Current Constitutional Developments in Latin America

Dante Figueroa

Georgetown University Law Center; American University - Washington College of Law; Chilean Bar Association; New York State Bar Association (NYSBA); D.C. Bar Association; United States Supreme Court Bar; Inter-American Bar Association; U.S. Court of International Trade

July 30, 2011

International Legal Research Informer, p. 8, Summer 2011

Latin America is an area of the world in constant change, sometimes peaceful, and sometimes not. Political and social changes ultimately find their way into the constitutional framework of Latin American jurisdictions. An examination of constitutional law developments in the region since 1999, when the new Venezuelan Constitution was passed, shows that there are many common aspects to these constitutional developments. Accordingly, this article seeks to identify the new constitutional philosophies underlying the most important changes that occurred in this period of time and determine their commonalities.

This brief examination does not address every Latin American country, or every aspect of constitutional law. The countries sampled have been selected based on their strong departure from constitutional tradition; the far-reaching effects of their political, social, and economic aims; or because of the high geopolitical relevance of such jurisdictions. The areas of focus cover the economic, social, and political bases of the State; the organization of the State and the distribution of power among the branches of government; and the constitutional protection of personal freedoms. The article also highlights some new areas of attention on constitutional drafting in the region, including the rights of indigenous peoples, third-generation rights, and the validity and influence of international law at the domestic level.

In this context, this survey focuses on the new constitutions of Venezuela (1999); Ecuador (2008); and Bolivia (2009). It also encompasses constitutional amendments passed in Mexico in 2008 and 2009, related to constitutional guarantees, criminal justice, government corruption, kidnapping, and organized crime. The study further explores the constitutional changes that occurred in Colombia in 2009 related to the recognition of third-generation rights, and to political parties and movements. Reference is also made to Peru’s constitutional amendment of 2009 concerning the organization of the legislative branch. Finally, two constitutional decisions concerning presidential succession, one from Nicaragua (2009), and another from Colombia (2010), are examined.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 12

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Date posted: July 31, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Figueroa, Dante, Current Constitutional Developments in Latin America (July 30, 2011). International Legal Research Informer, p. 8, Summer 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1899039

Contact Information

Dante Figueroa (Contact Author)
American University - Washington College of Law ( email )
HOME PAGE: http://www.wcl.american.edu/faculty/figueroa-hernand/
Chilean Bar Association
New York State Bar Association (NYSBA)
D.C. Bar Association
1101 K Street NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
United States
United States Supreme Court Bar ( email )
Washington, DC 20002
United States
Inter-American Bar Association ( email )
1211 Connecticut Ave NW
Suite #202
Washington, DC 20036
United States
U.S. Court of International Trade ( email )
One Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278
United States
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