Mainstream media malaise

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By Flavio Aguiar*

It is impossible to hide the relative bitterness with which the media mainstream international community has been receiving the news emanating from Latin America. Sometimes this bitterness turns into explicit ill will: for this media, the focus of the Bolivian news was right away the oppositionist declaration of the defeated candidate, Carlos Mesa, that there had been fraud in the count, instead of the victory of the situation.

Statements by pro-United States diplomats from the Organization of American States (OAS) were also highlighted, casting doubt on the result of the election or even saying that, although Evo Morales won by a difference greater than 10% of the votes in relation to the second placed (Table), the margin of overcoming that percentage was so small (less than 1%) that it would be advisable to hold a second round – even if this goes against Bolivian electoral law, which guarantees Evo's victory in the first round.

There are other setbacks to this hegemony of neoliberal precepts that holds hegemony within this media mainstream international, which also reigns in the United States, is obvious. The South American apple of her eye has always been post-Pinochet Chile, presented as the most successful country in the region, thanks to the implementation of the creed derived from the ultraliberal economic school of the “Chicago Boys”. Although this apparent success has not deceived anyone on the left for a long time, for that hegemonic thinking “suddenly, no more than suddenly”, that image of an Andean and Spanish-speaking Switzerland collapsed.

What emerged, to the chagrin of those “well thinking”, was the image of a brutally unequal country, devastated by the privatization of everything, with miserable elderly people due to a private and innocuous pension system, although profitable for private finance, with abusive prices in public education that put students in debt for 10 or 15 years, and still grappling with police repression reminiscent of Pinochet's times. All of this arose from the flames that engulfed the country – some of them caused by repressive agents, according to videos circulating on the internet. As one of these videos proclaims, the difference between today and 1973 is that every citizen carries a camera or phone that records everything – including police officers snorting cocaine before starting violence or others, even if disguised, getting ready to set fire to buildings public offices, supermarkets and banks.

The Ecuador of the convert Lenin Moreno and Peru have already sunk, as well as Haiti once again. And last year this same neoliberal thought had to suffer the defeat of its candidate in Mexico and the victory of the “populist” Lopez Obrador.

However, the discomfort does not end there. Four years ago, Mauricio Macri's victory in Argentina was hailed as "the end of populism". Now, this “populism” must return to the fore, whether in the first or second round, in the face of the resounding failure of Madrid's economic policies that devastated the country, raising the percentage of poor and miserable people and even undermining its middle-class base.

Two other problems for this media, although of a different nature: in Venezuela, Guaidó failed to overthrow Maduro; in Brazil the bringing of an ultraneoliberal minister to power, Paulo Guedes, whose program of “reforms” destined to devastate the Brazilian State and the purchasing power of the majority of the population may please the establishment financial financier, is counterbalanced by its boss and sidekick Jair Bolsonaro, whose far-right, imbecile, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-environment outbursts, etc., as well as those of his family and close court, scandalize souls more conservative, as long as they are not fascist or admire Trump and his political atrocities.

There is more. Even in Europe the neoliberal precepts, which came to take over the socialist, social democratic or green parties, which applied their precepts without pity or pity on the stunned working classes. begin to show signs of extensive sinking. One of the most striking evidences of this failure is what is happening in the countries of the former geopolitical European East.

The popular demonstrations (called “revolutions”) that put an end to communist regimes after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of the former Soviet Union awakened images of an idyllic emergence of democracies in the best Western European style in that region. This “vision of paradise” turned out to be a pathetic mistake. Instead, what prevailed was the emergence and consolidation of despotic and repressive parties, as in the case of Hungary and Poland, or else of rulers eager for the benefits of European Union investments without the counterpart of a substantial improvement in the quality of administration. and the democratization of public space. Empowered nouveaux riches appropriated the largest slices of property or finance.

Inequalities have increased, poverty in many cases as well. In perhaps the most serious case, that of Ukraine, there was a near dismemberment of the country. The exodus hit many of them hard, dragging crowds (especially young people) towards the West, which seemed like a paradise close at hand, or a train, bus or plane ticket. This last fact led to an “aging” of the policy, which oscillated between a closeted conservatism, sometimes religiously Catholic, and a nostalgia for the times of the old regime which, as usual, had its ills diminished and its blessings increased in the visions disappointed with the present and hopeless about the future.

As if that were not enough, ex-Western Europe itself began to be harassed by a xenophobic extreme right, galvanizing the feeling of helplessness accentuated after the 2008 crisis, instigated by the waves of refugees; with the right to the rebirth of the same old anti-Semitism, now side by side with contempt, resentment and fear towards Muslims, and also towards Africans.

This far-right assault, bolstered by the presence of Steve Bannon, Cardinal Raymond Burke and their campaigns that even include the attempt to destabilize the Pope, has suffered some setbacks recently. Matteo Salvini wanted to take a step beyond his legs and was removed from the Italian government; Vox grew but was contained in Spain; the AfD managed to project itself locally and nationally in Germany, but it is still far from overthrowing the hegemony of the traditional parties. This advance of the radical right reinforced, however, the tendency of almost all parties to adhere to an even more conservative agenda. Even the Greens, who started to grow in several countries, once again showed a disguised arm-wrestling between the most “red” and the most “moderate”.

Meanwhile, two powerful ghosts haunt this “Centrão” that professes, covertly or openly, the neoliberal principles embodied in “austerity policies”. On the one hand, there is the possibility of Donald Trump's re-election next year, with his distracting macro-Bolsonaro policy, which puts pressure on both opponents and allies in his trade wars. On the other hand, Putin's Russia emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union, returning to being a global player and a global power - anything soft. Its foray into the Middle East is its latest diplomatic feat, backed by its resurgent military and economic might.

In the face of all this, China smiles, with its ghostly aspect and its realistic new Silk Road.

That is why the climate that reigns on the beaches, plains and mountains of the European Union and the heralds of liberalism that does not abdicate its economic and messianic Pentecostalism, although secular, is also, who would say, “nobody lets go of anyone’s hand”…

*Flavio Aguiar is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP.

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