La Mano Dura and the Violence of Civil Society in Bolivia

in Social Analysis
View More View Less
  • 1 Rutgers University danielgo@anthropology.rutgers.edu
  • 2 Independent researcher
  • 3 Independent researcher
  • 4 Independent researcher
Restricted access

Vigilante violence has become a common practice of creating 'security' in the marginal barrios that surround the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Surprisingly, this violence and the human rights violations it entails are appearing simultaneously with the expansion of civil society in Bolivia. This apparent contradiction, it is argued here, suggests that analysts must expand their definition of 'civil society' to include violent social groups and actors as well as peaceful ones. This article suggests that a fuller understanding of the nature of civil society in Bolivia and other Latin American countries requires us to broaden our understanding of what civil society includes, and so recognize that some acts originating in civil society may restrict rather than deepen and expand individual rights in neo-liberal democracies.