two party struggle: conservative party vs. liberals (after independence)
o These elite led parties developed strong roots in society that they used to mobilize for
their own purposes.
o Two party systems developed between conservatives and liberals.
Zero sum democracyattacked opposition and exclude opposition from access to system.
o It went back and forth. Attacking the basis and values of other party o 7 Civil Wars
La Violencia (1946-1958)
o Longest and bloodiest civil war where 200 000 people died
o Every time they have civil war, it made the other side hate each other more. (more and
more people died)
o From beginning to end, you had a “ideological tag” attached to umbilical cord