This article analyzes the different ways that formal legal pluralism is perceived and utilized in Ecuador, where a legal void has resulted from a combination of the constitutional recognition of customary law in 1998 and the subsequent failure to develop coordinating rules that would define the relationship between customary law and national law. Adopting a legal anthropological perspective on the cabildo (village council), this article describes variations in the treatment of different types of "internal conflict," depending on both the seriousness of the case and the parties involved. I argue that constitutional recognition of legal pluralism can work either in favor of or against the legal and political empowerment of indigenous local authorities. While it has encouraged local authorities to extend their jurisdiction, formalized legal pluralism has also led to national political tensions over the exact interpretation of relevant articles in the constitution and attempts to limit indigenous jurisdiction
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