The Pseudo State

Cesar Reyna Ugarriza
35 min readMay 29, 2024



The phenomenon of the “Pseudo State” presents significant challenges for stability and sustainable development in many parts of the world. This article examines the various obstacles that countries face in overcoming the Pseudo State and offers recommendations to address this complex problem. Initially, this study investigates the concept of a “Pseudo State”, a political entity that exhibits certain aspects of a sovereign state but faces significant challenges that limit its effectiveness and recognition. Key factors characterizing these Pseudo States are identified, such as institutional weakness, informality, corruption, and violence. The underlying causes of the existence of these political entities are analyzed, including colonial legacies, corrupt practices, and a lack of coherent political leadership. Furthermore, the impact of Pseudo States on international security, economic development, and social cohesion is examined, highlighting their role as facilitators of transnational criminal activities and their destabilizing effect on the regions where they are located. The work concludes by proposing measures to address these challenges, such as strengthening state institutions, combating corruption, promoting economic development, reducing informality, and fostering intercultural dialogue. This analysis offers a significant contribution to understanding a complex and urgent phenomenon in contemporary global politics.

Keywords: Pseudo State, Failed State, Institutional Weakness, Corruption, Informality, Economic Development.

By César Reyna Ugarriza (author) is a consultant in political, economic, and social issues. Mail:

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I. Introduction. –

The concept of the Pseudo State[2] reveals the challenges and relevance of studying this phenomenon in the context of globalization and geopolitical changes. It has emerged in response to contemporary political, economic, and social transformations. This concept frames the analysis of international actors and national political entities that, despite having formal structures, fail to fulfill their primary functions effectively. The Pseudo State contextualizes this problem by highlighting the difference between a pseudo state and a failed state. Unlike the latter, a pseudo state, although weak in achieving its essential goals and objectives, maintains a degree of legitimacy and certain formal institutional structures, although much of this is only in appearance. It emphasizes the characteristic of having formal institutions that are ineffective in practice. This academic article is based on the unpublished work “The Pseudo State” by César Reyna Ugarriza to explore the causes, consequences, and possible solutions to the pseudo state problem in both domestic and international contexts. Through a theoretical review and qualitative analysis, the historical, economic, and social factors perpetuating this condition are examined, and some concrete measures for discussion and potential resolution are proposed. The phenomenon of the pseudo state represents a complex and multifaceted challenge affecting numerous countries worldwide. This introduction provides context and background to the problem, followed by the research justification and the main objectives of the study.

1.1. Context and background of the problem

The concept of a pseudo state refers to a situation where governmental institutions cannot fully exercise their authority and fulfill their basic functions of providing security, justice, and public services to their citizens. This phenomenon can manifest in various forms, including widespread corruption, institutional weakness, lack of rule of law, and citizen insecurity.

The background of the pseudo state problem dates back to historical, economic, and political factors that have contributed to the weakness and fragility of state institutions in many countries. These include the legacy of colonialism, internal conflicts, poverty, socioeconomic inequality, and lack of institutional development. These factors have created conducive conditions for the emergence and persistence of the pseudo state, generating negative consequences for political stability, economic development, and social welfare.

1.2. Justification of the research

Research on the pseudo state is vitally important due to its profound implications for governance, peace, and development in many affected societies. Understanding the causes and consequences of this phenomenon is crucial for designing effective policies and strategies to overcome it. Furthermore, research in this field can contribute to the theoretical and empirical advancement of political science and development studies by analyzing power dynamics, governance mechanisms, and policy interventions necessary to strengthen state institutions and promote stability and progress worldwide.

1.3. Objectives of the study

The study objectives are as follows:

a) To analyze the underlying causes and factors contributing to the formation and persistence of the pseudo state as a condition or category in the present.

b) To evaluate the consequences of the pseudo state in terms of political stability, citizen security, human rights, and economic development in the countries affected by the phenomenon.

c) To identify effective strategies and measures to overcome the condition of the pseudo state, including structural political reforms, institutional redesign and strengthening, better public policies, and international cooperation assistance.

d) To provide practical recommendations for policymakers, civil society actors, economic agents, and the international community to address this global challenge.

II. Theoretical foundation. –

This section provides a solid theoretical foundation for understanding the phenomenon of the pseudo state. It addresses theoretical approaches to the state, the differentiation between a failed state and a pseudo state, and reviews relevant classical and contemporary theories.

The theoretical foundation relies on historical and modern concepts of the state, identifying three primary approaches: organicist[3], atomistic or contractual[4], and formalist[5], which provide a conceptual framework for analyzing how states can degenerate into pseudo states. These approaches help understand the bases upon which pseudo states are constructed and fail, that is, to identify the differences between a consolidated state, a failed state, and a pseudo state. Subsequently, the study focuses on the functionalist approach to the state[6]. This approach highlights the importance of maintaining stability and social cohesion, focusing on the essential functions of the state such as legislation, law enforcement, and public service provision, under the premise of institutional interdependence and the need to adapt to new challenges.

On the other hand, the theoretical analysis includes references to universal thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel to understand how the pseudo state has been conceptualized. Reviewing the main theories on the state from classical perspectives to contemporary approaches serves to delve into the roots of the study and evolution of the state concept and its postmodern degeneration into the pseudo state. The work analyzes the literature on failed and consolidated states, identifying factors that contribute to the emergence and persistence of the pseudo state, such as corruption, informality, and inequality.

2.1. Theoretical approaches to the state

There are several theoretical approaches to understanding the nature and functioning of the state. These include the organicist approach, which compares the state to a living organism; the atomistic or contractual approach, which conceives it as the result of a social contract between individuals; the formalist approach, which focuses on the formal norms and structures of the state; and the functionalist approach, which emphasizes the essential functions of the state in society. These approaches provide different perspectives for analyzing how state institutions emerge and are maintained and are relevant to understanding the phenomenon of the pseudo state.

2.2. Review of classical and contemporary theories

The review of classical and contemporary theories helps to understand the phenomenon of the pseudo state. This includes analyzing works by thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who addressed issues related to the social contract, the legitimacy of state power, and the nature of government. Additionally, more contemporary approaches are examined, such as modernization theories, dependency theories, and institutional development theories, which offer additional perspectives for understanding the dynamics of contemporary states and the causes of their weakness.

III. Research methodology. –

The methodology used in the research includes a qualitative analysis based on an exhaustive review of existing literature[7], interviews with experts, and secondary data to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the pseudo state. The study provides a comprehensive view of the phenomenon. It recognizes the need for empirical analysis based on specific cases to examine the different manifestations and contexts of the phenomenon in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and other regions, showing how historical factors such as colonialism, institutional corruption, and economic informality contribute to the emergence and persistence of Pseudo States. Additionally, the various debates and controversies surrounding the concept are discussed, identifying diverse perspectives and approaches and highlighting areas of consensus and dissent in the academic literature, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive analytical framework.

The work describes the selection of the sample, the research instruments, and the data analysis techniques. Methodological limitations and measures to mitigate potential biases are also discussed. Methodological limitations and considerations are addressed, as well as measures to mitigate potential biases and ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.

3.1. Case studies on pseudo states

Case studies on pseudo states in different regions of the world help to better understand their characteristics, causes, and consequences. Historical and contemporary cases such as Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and other countries were examined to identify common patterns and significant differences in the emergence and persistence of the pseudo state. Factors such as internal conflicts, corruption, informality, economic growth, human development, foreign interference, and institutional weakness were analyzed to understand the complexity of the phenomenon.

3.2. Debates and controversies in political science

The various debates and controversies in political science related to the concept of the pseudo state were addressed. This included discussions on the definition and classification of the pseudo state, theoretical approaches to analyzing it, and concrete strategies for overcoming it. Different perspectives and viewpoints within the political discipline were also explored to understand the divergences in the understanding and approach to the phenomenon.

3.3. Consensus and dissent in the literature

This section highlighted the consensus and dissent in the literature on the pseudo state. Areas of agreement were found among academics and experts regarding the causes and consequences of the phenomenon, as well as strategies for overcoming it. At the same time, areas of disagreement or discrepancy and gaps or voids in knowledge were analyzed to identify topics that require more research and debate.

Overall, this literature review provides a comprehensive and updated view of the state of knowledge about the pseudo state, as well as areas of debate and controversy in political science. This serves as a basis for the final analysis and discussion in the study, as well as for identifying possible lines of future research.

3.4. The concept of Pseudo State in Political Science

The research offers a clear and distinct definition of the concept of Pseudo State, contrasting it with other interpretations existing in the literature. This section provides a suitable theoretical framework for understanding the phenomenon of the Pseudo State and its relationship with other political concepts. Overall, the research thoroughly and systematically addresses the concept of pseudo State and its impact on various aspects of society and politics.

In the reviewed scientific literature, the notion of Pseudo State handled in this work differs significantly from that conceived in other texts that mention it. For instance, the Pseudo State is originally understood as a geopolitical entity that possesses some of the characteristics of an independently governed country or territory but lacks real independence and is not recognized as an autonomous political entity by the international community (Steinglass, 2013). The idea of Pseudo State is reduced to that of an organization constituted by ethnic groups that maintain and develop a cultural identity and some economic independence, and that at some point become involved in internal and cross-border conflicts due to their political instability (O’Loughlin et al., 1998). These actors have not received sufficient attention from academia, which generally focuses its studies on the developing world that formally enjoys international recognition. These so-called pseudo States exist in the shadow of larger stable countries and between the borders of large civilization centers, usually in disputed territories (O’Loughlin et al., 1998). The main characteristic, even when they have declared their independence and sovereignty, is that they do not receive recognition. Some have emerged from the separation or collapse of larger States, as a result of civil wars or internal conflicts; others managed to secede with the support of countries through wars or armed interventions for the geopolitical purposes of the involved powers, as in the case of regions like Donetsk, which declared their independence from Ukraine thanks to Russia’s determined support in 2022. The self-determination of ethnic and cultural groups has been the driving force in the formation of these actors. Geopolitically and diplomatically, they pose or represent a challenge to security in various regions of Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe, and to international relations (Hedlund, 2019).

Unlike the concept of Pseudo State presented here, the Pseudo State analyzed in the scientific literature is configured or appears on the international scene through violent acts aimed at ending the control of other States or groups over a certain “homogeneous” population, and to exert control over a specific territory. This does not happen with the idea of Pseudo State developed in this research, as it is the result of a long and complex process of decomposition and deinstitutionalization that probably has its origins in the republican formation of the country, that is, from the beginning of independence or foundation as a Republic. Thus, the pseudo State is the condition that a State assumes over time after being very or partially unable to meet a series of public needs and general interests, thereby undermining the development possibilities of a significant portion of its population and deteriorating its image in terms of legitimacy and credibility.

This definition of pseudo State in the present research is similar to the notion of pseudo democracy handled by the European Center for Populism Studies (2020) (ECPS), as it “describes a political system that calls itself democratic but does not offer real choices to the citizens. This lack of choice may be due to a limited number of diverse parties eligible for voting, entrenched power structures that are not really affected by any vote, the unavailability of a ‘none of the above’ voting option for voters who favor changing the current system or political landscape, lack of direct democratic means, etc.” The similarity lies in the dissatisfaction with the state of affairs: in the first case, with the deficient role the State plays in terms of outcomes; in the second, with the disappointment or disenchantment among citizens with the political class of a country due to its lack of representativeness.

This conceptualization of democracy — as pseudo democracy — corresponds to the democracy affected by the phenomenon of populism, which, in the words of French sociologist Pierre Rosanvallon, means that the vote is not enough if the citizen is not taken into account, that is, if they are not recognized. In an interview published in the Argentine newspaper The Nation (2020), Rosanvallon warns that the current disenchantment of citizens lies in the inability to invent a “permanent democracy” that facilitates coordination between political powers and the citizenry, in which people can take initiatives and feel heard. Rosanvallon concludes that populism triumphs because traditional democracies are imperfect, being crossed by deep social and political differences and fractures to which the systems of representation are incapable of responding. Populism would be a consequence or natural symptom of all the dysfunctions exhibited by pseudo States.

IV. Definition of Pseudo State, characteristics, and difference between Consolidated State, Failed State, and Pseudo State. –

4.1. Definition of Pseudo State

A pseudo State is defined as a political entity that, although it possesses certain attributes of a modern and consolidated State, faces significant challenges that undermine its ability to function effectively and be fully recognized by its population. This means it is unable to perform its basic functions efficiently and effectively. These challenges can be economic, social, political, cultural, and governance-related, limiting the Pseudo State’s ability to exercise control over its territory and population, provide a real development perspective, and participate meaningfully on the international stage. Essentially, the Pseudo State lacks internal cohesion, institutional integration, economic development, and political stability, placing it in a precarious position in global politics and its capacity to address global challenges.

The pseudo State is considered a “false State” or an “apparent State” because its composition generally includes the same kind of institutions, bodies, and nominal elements of a consolidated State, but only superficially or on paper, meaning it exists in writing but lacks substance, structure, and organicity to influence the course of reality to make effective changes and reforms for improvement. In practice, the Pseudo State falls far short of effectively fulfilling several of the fundamental objectives that justify the existence of any State as an organizing agent of national life and a stable actor on the international stage.

4.2. Main characteristics of the Pseudo State

The main characteristics of the Pseudo State include the following:

i) Inability to fulfill its essential purposes: The primary characteristic of the Pseudo State is its inability to meet the basic needs of the population, such as security, education, health, and economic development, significantly widening social gaps. This inability is not momentary or mild but prolonged and significant, affecting citizens’ quality of life and reducing opportunities for growth, stability, and development.

ii) Nominal or decorative existence of institutions: The pseudo State has formal institutions like a government, parliament, judicial system, and other entities and bodies. However, these institutions are weak and ineffective, unable to meet the minimal demands and needs of the citizens. These institutions exist only on paper and not in practice, resulting in an overwhelming loss of trust from the citizenry.

iii) Institutional weakness: The institutions of the Pseudo State are fragile and inefficient, unable to sustain a solid structure that ensures stability and sustained development. Institutions are constantly penetrated and threatened by corruption and highly informal practices in the conduct of the public apparatus by unscrupulous officials and servants from “parties” that attempt to capture the State in each election for their benefit. Institutional weakness turns constitutional institutions into pseudo-institutions, merely paper institutions.

iv) Ineffectiveness: The Pseudo State is unable to perform its basic functions, such as protecting citizens’ rights, providing basic and adequate public goods and services, and generating general welfare. This ineffectiveness is attributable to the weakness of the public apparatus, managed by an inefficient bureaucratic body[8], and the endemic corruption that permeates state institutions. Ineffectiveness is evident in the poor allocation and execution of public budget resources, which does not allow closing socioeconomic gaps through the provision of better services to the population.

v) Instability: Pseudo States are vulnerable to political, economic, and social changes occurring within and beyond their borders, meaning they are more susceptible to global, regional, or national events. Their low or reduced resilience makes them vulnerable and dependent on external aid in the event of natural disasters, economic crises, internal conflicts, and health emergencies. Locally, this instability is seen through high levels of urban violence and organized crime, affecting citizens’ security, the viability of smaller businesses, and the general security of the State.

vi) Informal and corrupt practices: Corruption and informal practices are prevalent in pseudo States, weakening public institutions and undermining trust and legitimacy in the State’s actions. These practices greatly contribute to the inefficiency and weakness of the State. Widespread corruption facilitates the diversion of resources intended for maintaining public services and adequate infrastructure, contributing to the Pseudo State’s instability.

vii) Presence of authoritarian regimes: Authoritarian regimes that characterize many pseudo States concentrate power in the hands of a few, violate human rights, and undermine the rule of law. This concentration of power and political repression increases instability, distrust in state institutions, and the country’s sustainability or viability.

viii) Weakening of the rule of law: In pseudo States, the independence of state powers and the separation of powers are significantly eroded. Justice is instrumentalized to persecute opponents and any threat to the regime, resulting in a deep weakening of the rule of law. Even without a precisely authoritarian regime, the erosion of the rule of law can occur due to power struggles between different factions or groups that control some public sectors, leading to frequent confrontations between state powers and other “institutions”.

ix) Human rights violations: The pseudo State does not adequately protect its citizens’ human rights, exacerbating distrust and social instability. It is also prone to repeatedly, systematically, or regularly violate human rights to maintain order when social protests arise from various organized sectors of the population. This occurs in cases of excessive or arbitrary police or military repression, resulting in fatalities, severe injuries, unjustified imprisonments, restrictions on citizens’ rights, among other serious violations.

x) Lack of legitimacy of norms and exclusion of population sectors: The lack of legitimacy of norms and the exclusion of population sectors from political debate and deliberation on public interest matters generate a significant crisis of trust in the State. Norms are not followed or obeyed by citizens, making the pseudo State lack effective soft power to appeal to the rationality, necessity, and suitability of the enacted norms. In this circumstance, the pseudo State resorts to overregulation, excessive control, and supervision to ensure regulatory compliance by society, but it is ineffective in this due to its significant institutional weaknesses to establish effective social control and monitoring mechanisms.

xi) Absence of capable political leaders: The absence of competent political leaders to articulate a clear vision for the country and commit to its long-term development perpetuates political fragmentation and the lack of social cohesion. The absence of professional and suitable politicians is compounded by the lack of genuine parties, as these are only temporary groups or machines operating during campaigns or electoral processes to win elections, but not to effectively govern the country or address its problems decisively.

xii) Absence of economic and social development: While it is mentioned that the Pseudo State cannot provide basic services to its population, leading to a low quality of life and a lack of human and economic development, it is also unable to generate growth, productivity, and innovation on a general level. Its intrinsic instability, high degree of informality, and institutional weakness mean that it only grows during periods of high prices for the raw materials it exports or trades. Its economy is scarcely diversified, sophisticated, and developed, lacking enough qualified and specialized human capital, and therefore does not attract foreign capital beyond certain primary sectors on which it depends for fiscal revenues and budget financing.

4.3. Analysis of differences between a Consolidated State, a Pseudo State, and a Failed State

The analysis in question reveals profound implications for the stability and development of a nation. The main differences between the categories are presented below:

i) Consolidated State: This type of state is the ideal, characterized by strong and functional institutions that guarantee political stability, citizen security, and sustainable economic development. Internal and external legitimacy is medium to high, which facilitates the implementation of reforms and the efficient provision of public services. A consolidated state can adequately manage social, economic, and political challenges and changes, ensuring the long-term well-being of its citizens.

ii) Pseudo State: This represents an intermediate category where, despite having formal institutions, these are ineffective and only exist nominally. International legitimacy can be moderate, but internally, inefficacy, informality, and high corruption undermine citizen trust. The pseudo state faces significant challenges in providing public services, internal security, and economic development. Instability, ungovernability, and violence are common, making it difficult to implement the necessary structural reforms to reverse the situation. The condition of a pseudo state can be original or resultant. In the first case, it results from a traumatic birth following an independence process where the foundations of the state are not affirmed due to various political, economic, social, and cultural factors. In the second case, the condition of pseudo state arises when stability and development are derailed by crucial events such as civil wars or power disputes imposing systems and policies contrary to the interests of the general population or the majority. An example of this is Argentina[9], where the emergence of Peronism in the mid-20th century caused many of the severe economic and social problems that the South American country continues to face.

iii) Failed State: This is the most critical state, where the loss of monopoly on force and territorial fragmentation are evident. Institutions are extremely weak or nonexistent, violence and corruption are rampant, and legitimacy is practically nil. The inability to provide basic services and protect citizens leads to mass displacements and constant humanitarian crises. Recovering a failed state is extremely difficult and requires substantial interventions at both the national and international levels. The condition of a failed state can be caused or aggravated by natural disasters, civil wars, cross-border wars, abrupt climate change, poor public policies, sustained economic crises, among other factors.

It is important to distinguish between a failed state and a pseudo state. While a failed state is characterized by the absence of central authority and the collapse of state institutions, a pseudo state retains an appearance of authority and governmental structures but lacks the effective capacity to exercise its authority and fulfill its basic functions. This differentiation is crucial for understanding the specific dynamics and challenges associated with each situation, as well as for designing appropriate responses and strategies.

4.4. Detailed comparison of the characteristics of a Consolidated State, a Pseudo State, and a Failed State

This detailed comparison highlights the critical differences between a consolidated state, a pseudo state, and a failed state, illustrating the varying levels of institutional strength, legitimacy, service provision, stability, and overall capacity to meet the needs of their populations and participate on the international stage.

Comparative Table №1 — Comparison between a Consolidated State, a Pseudo State, and a Failed State

Own elaboration (2024)

The category of pseudo-state is crucial for understanding the dynamics of states in development that do not meet the standards of a consolidated state but have not completely collapsed like a failed state. This intermediate category underscores the importance of addressing structural problems such as corruption, informality, and institutional inefficiency to prevent a transition to total collapse. Development policies should focus on strengthening institutions, improving internal and external legitimacy, and creating conditions for sustainable and equitable economic development. Additionally, international cooperation plays a vital role in supporting pseudo-states to overcome their deficiencies and move towards effective state consolidation.

V. Causes of the Pseudo State. –

The phenomenon of the pseudo state is complex and rooted in a series of multiple and interrelated or intertwined causes. Among the main causes of the origin of the pseudo state, historical, structural, institutional, economic, and social antecedents and factors have been identified that contribute to the formation and persistence of the pseudo state, such as colonialism, which left a lasting mark on weak political and social structures in many countries, creating weak systems, ineffective institutions, and underdeveloped economies. Institutions inherited from the colonial era often lacked legitimacy and effectiveness, facilitating the emergence of alternative forms of power and governance.

Other factors such as corruption, informality, and the lack of coherent political leadership are also identified as main causes. Corruption is another central factor in the genesis of the pseudo state. Lack of transparency and the prevalence of corrupt practices weaken state institutions and undermine public trust in the government. Corruption intertwines with informality, where norms and regulations are ignored or avoided, creating an environment where state structures lose their authority and capacity to provide basic services, enforce the law, and maintain stability.

Moreover, the absence of suitable political leadership further exacerbates the situation. The lack of a clear and unified vision to address the challenges of the state perpetuates instability and political fragmentation, making it difficult to effectively implement public policies and design structural reforms that could address the underlying causes of the Pseudo State.

These causes are analyzed in depth to explain how a pseudo state is gestated and maintained. These elements reinforce each other, creating a cycle of institutional weakness and public distrust that perpetuates the condition of the Pseudo State. The state’s inability to provide basic services and maintain public order results in the persistence of socio-economic inequalities and the marginalization of certain groups in society. Together, these dynamics contribute to the consolidation and maintenance of the Pseudo State, representing a significant challenge for the political, economic, and social development of countries affected by this phenomenon.

VI. Consequences of the Pseudo State. –

The pseudo state has profound negative consequences. The consequences of the pseudo state extend across multiple areas and have a significant impact on the economy, politics, and society, particularly in areas such as political stability, citizen security, human rights, rule of law, and economic development. Among the specific problems generated by the pseudo state are internal migration, humanitarian crises, the growth of illicit activities, and the difficulty in generating sustainable economic development. These evils reproduce a vicious cycle that perpetuates state weakness. They feed into each other and highlight the negative impact of the pseudo state on the overall welfare of the population and the development of the country affected by this condition.

In terms of political stability, the presence of a Pseudo State can generate internal conflicts and disputes over power control, leading to the fragmentation of the country and the inability to establish an effective and legitimate government. An example of this is the situation in some African countries where rebel groups and armed factions fight for territorial control, weakening the authority of the central state.

Citizen security is also severely affected by the presence of a Pseudo State. The lack of state capacity to maintain public order and guarantee the security of citizens can result in high levels of violence, crime, and criminality. For example, in countries where criminal groups operate with relative impunity due to state weakness, citizens face constant threats to their personal security and property.

Regarding human rights and the rule of law, the presence of a Pseudo State can lead to widespread violations of citizens’ fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and access to fair trial. For example, authoritarian or dictatorial regimes that take advantage of state weakness can suppress political dissent and silence opposition, perpetuating a climate of fear and repression.

In the economic sphere, the condition of a Pseudo State hinders the generation of sustainable economic development. The lack of strong institutions and coherent policies limits investment opportunities and economic growth, which in turn contributes to high levels of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. For example, the lack of basic infrastructure and reliable public services hampers the ability of businesses to operate and thrive, creating an unattractive environment for foreign and domestic investment.

Ultimately, the presence of a Pseudo State represents a significant challenge to the stability and progress of the affected nation, requiring interventions and coordinated efforts at national and international levels to address its underlying causes and mitigate its devastating consequences on both the domestic and regional levels.

VII. Overcoming the Pseudo State. –

Overcoming the condition of a Pseudo State requires a multifaceted and comprehensive approach that addresses the various underlying causes of the problem. In this regard, several strategies and measures are proposed, emphasizing the importance of strengthening democratic institutions, combating corruption, promoting economic and social development, reducing inequality, fostering intercultural dialogue, and promoting international cooperation. The emphasis on a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving all relevant actors, including governments, civil society, and the international community[10], is indispensable for tackling the challenges and obstacles faced by these paths to overcoming, and the opportunities represented by effectively addressing these problems with the available resources.

Strengthening democratic institutions[11] is crucial for establishing a legitimate and effective government that can represent the interests of all citizens. This involves political reforms that promote transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in decision-making. For example, implementing fair electoral laws and creating oversight mechanisms to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a few political elites.

The fight against corruption[12] is another key measure to overcome the pseudo state. This includes implementing effective anti-corruption policies that strengthen the integrity of state institutions and promote a culture of transparency and accountability. It is necessary to establish independent and efficient oversight bodies, as well as strengthen the judicial system to ensure that those responsible for corrupt acts are brought to justice and adequately punished.

Promoting economic and social development[13] is essential to address the socio-economic inequalities that fuel state weakness. This involves policies that encourage investment in infrastructure, education, health, and employment, with a focus on the most marginalized and vulnerable communities. For example, rural development programs that promote sustainable agriculture and economic diversification can help reduce dependence on the informal economy and create employment opportunities.

Reducing inequality is another fundamental aspect of overcoming the pseudo state. This involves redistributive measures that ensure equitable access to resources and basic services, as well as the protection of the rights of minorities and marginalized groups. It is important to address income and opportunity disparities through better provision of public services so that the majority can have the opportunity to develop individually and collectively, as well as reducing tax and economic informality to finance the implementation of progressive policies and targeted social spending to ensure a more even distribution of welfare.

Fostering intercultural dialogue in multicultural countries and promoting international cooperation are also indispensable measures to overcome the pseudo state. This involves recognizing and respecting cultural and ethnic diversity within society, as well as strengthening cooperation and solidarity among countries and communities. Promoting peace and peaceful conflict resolution, as well as collaboration in areas such as regional security and sustainable development, are fundamental aspects of this strategy.

In terms of security and violence reduction, effective reform of the performance of security forces is required, which involves professionalizing and reforming security forces to ensure an effective and rights-respecting response. This also includes the development of preventive policies that can be implemented through violence prevention programs, especially in vulnerable communities, sectors, and neighborhoods. Cooperation between developed countries, international organizations, and emerging countries affected by the pseudo state condition must strengthen the fight against drug trafficking, illegal mining, and organized crime in general.

In summary, overcoming the condition of a pseudo state requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach that addresses the underlying causes of the problem and promotes deep political, economic, and social reforms. Only through a joint effort of all relevant actors, both at the national and international levels, can the challenges and obstacles faced by the consolidation of an effective and legitimate state be overcome, and the opportunities to build a more prosperous and equitable future for all be seized.

VIII. Challenges in overcoming the Pseudo State. –

There are a series of political, economic, cultural, and social difficulties, challenges, and obstacles that can hinder the implementation of proposed measures. In this regard, exploring how vested interests, incentive structures, relationship systems, the culture of informality, and power dynamics can influence the capacity and willingness to drive necessary and sustainable changes among political and social actors to propel significant and lasting changes. The resistance of political and economic elites, lack of political will, and scant social consensus are some of the specific factors that can thwart any attempt at reform. Internal power dynamics and vested interests can greatly hinder the implementation of necessary measures to design and create better institutions, strengthen them, and promote development. In the case of international cooperation, while it can play an important role, it may face significant limitations due to differences in objectives and approaches.

One of the main difficulties mentioned lies in the vested interests of political and economic elites who benefit from the weakness of the State. These elites may actively resist any reform attempt that threatens their position of power or privileges, using their influence and resources to obstruct change. For example, in some countries, political elites have economic interests in sectors such as mining or the oil industry, which may lead them to oppose measures aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources.

Furthermore, lack of political will is another significant barrier to overcoming the pseudo state. Political leaders may lack the determination necessary to implement difficult or unpopular reforms that could affect their support base or generate internal conflicts within their own parties. This lack of political will may be exacerbated by corruption and the capture of state institutions by particular interests. For example, in some countries, politicians may be tempted to accept bribes or favors from interest groups in exchange for maintaining the status quo and avoiding changes that could threaten their stability in power.

Another relevant obstacle is the lack of social consensus on the need and direction of reforms. Political, ethnic, or social divisions within society can hinder the construction of broad and sustained support for proposed measures. For example, in societies divided by ethnic, political, civil, or religious conflicts, institutional reforms may be perceived negatively if they favor the rights and interests of certain groups over others, making their acceptance and implementation in practice difficult.

Internal power dynamics and vested interests can also hinder international cooperation in overcoming the pseudo state. Donor countries and international organizations may have divergent agendas and priorities that make coordination and effective cooperation difficult. For example, one country may focus on promoting democracy and human rights, while another may be more interested in securing its economic interests (such as access to natural resources) or geopolitical interests in the region (greater interference in the area), which can generate tensions and hinder the implementation of aid and technical assistance programs.

Culture can also represent a significant difficulty in overcoming the pseudo state. Norms, values, and practices entrenched in society can influence resistance to change and hinder reform efforts. For example, in some cultures, passive acceptance of authority and tradition can hinder criticism and questioning of weak or corrupt state institutions. Additionally, cultural norms of patronage and nepotism can perpetuate corruption and favoritism in public administration, hindering the implementation of merit-based and transparent policies.

Likewise, cultural and ethnic divisions can generate tensions and conflicts that hinder the construction of broad consensus for reforms. For example, in multicultural societies, differences in language, religion, or ethnic identity can fuel distrust and polarization, making cooperation and collaboration among different social groups in the search for common solutions difficult. These cultural divisions can be exploited by opportunistic political actors to divert attention from the problems of the pseudo state and maintain the establishment.

Moreover, cultural perceptions of authority and power can influence how the State is perceived and expectations about its role and responsibility. In some cultures, state authority is seen as a paternalistic power that should provide and protect citizens, while in others it may be viewed with distrust and resentment due to historical experiences of oppression or abuse of power. These cultural differences can hinder the building of consensus on the role and functions of the State in society.

In summary, culture can represent a significant difficulty in overcoming the pseudo state by influencing the attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of individuals and social groups. Addressing these cultural barriers demands a sensitive and reflective approach that recognizes and respects cultural diversity, while promoting values and norms that support transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in political and social life.

Overcoming the condition of a pseudo state faces several complex challenges in various countries, ranging from resistance from political and economic elites to lack of political will and scant social consensus, as well as cultural influence on the attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions of individuals and social groups. Addressing these cultural barriers requires a sensitive and reflective approach that recognizes and respects cultural diversity, while promoting values and norms that support transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in political and social life.

Dealing with these difficulties requires a strategic and coordinated approach involving all relevant actors, both at the national and international levels, and taking into account power dynamics and vested interests that may hinder change.

IX. Analysis and comparison of Latin American Countries. –

The notion of a pseudo state is useful for understanding the complexity and diversity of state conditions in Latin America. This model allows for categorizing countries that do not fully fit into the definitions of a consolidated or failed state but exhibit characteristics of both categories.

The analysis of most Latin American countries within the conceptual framework of the pseudo state reveals the need for deep structural reforms to overcome the obstacles preventing their consolidation as full-fledged states. Fighting corruption, improving governance, and strengthening institutions are essential for these countries to move towards greater stability and development.

Comparative Table №2 — Evaluation of Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, and Bolivia

Own elaboration (2024)

Based on the analysis provided in the previous table, Peru and Mexico emerge as high pseudo states. This is due to both countries exhibiting high levels of corruption, informality, and violence that hinder proper development. The inability of these states to fulfill basic functions such as security and the provision of essential services reflects profound dysfunctionality in their institutional structure. For example, Peru is characterized by high levels of informality and corruption, undermining its capacity for effective governance.

On the other hand, Colombia, Argentina, and Bolivia are considered as medium pseudo states, as they face significant challenges but maintain some institutional capacity in key areas. Despite issues with drug trafficking and organized crime, Colombia maintains a degree of effectiveness in its urban institutions. Argentina grapples with economic instability and high inflation but possesses relatively strong democratic institutions. Bolivia, while affected by informality and corruption, exhibits territorial stability that prevents it from falling into the high pseudo state category.

Comparison Table №3 — Challenges, similarities, and differences among compared Latin American Countries

Own elaboration (2024)

The comparison table sheds light on the diverse challenges faced by Latin American countries, ranging from high levels of corruption and informality to issues such as drug trafficking and economic instability. While each country grapples with its unique set of obstacles, there are also similarities, particularly concerning corruption and informality, which appear as persistent challenges across the region. However, there are notable differences too, such as varying degrees of institutional effectiveness and stability in territorial control. Understanding these similarities and differences is crucial for policymakers and stakeholders to tailor effective strategies aimed at addressing the specific needs and challenges of each country.

X. Conclusions. –

The pseudo state is a complex phenomenon that requires a multifaceted understanding and a comprehensive approach for its overcoming. In the conclusions, the main findings and arguments of the study are synthesized, reaffirming the complexity of the pseudo state and the need to address it from multiple fronts and angles.

§ One of the main conclusions is that the pseudo state reflects a profound fragility that hinders sustainable development and prosperity and represents significant challenges for effective governance and the well-being of society. To overcome these challenges, it is essential to implement deep structural reforms, strengthen institutions, promote transparency and effective governance, and genuinely commit to human development and societal well-being.

§ Another conclusion related to overcoming the pseudo state condition in Latin America is that a comprehensive and coordinated approach is required to address both the structural causes and the specific manifestations of each country. Although the challenges are significant, the proposed strategies, supported by research and past experiences, can offer a viable path toward the consolidation of stronger and more effective states. The need for structural reforms to overcome the challenges of the pseudo state includes strengthening institutions, promoting transparency and effective governance, and genuinely committing to human development and societal well-being.

§ Corruption and inequality are critical factors that perpetuate the pseudo state condition. Informality and violence are also common characteristics that worsen the situation of these types of states.

§ Strengthening the judicial system and respecting the rule of law are essential to overcome the pseudo state condition. Judicial independence and the ability to enforce the law fairly and effectively are crucial to ensure the protection of citizens’ rights and the accountability of public officials.

§ Despite its serious deficiencies, the pseudo state maintains a formal institutional structure and a higher degree of international legitimacy compared to the failed state. This highlights the discrepancy between the appearance and the reality of the functioning of the state.

§ Pseudo states face significant negative consequences for the economy and society, including internal migration, emigration of human capital or massive talent flight, growth of illicit activities, humanitarian crises, and difficulty in generating sustainable economic growth.

§ Global and regional dynamics, such as globalization, cross-border conflicts, and international policies, significantly influence the stability and development of pseudo states. These factors can exacerbate or mitigate the weaknesses of the pseudo state.

§ Despite their enormous weaknesses, pseudo states show a remarkable capacity for resilience and adaptation. These entities can survive amid continuous crises and adapt to changing circumstances, allowing them to maintain a certain level of functionality and legitimacy; however, their situation is critical and they risk becoming failed states in the long term.

§ Education and culture are fundamental to addressing the problems of the pseudo state. Fostering a culture of legality, participation, and accountability can contribute significantly to building a stronger and more effective state.

§ Power decentralization is a commonly recommended strategy to improve governance in pseudo states. However, this process faces significant challenges, such as administrative and financial capacity at the local level, and the risk of reproducing patterns of corruption and clientelism at the decentralized level.

§ International cooperation is crucial to addressing the challenges of the pseudo state. This necessarily includes promoting better governance practices, providing resources and technical support, and engaging with the principles of democracy, justice, and sustainable development.

XI. Recommendations. –

The recommendations include political reforms to deepen democracy, institutional strengthening, promote transparency and accountability, consolidate judicial independence, promote economic formalization, reduce inequality, decentralize power, and concrete measures to combat corruption. The importance of international cooperation and commitment to the principles of democracy, justice, and sustainable development is emphasized. The specific recommendations presented to address the problem of the pseudo state underline the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach that involves all relevant actors.

It is evident that, to overcome the pseudo state condition, a comprehensive approach is required that addresses the underlying causes of the problem from multiple angles. Understanding the complexity of the pseudo state leads to the conclusion that there is no single or quick solution, but rather a long-term commitment and the implementation of coordinated, effective, and sustainable measures are required.

In terms of recommendations, the importance of carrying out political reforms to deepen democracy and strengthen state institutions is highlighted. This includes promoting transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in decision-making, as well as decentralizing power to ensure more equitable and effective representation of local interests.

Furthermore, it is recommended to consolidate judicial independence as a crucial counterbalance to the executive and legislative branches, thereby ensuring respect for the rule of law and the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights. Promoting economic formalization and reducing inequality are also essential measures to strengthen the economy and ensure more equitable and sustainable development for the population.

In the field of combating corruption, concrete measures must be implemented to prevent and punish acts of corruption, including the creation of independent oversight bodies and the rigorous enforcement of the law. International cooperation is crucial in this regard, as it can provide resources and technical support to strengthen institutional capacities and promote better governance practices.

In that line of thought, the recommendations presented to address the problem of the pseudo state emphasize the urgency of a multidisciplinary, comprehensive, and collaborative approach involving all relevant actors, both nationally and internationally. Only through a joint and sustained effort can the challenges and obstacles facing the consolidation of an effective and legitimate state be overcome, and progress towards a future where the condition of a failed state is avoided.

XII. Final reflections on the future of Pseudo States. –

Ultimately, the future of pseudo states depends more on the capacity of national actors than on the international community to address the root causes of the problem and promote inclusive and sustainable development. It is essential to recognize the complexity of the phenomenon and adopt an integrative and collaborative approach involving all sectors of society. Although significant challenges are faced, there are also opportunities for positive change and transformation. With firm commitment and concerted actions, overcoming the pseudo state is possible.

The study of the pseudo state offers a critical insight into an important global phenomenon and provides guidance on how to effectively address it. It is essential for policymakers, civil society, and the international community to work together to implement the proposed recommendations and move towards a world where states are strong, efficient, and capable of fulfilling their responsibilities to their citizens and the international community.

The future prospects of the pseudo state phenomenon, particularly in Latin America, will depend on several key factors such as the advancement of political and economic reforms, i.e., the effective implementation of structural reforms can strengthen institutions and improve governance. Likewise, the growth of citizen participation will be considered since greater involvement of civil society in politics can drive transparency and accountability. The influential role of technological innovations is also considered. It is expected that the adoption of emerging technologies can improve government efficiency and reduce corruption, as seen in the case of Blockchain and other developments. Greater regional and international cooperation is anticipated, as collaboration among countries and with international organizations can provide the necessary support to address a range of common challenges.

Among the emerging trends, an increase in governmental digitization is expected. The use of technology in public administration is on the rise and could transform governmental management. This would come alongside a growing demand for social justice. This is evident in various social movements in Latin America, as they are pushing for greater equity and justice, which could catalyze significant reforms. Finally, the impact of climate change will affect the design and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, which will become crucial. The phenomenon will ultimately affect the stability and development of many countries.

XIII. References:

- European Centre for Populism Studies (2020). Populism Dictionary, accessed on August 20, 2023. Available at:

- Corradini, Luisa (2020). Interview with French sociologist Pierre Rosanvallon for the Argentine newspaper La Nación, dated July 25. “Populisms can become dictatorships of the chosen ones,” accessed on August 22, 2023. Available at:

- Hedlund, S. 2019. Lack of recognition and problems in international relations, accessed on August 20, 2023. Geopolitical Intelligence Services AG (GIS). Available at:

- O’ Loughlin, J., Ward, M.D., Lofdahl, C.L., Cohen, J.S., Brown, D.S., Reilly, D., Gleditsch, K.S., and Shin, M. 1998. ‘The diffusion of democracy 1946–1994’, Annals of the Association American Geographers 88 (4): 545–574.

- Reyna Ugarriza, César. 2024. The pseudo State, Medium, dated May 28. Available at:

- Steinglass, M. 2013. “Democracy in America: Rebels and tyrants,” in The Economist, accessed on August 19, 2023. Available at:

[1] By César Reyna Ugarriza (author) is a consultant in political, economic, and social issues.


[2] The pseudo state represents a particular form of state weakness, distinct from the failed state, characterized by a facade of institutionalism without the corresponding capacity for effective governance.

[3] The organicist approach to the state compares the state to a living organism, where different parts (institutions, citizens, etc.) function in an interdependent and coordinated manner, similar to the organs of a living being. This approach highlights the need for coordination and centralization for the state’s proper functioning, as well as adaptability and evolution to maintain its well-being. Notable representatives include Plato, Aristotle, and Herbert Spencer, who viewed society as an integrated system of interdependent parts.

[4] The Atomistic or contractual approach to the state is based on the idea that the state is a creation of rational individuals who agree to form an organized society through a social contract. Individuals, considered as independent units, give up part of their freedom to a central authority to ensure their security and well-being. This approach emphasizes the natural rights of individuals and popular sovereignty, with prominent advocates such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

[5] The formalist approach to the state focuses on the norms, procedures, and formal structures that regulate the functioning of the state. The primacy of law, impartiality, and institutional structure are fundamental pillars. Representatives such as Hans Kelsen and Max Weber emphasize the importance of a hierarchically organized and normatively closed legal system, and formal rationality in public administration. This approach guarantees predictability and transparency in decision-making, although it can be criticized for its rigidity and possible disconnection from social reality.

[6] The functionalist approach to the state considers the state as an essential institution for maintaining stability and social cohesion, performing crucial functions such as legislation, law enforcement, and the provision of public services. This approach, developed by sociologists like Émile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons, emphasizes the interdependence of institutions and the need for adaptability and change to face new challenges. Although criticized for its implicit conservatism and underestimation of conflict, functionalism provides a comprehensive view of the essential functions of the state in promoting order and social cohesion.

[7] The analysis of the existing literature reveals multiple manifestations of the Pseudo State in different contexts.

[8] They entered the state service through favors and perks, without meeting the necessary conditions, qualities, and qualifications, due to the absence of mechanisms or parameters for hiring, selection, and promotion based strictly on merit.

[9] Argentina ceased to be one of the leading world powers to become a developing country, third-world or developing, as it experienced economic instability, recessions, hyperinflations, and other economic and social problems stemming from changes in the political landscape.

[10] It’s crucial to foster international cooperation and intercultural dialogue to effectively address underlying issues. Active participation of civil society and implementation of inclusive policies are essential to achieve sustainable change.

[11] Institutional strengthening often involves judicial reforms to enhance the independence and efficiency of the judicial system to ensure the validity and effectiveness of the rule of law. Power decentralization is another measure to promote local administrative management, ensuring that local governments have the necessary resources, capabilities, and autonomy to address their own needs. Lastly, training and professionalization of the public sector involve investing in the education of officials and public servants to enhance management and evidence-based decision-making.

[12] Combatting corruption can be achieved through the establishment of independent bodies to implement anti-corruption agencies with judicial and investigative powers. Transparency and accountability are other measures to strengthen these elements across all branches and dependencies of the government. Finally, technology and digitalization for monitoring and reporting governmental activities can help reduce administrative, bureaucratic, or functional corruption.

[13] Inclusive economic development can be achieved through progressive formalization of the economy, implementing policies that incentivize formalization of small and medium-sized enterprises. Additionally, increased and improved investment in education and health is necessary. Boosting investment in key sectors like education and health to promote human development generates the human capital needed for the economy. Lastly, entrepreneurship should be encouraged to create a favorable environment for innovation and enterprise, facilitating access to credit, technical assistance, and necessary technology.



Cesar Reyna Ugarriza

Creador de la Negociación Integrativa Transformadora Intercultural (NITI) y de la Teoría del Relacionamiento Intercultural... Correo: