Following global trends, Latin America slides away from democracy

There are now as many authoritarian regimes as there are democracies in Latin America. But measuring democracy is not so straightforward

Anti-government protest in Mérida, Venezuela. The smoke at the back comes from a police truck burned by demonstrators. Photo: Sebastorg/Shutterstock
Anti-government protest in Mérida, Venezuela. The smoke in the background is from a police truck torched by demonstrators. Photo: Sebastorg/Shutterstock

Democracy is under assault in Latin America. 

For the fifth consecutive year, the region’s Global Democracy Index score — compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit — has fallen, slipping from 6.13 in 2019 to 6.09 in 2020. With democratic backsliding in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti, The Economist reckons that Latin America is now home to three democracies, 13 flawed democracies, five “hybrid regimes,” and 3 authoritarian regimes.

This pattern follows a global trend of autocratization, corroborated by other democracy measurements such as Freedom House and Varieties of Democracy. 

While the numbers are alarming, they only represent...

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