Democracy in Cuba and Haiti

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Democracy in Latin American countries has still not been achieved till nowadays. According to Ocampo (43), only Uruguay and Costa Rica can be considered as fully democratic countries. Even though most Latin American countries hold free and fair elections unlike other countries in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, democracy in these regions can be considered as stagnant. Cuba and Haiti are some of the countries in Latin America, which are considered to be less democratic, and they are more often classified as authoritarian states. This paper is going to choose Haiti and Cuba as case studies for the future research. In these less democratic countries, citizens are seen to struggle to access polls, electoral processes, pluralism, the governments’ functionality. They also have a weak political culture, people do not fully enjoy their civil liberties, and their political participation has been incapacitated (Ocampo 56). Other countries, which are considered as imperfect democracies in Latin America, include Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Salvador, and Paraguay. Those referred to as hybrid democracies include Ecuador, Bolivia Venezuela, Honduras, and Guatemala (Weyland). Imperfect democracies like Cuba and Haiti have various characteristics in common and they include imperfect governability, which is weak, citizens are merely encouraged to participate in the country’s politics and have no specific developed political culture. The hybrid regimes, in turn, do not have free and fair elections and their opposition normally faced oppression from those in government.

Challenges faced by Cuban and Haiti people who live in undemocratic countries include poverty, political conflict, corruption, consistent violence, drug trafficking, and high rates of crime (Ocampo 64). These challenges mainly result from institutional fragility, high levels of social inequality, and ignorance because most citizens have low levels of education.

Definition of Democracy

Democracy can be understood as a system that allows people to choose without restrictions an effective, honest, transparent, and accountable system of governance (Ibrahim and Cheri 33). Most states, which have been declared democratic, have always protected and encouraged interests of the public and ensure that their rights are never violated. In democratic states, there is a vibrant promotion of social justice, development in economic activities and in the social sphere. Democracy as a system of governance emerged in the 20th century and is widely defined as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people (Bryder). This means that power highly resides with the people and not with the rich (aristocracy), not with a single individual (dictatorship), not with the royal family (monarchy), and, lastly, the power is not with the clergy (theocracy). Democracy has its origins in the Greek city-states and its spread was highly facilitated by the French and American revolutions that occurred in the 18th century (Weyland). Democracy was also spread by the idea of franchising, which took place in Europe and North America during the 19th century. According to Ibrahim and Cheri (24), democracy immediately replaced communism after it collapsed. It is very frustrating that most leaders who function under democracy in third world countries fail to live by its rules so that they can produce good governance, balanced development, and popular participation. Democracy, unlike dictatorship, encourages people to get deeply involved in the governance and developmental processes of the state (Munroe 10). This is because unlike under the dictatorship rule where people need not to think, choose, make up their minds, or give their consent, in a democracy the state cannot service without a civic virtue. Democracy ensures human development because citizens of these states enjoy their political freedom and are able to take an active part in the process of making vital national decisions that shape the citizens’ lives. Democracy also helps citizens live a respected life because all their human rights are never violated and this is an important aspect of human development. Furthermore, democracy also helps in human development because it protects all citizens without account for their political affiliations, race, age, or gender and ensures survivors from political catastrophes like famines and chaos are well taken care of by the national government. Democratic leaders can easily bring people together and raise resources for the common good (Ibrahim and Cheri 61). This system of governance promotes dialogue, debate, and consultations to ensure that all citizens enjoy political stability. Besides, democracy advances human development through triggering a virtuous cycle of development since there is political freedom and it is evident, citizens are empowered. According to Betancourt (45), through debates and consultations, people are empowered to develop policies that promote social and economic opportunities.

Elections in Third-World Countries

Elections in Latin America should be more than just casting ballots after four years. People should be given back their communities through enhancement of democracy so that they can govern them and develop their communities as desired (Bryder). Social change should be encouraged as it has always been in Venezuela. Highly democratic countries experience a high voter turnout, but in Cuba and Haiti voter turnout has been declining because people have lost confidence in their elected leaders. Many voters now perceive elections as an opportunity to choose between the two evils as all the political leaders are highly corrupt. Corruption is a large-scale disaster in Cuba and Haiti. The lack of democracy has also negatively impacted the legislative standoffs and it has kept many imperfect democratic Latin governments dormant and unproductive. According to Ocampo (34), with the current state of elections and beyond elections, there is a high possibility that these states will embrace totalitarian regimes, especially given a wide spread of discontent among citizens.


Populism means that people are strongly connected to democracy. Where there is a democracy, populism is evident. Populists perceive themselves as democrats even though they act as if they represent an anti-democratic ideology in a state (Munroe 23). According to Ibrahim and Cheri (45), they promote political democratic institutions, but at the same time want to restore and implement reforms to bring back the actual reason why that institution was created in the first place. They want to ensure that people have a direct rule of their own state and, therefore, populists challenge existing power structures, elites, and their values (Weyland). They perceive those people in power as betraying the trust bestowed upon them by citizens because they have forgotten why they were elected to their positions. Populists believe that elites should be replaced with a populist leader who should be highly charismatic, as well as understand and embody the will of citizens. They normally use referendums and elections to fight for the rights of people.

Works Cited

Betancourt, Roger R. "Cuba’s Attempts at Democracy: The Colony.Unviersity of Maryland, 2010, Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.

Ibrahim, Alhaji A. and Lawan Cheri. “Democracy, Political Instability and the African Crisis of Underdevelopment.” Journal of Power, Politics and Governance, vol. 1, no. 1, 2013, pp. 59-70.

Munroe, Mitchelle. "Transitions less than Democratic” the case of Haiti." Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, 2007, Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.

Ocampo, José A. The History and Challenges of Latin American Development. United Nations Publication, 2013.

Weyland, Kurt. “Why Latin America Is Becoming Less Democratic.” The Atlantic, 15 Jul. 2013, Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.