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Origins of Labor Rights and Justice in Colombia, 1850-1950


Origins of Labor Rights and Justice in Colombia, 1850-1950



Works addressing the history of Colombian labor rights and justice during the period covered in this chapter are limited in number and depth. Contemporary technical juridical manuals and legal compilations, quite useful as historical sources, are certainly available. Other than these, the one text that pays greater attention to historical legal aspects is an insightful book written from a Marxist perspective. Its authors suggest that the labor legislation enacted during some of the decades covered in this study was mainly the result of the implacable "logic of capital,” directed at crippling the labor movement and maximizing capitalist productivity. However, they do not pause over the emergence, nature, and meaning of labor justice, and neither do they discuss the labor jurisdiction (a separate specialized court system) as such. After all, the labor one was just an expression of bourgeois justice in general and, thus, at the service of capitalist accumulation. An additional study combining historical insights with technical legal analysis pays closer attention to the vicissitudes of unionization - related laws than labor courts and justice. Another work examines historical aspects briefly and mainly as background information for a sociological discussion concerning the operation of labor justice in recent decades. One more touches on a period closer to that under examination here but does not focus at all on the transition from civil to labor justice, an aspect addressed in this essay. Therefore, this chapter is a preliminary attempt to fill a historiographical gap on the circumstances behind the emergence of a specialized system of labor courts and procedures. As the introduction of this book suggests, like the rest of the chapters this one strives to connect labor history and legal history. It offers, in particular, a general "archeological" overview of a labor justice in Colombia, looking at its connections to labor conflicts and related state reforms and policies. While the chapter highlights the overall historical meaning of this new legal and judicial specialty, the actual operation of labor justice is beyond the essay's scope and would require further studies.



Publication Date



University of Illinois Press




Labor Studies, Latino, Latin American Studies, Law


Labor and Employment Law | Law

Origins of Labor Rights and Justice in Colombia, 1850-1950