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The Co-optation of LGBT Movements in Mexico and Nicaragua: Modernizing Clientelism?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Marcus J. McGee
University of Chicago.
Karen Kampwirth
Knox College.


Before the 1980s, LGBT groups in Latin America were largely (though not entirely) excluded from the state. This article argues that a combination of factors—democratization, social movement demands, neoliberal globalization and its accompanying discourse of modernity—has led many state actors to seek to incorporate LGBT groups into the state. Considering two cases of self-proclaimed revolutionary parties, Mexico's PRI and Nicaragua's FSLN, the article examines how and why these parties incorporated LGBT organizations and what impact such incorporation had on the LGBT groups themselves. In both countries, LGBT groups benefited from clientelistic resources at the same time that they found themselves deradicalizing, often forced to accept visibility without rights. But in Nicaragua, a more recent revolutionary experience and ties to a combative, autonomous feminist movement have allowed some LGBT activists to resist the state's efforts to co-opt their movement.

Copyright © University of Miami 2015

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