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LATIN AMERICA
Political trends in Latin America and the Caribbean
Hugo Cabieses Cubas*
4/22/2015
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We can see five major trends in the regional political context.

The first trend is that in Latin America and the Caribbean there currently are 10 countries with progressive governments, with presidents from movement and member parties of the Sâo Paulo Forum (FSP), which was created in 19911.  These countries are: Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Until 1999 Cuba was the only one with a leftist government but with the election of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, there are currently 10 countries with progressive and/or leftist governments. This occurs amidst the resurrection of the economic and financial crisis, a process of “Conservative Restoration” in the continent, of political, ideological and military-police aggression against progressive and leftist governments, with the concentration of the media and excuses such as the “war on drugs” and the socio-environmental insurgencies.
 
The second trend is that most of these countries with progressive and leftist governments have an electoral majority, but no political, ideological and institutional hegemony (Cuba, Bolivia and partially Nicaragua could be the exception). Significant fractions of the social and indigenous movements stay away from these governments and several progressive parties, socialists and from the left, too. Extractive-export neoliberalism as a political-ideological approach has won ground over — or is winning ground over — the progressive proposal and the proposals of the so-called “socialism of the 21st century.” Moreover, as Argentinine sociologist Maristella Svampa states, Latin America and the Caribbean are going from the failure of the “Washington Consensus,” rooted in financial valuation, to the “Consensus of Commodities,” which is based on the large-scale export of primary goods. This is a new consensus that the progressive and leftist governments, pressured by the new “thematic” social and political movements, can hardly escape2
 
The third trend is that since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been an emergence of new non-proletarian, de-unionized, themed (gender, youth, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, sexual diversity, culture, etc.) social movements, which are subject to criminalization and violation of their human, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights (ESCER). However, the progressive left in general has turned its back on indigenous peoples —native or not —, on the Amazon, the Orinoco and tropical areas of Central America. Too often these areas have been used by the left as the rearguard for guerrilla struggles and/or for maneuvering space for political and ideological struggles, but not as proposals for a new political, cultural and economic model. In addition, the left in general has turned its back on cultural aspects, dance, music, poetry, which the Peruvian writer, novelist and anthropologist José María Arguedas said: “How much did I understand Socialism? I don’t know well. But it did not kill the magic in me.”3  
 
The fourth trend is the development and government promotion of what some analysts and grassroots activists have begun to call a neo-extractivism social-rentier with caudillista populism for permanent re-election. For this framework of government and power, often painted by the expropriation of the indigenous concept of Good Living4 — used even constitutionally — , issues on the environment, climate change, deglaciation and the impact on citizens and people in general are not part of the discussions on the progressive left, nor within the Sâo Paulo Forum that brings them together.

The fifth trend is that the progressive left — and certainly the conservative right — look sideward or even are accomplices in some unfortunate cases of lawless or “nasty” culture, society, economy and ideology, consisting in the combination and synergies of enormous informality, rising organized crime and reduced formality, that is, a formal, informal and criminal scheme (FIC). From the left we are being dragged through the proposals in this issue from which in Peru is called the Derecha Bruta y Achorada (DBA) or the Stupid and Insolent Right, and also the Derecha Dizque Democrática (DDD), or the Right Claiming to be Democratic, of addressing citizen security with police, imprisonment, violence and militarization5.

*Peruvian economist. Coordinator of the Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Indigenous Rights Department of the Drugs and Human Rights Research Center (CIDDH). Former Vice-Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources for the Ministry of the Environment. Current advisor to the President of the Regional Government of Cajamarca, Peru.
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1 See a history of FSP in relation to the Latin American left written by one of the founders, Cuban political scientist and diplomat Roberto Regalado in: http://www.oceansur.com/media/fb_uploads/pdf/encuentros-desencuentros. pdf
2 See further explanation of this debate in “Consenso de los Commodities, Giro Ecoterritorial y Pensamiento crítico en América Latina” in: http://maristellasvampa.net/archivos/ensayo59.pdf.
3 See his text “Yo no soy un aculturado” speech at the ceremony of the “Inca Garcilaso de la Vega” award in October 1968: http://servindi.org/actualidad/3252.
4 See an exhibition of various authors on this appropriation in the book Bifurcación del Buen Vivir y el Sumak Kausay, text compiled by Ecuadorian Atawallpa Oviedo Freire, Sumak Edition, Quito, Ecuador, January 2014.

5 In the context of wild neoliberal extractivism, predatory informality and widespread and frontier crime, see my text entitled “Economía y cultura canallas en el Perú,” published by Quehacer magazine, No. 193, in. http: // www. desco.org.pe/sites/default/files/quehacer_articulos/files/07%20Cabieses%20193.pdf


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