The question of what is just is not an ahistorical one—it is answered daily in the spaces of lived experience.
Latin America is as culturally diverse as it is geographically vast. Yet, the nations of Latin America share important historical and institutional characteristics. Perhaps most significantly, countries across the region continue to grapple with the legacies of colonialism—from the classical era of Iberian colonialization to the neocolonial domination enacted through economic penetration in the early twentieth century.
At the approach of the twenty-first century, Latin Americans found themselves constrained by the demands of international lending agencies and awash in the flood of cultural and material products made ever more readily available by multinationals striving to captivate and capitalize on the “emerging markets” opened by neoliberal reform. The continent has also had to contend with the legacies of state violence and dictatorial regimes that sought to strip society of its vibrant forms of popular organizations, preemptively crushing opposition and laying the foundation for the economic restructuring that was to come.
In all of these cases, the protagonists are seeking one thing: justice.
These shared processes of emergence paved the way for a diversity of forms of resistance. In the Chilean Atacama Desert, residents have undertaken a prolonged struggle for their right to groundwater. Family members of bombing victims in Buenos Aires brought a case against the state of Argentina before an international human rights body and are still working through a slow process of attempted resolution. In Colombia, some victims of political violence are turning increasingly to the courts for resolution in the wake of devastating personal tragedy, while others reject the state’s ability to fairly adjudicate their grievances and construct instead a nonstate tribunal to consider the damages they have suffered to both persons and property.