November 5, 2009

‘Authorized’ Minga? The Challenges of Popular Movements

By Micheál Ó Tuathail and Manuel Rozental

Last fall, Colombia’s social and popular movements captured the world’s attention. Emerging initially from the indigenous territories in Northern Cauca and expanding to unite diverse sectors, the Social and Community Minga burst onto the national and international scene with a popular agenda for radical change, a “country of the peoples without owners." The collective screams of the indigenous movement, Afro-Colombian communities, women’s, worker, student and other social organizations across the country reached a fever pitch, garnering much attention from abroad.

A year later, the Minga appears to have arrived at a crossroads, where a once powerful popular agenda risks being manipulated in favour of a narrow and domesticating one. While its capacity to mobilize remains strong, the Minga’s direction is increasingly contested.

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