Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reorienting the Latin American Left

Great interview in The Nation of Gustavo Petro. In particular, he talks about reorienting the Latin American left.

There’d be a change in axis. Latin American progressivism used to revolve around the Havana-Caracas-Buenos Aires-Managua axis. That was an old progressivism, and I don’t think it gave us any solutions. It revolved around oil and coal, Havana included, since it aligned with Venezuela to get oil. It has since fallen apart, and while it was falling apart, neoliberalism got a second wind and began winning elections in Argentina, Peru, and other countries. But I don’t think that it’s lasted long yet—except in Colombia, where it always has been. Take a look at crisis in Peru, what is happening in Mexico, even in Brazil—they needed a coup to take down Lula.

The existence of the FARC prevented any moderate left from gaining traction in Colombia, and the silver lining there is that Petro has a blank political slate to work with. Eventually the Venezuelan left will face a similar situation since the Chavista left is being discredited.

He provides no details about how to move away from extractionism, and of course even Nicolás Maduro talks about it while doing nothing, but it's still important to begin with a goal of changing how the left views the economy.

It will be an axis that sees the transformations of Latin America toward a productive economy, and not one based the extraction of resources. We aren’t going to be primary exporters, as we have been for five centuries. We can also be an intentional society and produce on the basis of knowledge. 

I am not sure what he means here by "producing on the basis of knowledge." He has said this before.

“Over the last 30 years, Colombia has exported oil, coal and cocaine,” he said. “I don’t see how this benefits humanity. I want to export food and knowledge-intensive industrial products.”

Perhaps he means high tech. Regardless, it shows a recognition that the Venezuelan and Argentine models had serious problems and should not be copied. A reorientation is what the Latin American left needs right now if it is to win votes again in more countries and carry on its core goal of reducing inequality.


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