Recent developments in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, the U.S. and Peru show that the guardrails of democracy can hold in the Americas. Institutions can restrain populist leaders who abuse their authority. Hyper-presidentialism, in which the executive can do whatever it pleases, is not guaranteed. Checks and balances can work.
Between October 2021 and August 2022, U.S. authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border took undocumented migrants into custody more than 2 million times—a record number that has generated nonstop commentary about a “border crisis.” But the numbers fail to convey a dramatic shift in the migrant population over the past nine years.
Wedged between highways and railroads, on a barren stretch of moldy concrete and sickly palm trees in Sao Paulo, sits the headquarters of the Latin American Parliament, or Parlatino, designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Created in 1964, the Parlatino was modeled on the European Parliament as a legislative body that would drive the integration of Latin American and the Caribbean around their unique regional and hemispheric interests. Today, though, the Parlatino is irrelevant, detached from national and even regional policy debates—just one of a succession of Latin American efforts to create a body to coordinate the hemisphere’s interests [...]