A study of Chile's shantytown resistance testifies to the power of popular struggles
Shantytown Protest in Pinochet's Chile
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Cathy Lisa Schneider
In 1973 armed forces launched a violent attack against the Chilean presidential palace and Santiago's slums and shantytowns. For ten years, only the Catholic Church was able to defy the military regime. Then, in 1983, students, workers, and shantytown residents stormed the streets demanding the resignation of Augusto Pinochet. The protests raged for three years and, in 1989, democratic elections were held. The following year a new civilian government took office.
Cathy Lisa Schneider examines this democratic transition from the bottom up, looking at the struggles of poor people to create and sustain organized resistance, to risk their lives to fight tyranny. Both an oral history based on over a hundred interviews collected in shantytowns and a comparative sociological study that explores political differences among different shantytowns in Santiago, this book analyzes the context in which the urban poor make choices about their lives, and the political histories that shape their vision.
"With an anthropologist's sympathetic ear, an activist's reasoned zeal, a social scientist's theoretical sensibility, and a journalist's deft pen, Cathy Schneider has brought to life Chile's burgeoning shantytown politics of the 1980s. From the overthrow of Allende to the fall of Pinochet, she chronicles and explains the swirling of popular struggles. Read her and learn."
"Cathy Schneider's book shows how democratic nation-building depends not only on how elites maneuver, but crucially on how ordinary citizens mobilize on behalf of democracy. She has successfully brought together Latin American studies and social science, the human drama of the shantytown protests with the analytical perspectives of social movement studies."
"...the book provides a rich source of data for reflecting on the issues involved in a 'transition to democracy.'"