Sunday, December 13, 2015

Transnational Dreams of Chavez and Lula

Chris Sabatini has an article in Foreign Policy analyzing the problems in Venezuela and Brazil, and how they eroded the dreams their governments had of transnational influence. Unfortunately, the title is really misleading--the article has nothing to do with the "sad" death (or any other kind of death) of the entire Latin American left.

One point I would make is that it's not just economic crisis that hit the dreams of Hugo Chavez and Lula. It's also that their successors simply didn't share the dream. Neither Maduro nor Rousseff had anywhere near the same kind of transnational ambitions, in part because they had to deal with problems at home, but in part because they're just different people.

Anyway, go check it out. He takes some pokes.

At the same time, with oil prices surging to $100 a barrel, Chávez became both the champion of the extreme anti-globalization left and the bête noir of the U.S. right. Seemingly respectable economists like Mark Weisbrot and members of the Hollywood glitterati, like Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, and Sean Penn, embraced his populist petro-patronage, under which the government established subsidized food banks and pumped up state employment as a viable economic and political alternative to the United States and the economic orthodoxy of Washington Consensus reforms of the 1990s. 
The left’s embrace of Chávez was, in part, a reflection of its mutual disregard for the George W. Bush administration and, in part, a genuine-but-misguided belief that Chávez’s self-proclaimed Bolivarian revolution was sustainable. This pro-Chavista solidarity required that one ignore his silence on progressive issues like the environment and LGBT rights, and the very real economic and institutional damage he was doing to his country by making it even more dependent on oil exports, inflating its currency, politicizing the military, and packing the judicial system with partisan allies.

So, food for thought.


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