Historical shifts in global economic formations shape the strategies of resistance movements in the global South. Neoliberal forms of economic development over the past thirty years in Central America have weakened traditional actors sponsoring popular mobilization such as labor unions and rural cooperatives. At the same time, the free market reforms produced new threats to economic livelihood and well-being throughout the region. The neoliberal measures that have generated the greatest levels of mass discontent include rising prices, privatization, labor flexibility laws, mining projects, and free trade. This article analyzes the role of emerging anti-neoliberal political parties in alliance with popular movements in Central America. Countries with already existing strong anti-systemic parties in the initial phases of the global turn to neoliberalism in the late twentieth century resulted in more efficacious manifestations of social movement partyism in the twenty-first century resisting free market globalization.
The mass mobilizations against neoliberal reforms are rooted in the weakening of the state-led development model and the erosion of social citizenship rights. At the same time, infrastructures created by the developmental state provide the organizational capacity to resist market-driven globalization. The study develops a conceptual framework for understanding the major arenas of state-led development in the twentieth century in relation to the infrastructures and organizations that mobilize social movement campaigns against neoliberalism in the twenty-first century. Special attention is given to public education, health care, public utilities, state subsidies, and transportation networks as laying the foundation for civil society's ability to collectively defend social protections granted in the preglobalization era in the global South.
Almeida, Paul, and Allen Cordero Ulate. 2015. “Social Movements Across Latin America”. Pp. 3–10 in Handbook of Social Movements across Latin America, edited by Paul D Almeida and Allen Cordero Ulate. Springer.
Paul Almeida’s comparative study of the largest social movement campaigns that existed between 1980 and 2013 in every Central American country (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama) provides a granular examination of the forces that spark mass mobilizations against state economic policy, whether those factors are electricity rate hikes or water and health care privatization. Many scholars have explained connections between global economic changes and local economic conditions, but most of the research has remained at the macro level. Mobilizing Democracy contributes to our knowledge about the protest groups "on the ground" and what makes some localities successful at mobilizing and others less successful. His work enhances our understanding of what ingredients contribute to effective protest movements as well as how multiple protagonists—labor unions, students, teachers, indigenous groups, nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups, environmental organizations, and oppositional political parties—coalesce to make protest more likely to win major concessions.
Based on extensive field research, archival data of thousands of protest events, and interviews with dozens of Central American activists, Mobilizing Democracy brings the international consequences of privatization, trade liberalization, and welfare-state downsizing in the global South into focus and shows how persistent activism and network building are reactivated in these social movements. Almeida enables our comprehension of global and local politics and policy by answering the question, "If all politics is local, then how do the politics of globalization manifest themselves?" Detailed graphs and maps provide a synthesis of the quantitative and qualitative data in this important study. Written in clear, accessible prose, this book will be invaluable for students and scholars in the fields of political science, social movements, anthropology, Latin American studies, and labor studies.
Almeida, Paul D. 2013. “War and social movements”. Pp. 1391-1394 in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements, vol. 3, edited by D Snow, D Della Porta, B Klandermans, and D McAdam. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
This chapter analyzes the three largest insurgencies with majority Indigenous participation in Mesoamerica in the twentieth century and the ensuing trajectories of native peoples' movements in these uprisings' aftermath. It reviews the 1932 peasant uprising in El Salvador, the Guatemalan insurgency from the 1970s to the 1990s, and the 1994 Chiapas rebellion in southern Mexico and the subsequent movement it generated. The essay examines why Indigenous peoples engaged at times in radical and revolutionary tactics in collective action efforts to defend their rights, while in the contemporary period we observe less violent and confrontational agendas and strategies. Furthermore, the chapter analyzes political opportunities and various forms of threat (including state repression) so as to understand the divergent framing of Indigenous demands and forms of struggle over time and across cases. The state's actions are a crucial dimension in defining what type of strategies these movements are likely to employ.
Using a unique dataset on the geographic distribution of reported protest events from local sources, the study explains the variation in community-level mobilization in response to neoliberal reforms in two countries in the global periphery. Building on insights from macro, cross-national studies of protests related to market reforms, this article highlights local structural conditions that more likely generate popular contention in poorer countries. Count regression models show that localities with greater levels of state and community infrastructure (highways, administrative offices, universities, NGOs and local chapters of oppositional parties) were associated with heightened collective action opposing the privatization of health care and public utilities. These state and community infrastructures were shaped by national contexts in the era of state-led development preceding the current epoch of accelerated globalization.
Esta investigación se enfoca en las elecciones presidenciales e históricas en El Salvador en 2009. Hay un énfasis dado a la transformación del partido político FMLN en la era después de la guerra civil y la alianza entre el partido y los movimientos sociales en la sociedad civil. La combinación de los procesos de la democratización y las políticas de liberalización económica en los 1990 y 2000 aportó al reforzamiento de la coalición entre el partido de la izquierda y los movimientos populares. Gradualmente el FMLN se podía canalizar la energía de las campañas de los movimientos sociales contra las políticas neoliberales y opinión pública en triunfos electorales al nivel local, parlamentario y Ejecutivo.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, government privatization and austerity programs served as the cornerstone of free market reforms implemented throughout the developing world. The selling off of government utilities, resources, and services laid the groundwork for a highly contested battleground in the global South over social and economic distribution. This study examines the sequencing of campaigns against neoliberal reforms in Central America. Two successful movement campaigns against privatization in El Salvador and Costa Rica followed failed collective attempts to impede similar economic reforms. The policy outcomes against neo-liberal measures are explained by the path-dependent nature of the organizing templates activists chose to employ and the breadth of social movement unionism achieved. The article offers insights into similar battles currently waged in the third world over the pace of economic globalization and the conditions in which oppositional movements are likely to succeed or fail.