Articles by: Roger Burbach
In late November, it appeared the right in Latin America might be taking the initiative, but the elections in Venezuela and Chile in December provided new momentum for the left-leaning governments and the ascent of post-neoliberal policies. Over the past decade and a half, the rise of the left has been inextricably tied to the electoral process.
This is a fruitful period of experimentation and debate in Cuba. It is now almost seven years since Raúl Castro replaced his brother Fidel, first as interim president in 2006 and then as president in 2008. Under Raúl, the country is taking steps to transform the economy, and a critical discussion is erupting over the dismantling of the authoritarian Communist model.
Along with the Arab Spring, the indignados movement of Spain, and Occupy Wall Street, Latin America also played a role in the global tumult in 2011. Over the last year diverse grassroots movements in Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru have been raising questions and challenging the existent order.
When Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was sworn in to a second term in January, he proclaimed Bolivia a plurinational state that would construct “communitarian socialism.” In an accompanying address, Vice President Álvaro Garcia Linera, envisioned a "socialist horizon" for Bolivia, characterized by “well-being, making the wealth communal, drawing on our heritage . . .” The process “will not be easy, it could take decades, even centuries, but it is clear that the social movements cannot achieve true power without implanting a socialist and communitarian horizon.”
Beginning his fourth year as president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa confronts a major challenge from some of the very social actors that propelled him into office. In an address to the country in early January, Correa expressed his ire with a "coming series of conflicts this month, including indigenous mobilizations, workers, media communications, and even a level of the armed forces."
Daniel Ortega’s presidency, the “second stage of the Sandinista Revolution,” as he called it, has been characterized by sectarianism, authoritarianism, and intolerance of dissidents. It therefore represents a profound betrayal of the original Sandinista movement, which was committed to popular democracy, openness, and pluralism.
Landed elites in eastern Bolivia have allied themselves with multinational agribusiness corporations to consolidate their wealth and power, which they are using to destabilize the government of president Evo Morales. The rising food prices and shortages driven by those same corporations have only made their radical right-wing project stronger.