Over the past quarter century, Latin America has witnessed an intense cycle of struggle signaled most prominently by events such as the Caracazo in Venezuela, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, the Argentine rebellion, and the wave of indigenous uprisings and protests in Bolivia and Ecuador. Today, from “Lulismo” in Brazil to “socialism for the twenty-first century” in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, “progressive” governments are increasingly facing a renewed round of discontent—ranging from criticism to open revolt—from the very movements that brought them to power. These new expressions of discontent cannot be understood without the recognition that this past cycle of struggles not only reconfigured the domestic relations of force in each country and the geopolitical map of the region as a whole, but also represented an enormous shift in the reconceptualization of the means, ends, and scope of what it means to do politics. This essay emphasizes that understanding these moments of rupture and the evolution of political struggle in Latin American will prove invaluable in assessing the potentials and pitfalls of this moment of worldwide uprisings against localized expressions of the global neoliberal dispositif.

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