"Helping" Democratic Transitions: Political Learning by Chilean Shantytown Dwellers

Patricia Hipsher

Quinnipiac College
Department of History and Political Science
Hamden, CT 06518
203-281-8792 (office) 203-281-8709 (fax)
E-mail 75327.3565@compuserve.com

Prepared for delivery at the 1995 meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, The Sheraton Washington, September 28-30, 1995.

In Latin America, the decade of the 1980s was characterized by a marked shift from authoritarian rule to democracy. Authoritarian governments were replaced by civilian regimes, first, in Peru and Argentina. Soon thereafter, electoral democracy was restored in Uruguay and Brazil, and in 1989 Chileans elected Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin to the presidency, marking the end of a 17 year-old dictatorship. In most cases, the opening of the dictatorships has been accompanied by wide scale mass protest by shantytown dwellers, students, women and other social sectors; however, once democracy is restored, these movements usually have declined.

The literature spawned by the democratization process in Latin America has tended to conceive of elites as the primary actors in the redemocratization process[1] and of social movement demobilization as the inevitable result of the opening of "normal" channels of political participation and the shift by movement leaders from movement activity to party politics. In the view of the transitions theorists, this process is not only normal, but is good for the new democracies, as it reduces uncertainty and instability.

In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation for the demobilization of social movements in new democracies and discuss the implications of movement demobilization for democracy in Latin America and, perhaps, more generally. Taking a "movementist" approach to the study of democratization, I argue that social movements tend to demobilize not only because activists have alternatives to street protest to express their grievances but because the perceived costs of collective action tend to increase in the late stages of the transition and the early phases of democratic rule, when the democratization process is the most vulnerable. As a consequence of the breakdown of democracy in the midst of mass popular protest in the 1970s and the consequential horrors of dictatorship, Latin American political elites have developed an intense fear of mass mobilization and have altered their strategies to protect the new liberal democracies. One means of protecting the fragile democracies is to create political pacts and settlements whose success requires moderation not only on the part of elites but also the mass public. The success of elites in ensuring the moderation of social movements depends largely on movements' perceptions of the costs of continued mobilization and the strength and density of elite ties with civil society.

Drawing on the experiences of the shantytown dwellers' movement in Chile, I demonstrate that movement demobilization is a complex process resulting from the interaction of elites, fearful of a repeated democratic breakdown and dedicated to the protection of democratic stability, and movement leaders and activists, fearful of the return of military dictatorship and constrained by the ideological presumption that a vulnerable democracy may be threatened by mobilization. I do so by using four case studies of shantytown dwellers' organizations, which document changes in movement strategies and orientations toward the use of insurgent protest during the period of democratic consolidation and offer insights into the complex process of movement strategizing. I have selected two regional shantytown organizations and two base-level organizations to focus the analysis.

The issues raised in this essay are important for understanding not only the factors underlying movement demobilization but the content and quality of democracy that is emerging in Chile today. This is significant, as Chile has become regarded by many policy makers and scholars as the liberal democratic image on which South Africa and nations in Eastern and Central Europe should model themselves.[2] This positive assessment is based partly on the presumption that in a nascent democracy the absence of open conflict, even where important social problems remain unresolved, is preferable to collective action which may "produce a disorderly spiral of movement-countermovement violence."[3] In fact, though, by demobilizing movements and attempting to control popular organizations leaders of these new democracies may be alienating large sectors of society and ultimately be undermining the development of a healthy democratic polity.

I shall proceed in three stages in this paper. In the first stage, I examine the most commonly cited explanations of post-transitional movement demobilization, emanating from the transitions literature. These explanations emphasize the role played by the return of "normal" politics and political parties in movement demobilization. I, then, present an alternative explanation to movement demobilization, which focuses on changes in norms among elites regarding mobilization and the protection of democracy. In stage two, I document the moderating effects of the breakdown of democracy and 17 years of dictatorship on political elites, and demonstrate how the moderation has informed elites' strategies to protect democracy. In the third stage, I provide evidence from a series of case studies of shantytown dwellers' organizations demonstrating how these changes in elite ideas and actions have affected mass orientations toward protest and movement outcomes. The analysis indicates that the most important factors constraining the movement's ability to engage in collective action and encouraging demobilization, which may be generalized to other cases of new democracies, were the generalized belief that mobilization may jeopardize the fragile democracy, as many believe it did in 1973, and the development of elite strategies to discourage such mobilization.

Theoretical Perspectives on Post-Transitional Movement Demobilization

The demobilization of social movements following democratic transitions is a phenomenon that has been noted in numerous countries, including the former Soviet Union, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain, and Chile.[4] Many of these countries experienced wide scale mass protest during the decline of authoritarian and autocratic regimes. Following the restoration of democracy, these groups have tended to demobilize and pursue institutionalized forms of collective action. Fewer people participate in protest events and the number of actions in which the movement participates or sponsors drops off. What is more, the groups tend to become institutionalized, using more moderate forms of collective action which "implicitly convey an acceptance of the established, or `proper,' channels of conflict resolution."[5]

In the literature on democratic transitions, demobilization and institutionalization are generally explained with reference to the opening of channels for legal and peaceful participation following the restoration of democracy. According to O'Donnell and Schmitter, the popular upsurge which generally accompanies the opening of authoritarian regimes is ephemeral and usually passes once political parties return to the fore of political activity and formal democracy has been restored.[6] However, the authors do not specify the particular process by which parties and "normal" politics come to replace movement activity.

Edward Muller and Mitchell Seligson argue that the opening of normal channels of political participation (legislatures, elections, political parties) reduces the incentives for engaging in protest and, in this way, the return of parties leads to movement demobilization.[7] They theorize that in a democratic regime dissident groups will not face significant restrictions on their ability to organize peacefully and their belief in the likelihood of achieving at least some success from institutionalized forms of action will probably be high. What is more, democracies afford a variety of opportunities for groups to participate legally and peacefully in the political process. The costs of peaceful collective action are lower than those of protest; thus, they conclude, we should expect actors to opt for peaceful action over protest.

C.G. Pickvance and Eduardo Canel, in separate works, draw a more direct link between the return of party politics and movement demobilization. In his study of housing movements in the former Soviet Union, Pickvance contends that the return of parties to the political scene during transitions tends to draw people's interest and energies away from movement activity. He writes, "Once parties are permitted, activists have more choice as to what they become involved in and movement involvement suffers."[8] Canel makes a similar argument in his study of urban popular movements in Uruguay. Despite changing political and economic circumstances brought on by the dictatorship, the Blanco and Colorado parties managed to retain their historically prominent positions in Uruguayan political life. Thus, he argues, following the restoration of democracy, "most actors addressed the state and channeled their demands through existing political parties."[9]

The opening of opportunities for conventional political participation may be one reason for changes in the level and forms of collective action following democratic transitions. The revival of political parties does offer citizens a peaceful alternative to street protest practiced during authoritarian and transitional periods. However, I find this argument wanting, as it ignores the evidence presented by social movement theorists that " many of the same people who have a high propensity to vote also have the highest protest potential."[10] In countries with a myriad of social and political problems, it seems unlikely that the return of parties and elections, by itself, would effectively demobilize social movements with unmet demands.

A more powerful explanation of social movement decline during democratic consolidation is suggested by the literature on pact-making and elite settlements. Pacts are negotiated compromises between opposition and authoritarian elites under which actors agree to forgo or underutilize their capacity to harm each other by extending guarantees not to threaten each others' corporate autonomies or vital interests. Terry Karl explains the importance of political pacts in democratization processes: "They provide a degree of stability and predictability which is reassuring to threatened traditional elites. The rules they establish limit the degree of uncertainty facing all political and economic actors in a moment of transition and therefore are an essential element of successful democratization."[11] Political pacts provide a certain degree of institutional, structural and personnel continuity, thus reducing uncertainty, in exchange for regime change.

An important element of elite settlements and pact-making is prohibition on mobilizing one's supporters, whether they be the military or social movements. For opposition actors, Richard Gunther and John Higley write, this usually involves demobilizing mass organizations and social movements so as to discourage the outbreak of polarizing incidents and mass violence.[12] Karl maintains that "pacts can exemplify the conscious creation of a deliberate economic and political contract that demobilized new social forces while circumscribing the extent to which all actors can participate or wield power in the future."[13]

The experience of dictatorship, in many instances, has not only made elites more moderate and prudent, but it has also made mass organizations, movements and their members more likely to withhold demands and to pursue strategies that will not threaten the democratic stability or the interests of authoritarian elites. Robert Kaufman argues that "the trauma of bureaucratic authoritarian repression appears to have lowered the expectations of at least some of the excluded `popular sectors' and their political leaders, making them more amenable to self-limiting compromises over economic issues."[14]

Two examples of conscious demobilization by social movements are found in Uruguay and Peru. Charles Gillespie shows that although the government failed to negotiate a social pact with labor in Uruguay, the Left and labor union leaders were nonetheless "committed to restraining labor's demands."[15] In Peru, Julio Cotler writes, mobilization by the popular movement following the adoption of an IMF stabilization agreement was frustrated when political parties argued that "`public agitation' was a threat to redemocratization and might provide the pretext for a coup."[16]

Social movements' willingness to demobilize and adopt institutionalized forms of collective action is largely a product of the perceived costs of continued mobilization. These perceived costs may be raised or lowered by signals given out by political elites to aggrieved groups. In Chile, the costs of protest were raised as a consequence of changes in the configuration of political party power at the national level and the emergence of a vulnerable democracy which, according to elites, required protection from destabilizing forces. The key to translating perceptions of vulnerability into movement strategies is the close relationship between political parties and social movements. O'Donnell hypothesizes that pact-making and the demobilization of mass organizations is facilitated by a "strong and representative party system, especially in relation to the popular sector."[17] This argument is supported by evidence from the Spanish and Italian transitions, where the role of class-based, ideologically articulate parties were crucial in obtaining the acquiescence of the popular sector to social pacts.[18]

Summary of the Argument

During the period of democratic consolidation in the early 1990s, the Chilean popular housing movement demobilized and moderated its goals and strategies. The most important factors contributing to this process were the fear of a "return to 1973" and a repeated democratic breakdown induced by political polarization and excessive mobilization, changes in the configuration of power, and close party-movement relations.

Fear of Return to 1973: The first factor which encouraged the housing movement to moderate its aims and forms of collective action and to demobilize during the late-1980s and early-1990s was the fear among political elites and movement activists of repeated democratic breakdown. Alan Angell and Benny Pollack write that there is now a consensus about many issues in Chile and a "powerful urge towards reconciliation and the creation of a stable political order, and above all a desire to avoid a repetition of the events that led to the 1973 coup."[19]

Right-wing and centrist interpretations of the Chilean breakdown of democracy tend to emphasize the role of political mobilization by shantytown dwellers, labor and other popular sectors. As such, popular movements have been targeted by the new democratic government for demobilization. Political parties, which had once supported or at least tolerated insurgent activities by the housing movement and had defined democracy in terms of popular influence and fundamental political and economic rights and reforms have abandoned these strategies and goals to protect a limited democracy. In an attempt to preserve democratic stability, the government has responded to mobilization by the homeless with force and has characterized protestors as anti-democratic and as endangering democratic stability. The view that confrontational politics is inimical to democracy has been widely accepted by homeless organizations which are led by political party activists of the centrist Concertación por la Democracia[20] and has been grudgingly accepted, not as truth, but as a widely-held belief that informs their strategies by homeless organizations organized by party leaders of the Left so as to avoid being labeled "extremists" and marginalized.

Changes in Configuration of Power: The second development that encouraged movement decline was a change in the configuration of power among political parties, which ended leftist hegemony in the shantytowns and reduced the status of the Left nationwide. The Left, in particular the Communist Party, was slow to adjust to changes in the national political environment during the transition, as it sponsored assassination attempts against General Pinochet in 1986, failed to support the 1988 plebiscite until a few weeks before the elections, and continued to press for mass popular rebellion until 1990. As a consequence, the Left lost support and legitimacy. The change in strategy by the Center and Center-left to support a negotiated transition and the decline in support among shantytown dwellers for the Left made sustained collective action increasingly difficult, opened the door for greater centrist and right-wing influence in the shantytown sector and ultimately led to the moderation of movement goals and strategies.

Party-Movement Ties: Two important features of the Chilean political structure are a well-established system of strong, ideologically distinct parties and an interlocking pattern of relations between parties and social organizations.[21] Although few members of housing organizations are actively involved in political parties, the leaders of the organizations usually are. At the national and neighborhood levels, movement leaders are often militants or leaders of a political party. One consequence of this "double militancy" is that social movements' strategies, tactics and goals are often heavily influenced, if not dictated, by the position of the party with which they have ties.

If the decline of Chile's urban housing movement seems over determined, it is because it was caused by multiple factors. Changes in political configurations, the party structure and a fear of repeated democratic breakdown and dictatorship all contributed to the demobilization of the movement. There were efforts by various leftist organizations to mobilize, but, in so doing, they were careful to follow the rule of law and to prevent the appearance of being radicals. To do otherwise would have risked repression, might have caused delays in the processing of their subsidy applications, and, in the view of many, would have jeopardized the nascent democracy.

Democratization and Demobilization from Above

The attitudes and actions of Chile's political elite have undergone a process of transformation as a consequence of the breakdown of democracy in 1973. Chile's political past has forced actors to alter their behavior so as not to repeat past mistakes. Elites have come to place a higher value on stability and moderation and have developed strategies to defend against the possibility of future democratic breakdowns.

The new and more moderate political attitudes of the 1990s can be explained by the suffering and learning of the late-1970s and 1980s. Writing about the Concertación's piece-meal approach to political reform, Brian Loveman stated that "the political realism acquired in jails, torture chambers, exile, or clandestine activities after 1973 counseled cautious gradualism"[22] and concluded that "for government officials, prudence became the watchword, an operative mode created by the memory of 16 years of military rule and the pervasive fear of repression inspired by reference to `a return to 1973.'"[23]

The moderation of elite attitudes and actions is evident in the way that they approach a variety of political problems, including the housing shortage. Center and Center-left political parties which used to tolerate and, in some cases, foment protest and mass mobilization by shantytown dwellers have come to scorn such demonstrations and have developed strategies to frustrate them. The action that has been singled out by the government as one of the most unacceptable and potentially dangerous is the "toma," the illegal seizure and occupation of land by the urban poor.

The rejection of housing protest represents a change in orientation by the major parties that constitute the government coalition, the Christian Democratic and the Socialist Parties. During the presidency of Eduardo Frei, 1964-1970, and during the dictatorship, the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) tolerated and even supported land seizures by shantytown dwellers on numerous occasions and participated actively in the shantytown dwellers' resistance to the dictatorship.[24] The Socialist Party (PS) also took an active role in supporting land seizures during the Frei and Allende governments.[25] The parties of the Concertación may have had few, if any, misgivings about supporting land seizures and mobilizations by shantytown dwellers previously; however, once democracy was restored and they were in office, charged with the task of consolidating the fragile democracy, they took on an attitude decidedly opposed to mobilization. This attitude is expressed officially in government and party statements concerning land seizures by shantytown dwellers and the parties' lines on the issues of housing and homelessness.

Even before the Concertación took office in 1990, it assumed a political posture that was hostile towards shantytown mobilization, publicly proclaiming its opposition to all acts of mobilization that might threaten the fragile transition or violate the law that bound the government. In an interview with an El Mercurio journalist, Enrique Krauss, the appointed Minister of Interior, hinted that the future government would take a hard line on the issue of land seizures. During the interview, the journalist presented the following scenario:

Q- Let's suppose you are already Minister of Interior, and secondary students take to the streets to protest something. [There are] broken windows, rocks thrown at buses. What would you do?

A- Well, besides praying at night that this wouldn't happen, I would fulfill my duty to maintain public order. We believe that democracy is not expressed by broken windows or illegal demonstrations. Naturally, we would take whatever measures necessary to restore order.

Q- In the event of a "toma," what would your position be, to repress even at the expense of a tragedy?

A- We hope to open all channels of participation, and it would seem to us unjustified that such illegitimate actions would even take place...but maintaining public order is a responsibility that we will faithfully uphold. At times, one must be willing to pay the price for public order. We will try to act as least onerously as possibly; however, if people assume unjustified attitudes, we must act, and we will do so without hesitation.[26]

Beginning on February 12, 1990, following the elections and before the inauguration, homeless families across the nation launched a series of land seizures. Enrique Krauss publicly condemned the seizures as not being "the appropriate way to resolve housing problems" and warned that under the new government such land seizures would not be tolerated.[27] Alberto Etchegarray, future Minister of Housing, also condemned the occupations, claiming that "they endangered the whole government project and the stability of the future government."[28] Etchegarray characterized the "tomas" as "concerted actions designed to destabilize the future government" and warned, "We must all take care of the new democracy. The country deserves to be treated with a greater degree of respect."[29] The events, which in earlier times would have received the encouragement and moral support of at least some of the leading political parties, were rejected by all, except the Communist Party, which simply denied any involvement or responsibility.

In the months that followed the inauguration of the new democratic regime, there were a few "toma" attempts by groups of shantytown dwellers. One of the most publicized took place on August 5-6, 1990. On Friday, August 5, 123 families seized a parcel of land in El Bosque, a poor sector in the south of Santiago. The next morning, police forces were ordered to the scene of the occupation. They surrounded the area and warned the occupants that they would be forcibly evicted if they did not abandon at once. After long discussions, the occupants decided to defy the order and remain on the land. At about 6:00 p.m. the police intervened, supported by special forces with helicopters, tanks, water cannons and tear gas.[30]

From the intendent of Santiago to members of Congress to cabinet ministers, the reaction to the occupation was the same -- categorical rejection and condemnation. In his statements to the press, Intendent of Santiago Luís Pareto was clear and emphatic: "Let all those who have intentions of seizing lands be warned: An eviction is painful; however it is fundamental to preserving the democratic regime that the legal norms be respected. Occupations lead to nothing but anarchy, disorder and delays for those who carry them out."[31] Similarly, Christian Democratic Deputies Ramón Elizalde and Sergio Velasco criticized the occupations for being inappropriate and illicit forms of pressure that "endanger democratic stability."[32] Deputy Hernan Rojo of the Christian Democratic Party went so far as to characterize those who participated in the seizure as "anti-democratic." He said, "This type of demonstration violates all rules and is the best response for those who do not want to live in democracy."[33] The assessment of the situation by political elites demonstrated a genuine concern about the fragility of democracy, public order and the rule of law.

What has motivated the anti-mobilization attitude and policies of the Concertación are fears of 1)the kind of mass-led chaos and anarchy that many Chileans associate with the Popular Unity (UP) government of Salvador Allende and the collapse of democracy, and 2) being perceived as weak on law and order. The fear is that such conditions or perceptions could benefit the forces of the Right politically, or in a worst case scenario, lead to the "return of 1973" and repeated military intervention.

The main lesson that Chilean elites brought to the democratic transition and the new democratic government was that public disorder and mass mobilization must be avoided for democracy to succeed. Philip Oxhorn writes that the "tumultuous experience of the 1960s and early-1970s has generated a certain fear of popular sector autonomy in Chile's political elite -- a fear than can only be exacerbated by the ever-present danger of a future military intervention under the current democratic regime."[34]

Media sources and political party leaders of the Right and Center frequently assert that excessive mobilization by the masses, particularly shantytown dwellers, was one of the main factors leading to the breakdown of democracy. The political parties of the Concertación have internalized this mode of analysis to one degree or another. Leaders of some political parties, including the right-wing National Renovation Party and the UDI and the centrist Christian Democrats, proclaim it outright, while other parties, such as the Socialists, seem to accept it, not so much as fact, but as a widely held belief that informs their political calculations. The position of the Christian Democratic Party is perhaps best expressed by Raúl Puelle, the director of the PDC Shantytown Department:

What we are trying to do is create organized channels within the institutional and political framework so that the people can participate but in a controlled manner....If such mechanisms did not exist, the people would explode. We know this because in the government of Allende the poor people were completely out of control and they brought us to dictatorship.[35]

The Secretary of the Socialist Party's Shantytown Department offered a more strategic explanation for the PS position against mobilization:

We are very careful about how we deal with the problem of the homeless because we are still in a period of transition. We have to take care of the democracy. We don't want problems during this period. It would be easy to occupy the parcel of land near the airport and encourage a big land seizure to solve the housing problem, but that would be rather irresponsible on our part. We don't want to provoke the police or our opponents.[36]

The experiences of the Popular Unity period have not only instilled in elites a fear of mass mobilization and non-institutionalized forms of collective action, but it has also caused elites to revaluate procedural democracy and the rule of law in a more fundamental way. Chile has frequently been characterized as a highly legalistic society in which rulers traditionally have worked through the legal processes to bring about change and used the law to justify their actions. However, the UP practice of pushing the constitutional limits of power and the dictatorship's open violation of the state of law have caused elites to revaluate the rule of law and procedural democracy, defined as a process which allows for the contestation of power. The revaluation of democracy and the rule of law has resulted in the categorical rejection of those practices and acts that violate the law, even if they be those established by the dictatorship. To allow illegal acts to go unpunished, whether they be committed by supporters or opponents of the government, would open the door to accusations by the Right that the new government was falling into the same questionable practices as the UP, using the law selectively to advance itself politically and disregarding it when it was convenient.

The attitudes and actions of political elites in the Concertación regarding shantytown protest reflect the transformation experienced by elites since 1973. The extreme levels of mobilization by shantytown dwellers during the Popular Unity government have instilled fear in the hearts of elites that, if not controlled, shantytown dwellers could once again mobilize, bringing the country to the brink of anarchy. The suffering experienced by the opposition during the dictatorship and its fears that the Right could retake power or block reform have transformed elites from former supporters of mobilization into forces of caution and moderation. How these changes in elite ideas and behaviors affected social movement outcomes is the subject of the next section.

Demobilization at the Grassroots

The organizations of the homeless have responded to changes in elite actions and attitudes by altering their orientations toward protest. Following the restoration of democracy land occupations and other forms of protest came to be viewed as "too risky" by leftist movement leaders because of the lack of external support, and as "anti-democratic" by more moderate groups because of their potential destabilizing effects. That the movement organizations, even at the base level, tended to be led by political party leaders or sympathizers facilitated the translation of changes at the elite level to base-level activities.

To demonstrate the demobilization process and the way in which anti-mobilization attitudes were reproduced within the movement, I focus on two regional shantytown dwellers' organizations and two base-level organizations. The two regional organizations are the Metropolitan Shantytown Dwellers' Coordinator (Metro) and the Solidarity Shantytown Dwellers' Movement (Solidarity). Metro is a national organization of shantytown dwellers, based in Santiago. Founded in 1979, Metro was a key actor in the struggle against the dictatorship and the illegal land seizures that took place in the early-1980s. Highly influential and influenced by the political Left, its leadership is composed of prominent Communist militants and leaders. Created in November 1983 as a breakaway group from Metro, Solidarity is a national coordinating organization characterized by its close ties with the conservative wing of the Christian Democratic Party.

The base-level case studies come from two neighborhood-based housing organizations in the shantytowns José María Caro and La Pincoya. The committees are distinct in terms of their political affiliations; La Pincoya is associated with the Christian Democratic Party and J.M. Caro has close ties with the Socialist Party. Nevertheless, one finds a surprising degree of homogeneity in terms of strategies, tactics and forms of collective action after 1990. The goals of the organizations are reformist, at best, and the tactics used in pursuit of these goals are rarely combative.

The major difference between the four groups is what is motivating them to moderate their aims and strategies. The leaders of the leftist-oriented committees, Metro and J.M. Caro, are sympathetic to the Left and ideologically disposed towards protest and land seizures, but say that they are willing to wait a while longer. These organizations were formed during the dictatorship and their members joined when the movement used confrontational tactics and strategies. Their taming in the late-1980s can be explained by the changes in party strategies regarding the democratic transition and the lack of support that they find among political elites for protest strategies.

Solidarity and La Pincoya, both associated with the Christian Democratic Party, have leaders and memberships which are ideologically moderate or conservative and tend not to be disposed to protest. These two organizations have moderated their strategies less out of political expediency than out of genuine belief in the dangers of mass mobilization and commitment to the protection of the pacted democracy. This belief comes primarily from the groups' leaders who are long-time Christian Democratic militants.

The cases illustrate that the party affiliations of movement leaders play an important role in determining the forms of collective action and the motives behind the choice of particular strategies. This is because popular organizations in Chile, in spite of their pluralist rhetoric, are not so much representative structures as they are structures of mobilization, which are created by political parties and used by party leaders to create a shantytown movement.[37] The organizations can be seen as political "referents," representing particular political parties or tendencies within political parties. Even the leaders define their organizations as "political-ideological referents of the shantytown dwellers' struggle."[38]

Metro: The Metropolitan Shantytown Dwellers' Organization was founded in March 1979 by Communist Party leaders and laity from the Catholic Church.[39] It was originally designed to coordinate local level housing committees that were created under the auspices of the Church. These housing committees were composed of households threatened with eviction or having their electricity and water cut off because they were unable to make their payments. The organization initially worked on behalf of these debtors and to press the government for more low-income housing. The government denied solutions to the residents' demands for housing and relief from the mortgage and utility debts.

During the 1981 National Congress of Shantytown Dwellers, Metro began to change its internal composition. Centrist actors, including members of the Christian Democratic Party, were pushed out and replaced by Communist Party leaders Claudina Nuñez and Oscar Peña. The resulting organization was more radical and used more confrontational tactics than its predecessor and was key to the revival of the shantytowns' tradition of political rebellion in the 1980s.

This rebellious tradition was most evident in September 1983 when Metro sponsored the largest illegal land seizure in the country's history. The seizure, which was carried out initially by 3000 families, grew to include 8000 families by the week's end and resulted in the creation of two new shantytowns, Juan Francisco Fresno and Raúl Silva Henriquez. During the rest of 1983 and 1984 Metro sponsored at least seven more land seizures, three massive gatherings and marches and a two-month-long Campaign Against Hunger and Misery.[40]

The demonstrations and occupations ground to a temporary halt in November 1984 when Pinochet declared a state of siege, which continued until August 1985. Once the state of siege was lifted, Metro resumed the protests and continued organizing land seizures. In the last four months of 1985, El Mercurio reported four "tomas," all organized by Metro.

During the period 1987-1989, after the moderate opposition agreed to participate in a limited transition, Metro did not abandon mobilization as a strategy to solve housing problems. However, as the 1989 elections neared, it softened its message, and the occupations it did organize were not designed to be permanent ones but, rather, to alert the government and the public of the housing shortage suffered by the urban poor. This change in strategy corresponds with the Communist Party's efforts to distance itself from the violent Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) and its decision to participate in the 1989 elections and can be seen as a demonstration of its intent to work within the democratic process.

Metro leaders Nuñez and Peña made it clear that under the future democratic regime they would encourage their member organizations to make use of various channels, giving priority to legal and institutionalized forms of collective action. When asked in June 1989 about the possibility of "tomas" under the future democratic government, Oscar Peña, Vice President of Metro, stated that "if there is not an emergency plan to solve the housing deficit, those affected will place great pressure on the government." However, he qualified this statement: "This pressure will be different [from that under the dictatorship]; we will go through many channels."[41] Previously, Metro organized land occupations for the purpose of staying on the land and was prepared to defend the settlements against police attacks. However, by 1989, Metro resigned itself to leading peaceful, "symbolic" occupations which did not call for confrontation between the occupants.

In one instance, though, the "symbolic" act turned violent. The occupation, which took place on July 17, 1989, was organized by Metro and involved twelve different neighborhood-based organizations in southern Santiago. At about 8:30 a.m. a group of some 500 men, women, and children, wrapped in blankets and carrying Chilean flags, entered a construction site in the shantytown Salvador Dalí, where some 1000 dwellings were being constructed for one of the low-income housing subsidy programs. Another 500 tried to enter the site from a rear entrance but were impeded by police, who had been alerted of the "toma" by construction workers. The police erupted through the wooden gates that protected the site, shooting canisters of tear gas, while neighborhood residents raised barricades and set bonfires in the adjacent streets, using wood from the construction site. When the police entered the site, the people fled, many of them seeking refuge in the dwellings under construction. In the midst of the confusion, six shots were fired by police against the protestors. One woman, Laura Rosa Mendez, who was eight months pregnant, was shot and killed. Police helicopters flew overhead, while 150-200 men were arrested. When police dogs were brought in at about noon, the situation began to calm down.

Following the occupation, Metro President Nuñez declared to the press that this was "not a `toma,' but rather a symbolic act to call the attention of the authorities and the leaders of the opposition to the needs of the shantytown dwellers."[42] She explained that Metro felt that this was one of the last opportunities that its members might have to get housing from the military government, since the organization was trying to improve its image and lend credibility to the Communist Party for the upcoming elections. Nuñez continued, "We don't worry about having good credit with the Right. We are a movement of the poor and the dispossessed. But that doesn't mean that we are stupid. We must act in a way that is consistent with the needs of shantytown dwellers and the new democracy."[43] In short, Metro's decisions were constrained by a political environment which was hostile to protest and by its own commitment to helping the Communist Party shed its extremist image and avoid becoming alienated.

Following the 1989 presidential and parliamentary elections that initiated the return to democracy, Metro reconsidered its strategies and underwent profound changes. Metro, like all leftist movements, found itself in the difficult position of representing and advancing the demands of the poor without wishing to seem irresponsible or risk endangering the democratic transition. This was particularly difficult for Metro, a Communist-dominated organization, as no Communist candidates were elected to Congress in 1989. Ultimately, Metro positioned itself as a "loyal opposition" that learned to engage in limited collective action without pitting itself against the national government or engaging in the sorts of confrontations that characterized the mobilizations under Allende or the anti-Pinochet protests.

At the outset of the Aylwin government, Metro declared its support for the authorities and proclaimed its willingness to work with the government to find solutions for the problems of the urban poor. In the opening address to the First National Congress of the Metropolitan Shantytown Dwellers, Nuñez pleaded with the leaders of its member organizations to "develop the most varied forms of mobilization and strengthen your organizations to defend the democratic government and, in this way, lend stability to the transitional process."[44] Metro leaders have encouraged the development of such strategies in its member organizations by meeting with them on a bi-weekly basis at its headquarters. The purpose of the meetings is to help groups apply for the government housing subsidies by providing information about the programs and answering questions they may have.

Metro continued to organize shantytown dwellers after the restoration of democracy, leading marches and presenting proposals to the government. However, these acts were rare, occurring only four times during the first year of the Aylwin administration and twice during the second year, and they did not include land occupations or other unconventional forms of protest. In March 1990, Nuñez announced that the organization had "discarded using `tomas' as a form of pressure for now" and that the organization wished to engage in direct dialogue with authorities. Nevertheless, she pointed out, "We must also mobilize on behalf of our problems, understanding that we're going to have limitations and that we will probably have to oppose certain mayors."[45] The organization used accusations against the designated mayors[46] to justify acts of protest on various occasions during the Aylwin years. By targeting the "undemocratic," designated mayors and not the "democratic," elected central government, the organization did not suffer a backlash from the central government

In spite of their leftist leanings, Metro leaders have abstained from playing the role of provocateur and spend most of their time with base level organizations working within the subsidy programs for low-income housing. When questioned about the evolution of Metro strategies since the restoration of democracy, Peña stated,

Before, the problem of housing was much more confrontational. There were many forms of pressure placed on the government, sometimes ending in "tomas." It was a confrontational struggle. With Aylwin, the work is initiated in terms of enrolling people in the subsidy programs....We have changed....Today we spend a lot of time making proposals....and we spend a lot of time on things related to the subsidy programs, how to enroll, all that.[47]

Peña described the experience of adjusting to the new political situation as "enriching, yet difficult" and acknowledged that the organization had become more moderate: "Under the transitional government of Patricio Aylwin we have had to make proposals and have had to learn to wait. Without doubt, under the dictatorship Metro was much more radical."[48]

These changes have been motivated by a commitment to playing by the new rules of the game, a fear of what a return to dictatorship might mean for the urban poor, and the weakness of the forces of change. In response to questions regarding the group's position on illegal land occupations, Nuñez pointed to the delicacy of the transition as the reason for not engaging in occupations: "In the current transitional process, we don't think that land occupations are a favorable instrument."[49] In a later interview, Nuñez noted that still present "in our memories are the human rights violations that were committed against hundreds of leaders and homeless shantytown dwellers for the sole crime of struggling for decent housing."[50]

Peña's response to a question about the difficulties of leading a leftist movement operating under a limited democracy indicates a more strategic adjustment to the new political conditions:

The fundamental problem of the shantytown dwellers' movement at this conjuncture is that it is very difficult to walk the line between supporting democracy and fighting for the rights that have not yet been given to us. The regime has changed and we have to support the democratic process, even if it is not exactly how we'd hoped it would be. The new democracy must be valued. We know that ....Therefore, the movement has had to adjust to this new situation and adjust its tactics....It is a learning process.[51]

The evidence points to the fact that one of the main lessons that Metro has learned in the process is that for now, at least, it can't rock the boat by engaging in contentious collective action.

Solidarity: Solidarity was born out of a series of meetings held in churches in Santiago in August, September and October of 1983.[52] At these meetings, shantytown dwellers'discussed their goals and objectives and determined that a new shantytown dwellers' organization should be created to represent the Center of the political spectrum. In November 1983, the Neighborhood and Community Action organization (AVEC), sponsored by the Church's Vicaría de Solidaridad, called a meeting of social and political leaders with the presence of Cardinal Juan Francisco Fresno to form the Shantytown Dwellers' Movement Solidarity.

Affiliated with the Christian Democratic Party, Solidarity, from the beginning, adopted a strategy of non-violent activism and devoted much time and energy to educating shantytown dwellers to become more capable leaders. Nonetheless, during the dictatorship it actively supported and demonstrated solidarity with those who engaged in land seizures and other acts of protest -- violent and non-violent. Leaders of Solidarity, including its President, Hugo Flores, participated in the 1983 land seizures which resulted in the creation of the two encampments Silva Henriquez and Francisco Fresno. They assisted the settlers, working side by side with Communists from Metro and leftist extremists from other organizations.[53]

Solidarity's self-stated objectives and strategies offer further evidence of its willingness to engage in mobilization and social protest in the mid-1980s. The organization's report to the International Encounter, an event sponsored by the Academy of Christian Humanism in 1986, stated that "the need for our organization to place itself at the vanguard of the shantytown dwellers' movement is obvious. This means that we must establish contacts with the Church as well as social and political groups and the press and to seek out new forms of agitation and protest...."[54] In the same report, the organization proudly described its participation in the protests and expressed its belief that mobilization was "the most efficient tool to achieve our goals."[55]

During the 1983-87 cycle of protest, relations between Solidarity and organizations of the Left, including Metro, became somewhat strained, as the groups did not agree on the objectives of protest. Solidarity was more conservative than the other organizations and oriented itself more to educating shantytown dwellers than to whipping them up to undertake an illegal land seizure or take to the streets to protest the housing shortage, Metro's main mode of operation. Nevertheless, Solidarity did engage in its fair share of protests. It led demonstrations to the municipal buildings to demand housing for the poor, denounced the government's social policies, and called on shantytown dwellers to protest the social and economic injustices they suffered.

Beginning in 1988, during the Campaign for the "No" vote in the plebiscite, Solidarity's work entered a new phase of increased political moderation and respect for working exclusively within the system. Following the lead of the Christian Democratic Party, in which the movement's leaders were militants, Solidarity abandoned the use of confrontational forms of collective action and began to work within the confines of the existing political institutions. Solidarity's efforts to solve the concrete problems of the poor became slack, as the organization concentrated on recovering democracy.

When the Campaign for Free Elections and the movement for electoral registration were initiated in 1987, Solidarity actively participated in the electoral registration campaign and backed the notion of a negotiated transition. The organization assigned priority to the campaign, printing and distributing flyers and other forms of propaganda in the shantytowns and giving talks to base-level organizations to create an awareness among the residents about the importance of the elections.

Once the new government was elected, Solidarity developed a close working relationship with the government, completely ceased to work with demand-oriented committees, and categorically rejected all occupations and denounced those who incited them as "anti-democratic." The organization began to focus much more on civic education to "create citizens of democracy" and to organize workshops and seminars on issues of interest to shantytown dwellers. Most of Solidarity's work with the base-level housing committees was oriented towards getting them to participate in the government-sponsored subsidy programs and to organize fundraisers so that they might acquire subsidies more quickly. Flores indicated that going through the government programs was the way things were done in a democracy: "We know that the government has the best intentions, and this is a long-term problem. We know that it is not possible to solve the housing shortage overnight; so we have to ask the people to be patient and wait for the sake of democracy."[56]

Solidarity's insistence that its member organizations work within the subsidy program has been motivated by leadership fears of mass mobilization that could destabilize the democratization process. At the beginning of 1990, when the organization was determining its objectives, it defined its new role in terms of opposing potential protest mobilization by the Left:

Solidarity knows and has experienced the problem of the housing deficit. This experience and knowledge has been one of our motives for organizing, assisting, orienting and educating members of the housing committees and their leaders. The other motive is to keep Metro, the Communist shantytown organization, from trying to lead the homeless down a path of pressure and violence, which could ultimately be expressed in land seizures that provoke confrontations, the consequences of which we know all too well.[57]

The consequences to which Flores referred were the breakdown of democracy in 1973 and the emergence of military rule.

When asked about the adjustments that the organization had undergone since the restoration of democracy and about its stance on occupations, Flores cited a commitment to democratic stability as the primary reason for having abandoned a strategy of mass mobilization:

We have had to adjust to the new political climate. We are not in favor of occupations. The protest are over now, and we will not use land seizures anymore. Within our organization there has been a lot of debate over the use of "tomas" and we have decided that historically this is not the moment. We must support democracy.[58]

This statement reveals much about centrist-led social movements during the post-transitional period. It reveals that the organizations have tended to oppose the use of contentious collective action, and it also demonstrates that organizational leaders have consciously reoriented their strategies in response to changes in their party's orientations.

Hope for the Future Committee, José María Caro: Hope for the Future Committee has operated in the shantytown José María Caro since the mid-1980s. J.M. Caro, named after the late-Cardinal of Santiago, is a large, sprawling shantytown divided into six sectors. Following a land seizure in 1960, the land was transferred to shantytown dwellers with no lighting, plumbing, sewage system or other urban accouterments. Little by little, the lands became urbanized, and by 1965 houses were constructed under President Eduardo Frei's emergency housing program, Operación Sitio.

Sector D, the area in which the committee operates, is not characterized by the high levels of extreme poverty found in other shantytowns nearby (Santa Adriana and Lo Hermida, for instance). Sector D, alone, has a population of 15,032 residents, 13 percent of whom live in extreme poverty. This is lower than the municipal average of 16.34 percent.[59]

Hope for the Future became a legally recognized organization in March 1990, but it has existed de facto since 1985. "When the committee began," Committee President José Ñancucheo explained, "we were still under the dictatorship. There was a lot of repression in this sector until a year ago. As a matter-of-fact, the neighborhood council was controlled by the military government; the president was the wife of a police officer and if she knew of a person who was working in a social or political organization all she had to do was tell her husband and he would give the order to have the person detained."[60] Therefore, the committee had to operate semi-clandestinely and meet in private homes.

The committee began with five people from the neighborhood's Socialist Party nucleus, with Ñancucheo as its leader. Ñancucheo is a base-level leader of the Socialist Party and has had much experience organizing and participating in political and social organizations. He participated in the 1983 "tomas" of Silva Henriquez and Francisco Fresno, worked in previous housing organizations, and, as a Mapuche Indian, participated in Ad-MAPU.[61]

He sees his role as social leader as being separate from his role as political leader, yet he has made no effort to hide his political colors from organization members. According to Ñancucheo, the relationship between the Party and the committee is a difficult one "because the people know that the president of the committee is a Socialist and is a leader of the Socialist Party. He has his trajectory, was taken prisoner during the dictatorship, he was internally exiled for three months. They know that I am political, but I have another role."[62] Ñancucheo makes the distinction between his work as party leader and committee leader, but, nevertheless, he has oriented the committee according to the Socialist line.

Since the committee was created by members of the PS nucleus, its orientation towards collective action has tended to mirror that of the Party. During the period 1983-1987 this meant a strategy of confrontation. The police and dictatorial presence inhibited the group from operating openly on a day-to-day basis, but on the days of national protest the committee members participated in the neighborhood protests and demonstrations as homeless people and (many of them) as Socialists. Much of the protest activity in J.M. Caro, led by young people, was violent and involved rock-throwing, barricade-raising, looting and even a train robbery.[63] Homeless people, who later joined Hope for the Future, participated in the 1983 land occupations. Within the committee, a human rights commission was created to raise members' consciousness of the political situation and to help neighbors whose rights had been violated. Ñancucheo describes the committees activities during the 1980s: "Under the dictatorship, the housing committees and the shantytown dwellers' movement, in general, in Caro worked on the basis of demands. There were many efforts to pressure the government, including the two big "tomas" in which many people from Caro, Lo Sierra and Lo Valledor Sur Participated."[64]

Following the return of democracy, the committee changed a great deal in terms of strategies and goals. A participant in the housing committee who had been active in the secondary school movement during the 1980s asserted that "with the democratic transition the way in which the housing committee works has changed. We are in another situation. It is very different."[65] Ñancucheo and his wife, Liza, echoed the member's assessment of the committee: "You can't believe the change. The change of government has been so strong and has affected so much how the committee functions."[66]

The specific changes undergone by Hope for the Future have paralleled changes in the Socialist Party. The committee, as noted earlier, was created by members of the Socialist Party and has been led by Ñancucheo. Once the PS joined the Concertación, Ñancucheo said, the committee had to begin to consider the consequences of its actions for the transition. He now believes that housing committees and other social organizations must become an integral part of the democratic order in order for democracy to succeed. For Ñancucheo, being part of the democratic order means demobilizing and working with the government: "The government wants to encourage participation among the people. We are motivating the people to save and are pressuring the government in a constructive manner because we are part of the Concertación, part of the government."[67]

The activities of the committee reflect a Socialist, pro-government bias. In the area of housing, the committee has limited itself to working through the government programs and figuring out ways to make these programs benefit them as much as possible. Liza Ñancucheo remarked that it had been difficult to adjust to the change in how politics is done: "It is difficult because we are accustomed to fighting and confronting authorities. Now we have to become specialized to be able to make proposals. You can't continue doing the same things as before."[68]

The only "pressure" that the committee has exerted on the government has been an occasional meeting with the mayor to ask that he speed up the processing of subsidy paperwork. When asked about the committee's attitude toward participating in "tomas," Ñancucheo said that the members of the committee had discussed this and decided not to participate in occupations. When I asked "Why?" he answered with a rhetorical question: "Why provoke a land seizure if you know that it is going to hurt you politically, and if it could endanger what you've worked so hard to get -- democracy?"[69]

In the style of today's renovated Socialists who are interested in developing alternative activities to benefit the whole person and projects that do not require much government spending, the committee has developed several alternative activities to complement its work in the area of housing. The committee has established a cultural center which offers courses on human rights and has considered bringing in a social worker or psychologist to work with people on their personal and family problems. Ñancucheo explained that "the purpose of the committee is to improve life in every sense by discussing, learning and informing each other. We are here to create community, create life -- a new life, a distinct life."[70]

Hope for the Future is a strong, participatory committee with an ideology that values and strives to create solidarity. As a Socialist-dominated organization, however, it has refrained from engaging in extra-parliamentary struggles for housing. It has identified with the Concertación and the government, which, during the period in question, were far more concerned with political stability than popular participation.

In contrast to the J.M. Caro case study, the next case involves an organization dominated by a centrist political party, the Christian Democratic party. It illustrates at the neighborhood-level the trend towards greater ideological conservatism which has been documented at the national level in the case of Solidarity.

Eduardo Frei Montalva Housing Committee, La Pincoya: Near the entrance of La Pincoya is a sector created by Eduardo Frei's Operación Sitio program in the late-1960s. La Pincoya is located in Huechuraba, a newly-created municipality at the foot of the hills that flank Santiago to the north.

The Eduardo Frei Committee was founded in 1989 by Manuel Morales and Don Juan, experienced Christian Democratic leaders from the neighborhood. Morales took the initiative in organizing a committee for the homeless in his neighborhood because he saw that there was a need and felt that, having worked with three such organizations previously, he could create a good committee. "Here in Huechuraba," Morales explained, "there are about 6000 homeless people. I have seen families who share a room with up to 22, 24 people. I have had a lot of experience with housing committees and wanted to help them."[71] Juan said, "As there are so many homeless people in the area and we were well-organized, the people began to arrive and just kept coming, with the expectation that they would get a house as soon as possible."[72]

Morales placed a large blackboard in front of his house announcing that he was creating a housing committee for the residents in the area. As his house is located on the corner of a well-traveled street, dozens of people saw the notice as they passed. Soon, news of the committee spread by word of mouth from one person to another, until some 150 families became members of the committee.

As the neighborhood was created by the Frei government's land grant program and the dominant party in the neighborhood is the Christian Democratic Party, the committee has a paternalistic, leader-dominated, moderate PDC orientation. The most obvious indicator of the committee's DC tendencies is that it is named after the late-Christian Democratic President Eduardo Frei. Manuel Morales claimed that the committee was not political but went on to boast that all of its leaders, including himself, were members of the Christian Democratic Party and that they "orient it as such."

The organization is structured in such a way as to impede the development of mass protest, and its political line against protest mirrors that of the PDC since the return of democracy. Once the committee acquired legal status, it was divided geographically into eight sub-committees. As the organization was not so large as to necessitate a division into sub-committees for efficient operation, I questioned Morales about this organizational tactic. He said that he found that this was the best way to work because it helped to diffuse the demands of the people and that it helped keep them from becoming disillusioned:

We, in the Party, want the homeless to be organized, but we don't want to create big groups. The people suffered a lot in those 17 years of dictatorship, and when the moment that they awaited and sought finally arrived, it was believed that just because there was democracy, things were going to change right away. They believed that everything was going to come to them quickly and easily. If shantytown dwellers become disillusioned, we could fall into anarchy and extremism."[73]

This strategy was suggested to the leaders by Roberto Vargas, President of the Santiago Regional Federation of Housing and Social Programs (FERPROHAS), a regional coordinating organization affiliated with the Christian Democratic Party. Vargas sees FERPROHAS and its member organizations, like the Eduardo Frei group, as important mechanisms to control the urban poor and channel their energies into activities other than protest:

It is difficult for the people to remain patient. We're beginning with the most urgent cases and offering solutions to the rest as it becomes possible. But it is difficult to control. This is the role of the neighborhood organization and the shantytown leader, to try to keep the people calm. And the most important thing is to encourage people to do activities, to raise money and to save. It is the only way to get a house under the new programs, and it keeps the people occupied so they won't think about demonstrating."[74]

The members of the committee show no signs of wanting to resort to illegal land seizures or other forms of pressure to solve their housing problems. Whether the committee's strategy is shaped entirely by the leadership is not clear, but evidence indicates that the leaders have steered the committee towards working through the housing subsidy system. Many members expressed hope that the new government would provide quick solutions to their housing problems, but none of them felt that demonstrations or land seizures were the right way to solve their problems if subsidies were not forthcoming. Committee member Claudia Toledo expressed, "There will be solutions, but we have got to be patient. We can't expect the government to change everything over night."[75] Another member, Janet Torres, said, "They offered me a house and the chance to get a solution more quickly. I am a realist, though, I know that it is not going to happen right away."[76]

The committee has not participated in any demonstrations, and the leaders have told the members that "tomas" will not be contemplated or accepted as long as they are in office. Morales described the committee as a "savings committee" (comité de ahorro), not a "demand-making committee" (comité reivindicativo) and explained that he felt that "the new government must be supported. Everyone in the committee is waiting patiently for solutions as they should."[77]


This essay has presented a description and analysis of urban shantytown demobilization following the restoration of democracy in Chile. In 1990, when Aylwin assumed the Presidency, leftist organizations such as Metro and the J.M. Caro housing committee demobilized their members, adopted reformist goals, and tended to avoid confrontations with the democratic government. These changes can be seen as responses to the Communist Party's decision to discontinue its strategy of mass popular rebellion and support the new democracy and the Concertación's rejection and repression of land seizures, fearing that they could destabilize democracy or politically benefit the Right. Another factor which made the movement, as a whole, more conciliatory and moderate, beginning in 1990, was the emergence of hundreds of new housing organizations, like the Eduardo Frei committee. These new organizations were usually created by centrist party leaders who wished to control the movement and ensure the consolidation of stable democracy by encouraging institutionalized forms of collective action.

The urban housing movement is representative of other movement sectors in Chile and elsewhere in that it has experienced a pattern of demobilization and decline similar to those of other sectors. The Chilean student and labor movements[78] and the Spanish urban housing movement[79] are examples of movements with similar developmental experiences.

What this article suggests is that movements in newly democratic countries tend to demobilize and become institutionalized in situations where authoritarian elites still have a good deal of power and influence, where there is a close relationship between political parties and movements, and where political elites close to the movements have a strong commitment to stable, limited democracy. What is more, those movements which are demobilized and channeled by elites into non-confrontational forms of action tend to be those with a previous history of threatening mobilization; these are usually class-based movements.

While beneficial for stability in the short-term, this partially self-enforced, partially compelled moderation on the part of social movements could have disastrous long-term effects. There are at least two scenarios which could emerge: First, members of the shantytown dwellers movement could become apathetic and apolitical. Second, movement organizations could erupt in protest agonist the government. Neither of these scenarios bodes well for the consolidation of healthy democracy. Apathy could leave democracy weak and vulnerable to attacks by the military or other actors. However, unfettered protest could frighten middle sectors and elites and result in an authoritarian backlash.

Although it is still too early to speculate on the long-term viability of pacted democracies or the role that social movements will play in them, this research has important implications for other transitional countries, such as South Africa, where Nelson Mandela and the ANC have been vigilant in keeping labor demands and shantytown protest to a minimum. Popular movement demobilization may help elites navigate smoother democratic transitions; however, scholars of democratization should be mindful that "the fact that a transition has been carried out `in the name of' the people is far from a sufficient guarantee that the people will rule."[80] If democracy is to survive in the long-term, social movements and other actors, representing diverse and conflicting interests, must feel free to express their demands and participate in the structures of political, economic and cultural power.

Author's note: The author would like to thank Charles Hale and the members of the Quinnipiac College Research Colloqium for thier extensive comments on an earlier version of the paper.

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