Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 04/2013

From Military Instruments of Dictatorship to Political Instruments of Democracy: Regimes of Exception in Bolivia 2000–2010

Claire Wright, Soliz Landivar

March 2013

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


The aim of this study is to discover the role played by regimes of exception (RoEs) in con ‐ temporary Bolivian politics. RoEs have been seldom studied by political scientists, despite constituting a key legacy of authoritarian regimes that have survived the transitions to democracy in Latin America. Focusing on the case of Bolivia, the research is based on relevant laws as well as 65 presidential decrees, which are analyzed with the method of content analysis. As a result of the analysis, we show that in Bolivia both the legal framework and political use of RoEs have moved on from a purely repressive mechanism to a more administrative one. The study has important implications for how RoEs are conceptualized from a theoretical point of view as well as for our understanding of the nature of emergency politics in fragile democracies in recent years.