Inequality is an enduring problem in Latin America, which remains the most unequal region in the world.
The Third Wave of democratization that swept throughout the region beginning in the 1980s raised expectations. People assumed that democracy would deliver greater equality and more substantive citizenship. Three decades later, that enthusiasm has given way to a growing sense of frustration and disillusionment about the nature, quality, and efficiency of Latin American democracies. At stake is the ability of democratic systems in the region to become more cohesive and resilient.
Latin America is not alone in this. Lessons emerging from its experience are as relevant as ever to the global struggle for democracy and development. In particular they offer a cautionary note to the countries of the Arab Spring. They, too, are middle-income countries with pronounced levels of inequality and exclusion that are now embarking on a rocky road towards democratization. We can only hope that they will learn from the countries that have traveled that path before them.