Articles by: Jason Tockman
Amidst the flurry of recently published books on the dynamics of contemporary Latin American politics, Ben Dangl’s Dancing with Dynamite stands out for his reporting on social and political change from the vantage point of social movements themselves. In this polemical book, Dangl studies subaltern struggles vis-à-vis states, drawing primarily from targeted interviews with social movement activists and analysts from seven South American countries that are generally seen as part of the region's move to the left. The resulting product is a view from below of countries ranging from Ecuador to Venezuela.
On March 7, NACLA Research Associate Jason Tockman interviewed Pablo Solón, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations. Solón brought his unique combination of both grass-roots economic-justice activism and his more recent official background under the Evo Morales administration to the interview. With this broad experience he takes on myriad topics, stressing that Latin America is finally moving away from the claws of the Monroe Doctrine, and beginning to define its own future, despite what happened in Honduras. This has had a direct impact on Bolivia as it continues to move forward with its own particular challenges.
During Hugo Chávez's tour of nine countries across northern Africa, western Asia and Europe in early September, the Venezuelan president orchestrated the signing of a flurry of energy accords. Much ink was spilled over Chávez's agreement to exchange oil for machinery and technology with the West's favorite pariah, Iran. But the most far-reaching commitments Chávez secured on his trip took place in Moscow—a series of accords with Russian oil and gas firms to develop a block of the massive Orinoco belt in northeastern Venezuela, one of the largest oil fields in the world.
On August 12, 2009, Mapuche activist Jaime Mendoza Collío, 24, was shot in the back by a police officer during a symbolic land occupation of the San Sebastian ranch outside the town of Angol, Chile. The killing - and the reactions to it - reflects a deepening crisis in the relations between the Chilean state and the 900,000-member Mapuche nation, the largest indigenous group in Chile.
The first time Mario Terán faced a doctor from Cuba, he killed him. He heard Che Guevara utter his famous last words: "Shoot, coward; you are only going to kill a man," and in October of 1967, in a small schoolhouse in rural Bolivia, Sergeant Terán fired a round of bullets into the revolutionary's body. Forty years later, Terán walked into a medical clinic staffed by Cuban physicians. Disguising his identity, he requested medical attention. His cataracts were corrected, his sight restored.
For the first time since Chile's return to democracy, the country's ruling political coalition may lose the presidency. The centrist "Concertación" coalition is being challenged from both the left and the right, facing perhaps its toughest electoral battle yet. A relative newcomer to Chile’s political scene has shaken things up: Socialist Party Congressman Marco Enríquez-Ominami, a breakaway Concertación candidate.
Relations between Bolivia and the United States took a dive during the Bush administration. Overtures made by both the Obama administration and Bolivian President Evo Morales suggest a possible thaw in bilateral relations. But stubborn and perhaps insurmountable obstacles stand in the way of diplomatic ties moving beyond Bush-era lows.
Ecuador’s leading social movements remain skeptical about whether Correa's re-election will translate into the deep social changes promised by the country’s new Constitution. Ecuador’s indigenous federations are still reeling from a bitter fight over a controversial mining law that the President pushed through the interim Congress in January. Many indigenous groups withheld their support for Correa in the April general elections, possibly costing his party a majority in the newly established unicameral National Assembly.