The Collective Promotion of Democracy in the Americas: The Organization of American States and Authoritarian Backsliding in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Honduras
Liberal institutionalist and constructivist IR scholars have emphasized the reliable role that Regional Organizations (ROs) play in promoting democracy. This thesis finds that by examining the Organization of American States (OAS) role in dealing with recent backsliding challenges, those theories encounter significant barriers in explaining OAS pro-democracy actions in the Americas. By evaluating authoritarian backsliding in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Honduras, I argue that authoritarian repression makes OAS members consider initially these undemocratic actions in backsliding cases. However, repression by itself falls short to induce members to promote democ-racy. Only when authoritarian repression occurs at the same time that most members are ideologi-cally and politically distant from autocratic countries will the OAS collectively promote democracy in backsliding cases. Consequently, because the OAS depends on this complex interaction between repression and ideological-political distance to promote democracy in the hemisphere, institutional-ist and constructivist theories face important limitations in the Americas context. Pro-democracy movements and policymakers in the region should consider this volatility in democracy-promotion by this regional institution in their efforts to halt authoritarianism. This study contributes to the IR literature on democratization through ROs and its findings could support more comprehensive, cross-regional comparative analyses between the OAS and other regional institution, such as the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU).