Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Left rises in Bolivia

Evo Morales, a 46 year old Leftist, was elected to power in Bolivia recently. This marks an accentuation in the coming to power of multiple Leftist Governments in Latin America. Ravaged by policies of neo-liberalism into spiralling inequality, swathes of poverty and increased unemployment, depletion of resources, the people of Latin America have risen up against the Right in many countries. Morales was the leader of the "Movement toward Socialism" party and is the first indigeneous President of a country largely populated by indigeneous population.

Morales' victory reminds me of the dialogue between Alberto Gradando and Ernesto Guevara ('Che'), so eloquently shown in the movie, "The Motorcycle Diaries", where both discuss as to how and when shall the indigeneous people come to rule Latin American countries. Che later in the movie, talks about how Latin America as a whole is a concrete bloc, as he says, "Even though we are too insignificant to be spokesmen for such a noble cause, we believe, and this journey has only confirmed this belief, that the division of American into unstable and illusory nations is a complete fiction. We are one single mestizo race from Mexico to the Magellan Straits. And so, in an attempt to free ourselves from narrow minded provincialism, I propose a toast to Peru and to a united America."

If the trend was set by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, it was reset by Lula in Brazil, Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay, and Nestor Kirchner in Argentina. Mexico is going to elections soon, and we shall see further Left governments starting to form from there.

The increasing Left assertion in Latin America is a signal of the disenchantment with the policies of integrating with metropolitan capital, as demanded by the Bretton Woods institutions. The approach of the Left governments have been generally to take out and de-link the economies from the Washington Consensus and go for import substitution models, social welfare spending etc.

The most radical of all the governments is the Hugo Chavez regime in Venezuela. Chavez, who was a distinguished visitor to the JNU Campus about 7 months ago, and was greeted and cheered on by the students, has criticized the US government and its policies day in and day out. He has also taken revolutionary steps to help the traditionally poor in Venezuela gain a semblance of improvement in health and education. His policy of selling oil at subsidized rates to governments throughout the world in exchange for medical and technical help is a kind of international relations handling that can be likened to social constructivism. Unfortunately, he is termed "Maverick" by the bourgeois media all around.

Yet, all is not red and rosy about the rise of the Left. The Guardian reports how a bad precedent has been set by the Lula Government and the Workers Party (PT) in Brazil and how the Left in Latin America should learn from the Lula experience.

The rise of the Left in Latin America is a exemplar to the apologists for neo-liberal reforms about the problems that invariably go alongwith these policies.

Dependency Theorists such as A.G.Frank, who have worked eloquently on Latin America's political economy, would be thrilled by the overwhelming support for the revert to socialism in those countries. It is pertinent also to mention James Petras' work on the effects of Globalization in Latin America and how Globalization can be a form of imperialism.

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