Latin American Law
Latin American law 'Is there any?' is a frequent response students and scholars receive when informing others that they work on law in Latin America. On closer examination, the common perceptions of Latin America as a lawless region governed only by rent-seeking, corruption, impunity and self-help, give way to a spectacularly rich, complex, and woefully under- studied discipline that has both practical and academic import. Indeed, Latin American law, as found in the constituent countries of the region, now governs the lives and legal affairs of over 5oo million people, and affects countless others through trade, tourism, and family ties throughout the world. There is a lot of law in Latin America, but it must be considered in its particular context. Challenges to the rule of law in Latin America are rife; difficulties with implementation, impediments to enforcement, lack of governmental support, and well-accepted societal practices weave a fabric of resistance to pervasive legality and compliance with legal rules. Nonetheless, industry produces raw materials and finished goods and steers its activities though corporations, contracts, investment financing agreements, and banks. Workers are paid, and grievances with employers are settled. People die and their property is distributed to their family members; others buy and sell houses. Legal disputes are brought before courts and other dispute-settling bodies. In Latin America, it is perhaps better to think of pockets of legality in which the rule of law functions well, and pockets where the penetration of law and legal culture is lacking.
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M.C. Mirow, Latin American Law, in THE NEW OXFORD COMPANION TO LAW, (Peter Cane and Joanne Conaghan edts., 2008).