The Hidden Face of Violence in Latin America: Assessing the Criminalization of Protest in Comparative Perspective

The criminalization of social movements and protest remains underanalyzed as a problem intrinsic to democracy. Comparison of two seemingly different Latin American countries with regard to the degree of violence, Chile and Mexico, suggests that, far from being caused by the dysfunction of the legal system or other institutional factors, criminalization is a specific form of retrenching on well-established civil and political rights, rendering them synonymous with criminal behavior that must be sanctioned legally, and tolerates abusive behavior by state agents toward human rights defenders, who are viewed as enemies. As such, it is key to an understanding of the current violence in Latin America. Fieldwork and interviews of human rights defenders in the two countries suggest that criminalization of collective action is a systemic state response to the intense multifaceted mobilization in favor of democracy and new generations of rights that Latin America has been experiencing “from below” during the past decade.


Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 23 juin 2020.