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Abstract

As leftist and center-leftist regimes come to power in Latin America the space for civil society is changing. Civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with international affiliations regularly find themselves outside the nationalist or regionalist arena that leftist administrations create. This paper explores the extent of the change caused by the New Left on civil society space in Latin America. Exploring the complexities of defining civil society, the paper settles upon the post-Marxian definition as a benchmark for measuring recent changes. The role of civil society is conceptualized through the Neoliberal and New Left frameworks, before specific case studies are outlined. A comparative case study of the historical progression of leftist modifications on Nicaraguan and Venezuelan civil society space provides a context for the results of 6 semi-structured interviews. The compelling testimonies of NGO and CSO representatives on the recent changes to civil society space in Venezuela and Nicaragua, allow for a tangible understanding of New Left repercussions on civil society actors. An analysis follows of the New Left’s deviation from the post-Marxian definition of civil society, as well as the extent of the reorganization of civil society space. Finally, the sustainability of the New Left policies in Venezuela and Nicaragua will be discussed along with the outlook for international civil society organizations on a global scale.

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