This article examines the implications of the Ecuadorian Indian movement for democratic politics. During the 1990s, the movement successfully fostered indigenous and popular participation in public life, influenced government policies, and became a contender in power struggles. But in the institutional domain, the participatory breakthrough had mixed effects. While the movement fulfilled functions of interest representation and control of state power, its involvement in a coup attempt demonstrated that its political socialization had not nurtured a sense of commitment to democracy. The evidence is discussed by reference to the proposition that civil society actors may or may not contribute to democracy. The article argues that the study of the democratic spinoffs of civil activism requires a context-specific approach that considers the particularistic orientations of civil associations and pays attention to their definition of means and ends, the institutional responses evoked by their initiatives, and the unintended consequences of their actions.
Scholars of Cuba have long linked Afro-Cubans' fate to the revolutionary government. As the government's influence on people's daily lives has declined over the past decade, the question arises of whether Afro-Cubans have sustained the gains they achieved in the revolution's first 30 years. This article uses survey data, collected in December 2000 from 334 Cuban families in Havana, to assess the impact of the post-1993 economic reforms on rising racial inequality in Cuba. It asks whether racial inequities occur in accessing dollars through state employment, self-employment, or remittances, and whether educational gains are tied to higher income. Results indicate that the structural means through which racial discrimination was once virtually eliminated through equal access to education and employment, and through which income levels became equalized according to educational level regardless of racial group, has lost its equalizing force in contemporary Cuba.
Parties throughout Latin America have recently addressed two distinct kinds of electoral reforms: primary elections and national-level gender quota laws. This study examines how these reforms interact, their mutual compatibility, and their effect on the nomination of men compared to that of women. It develops a series of hypotheses about this relationship by analyzing the 2003 legislative elections in Mexico, a case in which the three main parties relied on both gender quotas and primaries to select their candidates. Although the percentage of women elected to the Mexican Chamber of Deputies rose, the Federal Electoral Institute interpreted the gender quota law in a way that weakened its effect on women and limited the degree of openness in the primaries that were held.
Since President Hugo Chávez came to power in Venezuela in 1998, ordinary women from the barrios, or shantytowns, of Caracas have become more engaged in grassroots politics; but most of the community leaders still are men. Chávez's programs are controlled by male-dominated bureaucracies, and many women activists still look to the president himself as the main source of direction. Nevertheless, this article argues, women's increasing local activism has created forms of popular participation that challenge gender roles, collectivize private tasks, and create alternatives to male-centric politics. Women's experiences of shared struggle from previous decades, along with their use of democratic methods of popular control, help prevent the state from appropriating women's labor. But these spaces coexist with more vertical, populist notions of politics characteristic of official sectors of Chavismo. Understanding such gendered dimensions of popular participation is crucial to analyzing urban social movements.
This article explores the relationship between women's embodiment and political resistance in Argentina during 2002–2003. This was a time of socioeconomic crisis, influenced by neoliberal globalization. In this tumultuous context, women's bodies became embattled sites, shaken by the crisis but also actively engaged in constructing a new society and new forms of womanhood. Bodies are important to understanding political resistance, as reflected by the meanings attached to poner el cuerpo, a common expression in contemporary Argentine social movements. This article analyzes how women construct embodied subjectivities through their activist practices and how they define poner el cuerpo in terms of collective protest and daily activist work, coherence between words and actions, embodied sacrifice, and risk taking and struggle. As life in Argentina deteriorated because of the crisis, women's bodies represented not only suffering but also resistance and renewal.
Chile's 1989 constitutional reforms constituted a trade-off: the military gave up protected democracy provisions but acquired greater autonomy. The democratic opposition could accept or reject, but not modify, constitutional changes proposed by the outgoing dictatorship. This study addresses a very limited time period in the transition to democracy: the moment after the transition has been secured and transitional rules have been established. The dynamics of this period differ markedly from those in the larger democratic transition. The approach in this study complements alternative explanations of why the 1989 reforms benefited the outgoing dictatorship more than the incoming democratic government. Although the outgoing regime granted several opposition demands by reducing restrictions on political pluralism and eliminating barriers to political party activity, it also secured provisions that made the military more independent of civilian authorities than originally conceived in the 1980 Constitution.