Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Political Science


Political Science

First Advisor

Gregory Love

Second Advisor

Gang Guo

Third Advisor

Alice Cooper

Relational Format



Latin American region has transitioned to democracy in the last forty-thirty years and along with many policy reforms, citizen security has not been left behind. As these changes evolve, the relationship between internal security and the development of a stable democracy has acquired a great importance in terms of the factors that contribute to a free world. The purpose of this research is to look at how security policy and policing in Argentina, Chile, el Salvador, and Mexico have contributed to the democratization process in regards to how the recent reforms in law enforcement in the region have created favorable conditions towards democracy. First, this paper focuses on establishing the relationship between internal security and democratization, moving forward to the role of law enforcement in the demilitarization trend in the region and the world on the transition to democracy. After briefly covering some socio economic indicators of Latin America, this inquiry applies an original demilitarization scale of law enforcement to the citizen security institutions in the countries mentioned above. This is the first empirical measurement of law enforcement demilitarization for countries in Latin America. The empirical design tests whether demilitarization of internal security affects individuals' diffusive democracy support and police institutions' specific democratization or, on the contrary, there is no effect what so ever. The findings show support for the main hypothesis that individuals from countries with more demilitarized police support in greater scale democratic regimes; individuals from countries perceived as less corrupted were shown to trust police institutions greater than those from countries more corrupted; finally, individuals that have had any crime interaction, whether themselves or through a relative, sholess trust rates in police institutions.



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