The Development of Latin American Unionism
There has been no more important factor in the development of Latin American trades unionism than the relations between the movement and the forces of political activism on the continent. Much as in Africa. and Asia, the leadership of the Latin unions has come from the educated and largely middle-class strata of the society. The prime differences which distinguish Latin American unionism from the unionism of Africa and Asia has been that, for a large part of its formative period, Latin unions were formed almost exclusively from among immigrant groups from Europe. These immigrants formed the unions and radical political parties which they also led. For the bulk of the indigenous workers of Latin and Central America the politico-economic forces unleashed by militant unionism passed them by, and continue to pass them by. In much of Latin America the national language, Spanish or Portuguese, is spoken by a minority of the inhabitants as their first language. Indian languages, dialects and linguas franca suffice for the bulk of the rural population. Only very rarely have there been efforts made by trades unionists or radical politicians to proselytise or organise in languages like Quechua which, in some countries, is the major national language. In fact, in most of Latin America the formative period of unionisation was conducted through recruiting drives, propaganda and organising strikes conducted in Italian, German, English and only later Spanish. Unionism was brought by immigrants and recruited immigrants.
KeywordsTrade Union Communist Party National Centre Labour Movement Political Role
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