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Military Entrepreneurs: Patterns in Latin America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Kristina Mani*
Oberlin College.


Despite the recent shift to democratic regimes and market-based economies, in many Latin American countries the military retains important economic roles as owner, manager, and stakeholder in economic enterprises. Such military entrepreneurship poses a challenge to the development of democratic civil-military relations and, by extension, to the development of liberal democracy in the region. While scholars have noted this situation with concern, they have given little attention to distinguishing the different types of military entrepreneurship, which reflect distinct historical patterns and implications. This article identifies two major types of military entrepreneurs in Latin America: industrializers, determined to build national defense capabilities and compete for international prestige; and nation builders, seeking to promote economic development that can foster social development and cohesion. Case studies of Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Ecuador demonstrate important differences between these two types in their origins, paths, and political consequences.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Miami 2011

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