The Latin American Revolt

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By José Luís Fiori*

At first, it seemed that the right would take the initiative again, and if necessary, it would override the social forces that rebelled, and surprised the world during the “Red October” in Latin America. In early November, the Brazilian government sought to reverse the leftist advance by adopting an aggressive and directly confrontational position with the new Peronist government in Argentina. He then intervened, in a direct and undiplomatic manner, in the process of overthrowing the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, who had just obtained 47% of the votes in the presidential elections in Bolivia. The Brazilian chancellery not only stimulated the civic-religious movement of the extreme right in Santa Cruz, but was also the first to recognize the new government installed by the civic-military coup and led by a senator who had only obtained 4,5% of the votes in the last elections.

In that same period, the Brazilian government sought to intervene in the second round of the Uruguayan elections, giving public support to the conservative candidate, Lacalle Pou – who immediately rejected him – and receiving in Brasilia the leader of the Uruguayan extreme right who had been defeated in the first round, but who supported Lacalle Pou in the second round.

In the total balance of November events, however, an expansion of the “red wave” installed in the previous month in the Latin American continent can be seen. In that direction, and in order, first there was the release of the main leader of the world left – recognized as such by Steve Bannon himself – former president Lula, a release that he supplanted, due to a huge mobilization of national and international public opinion, resistance from the country's civil and military right.

Then came the popular and indigenous uprising in Bolivia, which interrupted and reversed the coup d'état by the Bolivian and Brazilian right, imposing on the newly installed government the calling of new presidential elections with the right to participate in all political parties, including Evo's. Morales.

The Chilean popular uprising also won a major victory with the National Congress calling for a Constituent Assembly charged with writing a new Constitution for the country, definitively burying the socioeconomic model inherited from the dictatorship of General Pinochet.

Even so, the rebellious Chilean population has not yet left the streets and must complete two months of almost continuous mobilization, with the progressive expansion of its “demand agenda” and the successive fall in prestige of President Sebastian Piñera, today reduced to 4,6 %. At this moment, the population continues to discuss in the public squares, in each neighborhood and province, the rules of the new constituent, foreshadowing an experience that may turn out to be revolutionary, of building a national and popular constitution, despite the fact that there are still parties and social organizations. that continue to demand even greater progress than what has already been achieved.

In the case of Ecuador, the country that became the trigger for the October revolts, the indigenous and popular movement forced the government of Lenín Moreno to withdraw from its program of reforms and measures imposed by the IMF, and accept a “negotiating table” that is discussing alternative measures and policies alongside a broad agenda of plurinational, ecological and feminist demands.

The most surprising thing was what happened in Colombia, the country that has been the stronghold of the Latin American right for many years and is today the main ally of the United States, of President Donald Trump, and Brazil of Captain Bolsonaro, in their project set of overthrow of the Venezuelan government and liquidation of its “Bolivarian” allies. After the electoral victory of the left, and of the opposition in general, in several important cities in Colombia, in the October elections, the call for a general strike across the country, on November 21, triggered a national wave of mobilizations and ongoing protests against President Ivan Duque's neoliberal policies and reforms, increasingly cornered and discredited.

The agenda proposed by the popular movements varies in each of these countries, but they all have one point in common: the rejection of neoliberal policies and reforms, and a radical nonconformity in relation to their dramatic social consequences – experienced several times throughout the history of society. Latin America – which ended up overthrowing the Chilean “ideal model”. In the face of this almost unanimous opposition, two things stand out: (a) the paralysis or impotence of the continent's liberal and conservative elites, who seem cornered and without any new ideas or proposals, other than the reiteration of the old hype of fiscal austerity and miraculous defense of privatizations, an agenda that has been failing everywhere; (b) the relative absence or distancing of the United States from the advance of the “Latin revolt”. They actively participated in the Bolivian coup, but with a third team team from the State Department, not counting the enthusiasm that this Department dedicated, for example, to the “Bolsonaro operation” in Brazil. This American distancing made the amateurism and incompetence of the new Brazilian foreign policy, conducted by the biblical chancellor, more visible.

To better understand this American “attention deficit”, it is important to observe some events and international developments of the last two months, which are still in full course. It is obvious that there is no necessary causal relationship between these events, but there is certainly a great “elective affinity” between what is happening in Latin America and the intensification of the internal struggle within the establishment American, which reached a new level with the opening of the impeachment against President Donald Trump, directly involving his foreign policy.

Everything indicates that this conflict took on another level of violence after Trump fired John Bolton, his National Security Advisor. This resignation seems to have provoked an unusual convergence between the most bellicose wing of the Republican Party and the “deep state” North American and a significant group of congressmen from the Democratic Party, responsible for the decision to try President Trump.

It is unlikely that the impeachment comes to fruition, but its process should become a political and electoral battleground until the 2020 presidential elections. Furthermore, with Bolton's removal and the immediate summons to testify Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the duo was dismantled – extremely aggressive – who, along with Vice President Mike Pence, has been responsible for the religious radicalization of American foreign policy over the past two years.

Thus, the line of command of the Latin American extreme right was also broken, and perhaps this is what left its Brazilian operators in Curitiba and Porto Alegre uncovered, when they were unmasked by the website The Intercept, also leaving the idiotic pupil they helped install in the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs without proper coverage. It cannot be forgotten that Mike Pompeo played a decisive role in Ukraine's “diplomatic mess”', which gave rise and reason to the process of impeachment. As a result, the statements and threats made by the current head of the US State Department are less and less credible and effective, at least until November 2020.

This, however, is not the only reason for the fight that divides the North American elite, in the process of its fierce internal fight. The decisive cause of this internal division lies in the failure of the American policy to contain China and Russia. The US is unable to stop or curb China's global expansion and Russia's accelerated technological-military advance.

These two expansive forces have already landed in Latin America, modifying the terms and effectiveness of the famous Monroe Doctrine, formulated in 1822. the last two auctions, the “assignment of rights”, in the Campos Basin, and the “sharing” auction, in the Santos Basin, probably an effort to make the next privatizations announced by Minister Paulo Guedes feasible. All of this, despite and above the chancellor's “Judeo-Christian” bravado.

It is not necessary to repeat that there is no single cause, or any necessary cause, that explains the “Latin revolt” that started in early October. But there is no doubt that this American division, together with the change in world geopolitics, has contributed decisively to the weakening of conservative forces in Latin America. It has also contributed to the accelerated disintegration of the current Brazilian government and the loss of its prominence within the Latin American continent, with the possibility that Brazil will soon become a continental pariah.

For all this, in conclusion, when looking ahead, it is possible to foresee some trends, despite the dense fog that shrouds the future at this moment in our history:

(2) Internal American division must continue and conflict increase, despite the fact that the contending groups share the same goal, ultimately, to preserve and expand the global power of the United States. But the US has encountered an insurmountable barrier and is no longer able to hold back the power it achieved after the end of the Cold War.

(3) For this very reason, the US turned to the “Western Hemisphere with a redoubled desire for possession. But even in Latin America they are facing a new reality, and they are no longer able to sustain their position of undisputed power.

(4) Consequently, it becomes increasingly difficult to impose on the local population the gigantic social costs of the neoliberal economic strategy that they support and try to impose on their Latin American periphery. It is a strategy that is incompatible with the idea of ​​justice and social equality, and that is literally inapplicable in countries with greater demographic density, greater territorial extension and socioeconomic complexity. It forms a kind of “square circle”.

Finally, despite this, the outcome of the alternative path proposed by the opposition forces remains an enigma. This is not a technical question involving economic policies. The problem lies in the “asymmetry of power”. After all, even in the face of mobilizations, the US and international financial capital maintain their power to veto, block or strangle peripheral economies, preventing the implementation of alternative and sovereign development strategies, outside the neoliberal straitjacket, meeting the demands of this great revolt Latin-American.

*Jose Luis Fiori He is a professor at the Graduate Program in International Political Economy at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of about the war (Voices, 2018).

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