Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

Subverting Democracy and Thwarting Social Change, an Examination into the Latin American Mass Media


Antonio Castillo

In the last few decades Latin America has seen a shift to left leaning, socially progressive and radical governments. Despite their diverse political textures, all of them have been elected democratically and have appealed to the most marginalised sectors of this vast continent. Hand and hand the region has become a fertile ground for the generation, cross-fertilization and consolidation of history-changing socially progressive movements. From the 2011 student movements in Chile, to the recent Bolivian Aymara Indian actions to block the Dakar rally, Latin America is experiencing a rich tapestry of energetic citizen movements. Considering these two contemporary paradigms, one could argue that Latin America is going through a process of democratic engagement from below. It is a political and civil movement instigated and led by grassroots urban and rural actors struggling to achieve a truly democratic system, a democratic system where social, economic, cultural and environmental justice prevails. The struggle is not without its foes. There is one deep-rooted foe that since the post-colonial period has tried to preserve its class privilege, economic interest and economic control. The Latin American right is not exempt from mighty tools to subvert democracy and obstruct social change. And the mass media is one of its most formidable. In a broad and big-picture approach this article examines, contextualizes and brings up-to-date the role the mass media plays as an “ideological organizer” of the Latin American right. In this context, this paper gives a special emphasis to Chile’s El Mercurio, considered the country’s “paper of record.” It is the oldest daily in the Spanish language currently in circulation and it is the archetypical media “ideological organizer” of the right. Its role in subverting democracy and suppressing social progressive movements cannot be underestimated.


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