chapter  Chapter Three
23 Pages

Political Perceptions of the Neighborhood Courts

ByJack Spence

From a variety of UP plans promising improved housing, education, neighborhood infrastructures, job opportunities, and neighborhood health facilities, there emerged, first as a campaign position and later as a bill in the Chilean Parliament, a proposal for creating judicial institutions to serve the needs of the new urban communities. The proposal called for the establishment of Neighborhood Tribunals in urban and rural localities corresponding to established political districts roughly similar to United States urban precincts or rural townships. The Unidad Popular (UP) proposal called for the new courts to be staffed by lay judges elected by the residents of the neighborhood. The Christian Democrats posed two separate arguments against the UP Neighborhood Tribunals proposal. Perhps the UP acted in anticipation of the judiciary’s dismissing the idea with contempt, from which response the UP could score a propaganda victory.