Articles

Here you can find the links to download some of my recently published work. For a full list, please see my CV. If you need a copy of any of my publications, please let me know.

"Military Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis in Latin America: Military Presence, Autonomy, and Human Rights Violations". (with David Pion-Berlin and Anaís Passos).

Armed Forces and Society, early view.

The military in Latin America has been extensively involved in pandemic relief operations. This paper analyses the impact of militarization of pandemic relief operations on human rights. It argues that not all militarization is equally harmful to individuals in the region. When troops assume responsibilities regarding medical care and logistical support, human rights violations do not follow. When involved in policing the stay-at-home orders, the extent of human rights violations is explained by the level of operational autonomy the military has in public security operations. The more autonomous the military, more likely abuses are to occur. Additionally, military exposure to judicial prosecution for human rights offenses contributes to the explanation. After gathering original empirical evidence from 14 Latin American democracies on military presence in pandemic relief, we draw our inferences from process tracing on four comparative case studies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador.

"The Trump Election and Attitudes toward the United States in Latin America". (with Miguel Carreras and Giancarlo Visconti).

Public Opinion Quarterly, 2022. Data available here.

Did the election of Donald Trump have an immediate effect on trust in the US government in Latin America? While on the campaign trail, the Republican candidate used strong and derogatory language to describe Latin American countries and people and made policy proposals that could deteriorate US-Latin American relations. However, the effect of the Trump election on attitudes toward the United States might be null or minimal if Latin American citizens have strong priors and/or if they do not pay attention to political information. Therefore, it is not clear whether the 2016 election led to a rapid decline in trust in the US government in Latin America. Leveraging the timing of the field implementation of the 2016 wave of the AmericasBarometer in five Latin American countries, we estimate the effect of the 2016 presidential election on respondents’ attitudes using a regression discontinuity design in time. We find that the election of Trump substantively decreased respondents’ trust in the US government.

"The militarization of responses to Covid-19 in Democratic Latin America". (with Anaís Passos)

Brazilian Journal of Public Administration (RAP) 55 (1), 2021.

Latin America has been severely affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic, prompting its governments to take action. In this context, these countries were tempted to utilize their armed forces for an array of tasks to serve the citizenry. But how militarized is the response to COVID-19 in Latin America? This paper proposes a typology of tasks asked of these militaries as a response to COVID-19. The descriptive findings allow us to map out the various tasks that militaries are being ordered to do, attributing scores to the fourteen Latin American democracies. We also show evidence for the potential consequences of some tasks. Policing the streets to enforce stay-at-home orders can lead to the military possibly committing human rights violations, assuming eminently civilian posts to manage the public health crisis can result in long-term implications for the civil-military balance that are detrimental to the democratic control over the military.

"The Return of the Latin American Military?”. (with David Pion-Berlin).

Journal of Democracy. 31 (4): 151-165-1087, 2020.

In recent years, democratic governments in Latin America have increasingly ordered their armed forces into various internal-security operations in response to rising crime, mass protest and other challenges. While most militaries comply with those lawful orders, some choose to disobey, while others qualify their compliance by altering the terms of their deployment. In responding in varied ways, militaries have often made tradeoffs between upholding principles of civilian control on the one hand, and human rights on the other. They have also been motivated largely by a desire to defend their institution and the soldiers who serve it. A series of capsule-like studies of five countries illustrates a continuum of military behaviors, from full obedience to outright defiance.

"Democratically Consolidated, Externally Threatened, and NATO Aligned: Finding Unexpected Deficiencies in Civilian Control.". (with David Pion-Berlin and Andrew Ivey).

Democratization 26 (6): 1070-1087, 2019.

It has long been presumed in the literature that consolidated democracies that face serious external threats or are NATO-aligned should feature strong, civilian control institutions and personnel. This study of Israel, India, Taiwan, Spain and Poland reveals otherwise. Utilizing biographical data compiled by the authors, we researched civilian personnel within each country’s defence ministry – the organizational hub of civil-military relations. Rather than finding evidence of strong civilian control, what we found instead were ministries with serious deficiencies: they did not have effective power; they failed to engage in defence planning or provide strategic guidance to the armed forces; they were led by military personnel and staffed by civilian employees not properly qualified to handle defence affairs. To explain these discrepancies, we argue that long-standing deficits in civilian expertise spur the delegation of ministerial defence positions to more knowledgeable officers. Comparisons are made with benchmark states that have achieved civilian ministerial control.

De Volta ao Centro da Arena: Causas e Consequências do Papel Político dos Militares sob Bolsonaro

Journal of Democracy in Portuguese, 2020.

This article, published in the Journal of Democracy in Portuguese discusses the causes and consequences of the military involvement in the Bolsonaro administration in Brazil. The paper was covered by the Brazilian press here, here, here, and here

"Explaining Military Responses to Protests in Latin American Democracies". (with David Pion-Berlin).

Comparative Politics, 2022

Social protests are a feature of democracy in Latin America. When the police cannot handle them, governments, facing threats to their tenure, are tempted to order the armed forces to step in. The military, when ordered to deploy in counter-protest operations, exhibits behaviors ranging from defiance to conditional and full compliance. The article investigates the sources of variation in military responses to mass protests, leveraging a small-n comparative analysis and a diverse case selection strategy. It draws on qualitative evidence from Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, democracies with a history of protests. It finds that a combination of the judicial risks soldiers assume if they repress, professional mission preferences, and social identity between the military and the protesters are the most compelling explanations for military responses.

 

Contributions to Edited Volumes

"Electoral Volatility in Latin America". (with Miguel Carreras).

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics. Edited by Jennifer Cyr. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Latin American political systems experience significant levels of institutional uncertainty and unpredictability. One of the main dimensions of this institutional and political instability is the high level of electoral volatility in the region. In the last 30 years, traditional parties that had competed successfully for several decades abruptly collapsed or weakened considerably in a number of Latin American countries. New parties (or electoral movements) and political outsiders have attracted considerable electoral support in several national and subnational elections in the region. Even when the main partisan actors remain the same from one election to the next, it is not uncommon to observe large vote swings from one established party to another.
While some scholars and observers expected that the instability in electoral outcomes would decline as democracies aged and consolidated, electoral volatility has remained high in recent decades in many Latin American countries. However, in other Third Wave Latin American democracies (e.g., Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Uruguay), the patterns of interparty competition have been much more stable, which suggests we should avoid blanked generalizations about the level of party system institutionalization and volatility in the region. Cross-national variation in the stability of electoral outcomes has also motivated interesting scholarly work analyzing the causes and the consequences of high volatility in Latin American democracies.
One of the major findings of this literature is that different forms of institutional discontinuity, such as the adoption of a new constitution, a significant enfranchisement, electoral system reforms, and irregular changes in the legislative branch (e.g., a dissolution of Congress) or in the executive branch (e.g., a presidential interruption), can result in higher volatility. Another major determinant of instability in electoral outcomes is the crisis of democratic representation experienced by several Latin American countries. When citizens are disenchanted with the poor performance and moral failures (e.g., corruption) of established political parties, they are more likely to support new parties or populist outsiders.
Weak party system institutionalization and high electoral volatility have serious consequences for democratic governability. Institutionalized party systems with low electoral volatility promote consensus-building and more moderate policies because political parties are concerned about their long-term reputation and constrain the decisions of political leaders. In contrast, party systems with high volatility can lead to the rise of outsider presidents that have more radical policy preferences and are not constrained by strongly organized parties. Electoral volatility also undermines democratic representation. First, the fluidity of the party system complicates the task of voters when they want to hold the members of the incumbent party accountable for bad performance. Second, high instability in the patterns of interparty competition hinders citizens’ ability to navigate programmatic politics. Finally, electoral volatility augments the cognitive load required to vote and foments voter frustration, which can lead to higher rates of invalid voting.

"Presidential Term Limits as a Credible-Commitment Mechanism: The Case of Brazil’s Military". (with Octavio Amorim Neto).

The Politics of Presidential Term Limits. Edited by Alex Baturo and Robert Elgie. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019

Contra the conventional wisdom that term limits are meaningless in dictatorships, Brazil’s military regime developed term-limits for its chief executives and managed a durable political order. This chapter argue that term limits moderated intra-elite conflicts, thus contributing to regime stability. Term limits were key to reconcile two warring factions within the armed forces. The authors see term limits as a credible-commitment mechanism. Three elements are jointly sufficient to explain the adoption of term limits: (1) the armed forces’ decision in 1964 to part ways with the decades-old pattern of episodic, short political interventions and stay in office for the long haul; (2) a legalist tradition that led the new regime to keep a façade of constitutionalism through a myriad of political institutions; and (3) the ideological and political cleavages within the armed forces. We corroborate our arguments using a new dataset of tension events between the military and the government in 1946–85.

 

Other Publications

"Why isn’t Jair Bolsonaro deploying Brazil’s military for policing missions?"

In: Political Violence at a Glance 06.07.2021

"Os Militares Podem Responder à Presente Crise?"

In: Horizontes ao Sul 06.04.2020.

"Como usar os militares no combate à Covid-19?"

In: Blog do IBRE-FGV. 03.04.2020.

Por que Bolsonaro não utiliza os militares para missões de policiamento?

In: Horizontes ao Sul. 01.07.2021