chapter  Chapter Six
27 Pages

Development of People’s Neighborhood Courts

ByJack Spence

The Neighborhood Courts heard disputes bearing striking similarity to those intraneighbor and family cases heard by the Audiencias Populares found in Jose Maria Caro. Firstly, the Neighborhood Courts heard criminal cases. Secondly, some cases were brought against neighborhood political leaders qua leaders. Procedurally, the Neighborhood Courts had longer hearings with more open processes of evidence, and no formal rules. Active participation in a political process characterized by collective decision making and collective execution of decisions requires time, skill and patience. The Unidad Popular program of nationalization placed the government in ownership or managerial positions. The inexperienced in a collective can easily be cast in the role of nonparticipants whose passive position can lead to formal or informal leavetaking, or to their being permanent followers or disorganizing elements within a meeting. The combination of factors stemming from the national political developments in Chile and from the internal qualities of the campamento thwarted the ambitious goals of the Neighborhood Courts of Nueva Habana.