Welcome!

This is the companion site for Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements, edited by Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein and published by PM Press (2014). Here you will find introductions to the material in the book; additional interviews only available online; and links to other work by our contributors and to news and analysis about Latin America.

“A wave of change rolled through Latin America at the turn of the twenty-first century, sweeping away neoliberal two-party governments, bringing calls to refound the states based on broad participation and democratically drafted constitutions. The power and motion of this wave, often referred to as the “Pink Tide,” came from the social movements that had been gathering force for over a decade—rebuilding in spaces opened by the fall of US-backed military dictatorships, rethinking in the spaces opened by the crumbling of the Soviet socialist models.

These movements galvanized long-silent—or silenced—sectors of society: indigenous people, campesinos, students, the LGBT community, the unemployed and all those left out of the promised utopia of a globalized economy.  They have deployed a wide array of strategies and actions to some common ends. They march against mines and agribusiness; they occupy physical spaces, rural and urban, and social space won through recognition of language, culture, and equal participation; they mobilize villages, towns, cities and even nations for community and environmental survival.  They are sloughing off the skin of the twentieth-century bipolar world, synthesizing old ways of working and finding new paths into an uncertain future.”

—from the introduction to Until the Rulers Obey,
by Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein

You can read a longer excerpt from the introduction here, on the Upside Down World web site.

Blog

Spain’s social movements win city elections
In the wake of the “Arab Spring,” close to a million people took Madrid’s central square, La Puerta del Sol, on May 15, 2011, kicking off the uprising of the “Indignados.” Actions on the four-year anniversary of the movement that participants call “15M” called out the persistent plagues that touched off the occupation: evictions and displacement, unemployment and uncertain employment, austerity and the enmeshment of the political class with the one percent. The May 2015 rallies and march in Madrid also gave a snapshot of the activism born and deepened by 15M, activism which would bear fruit at the polls a week later, when candidates backed by the social movements earned enough votes to (most likely) take the mayors’ offices in Barcelona and Madrid.

Neighborhood and social movement activists march in Madrid on the fourth anniversary of the occupation of the city's main plaza, La Puerta del Sol. Around one million people filled the plaza on May 15, 2011, and the ripples from the uprising of the  indignados  are still being felt.
Neighborhood and social movement activists march in Madrid on the fourth anniversary of the occupation of the city’s main plaza, La Puerta del Sol. Around one million people filled the plaza on May 15, 2011, and the ripples from the uprising of the indignados are still being felt.

Neither anti-eviction activist Ada Colau, from Barcelona en Comú, nor Manuela Carmena of Ahora Madrid, won an outright majority. But each is expected to become mayor after forming a coalition with representatives of sympathetic political parties.
This short video from the 15M anniversary march, made by URO editor Clifton Ross, features an interview with Nacho Murgui, City Council candidate with Ahora Madrid and ex-president of the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid. Murgui won his Council seat handily, getting more votes than any Ahora Madrid candidate except for Manuela Carmena. In the interview, he discusses Ahora Madrid and the relationship between social movements and electoral work.
Both Ahora Madrid and Barcelona En Comú take a novel approach to electoral work. They are not political parties as such, but draw together parties, social movement and neighborhood groups, and a broad range of individuals to develop “people’s platforms” and field candidates that support these platforms. Though the Madrid and Barcelona groups were the most successful in the May regional elections, similar organizations are working in other cities around Spain, Murgui said.

This site is a work in progress. Please come back and visit us again to view new material!