Within this paper, an overview of the historical and political patterns of Latin America will be presented. Specifically, patterns associated with centralization, militarism, corruption, religion, and economics as they have existed within Latin America will be addressed. It is the thesis of this paper that the combined impact of these patterns have contributed significantly to the ongoing struggles experienced within this region of the world.
As a region, Latin America consists of South America, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. According to information provided by the Latin American Alliance (1997),within this region, there are nearly three dozen independent nations, some colonies and other political units that have ties with the U.S., Great Britain, France, or the Netherlands. There has been an ongoing decline of colonization within Latin America since the first half of the 19th century which has helped to contribute to regional instability as independent countries struggled in their own efforts to establish themselves and become self-governing.
Central to the ongoing struggles experienced within Latin America has been what was described by an author as the rupture of the principle of centralism within the region. Regional, provincial and municipal decentralization has been a factor in creating regional inequalities and an increased dualism between the poor and the rich. Local governments within Latin America have been poorly prepared to take on the technical and operating complexities necessary for managing programs and services that were once managed by the more centralized government entities. According to an author , decentralization in Latin America has been characterized by a lack of strong direction and goals which has lead to frequent fragmentation of objectives and a lack of strategic guiding principles. Often what has emerged within decentralization efforts has been the establishment of alliances between the local and central powers with a system of characterized by the exchange of favors among those in political power. Consequently, the development of rational social polices which would help to improve the social and economic situation of citizens of the region fail to be created.