Latin American democracies are characterized by three traits – illiberalism, inequality, and weak judicial institutions – which are connected to each other through a complex system of mechanisms. Flawed judiciaries diminish both the capacity of the state to guarantee constitutional rights and the ability of democracy to empower marginalized citizens. These trends contribute to systemic bias and discrimination, the criminalization of the poor, and the private administration of justice. Reforming judicial institutions to increase the strength of the judicial branch and enhance horizontal accountability has the potential to dismantle structural inequality in Latin America and contribute to the deepening and consolidation of these democratic regimes.
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