latin america

El Salvador: The beginning of a new era -- and great challenges

By Jay Hartling

May 31, 2009 -- El Salvador -- On Monday, June 1, 2009 El Salvador will turn a new page in its history with the inauguration of the country´s first left government, joining the ranks of the majority of Latin America. Representing the Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) ), Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Ceren, president and vice-president elect, will face a national assembly in which the FMLN is outnumbered by more than 2:1. Out of a total of 84 seats, the FMLN only have 35. This will make broad sweeping changes difficult, but not impossible, and may force Funes to use the power of the presidential veto as a bargaining chip. It is important that those of us observing from a distance understand the complicated environment within which the new government will be operating.

The new government represents a coalition of interests including the FMLN and its national grassroots system of committees, and a broad cross-section of civil society. More and more information is coming to light that despite the glowing picture painted by the outgoing right-wing ARENA party, the country is bankrupt -- the result of twenty years of failed economic and social policies, and rampant corruption by ARENA and its allies, the PDC and PCN. It is likely that the new government will discover the depth of the corruption and mismanagement after it assumes office.

Fidel Castro’s declarations of resistance

Review by Alex Miller

The Declarations of Havana,
by Fidel Castro, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso, 2008, 138 pages

May 22, 2009 -- As Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, it is fitting that three of the most famous documents relating to the struggle against Batista and the early days of the revolution are published together in a single volume. The Declarations of Havana is part of Verso’s new “revolutions” series.

By reading the three documents back-to-back, one is able to trace the development of the Cuban Revolution from its nationalist-democratic beginnings to its socialist conclusion.

On July 26, 1953, a 26-year-old lawyer named Fidel Castro — along with his younger brother Raul — led an armed attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, hoping to spark an uprising that would remove the hated Batista from power.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #3 -- To be at the service of popular movements, not displace them

[This is the third in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. We have previously stated that politics is the art of constructing a social and political force capable of changing the balance of forces in order to make possible tomorrow that which today appears to be impossible. But, to be able to construct a social force it is necessary for political organisations to demonstrate a great respect for grassroots movements; to contribute to their autonomous development, leaving behind all attempts at manipulation. They must take as their starting point that they aren’t the only ones with ideas and proposals and, on the contrary, grassroots movements have much to offer us, because through their daily struggles they have also learned things, discovered new paths, found solutions and invented methods which can be of great value.

`The only fight we lose is the one we abandon’: Mexico’s first openly lesbian MP on LGBTI rights and people’s power

Patria Jiménez. Photo by Rachel Evans.

By Rachel Evans

May 21, 2009 -- Coyacan, Mexico -- I interviewed Patria Jiménez in Coyacan’s normally bustling markets. The onset of the swine flu crisis had emptied the streets and enforced a stiffness into Mexico’s normally effusive greetings tradition. No kissing hello or shaking hands was encouraged. Jiménez ignored swine-flu protocol and greeted me warmly.

In 1997, Jiménez made history by being elected the first openly lesbian member of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies. Representing an alliance that included the the Workers Revolutionary Party (PRT) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Jiménez was also the first openly lesbian candidate to be elected in Latin America. She is standing again within a coalition, Salvemos a México (We Will Save Mexico), for the July 2009 federal elections.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #2 -- Convince, not impose

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the second in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. Popular movements and, more generally, the different social protagonists who today are engaged in the struggle against neoliberal globalisation both at the international and national levels reject, with good reason, attitudes that aim to impose hegemony or control on movements. They don’t accept the steamroller policy that some political and social organisations tended to use that, taking advantage of their position of strength and monopolising political positions, attempt to manipulate the movement. They don’t accept the authoritarian imposition of a leadership from above; they don’t accept attempts made to lead movements by simply giving orders, no matter how correct they are.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #1 -- Insurrections or revolutions? The role of the political instrument

Marta Harnecker (left).

[This is the first in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. The recent popular uprisings at the turn of the 21st century that have rocked numerous countries such as Argentina and Bolivia -- and, more generally, the history of the multiple social explosions that have occurred in Latin America and the rest of the world -- have undoubtedly demonstrated that the initiative of the masses, in and of itself, is not enough to defeat ruling regimes.

International Day against Homophobia celebrated in Cuba -- three reports from Havana

Havana, 16 May, 2009 -- Prensa Latina -- International Day against Homophobia was observed here today, with the participation of a diverse, largely youthful public.

In the early hours of the morning, the day's activities began at the headquarters of the Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC) and the Pabellón Cuba, in the central district of El Vedado.

Mariela Castro Espín, the director of the National Center of Sex Education (CENESEX), presided over the inauguration of the day's events with a parade and the opening of the panel on "Sexual diversity in the Cuban family."

Interview with Bolivia's foreign minister: `Communitarian socialism will refound Bolivia’

Interview with Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca by Patricia Bravo and Cris González, translated from the original article in the March 20, 2009, edition of Punto Final (Chile) by David Montoute.

David Choquehuanca.

Bolivia’s new ``Political Constitution of the State’’, approved by referendum on January 25, 2009, by 61.4% of the vote and announced on February 7, is clearly of transcendental importance for the refoundation of Bolivia. The recognition of individual and collective rights, popular participation, the principle of equality and the end of all types of exclusion and discrimination are all present in the new constitutional text.

It establishes the creation of “a Unified Social State of Law whose character would be Plurinational Communitarian, free, independent, sovereign, democratic, intercultural, with decentralised autonomous departments, regions, municipalities and indigenous circumscriptions”.

Mexico's Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) statement on swine flu epidemic

Statement by the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT)

April 30, 2009 -- The health emergency brought about by the swine flu epidemic has important political and social repercussions, in addition to consequences for public health, that need to be explained in the midst of the confusion and distrust that contradictory governmental versions generate. It is also necessary to open the way to scientific information, truth and political criticism.

Socialist feminist revival spearheaded by Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions

By Reihana Mohideen

May 4, 2009 -- There is a revival of socialist feminism in Latin America, spearheaded by the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions.

I have just returned from a workshop on gender-based violence organised by the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Venezuela and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Speakers included Maria Leon, Venezuela's minister of women's affairs, and Nora Casteneda, president of Banmujer (Bank for the Development of Women). The two women explained the gains made by women as a result of Bolivarian socialist revolution in Venezuela. Truly amazing attempts in empowering women towards achieving gender equality were reported candidly by both women, who also outlined the challenges women in Venezuela have as yet to overcome.

Venezuela's Bolivarian constitution is the first in the South (and possibly the world) to recognise women's housework as a legitimate economic activity producing wealth and contributing to the social welfare of the population: "The State will recognise household chores as an economic activity that creates added value, produces wealth and social welfare. Housewives have the right to social security according to the law" (Article 88). As Maria Leon explained, in Article 88 "the work of all previous generations of women are also recognised and valued".

A Green's view of Cuba: Reflections on the 50th anniversary of the revolution

Barb in Cuba
Barbara Chicherio and husband Don Fitz in Havana.

By Barbara Chicherio

During January 2009 I visited Cuba over a long weekend. My stepdaughter started medical school there this past August and this was the first chance in several months for her Dad and me to see her. Visiting Rebecca was wonderful, but I was unprepared for what I encountered during the three short days spent in Cuba and how the experience would shift my perception of the global economy.

Bolivia: Rich countries must pay their `ecological debt'

Retreat of the Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia 1940-2005.

Submission by Republic of Bolivia to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] (AWG-LCA)

April 25, 2009 -- We call on developed countries to commit to deep emission reductions in order to advance the objective of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and its consequences, to reflect their historical responsibility for the causes of climate change, and to respect the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Michael Lebowitz: Venezuela's socialism of the 21st century

April 16, 2009 -- Michael Lebowitz has recently been in Australia as a featured guest of the World at a Crossroads conference, held in Sydney April 10-12, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is a program coordinator with the Centro International

(Updated April 23) `Capitalism is putting an end to humanity and the planet' -- ALBA on the 5th Summit of the Americas

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez greets Cuba's President Raul Castro.

Translated by Federico Fuentes

Cumaná, April 17, 2009

The heads of state and governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela -- member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) -- consider that the proposed Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:

Evo Morales: `I declare myself Marxist ... now let the OAS expel Bolivia'

April 16, 2009 – During his intervention at the seventh ALBA Summit, Bolivia's president Evo Morales recalled the 1962 documents of the Organisation of American States (OAS) that resulted in Cuba being expelled from the organisation, and outlined the importance of reflecting on the motives of that expulsion.

The resolution indicates that the adherence of any member country to Marxism-Leninism, and the association of any member government of the organisation with the communist bloc, broke the unity and solidarity of the hemisphere. Therefore, given that the government of Cuba identified itself as Marxist-Leninist, it was incompatible with the purpose of the OAS and was therefore excluded from participating.

Luis Bilbao: The grand duel -- At the Fifth Summit of the Americas, a crucial battle is to be waged

By Luis Bilbao, translated by Gonzalo Villanueva for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. It was first published in America XXI.

[Luis Bilbao will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

April 9, 2009 -- The time has arrived: to align with the North to engage in the futile business of saving capitalism, or define positions and accelerate towards South American unity, the complementary solidarity of the region's economies and authentic sovereignty towards the good life for all. That is the option for which there is no possible postponement.

Bolivia's ‘communitarian socialism’

Banner supporting a `yes' vote in the January 25, 2009, constitutional referendum.

By Federico Fuentes

April 1, 2009 -- The historic enactment of Bolivia’s new constitution that grants unprecedented rights to the country’s indigenous majority, approved by over 61% of the vote on January 25, represented the beginning of “communitarian socialism”, according to President Evo Morales.

This was not the first time Bolivia’s first indigenous president had raised the concept of “communitarian socialism”. In his April 2008 speech to the United Nations, Morales spoke of the need for “a communitarian socialism in harmony with Mother Earth”.

While Morales’s political party is officially known as Movement Towards Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP), it was originally simply IPSP. Blocked from registering itself as an electoral party, the IPSP took up the offer of the then-existing MAS party to use its registered name to run in elections.

La revolucion energetica: Cuba's energy revolution

By Laurie Guevara-Stone, photos by Mario Alberto Arrastia Avila

April 2, 2009 -- A new revolution is sweeping the island of Cuba, which is making massive progress on energy efficiency and renewable generation. Indeed, such is the success of the two-year old program on this small island of 11 million people, that many other countries could learn from its efforts to be energy independent and curb climate change.

Atilio Borón: From infinite war to infinite crisis

Atilio Borón (right) with friend.

By Atilio Borón[*], translated by Machetera, Scott Campbell, Christine Lewis Carroll and Manuel Talens

March 25, 2009 -- Machetera/Tlaxcala -- Some thoughts on the current capitalist crisis, its probable “solutions” and the role that a socialist option might play in the present juncture.

El Salvador's FMLN: The road to victory and beyond

By the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

March 24, 2009 -- Starting at 7am on Sunday, March 15, Salvadorans headed en masse to the polls to cast their ballots for the future president; by 9:30pm Mauricio Funes, presidential candidate of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), pronounced himself president-elect of El Salvador—the very first leftist head of state in the country’s history.

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