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Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and El Salvador

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0896082151
ISBN-10: 0896082156
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: South End Pr (May 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896082156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896082151
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,409,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Charles M. Hinton on August 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Demonstration Elections explains the template the United States government has used since 1966 in the Dominican Republic to put a "democratic" smiley face on autocratic governments, through the manipulation of the electoral system and the exclusion of populist and revolutionary parties and candidates. They usually occur during or shortly after a military coup or occupation, with the goal of institutionalizing the occupation on one hand while presenting the illusion of democracy to the folks back home who are paying for it, on the other. Besides the introduction and detailed chapters on the Dominican Republic in 1966, Viet Nam in 1967, and El Salvador in 1982, Demonstration Elections includes an entire chapter on the important role played by the media. This book may be almost 30 years old, but it's as current as the recent demonstration election in Honduras and the one upcoming in Nov, 2010 in Haiti.
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Format: Hardcover
This book describes US-supervised elections in several developing countries which were torn by political and military battles between the left and the right. The thesis of the book is that the US, motivated by Cold War and imperial concerns, observed the forms of democratic elections in these cases but not the substance. The elections were Potemkin Villages constructed to convince people back in the US that our government was acting to help "fledgling democracies" while in fact they were propping up military dictatorships which used intimidation, fraud, and murder to ensure that their candidates won. The book is written in a gripping style which also provides voluminous documentation as well as a logical framework for interpreting it. When I read this book in the 1980s, it was one of a handful that changed my view of how the United States government works and indeed what our country is. It is unfortunate that the book is not more widely available now because besides its historical interest it is essential reading for anyone who wants to interpret news about US intervention abroad. I don't believe that the disconnect between government claims and reality has been quite as dramatic in even the most controversial interventions in the last 20 years, but these examples are still important to bear in mind even today.

My only caveat is that I read the book long ago when access to information was much more difficult, and it would be interesting to check the accuracy and fairness of the books' factual claims. At the time I was following news from El Salvador very closely and the book's description of the Salvadoran election was consistent with other documentation I read then.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gave me strong exposure to the other point of view. I feel different but respect the detailed research the autor did. Got me thinking.
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