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Is South America’s ‘progressive cycle’ at an end? Neo-developmentalist attempts and socialist projects
Marta Harnecker (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.
By Marta Harnecker, translated by Richard Fidler
January 2016 — Monthly Review, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission — In recent years a major debate has emerged over the role that new social movements should adopt in relation to the progressive governments that have inspired hope in many Latin American nations. Before addressing this subject directly, though, I want to develop a few ideas.
The situation in the 1980s and ’90s in Latin America was comparable in some respects to the experience of pre-revolutionary Russia in the early twentieth century. The destructive impact on Russia of the imperialist First World War and its horrors was paralleled in Latin America by neoliberalism and its horrors: greater hunger and poverty, an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment, the destruction of nature, and the erosion of sovereignty.
Bolivians receive free tree saplings as part of the "My Tree" program, which combats deforestation. Photo via TeleSUR.
By Federico Fuentes
July 27, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Bolivia's President Evo Morales announced in May that his government was allowing oil and gas drilling in national parks, mainstream and progressive media outlets alike were quick to condemn his supposed hypocrisy on environmental issues.
Writing for the Associated Press, Frank Bajak argued that although Morales is known internationally for his outspoken campaigning on climate change, at home he faces constant criticism from conservationists “who say he puts extraction ahead of clean water and forests”.
Bajak said this contradiction was a result of Morales’ strategy of developing extractive industries as a means of cutting poverty, regardless of the environmental cost.
The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are home to over half the world's lithium deposits.
For the complete "extractivism" discussion, click HERE.
By Don Fitz
April 17, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Policies that expand “extractivism” in progressive Latin American countries bring up a host of contradictions: How do the short-term benefits of financial gain from extraction compare to its long-term destructiveness? What options are available for reducing poverty without increasing mining, logging and GMO monocultures? Could the climate change effects of extraction actually hurt the world’s poor more than helping them? How can struggles against extractivism chart a path to economies based on human need rather corporate profits?
The lithium fantasy
Voting in Bolivia’s elections, March 29, 2015.
By Richard Fidler
April 6, 2015 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Up to 90% of the electorate voted in Bolivia’s “subnational” elections March 29 for governors, mayors and departmental assembly and municipal council members throughout the country. These were the second such elections to be held since the new constitution came into force in 2009, the first being in 2010.
By Eric Toussaint, translated by Adam Clark-Gimmig
February 18, 2015 -- Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Experience proves that left-wing movements can come to be in government, but nevertheless not hold power. Democracy, in other words the exercise of power by the people and for the people, requires much more.
The problem is currently being faced in Greece with SYRIZA, and will have to be faced in Spain with Podemos (if that party wins the general elections in late 2015), as it was faced in the past, in Venezuela with the election of Hugo Chávez as president in December 1998, in Bolivia with Evo Morales in 2005, in Ecuador with Rafael Correa in December 2006, or several decades earlier with Salvador Allende in Chile in 1970 |1|.
February 23, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The following talk was given at a celebration of ALBA in Toronto, February 21, 2015.
* * *
Today we celebrate a decade of achievement of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA). For 10 years ALBA has stood on the world stage as a defender of peace, solidarity and popular sovereignty.
Before ALBA, Cuba stood alone for many years against the U.S.-led empire. But through ALBA, an alliance of countries, with wide influence and many friends among governments and peoples, now challenges imperialism on a range of issues. While representing only a few small and poor countries, ALBA exercises great moral authority and carries weight in world affairs. ALBA is the most effective international alliance based on solidarity in modern history.
Hugo Chavez and supporters at Chavez’s final campaign rally in Caracas on October 4, 2013, three days before his re-election as president.
By Mike Treen, director of the Unite union in Aotearoa/New Zealand
February 19, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The election of the radical left-wing SYRIZA party in Greece and a possible victory of the similarly radical party Podemos in Spain has raised the hopes of millions of people across Europe and the globe that we can put an end to austerity-type policies, put in place policies that will protect working people from the capitalist crisis and advance society to a new era of social justice governments.
[Please return regularly for updates.]
January 28, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Venezuela's government has congratulated Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing SYRIZA party, who won a huge victory in Greece's parliamentary elections on January 25, 2015, reports TeleSur English. Tsipras has been inaugurated as the country's prime minister.
A Venezuelan government statement said: “Venezuela warmly congratulates the Syriza coalition party and Alexis Tsipras for their historic victory, wishing them success and complete solidarity and support.”
Venezuela's foreign minister Elias Jaua tweeted: “The Greek people, after a long and historic battle against neoliberalism, has crowned itself a wonderful victory. Syriza is fresh air for Europe!”
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4184.]
Von Federico Fuentes; Übersetzung: Christian Klar
01.12.2014 -- amerika21.de -- Seit Anfang des Jahres haben zahlreiche Zeitungen vorhergesagt, dass sich ein Niedergang der sogenannten "Pink Tide" abzeichnet. Der Begriff "Pink Tide" wird verwendet, um die Welle von Regierungen links der Mitte in Lateinamerika zu bezeichnen, die in den vergangenen Jahren durch Wahlen an die Regierung kamen. Eine Reihe von ihnen waren bereits wiedergewählt worden und Meinungsforscher und Kommentatoren gleichermaßen erörterten, dass für viele nun ihre Zeit an der Regierung um sei.
Stattdessen sahen die Brasilianer am Sonntag, den 26. Oktober, Dilma Rousseff als wiedergewählte Präsidentin eine vierte Amtszeit in Folge für die Arbeiterpartei beginnen. Noch am selben Tag gaben die Wähler im benachbarten Uruguay der amtierenden Frente Amplio (FA) eine Mehrheit in beiden Kammern des Parlaments, und FA-Kandidat Tabaré Vasquez geht als heißer Favorit in die zweite Runde der Präsidentschaftswahlen, nachdem er 49,5 Prozent der Stimmen in der ersten Runde gewann – im Vergleich zu 32 Prozent für seinen zweitstärksten Rivalen.
On October 26 Brazilians re-elected Dilma Rousseff as president, ushering in a fourth consecutive Workers’ Party administration.
By Federic Fuentes
December 7, 2014 -- first published in TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Since the start of the year, numerous newspapers have dedicated article after article to predictions of a looming demise of the so-called “Pink Tide”. The term is used to refer to the wave of left-of-centre governments elected to power in Latin America during recent years.
A number of these governments were up for re-election this year, and pollsters and commentators alike argued that for many, their time in government was up.
Instead, on October 26 Brazilians re-elected Dilma Rousseff as president, ushering in a fourth consecutive Workers’ Party administration. That same day, voters in neighboring Uruguay handed the incumbent Broad Front (FA) a majority in both houses of parliament, and FA candidate Tabare Vasquez went into the second round of the presidential elections as hot favorite after winning 49.5% of the vote in the first round (compared with 32% for his nearest rival).
The author, Judith Marshall, meets Pope Francis.
By Judith Marshall
November 21, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I have recently returned from three fascinating days in Rome where I participated in a World Meeting of Popular Movements. This event brought to the Vatican a throng of articulate delegates from among the poor and excluded of the 21st Century, people fighting for land, for housing, for work and for dignity. Pope Francis was a central force in creating this gathering in Rome. Our meeting with him in the Old Synod Hall of the Basilica was a high point.
The meeting brought together 150 delegates. Thirty of them were Bishops from various parts of the world whose ministries include strong accompaniment and support for movements of the poor. The other 120 came from various popular movements working on the thematic issues of the meeting – Terra, Labor, Domus. Men and women fighting for land, work and housing were present from every continent. In a statement from the organisers, the logic was clear.
A miner in Bolivia.
For more on the "extractivism" discussion, click HERE.
By Federico Fuentes
October 31, 2014 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article appeared first at TeleSUR English -- In recent years, a number of important discussions have emerged among and between environmentalists and solidarity activists. None has generated quite as much heat as the debate over extractive industries, particularly in South America.
This is perhaps unsurprising given what’s at stake: South America is home to some of the world’s largest and most important natural resource deposits. It is also a region dominated by progressive governments that have taken strong stances internationally in support of action on climate change, while facing criticism at home for their positions on extractive industries.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4111.]
Von Federico Fuentes
Oktober 20, 2014 -- Einartysken -- Die Vorhersagen der Umfragen und Kommentatoren, dass Evo Morales die Präsidentenwahl am 12.Oktober lässig gewinnen wird, bestätigten sich, als er 60 % der Stimmen erhielt.
Die meisten Leute sind jedoch verschiedener Meinung, warum die 'Bewegung Richtung Sozialismus (MAS)' von Morales nach fast 10 Jahren an der Macht immer noch so hohe Unterstützung genießt.
Ihre Erklärungen neigen dazu, sich auf spezifische oder politische Faktoren zu konzentrieren, wie die gestiegenen Rohstoffpreise oder die Fähigkeit der MAS, die sozialen Bewegungen des Landes zu kontrollieren oder zu kooptieren.
Um jedoch zu verstehen, warum Morales bald der am längsten an der Macht stehende Präsident in einem Land ist, das für seine Staatsstreiche und Rebellionen berühmt ist, ist es notwendig, die tiefgreifenden Veränderungen unter seiner Präsidentschaft zur Kenntnis zu nehmen.
Evo Morales addresses supporters in La Paz on election night. In foreground is David Choquehuenca, Bolivia’s foreign minister.
By Richard Fidler
October 19, 2014 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As expected, Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) government won a resounding victory in Bolivia’s national presidential and parliamentary election October 12.
Although official results will not be available until November (more on that below), the MAS was re-elected with just over 61% of the popular vote, three percentage points less than in 2009 and short of the 74% support the MAS had proclaimed as its goal. However, the MAS vote was more evenly spread throughout the country; it won a plurality in eight of Bolivia’s nine departments, including three of the four that make up the so-called “half-moon” in the country’s east and north, which in 2008 were in open revolt against the indigenous-led government.
By Federico Fuentes
October 20, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The failure of opposition forces and critics to recognise or accept that a political revolution that has taken place explains why they are so far out of touch with the majority of Bolivian society.
Predictions by pollsters and commentators that Evo Morales would easily win Bolivia’s October 12 presidential elections were confirmed when the incumbent obtained over 60% of the vote.
Most however differ over why, after almost a decade in power, Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) continues to command such a huge level of support.
Their explanations tend to focus on specific economic or political factors, such as booming raw material prices or the MAS’ ability to control and co-opt the country’s social movements.
However, to understand why Morales will soon become the longest-serving head of state in a country renowned for its history of coups and rebellions, it is necessary to start with an acknowledgement of the profound changes that Bolivia is undergoing under his presidency.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
By Naomi Klein
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014
Review by John Riddell
October 20, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite endless conferences, treaties and solemn promises, greenhouse gas emissions have risen 61% since 1990, and the rate of increase is accelerating. As Naomi Klein tells us in her new book, This Changes Everything, we are now experiencing an “early twenty-first century emissions explosion”.
The reason for this ominous failure, she shows, is that the present capitalist profit system itself is incompatible with climate and environmental stability. Our only hope is the rise of mass movements with the combined goals of saving the environment and achieving social justice.
This Changes Everything is a rich resource of fact and argument: it’s a book that every climate justice activist should read, use and share.
‘The Right is right’
A women in Bolivia views a melting glacier's water.
By Richard Fidler
October 6, 2014 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Bolivia goes to the polls on Sunday, October 12, in the country’s third national election since the victory of Evo Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) in December 2005 and the second since the adoption of its radically new constitution in 2009. The MAS list, led by President Morales and his vice-presidential running mate Álvaro García Linera, is far ahead in the opinion polling over four opposition slates, all to the right of the MAS.
Although Bolivia’s “process of change”, its “democratic and cultural revolution” as García Linera terms it, is still in its early stages, the country’s developmental process has already attracted considerable interest — and some controversy — internationally, not least because of its government’s role as a leading critic of global climate change, which it forthrightly attributes to the effects and the logic inherent to the capitalist mode of production.
For more on the discussion around "extractivism", click HERE.
By Federico Fuentes
August 9, 2014 -- TeleSUR, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Labelling the government of Bolivia as “pro-extractivist” or “neoextractivist” ignores the reality that Bolivia has made significant advances in breaking with the extractivist framework inherited from previous governments and enforced by the existing global relationship of forces.
A central challenge facing progressive governments and social movements in South America today is breaking the region’s dependency on raw material exports. This issue, which has tended to revolve around the concept of “extractivism”, has also become one of the main points of contention between supporters and critics of the processes of change currently underway in the region.
August 7, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Bolivia's leader Evo Morales is among a list of recognised names including former Honduras president Mel Zelaya and Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel calling for support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.
Morales has officially signed on as a supporter of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
In an open letter released on August 6, Morales heads a long list of signatories from Latin America and elsewhere condemning "apartheid and genocide" against Palestinians, and calls on Israel to respect United Nations resolutions. Among those listed as signatories include former president of Honduras Mel Zelaya, Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, Cuban musician Silvio Rodríguez and teleSUR president Patricia Villegas (see full letter below).