341.1 The bases for experiences of participatory democracy in Latin America

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 2:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Felipe ADDOR , Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano e Regional - IPPUR/UFRJ, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Since the late eighteenth-century, the occidental society is developing it's model of democracy. First, it was consolidated a democratic system where representation was the main pillar. If, on the one hand, that system made undeniable progress in structuring solid states, on the other hand, portrayed serious limitations for the efective articulation between state and Society.
In Latin America, the recent construction of democracy faced tough obstacles, mainly for its colonial heritage and for the occurrence of military coups that have blocked the slow process of democratization. Over the past 30 years, some experiences that aimed at democratizing the political system appeared on differents countries and realitys of the region. Connected to a second democratizing wave, these practices are linked to a more qualitative proposal (instead of a struggle for universal suffrage), looking for a more diverse and deeper possibility of participation of ordinary citizens in local administration. Through the implementation of participatory decision-making spheres over public affairs, and especially over public budget, it was posible to advance towards a stonger interference of people in public policies.
In this article we analyze two experiments of participatory democracy in Latin American. First, Cotacachi in Ecuador, where the indigenous movement, that was growing and gaining strength since the 1990s, succeeded in establishing some practices of participatory local governance. Second, Torres in Venezuela, where, driven by the national context of changes, it was structured a democratic decision-making method, based on a participatory budget and the
Consejos Comunales.
Through these experiences, we try to analyze what were the main factors that allowed the emergence and consolidation alternative democratics cases. Considering aspects such as historical background, national political context, local political culture, we argue that there are some essential elements for the construction of lasting and effective experiences of participatory democracy.