Many of us have spent hours following the events in Washington DC, trying to make sense of the violence unleashed by a sitting President unwilling to accept his electoral defeat. This kind of behavior has not been uncommon in the Western Hemisphere. In both Latin America and the Caribbean, we have had our fair share of personalist dictators, military juntas, hegemonic parties and autogolpes from democratically elected leaders. But I am troubled by facile comparisons and frankly offensive comments that have emerged in the press and social media discussing whether the U.S. is a “banana republic” or talking about the “latinamericanization” of American politics. I have spent most of my professional career thinking about, writing and learning from the research produced by colleagues shedding light on the political processes of democratization in Latin America. The recent experience of Latin America since the 1980s has regularized a form of political interaction that is quite distinct from what has been happening in the US. The US is not becoming like Latin America.

Our Neighbors to the South (South America), Sunday News, May 21, 1944. Edwin Sundberg. Rumsey Map Collection List No. 8510

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