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The New Politics of Inequality in Latin AmericaRethinking Participation and Representation$
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Douglas A. Chalmers, Carlos M. Vilas, Katherine Hite, Scott B. Martin, Kerianne Piester, and Monique Segarra

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198781837

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198781830.001.0001

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Targeting the Poor: The Politics of Social Policy Reforms in Mexico

Targeting the Poor: The Politics of Social Policy Reforms in Mexico

(p.469) 19 Targeting the Poor: The Politics of Social Policy Reforms in Mexico
The New Politics of Inequality in Latin America

Kerianne Piester

Oxford University Press

Responding to the crisis of shrinking state budgets and rising social demands in the 1980s, the Mexican government experimented with a new participatory poverty alleviation model. Targeting the poor was seen as a means of undermining mass protest against austerity measures and to address the crisis of Mexico's traditional corporate institutions for representation and control. Facing new party competition and the expansion of autonomous grassroots organizations, the PRI government sought to create new linkages with society through a series of poverty programmes. Examines the Popular Housing Fund, the National Food Distribution Program, and the Solidarity Fund. Clientelism persisted in the first two funds. Within Solidarity, the emphasis of the funds on demand‐based projects opened up new spaces for grassroots organizations to participate in a more autonomous fashion. This proved to be mixed success, dependent on local political conditions and pre‐existing community autonomy.

Keywords:   clientelism, corporatism, Mexico, non‐governmental Organizations, popular sector representation, poverty alleviation, social policy, welfare reform

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