Latin America is in many ways the continent of social movements par excellence. From Zapata to the Zapatistas, from Ché Guevara to the Sandinistas, from Allende to Comandante Camila, revolutionary social movements seem synonymous with Latin America. This chapter takes a broad historical view of social movements to place these evocative names in their rightful context. First, we examine the impact of nationalist movements from Peronism onwards conscious of their continued importance given the condition of dependency analyzed above and the recent revival of populism. We then turn to the urban labour movements and their rural counterparts that have had, and continue to have, a huge impact in a number of Latin American countries. Finally we turn to the ‘new’ social movements, with which readers will perhaps be more familiar, such as the women’s movement, the environmental movement, various ‘ethnic’ movements and the human-rights movement that assumed a critical role during the period of the dictatorships.
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