Latin Americas move to the left Good ? OR Bad

windy

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The Transformation of Latin America is a Global Advance

The radical tide is about to be put to the test in Brazil and Venezuela. If support holds, it will have lessons for all of us

By Seumas Milne

August 20, 2010 "
The Guardian" --Nearly two centuries after it won nominal independence and Washington declared it a backyard, Latin America is standing up. The tide of progressive change that has swept the continent for the past decade has brought to power a string of social democratic and radical socialist governments that have attacked social and racial privilege, rejected neoliberal orthodoxy and challenged imperial domination of the region.

Its significance is often underestimated or trivialised in Europe and North America. But along with the rise of China, the economic crash of 2008 and the demonstration of the limits of US power in the "war on terror", the emergence of an independent Latin America is one of a handful of developments reshaping the global order. From Ecuador to Brazil, Bolivia to Argentina, elected leaders have turned away from the IMF, taken back resources from corporate control, boosted regional integration and carved out independent alliances across the world.

Both the scale of the transformation and the misrepresentation of what is taking place in the western media are driven home in Oliver Stone's new film, South of the Border, which allows six of these new wave leaders to speak for themselves. Most striking is their mutual support and common commitment – from Cristina Kirchner of Argentina to the more leftist Evo Morales – to take back ownership of their continent.

Two crucial votes in the next few weeks will put the future of this process to the test. The first are parliamentary elections in Venezuela, whose Bolivarian revolution has been at the cutting edge of Latin America's renewal since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998. For all his popularity at home, Chávez has been the target for a campaign of vilification and ridicule throughout the US, European and elite-controlled Latin American media – which has little to do with his high-octane rhetoric and much more with his effectiveness in using Venezuela's oil wealth to challenge US and corporate power across the region.

Forget his success in slashing the Venezuelan poverty rate in half, tripling social spending, rapidly expanding healthcare and education, and fostering grassroots democracy and worker participation. Since the beginning of the year Venezuela's enemies have smelled blood as his government faltered in the face of drought-triggered power cuts, a failure to ride out recession with a stimulus package – as Morales's Bolivia did – and growing discontent over high levels of violent crime.

So expect a flurry of new claims that Chávez is a dictator who has stifled media freedom and persecuted bankers and businessmen, and whose incompetent regime is running into the sand. In reality the Venezuelan president has won more free elections than any other world leader, the country's media are dominated by the US-funded opposition, and his government's problems with service delivery stem more from institutional weakness than authoritarianism.

If Chávez's United Socialist party were defeated next month it would certainly put his re-election in 2012 – and Venezuela's radicalisation – in doubt. But that is looking increasingly unlikely. The economy is picking up, a national police force is finally being established and, crucially, Chávez last week dramatically defused the threat of war with the pro-US government in Colombia through a regionally brokered rapprochement.

Even more critical will be the presidential elections in Brazil in October. Brazil's emergence as an economic powerhouse under Lula's leadership has underpinned the wider changes across Latin America. Less radical than Chávez or Morales, the Brazilian president has nevertheless also poured cash into anti-poverty campaigns and provided vital support for the common project of continental integration and independence.

Barred from standing for a third term, he has thrown his popularity behind his chief of staff Dilma Roussef, if anything more sympathetic to the Bolivarians. Unable to attack Lula's economic record, her main rightwing opponent, José Serra, is now effectively running a campaign against Chávez and Morales, denouncing Lula's support for them, his refusal to recognise the post-coup government in Honduras and attempts to mediate between the Iran and the US. So far that looks unlikely to work, and Serra is trailing her badly in the polls.

If both Brazilian and Venezuelan elections are won by the left, the US and its friends may be tempted to look for other ways to divert Latin America from the path of self-determination and social justice it took while George Bush was busy fighting his enemies in the Muslim world. For all Barack Obama's promise to "seek a new chapter of engagement" and warning that a "terrible precedent" would be set if last year's bloody coup against the reforming Honduran president Manuel Zelaya were allowed to stand, there has been little change in US policy towards the region. The Honduran coup was indeed allowed to stand – or, as Hillary Clinton put it, the "crisis" was "managed to a successful conclusion".

The clear message was that the radical tide can be turned and the fear is now that another of the more vulnerable governments, such as Paraguay's or Guatemala's, could also be "managed to a conclusion" in one form or another. Meanwhile the US is attempting to shore up its military presence on the continent, using the pretext of "counter-insurgency" to station US forces in seven bases in Colombia.

But direct military intervention looks implausible for the foreseeable future. If the political and social movements that have driven the continent's transformation can maintain their momentum and support, they won't only be laying the foundation of an independent Latin America, but new forms of socialist politics declared an impossibility in the modern era. Two decades after we were told there was no alternative, another world is being created.
 

windy

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I have mixed feelings towards mr Chavez, If i were Black or Indian i would vote for him in a heartbeat, and if i were white Hispanic i would probably hate him.
And there in a nut shell is the problem.
The white Hispanics left the blacks and Indians living in Hillside shanty towns and did not give a fxxk what became of them or what they could aspire to.
And Chavez changed that for them (the BL & IN), and for that they vote for religiously and will continue to do so. At least until the White Hispanics get a candidate that promises an all inclusive future for all the people of Venezuela.
Until then the White Hispanics have made a large rod for their own backs.
I have yet to hear one person explain truthfully why and how Hugo Chavez came to power in the first place????. And why does he win time after time after time.
And yes he invites in Election monitors from all over the world.
 

gouchobob

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This is an opinion piece which seems just to reiterate some pretty tired and used many times arguments of the far left in favor of Chavez. It completely ignores the growing totalitarian nature of this regime.
 

laureltp

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I am not sure expats living in Argentina can really be the judge of what's going on in Venezuela or Brazil or wherever else. I think the only way to get to the truth of the matter is to actually go to those countries and find out first hand what is going on. The media seems to have a lot of bias when it comes to these issues. Of course it's a sensitive topic so opinion is hard to avoid.

I mean, we know Argentina. The longer you are here, the more you know. On these forums alone there are lots of people bashing the newcomers for not knowing anything about "real argentina". I am not sure I could really make a real judgment on this since I don't really know these countries. If I had to judge by the media and what I have heard from word of mouth it seems this Chavez character is up to no good.

Not only that, I think the really important part is HOW a politician battles poverty. It seems to me many of the socialist's solution is to give them fish instead of teaching them to fish. But really, I have no professional opinion, I could very well be wrong, but I would be interested in other people's opinions as well.
 

AlexfromLA

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He wins because the majority of the country votes for him.

You should read the cultural and socioeconomic history of Venezuela. Read about the Caracazo and the effect it had on Chavez, the Venezuelan military, the traditional political structure, and the masses etc.

Debating this on this forum is a waste of time. There are too many people with very little actual knowledge on the subject.

Have fun.

windy said:
I have yet to hear one person explain truthfully why and how Hugo Chavez came to power in the first place????. And why does he win time after time after time.
And yes he invites in Election monitors from all over the world.
 

gouchobob

Registered
Another problem with this piece is that it lumps Venezuela and Brazil together. There are really two lefts in Latin America, the responsible would include Brazil and Chile under Bachelet. These countries are going in a positive direction. The irresponsible would include the current governments of Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia, the people will here will end up worst off in the long run.
 

laureltp

Registered
windy said:
I have mixed feelings towards mr Chavez, If i were Black or Indian i would vote for him in a heartbeat, and if i were white Hispanic i would probably hate him.
And there in a nut shell is the problem.
The white Hispanics left the blacks and Indians living in Hillside shanty towns and did not give a fxxk what became of them or what they could aspire to.
I have a question. From what I understand of Venezuela's society they aren't really so focused on race, as we are in the US, but more focused on class. Of course, the white people are more likely to be middle/upper class, but I really think their problem is more with classism than racism. Though I could be wrong, this was the impression I was given. I have known a few dark skinned anti-Chavez Venezuelans that is why I ask.
 

polostar88

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Latin American "left" = rabble-rousing idiots like Peron/Chavez/Kirchner/Morales, etc. together with an academic/bureaucratic Marxified residue riling up "the people" against the European-descent/white minority and tiny middle class to shake them down for cash and handouts, with which votes are in turn bought. Joined by the same indolent elite that allows all of it to happen out of desire for cheap labor and out of apathy. All covered up by supposed resistance to "imperialism," and such nonsense.

The US is not far behind.
 

Lucas

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polostar88 said:
Latin American "left" = rabble-rousing idiots like Peron/Chavez/Kirchner/Morales, etc. together with an academic/bureaucratic Marxified residue riling up "the people" against the European-descent/white minority and tiny middle class to shake them down for cash and handouts, with which votes are in turn bought. Joined by the same indolent elite that allows all of it to happen out of desire for cheap labor and out of apathy. All covered up by supposed resistance to "imperialism," and such nonsense.

The US is not far behind.
Read my signature....please!....and find out what 'he' means with it.

Emerge from your comfortable and restricting cocoon and discover an all new world of propaganda and interest at play.
Its not good to listening the same bell sound over and over again, sometimes changing it will open your asleep mind.

Oliver Stone documentary:

South of the Border


 
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