Protest and Repression in Latin America


Tuesday, November 2, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

For a recording of this event, please click here.

Latin America experienced a wave of large-scale and often sustained protest between 2018 and 2021. In Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and elsewhere, these protests triggered harsh police or paramilitary repression. How do these responses compare to earlier eras in Latin America? Have decades of democracy and human rights activism had on impact on the behavior of domestic security forces? Are Latin American governments’ commitment to human rights waning? What are some specific characteristics and outcomes of these protests and their leadership?

Speakers: Loreto Cox, Associate Professor of Government, Potificia Universidad Catolica de Chile; Ximena Velasco-Guachalla, Assistant Professor of Government, University of Essex; Juan Albarracín, Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Political Studies, Universidad Icesi in Cali
Discussant: Yanilda Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Moderated by: Steven Levitsky, Director, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Professor of Government, Harvard University

Loreto Cox is an Assistant Professor at the School of Government at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She received her PhD in Political Science at MIT in 2019. She specializes in political behavior and higher education.

Ximena Velasco-Guachalla is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Essex. Her research investigates the institutional sources of increasing protest demands, and the context under which some demands are more likely to materialize in protest than others. Specifically, she examines how citizens engage and make demands on their governments in the context of weak institutional accountability. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2020. Her book project, Protesting for More: Corruption, Democracy, and the Making of Demands is focused on examining the relationship between political corruption, democracy, and the number of demands made in the streets. A central question surfacing in the wake of the aforementioned growth in demands transmitted through protest is why citizens are voicing more of their demands via protest activity, thus, increasingly choosing contentious forms of political engagement while sidelining more institutional forms of political participation. Beyond the study of protest, she is also interested in and have an active research agenda on, attitudes towards democracy, political participation in autocracies, elections in Latin America, indigenous attitudes in Bolivia, and the informal sector across Latin American countries.

Juan Albarracín Dierolf is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Keough School of Global Affairs and a Research Affiliate of the Notre Dame Violence and Transitional Justice Lab at the University of Notre Dame. He was previously an Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Political Studies at Universidad Icesi in Cali, Colombia. His research focuses on threats to political and civil rights in cases of mass-scale violence. In this sense, his work lies at the intersection of studies of democratization, criminal and political violence, social movements, and political institutions.

Yanilda María González is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Her research focuses on policing, state violence, and citizenship in democracy, examining how race, class, and other forms of inequality shape these processes. González’s forthcoming book Authoritarian Police in Democracy: Contested Security in Latin America (Cambridge University Press), studies the persistence of police forces as authoritarian enclaves in otherwise democratic states, demonstrating how ordinary democratic politics in unequal societies can both reproduce authoritarian policing and bring about rare moments of expansive reforms. González received her PhD in Politics and Social Policy from Princeton University. Prior to joining HKS she was an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. González previously worked at a number of human rights organizations in the US and Argentina, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, ANDHES, and Equipo Latinoaméricano de Justicia y Género.

Steven Levitsky is the Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. As the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, his research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, political parties, and weak and informal institutions. He is author (with Daniel Ziblatt) of How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), a New York Times Best-Seller that has been published in 25 languages, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Lucan Way) (Cambridge, 2010), and Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2003), and co-editor of Informal Institutions and Democracy in Latin America (with Gretchen Helmke) and The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (with Kenneth Roberts). He has written frequently for the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Vox, The New Republic, The Monkey Cage, La República (Peru) and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil). He is currently writing a book (with Lucan Way) on the durability of revolutionary regimes. Levitsky received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Presented in collaboration with Weatherhead Center for International Affairs