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This chapter considers how, after the nationalization of the oil industry and amid the divisions of the cold war, processes of state formation and popular struggle entered a new phase. The institutional state, rather than a foreign corporation, became the target of discontent, and new social movements demanded the provision of public services, as the capitalist modernization of the countryside propelled the accumulation of wage-insecure workers in the city and the emergence of shantytowns. The “civic strikes” that rocked Barrancabermeja in the 1970s had much in common with earlier labor strikes: both forms of popular protest brought together diverse working people who overcame their differences, built alliances, and rattled the chains of power. Together with chapter 1, this chapter lays out the connections that made and remade class relationships and previews what was lost in subsequent years.

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