This chapter examines the circumstances that have encouraged the emergence of a consensus around democratic institutions and values in the Western Hemisphere during the Post-Cold War era. Specifically, this chapter focuses on the role and impact of the Organization of American States (OAS) in promulgating democratic institutions and values in Latin America and the Caribbean. This chapter examines the OAS in an effort to evaluate the degree of effectiveness that its actions and decisions have had in fostering reform in support for democracy as the most appropriate inter-governmental alternative among its member states. The consensus emerging around democratic institutions and norms in the Western Hemisphere is not perfect by any means, yet it is important to note that this consensus has progressively taken hold, and that the interruptions to democratic governments in the region have been increasingly infrequent and subject to punishment.
As a preamble to the chapter, the first section introduces the basic concepts that guide the discussion and identifies the conditions and specific moments in the period encompassed by the end the first Gulf War and the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991, up to the time of the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata in November, 2005, which have either favored or frustrated the acceptance and internalization of democratic norms and values in the Western Hemisphere.