Different Understandings of ‘Control Social’ in Latin America
The Spanish language term ‘control social’ has been widely used in South America to mean ‘social oversight’ both by governments and in civil society. In Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia the term appears often in national laws and policy regulations. Historically, the idea is linked to processes of democratization, elected governments of the centre-left, and the view that public sector oversight should be in the hands of the citizenry. Diverse social and civic organizations use the term widely, including in many training manuals available online.
Historically, the idea is linked to processes of democratization, elected governments of the centre-left, and the view that public sector oversight should be in the hands of the citizenry.
More recently in South America, younger activists – perhaps with more exposure to global discourse – use the term ‘rendición de cuentas’ (a more direct translation of ‘accountability’) more than ‘control social’ – perhaps to differentiate themselves from governmental uses of the term to refer to the official channels for citizen oversight.
In Central America, in contrast, the term ‘control social’ was understood very differently, and did not gain the same degree of acceptance. In Guatemala and El Salvador, for example, the words are associated with governmental manipulation and repression – closer to the literal translation into English: ‘social control.’