1. Introduction: living life on their own terms


Since the fall of the Cold War dictatorships, social movements have thrived in Latin America and have been some of the most important and effective agents of change.

However, with the recent end of the ‘pink tide’ – a wave of more or less socially progressive governments that held power across the region from the late 1990s – these movements now face tougher conditions and an uncertain future. Five experts assess the current regional panorama and the role of social movements within it.


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About the author

Tom Gatehouse is a writer and translator who has lived in Argentina, Spain and Brazil. He holds an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge.

He has written for LAB and Red Pepper and his translations have appeared in Folha de S. Paulo, Agência Pública and Tales and Trails Lisbon, a recent collection of short stories and other writings. He lives in London.


Eliane Brum (journalist, writer, and documentary film-maker): interviewed via email on 1 May 2018 by Sue Branford. Translated by Hugo Moss.

Marcos Orellana (Human Rights Watch): interviewed in Washington DC on 22 December 2017 by James Thackara. Transcribed by Tom Gatehouse.

Maristella Svampa (sociologist): interviewed in London on 25 April 2018 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Theo Bradford.

René Orellana (politician and academic): interviewed in La Paz on 5 December 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Matty Rose.

Raúl Sohr (journalist and sociologist): interviewed in Santiago de Chile on 22 November 2016 by Tom Gatehouse. Translated by Matty Rose.


NB: All web references were checked and still available in May/June 2018 unless otherwise stated.

Encarnación, O. (2018) ‘The rise and fall of the Latin American left’, The Nation, 9 May

Toro, F. (2017) ‘As socialist Venezuela collapses, socialist Bolivia thrives’, Washington Post, 5 January

World Bank (2017) ‘Higher education expanding in Latin America and the Caribbean, but falling short of potential

Further reading

Eliane Brum

Marcos Orellana

René Orellana

Raúl Sohr

Maristella Svampa