Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez '13 on Latin America’s ‘Wiki-constitutionalism’
Latin America has the world’s most tortuous constitutional history. According to a study of constitutions around the world by Jose Luis Cordeiro, 19 of the 21 Latin American nations have had at least five constitutions, 11 have written at least 10, and five countries have adopted 20 or more.
The Dominican Republic leads the world’s constitutions count with 32, followed by Venezuela with 26, Haiti with 24, and Ecuador with 20. To be clear, these are not constitutional amendments, but far-reaching rewritings that seek to rework the structures of government, or as Bolivia’s President Evo Morales phrased it in promulgating his country’s 17th constitution: “to refound the nation.”
In contrast, in North America, Canada has had two constitutions and the United States one. Contrast further the succinctness of the U.S. Constitution with seven original articles (and 27 ratified amendments) with, say, Ecuador’s 444 original articles, Bolivia’s 411 articles, or Honduras’ 375 articles.
Moreover, some very successful societies are doing quite well without bothering with a codified constitution, for example: The United Kingdom in Europe, Hong Kong in Asia, New Zealand in Oceania, and Israel in the Middle East.