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Presentation of the 2005 Latinobarómetro Polls at the OAS

  November 22, 2005

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, and Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), headed a conference at OAS headquarters on the 2005 Results of the Latinobarómetro Polls.

For a decade now, Latinobarómetro has been conducting surveys in Latin America and the Caribbean on how the countries of the Hemisphere view and confide in their relatively new democratic institutions.

Marta Lagos, Executive Director of Latinobarómetro, presented the results that emerged from polls carried out in eighteen Latin American countries. According to Lagos, what is most impressive from the information gathered is that in ten years there has been little change in public opinion on the effectiveness of democracy in the Hemisphere. While support for democracy in some countries has declined, in others, like Chile and Mexico, it is rising. Overall, it seems that democracy continues to be the favored system of government. Nonetheless, widespread poverty, inequality, unemployment, and corruption are factors that remain threatening forces for these new democracies. While a return to authoritarianism seems unlikely, the region will become increasingly unstable, if these issues are not tackled aggressively.

On the other hand, Professor Robert Worcester representing Latinobarómetro’s International Advisory Board, discussed the results of the polls conducted in six Caribbean countries. In his view, education, which is not seen regularly as an important factor, plays a crucial role in the democratic process. “Education is the most significant variable to produce democratic values, he argued.” According to Worcester, in the Caribbean, “the most important factor to reduce the gap between expectations of economic development and democracy” is to diminish structural poverty through education and forcefully combat corruption in order to increase confidence in institutions and give legitimacy to the system. Moreover, his greatest concern is that trust in governmental institutions is low in the Caribbean, and “trust is essential for democracy.”

Enrique García, President of the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), and Peter Hakim, President of the Inter-American Dialogue, were also on hand to comment on the presentations. In addition, various OAS Ambassadors and IDB Directors engaged in a lively dialogue on the impact of these indicators on their work. Irene Klinger, Director of the OAS Department of Communications and External Relations, moderated the session

Reference: E-296/05