Uncivil Movements: The Armed Right Wing and Democracy in Latin America
Examining the experience of Latin American countries moving from authoritarianism to liberalization, Leigh Payne focuses on organized right-wing groups that take armed, often violent, action to destabilize emerging democratic governments. Although few social movement scholars include armed right-wing groups in their analyses, Payne points to the capacity of these groups to incorporate social movement discourse and practice in their own mobilization. She demonstrates how these uncivil movements gain power through political threats, cultural cues and legitimating myths, developing their institutional skills to increase their political power in democracies. Payne offers three detailed case studies of uncivil movements in Latin America: the Argentine carapintada, military officers who staged four armed rebellions and later developed a fairly successful political party; the Brazilian UDR (Rural Democratic Union), a landlords' lobby that mobilized to defeat agrarian violent confrontations with rural labour leaders and environmentalists; and the Nicaraguan Contras, who fought for ten years against the leftist Sandinista government. Payne conducted extensive interviews with members of these movements and with members of the civilian government itself, dramatically illustrating her case studies with the words of participants. She concludes with an extensive comparative analysis in order to show that uncivil movements are not unique to Latin America: they are a common feature of the transition and consolidation process of new democratic regimes. By examining three Latin American countries, Payne suggests ways in which new democracies throughout the world can lessen, if not neutralize, the influence of uncivil movements.
by : Leigh A. Payne