chapter  3
49 Pages

Constitutions

From States and Nations to Regimes, and Back Again
WithCraig L. Arceneaux

This chapter examines the role of a constitution in a regime, and the dynamics of constitutional change. The search for nation and state in Latin American history to assess the foundations for constitutional development in Latin America to set the stage for this discussion. A number of factors stifled early economic development in Latin America. Latin American liberals laid blame for the region's ills on the mestizo caudillos, and scorned the thought of extending equal rights to the illiterate, impoverished indigenous masses. After independence, countries in Latin America did not all follow the same path lockstep in the journey to craft stable states and nations. Positivism provides a patronal road map to a prosperous, civilized country, one that places elites at the forefront of decision making because of their presumed insight. The theory allowed Latin American elites to hold on to liberal values, and at the same time exclude the lower classes until they too became duly educated and acculturated.