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What Justice? Whose Justice?

What Justice? Whose Justice?: Fighting for Fairness in Latin America

Susan Eva Eckstein
Timothy P. Wickham-Crowley
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    What Justice? Whose Justice?
    Book Description:

    The new millennium began with the triumph of democracy and markets. But for whom is life just, how so, and why? And what is being done to correct persisting injustices? Blending macro-level global and national analysis with in-depth grassroots detail, the contributors highlight roots of injustices, how they are perceived, and efforts to alleviate them. Following up on issues raised in the groundbreaking best-sellerPower and Popular Protest: Latin American Social Movements(California, 2001), these essays elucidate how conceptions of justice are socially constructed and contested and historically contingent, shaped by people's values and institutionally grounded in real-life experiences. The contributors, a stellar coterie of North and Latin American scholars, offer refreshing new insights that deepen our understanding of social justice as ideology and practice.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93698-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Struggles for Justice in Latin America
    (pp. 1-32)

    The new millennium began with the triumph of democracy over dictatorship, the removal of fetters believed to have obstructed economic advancement in poor countries, and new global concern with human rights. But for whom is life now more just, in what ways, and why? And what can people do to correct remaining injustices?

    How can we answer such questions? Preeminent philosophers, from Aristotle and Plato to John Rawls and Amartya Sen, though long preoccupied with the meaning and bases of social justice, have arrived at no consensus. Does justice imply freedom, as Sen (1999) suggests? Or equality, as Rawls (1971)...

  6. PART ONE Political Institutions, Rights, and Injustice

    • CHAPTER TWO Social Inequality, Civil Society, and the Limits of Citizenship in Latin America
      (pp. 35-63)

      At least since Aristotle, the existence of social inequality has posed a central problem for the theory and practice of democracy. Although political democracy may ultimately be undermined by socioeconomic inequality, a certain level of inequality is inevitable given the reality of modern democratic politics. This is because socioeconomic inequality is unavoidable in market economies, as Marx recognized (albeit in an exaggerated way) so long ago. Efforts at social “leveling” will meet with stiff resistance. In Latin America, there may even be a direct correlation between the level of inequality and the resistance to equity-enhancing measures. Extremes in socioeconomic inequality...

    • CHAPTER THREE An Exception to Chilean Exceptionalism? The Historical Role of Chile’s Judiciary
      (pp. 64-97)

      In the 1960s and early 1970s, leading intellectuals and political actors in Latin America defined social justice in contrast to and in conflict with formal justice. Social justice, it was understood, could derive only from a radical restructuring of socioeconomic relations; and formal justice—that is, justice administered by courts according to law—was condemned as bourgeois and epiphenomenal. Indeed, from the 1930s onward, most social conflicts in Latin America were addressed by elected officials or regulated by administrative agencies. The judiciary was viewed as, at best, irrelevant to the pursuit of democratic justice (Peña González 1994: 11; Frühling 1998:...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Presidential Crises and Democratic Accountability in Latin America, 1990–1999
      (pp. 98-130)

      Despite the wave of democratization that has transformed Latin America since the 1980s, the region showed major signs of political instability during the 1990s in the form of confrontations between the executive and legislative branches. Between 1990 and 1999, two presidents attemptedautogolpes(self-coups), in one case successfully, and five presidents were impeached. In previous decades, most constitutional crises were solved through military coups—imposing either short-term, moderating interventions (Stepan 1971) or long-term, bureaucratic authoritarian regimes (Collier 1979; O’Donnell 1988). In the 1990s, this pattern changed and crises were resolved through self-coups (in which the executive forced the dissolution of...

  7. PART TWO The Polity, the Social Contract, and Injustice

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Vicious Cycle of Inequality in Latin America
      (pp. 133-157)

      Latin America is the region in the world with the greatest inequities. The acute disparities, affecting virtually all aspects of economic, social, and political life, are fundamental to understanding why the results of the past two decades of development have been so disappointing there. Economic growth has been surprisingly low despite the region having embraced neoliberal restructuring, which cut inflation to single-digit levels, reduced budget deficits, and generally lowered country public external debt. As of the early years of the new century the quality of services remained poor, unemployment high, and widespread crime and violence threatened daily life. Moreover, more...

    • CHAPTER SIX Perpetrators’ Confessions: Truth, Reconciliation, and Justice in Argentina
      (pp. 158-184)

      Truth-telling has become a widespread practice in settling accounts with past repressive regimes in Latin America. It has also assumed a variety of forms: from government-mandated truth commissions, to nongovernmental-organization-sponsored historical memory projects, to individual testimonials.¹ In nearly all of these instances, victims of repression have seized an opportunity to break the silence imposed on them by authoritarian regimes, or, as Ariel Dorfman writes, to “rebel against the false and immaculate tranquility of the official versions” of the past (1991: 189). The recent debate over Rigoberta Menchú’s testimonial illustrates the complications inherent in establishing new truths through victims’ accounts. But...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Colombia: Does Injustice Cause Violence?
      (pp. 185-214)

      By the year 2000, the rule of law in Colombia was being degraded every day by state agents who perpetrated illegal violence and by nonstate actors who used illegal violence to advance and protect their own interests. Justice was further crippled by a formal legal system that was inoperative throughout much of the national territory and by legislators and judicial leaders who were unable and unwilling to prosecute state officials and their proxies that operated outside the law.

      Colombia’s tortured descent into lawlessness was the direct result of more than fifty years of internal armed conflict. The nation plunged into...

  8. PART THREE Democratization:: The Promise of Justice and Its Limitations

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Progressive Pragmatism as a Governance Model: An In-Depth Look at Porto Alegre, Brazil, 1989–2000
      (pp. 217-232)

      Neoliberalism, Latin America’s dominant governance model in the 1980s and 1990s, often failed to have significant positive effects on social justice; in fact, its overall impact was negative in many areas. In this chapter, I argue that a promising alternative to the perceived, and real, injustices of neoliberal governance emerged at the municipal level in Brazil and several other countries during the same two decades. I call this new model progressive pragmatism. This model is derived from the general theory of pragmatic liberalism, which argues that democratic process and efficiency outcomes are equally important to good governance (Anderson 1990).


    • CHAPTER NINE Citizen Responses to Conflict and Political Crisis in Peru: Informal Politics in Ayacucho
      (pp. 233-254)

      The most dramatic political development in Latin America over the final two decades of the twentieth century was the restoration of democracy to many countries of the region.¹ Elections are now a routine part of the political landscape. Military coups, so recently a recourse of choice of opposition groups, have all but disappeared. Now, oppositions compete for votes and actually win elections more often than not (O’Donnell, Schmitter, and Whitehead 1986; Dominguez and Lowenthal 1996; Mainwaring and Shugart 1997). Making such a development all the more remarkable was its occurrence at a time of severe economic stress in most countries...

  9. PART FOUR Ethnic Responses to Injustices

    • CHAPTER TEN Social Justice and the New Indigenous Politics: An Analysis of Guatemala, the Central Andes, and Chiapas
      (pp. 257-284)

      Democratization in Latin America since the 1980s has included the emergence of indigenous peoples into the political arena, especially in the four countries where these peoples approach or exceed a majority of the population—Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru (Warren 1993; Radcliffe and Westwood 1996; Díaz Polanco 1997; Yashar 1998)—and in Chiapas, Mexico (Harvey 1998; Womack 1999).¹ Indigenous peoples gained political power and cultural rights within these fragile new democracies either by emphasizing class and economic issues or by stressing cultural identity. This chapter will argue that the former emphasis constitutes a demand for social justice as equality among...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The War of the Peace: Indigenous Women’s Struggle for Social Justice in Chiapas, Mexico
      (pp. 285-312)

      In counterinsurgency warfare, militarization pervades society, with armed men enacting the roles of police force, judge, executioner, and even social-welfare agent. In this kind of warfare, women are targets of hostility in part because their very presence in the spaces controlled by the military is an assertion of the right to remain there and live. This is itself an act of warfare, punishable by rape or killing. The battlefront merges with community; women and children account for 90 percent of world victims of counterinsurgency and civil wars, partly because militaries abuse women sexually to demoralize them and thereby undermine their...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Reflections on Remembrance: Voices from an Ixcán Village
      (pp. 313-336)

      How does one remember events so traumatic that forgetting them seems an act of redemption? How does one recall the past, when powerful social institutions, individual actors, and the fallibility of memory itself conspire to redefine what took place? The scale of the violence in Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s was truly of horrific, epic proportions, increasingly documented in devastating, indisputable detail. The most comprehensive analysis of this savagery, the report of the Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (Commission for Historical Clarification; CEH),¹ concludes that 200,000 people were killed or disappeared, 93 percent at the hands of state forces...

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 337-340)
  11. Index
    (pp. 341-362)