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Populist Multiculturalism in the Andes: Balancing Political Control and Societal Autonomy

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Radical populists in the Andes have combined a populist program and a multicultural agenda. However, while populism centralizes power in the hands of the leader and emphasizes the unity of the people, multiculturalism grants cultural rights that strengthen societal autonomy, generating an inherent tension between these two modes of incorporation. How are populist governments able to combine unity and fragmentation as well as centralization and autonomy? This article develops the concept of populist multiculturalism, focusing on the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) in Bolivia, which has supported autonomy rights while simultaneously curtailing their implementation. Specifically, it examines the implementation of indigenous autonomous governments and prior consultation and the relationship between indigenous organizations and the ruling party. The article also extends this concept to Ecuador and Venezuela.

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Appeared or available online: August 23, 2019

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