Sunday, September 15, 2013

Allende and Latin America in 2013

Mark Weisbrot has an op-ed in Al Jazeera that is not terribly convincing. He argues that Salvador Allende's "dream" has been "fulfilled" because Latin America is "independent" from the United States. I can't help but get the impression this was thrown together hastily because the facts are not strong.

Here is a biggie:

But Allende’s dream of an independent Latin America has been mostly realised.  And the electoral road to social democracy (which he, like the current leaders of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, for example, called socialism) is now possible.  

Two problems here. First, I think Allende would disagree with this. His vision of socialism was not the watered down version of 2013. It was a more radical vision that went beyond social democracy. Second, this "dream" was realized because Marxism--in part the Marxism Allende supported--lost the Cold War, and so the United States now cares much less (still cared a lot, of course, but much less) about such elections taking place because that brand of Marxism no longer exists. Not even in Cuba.

Next: "The region is now independent of the United States in its foreign policy."

This seems weak to me. Just a recent example is that Rafael Correa moderated his views on Edward Snowden because of a call from Joe Biden. The U.S. is very powerful and although it does not dictate terms in Latin America it still brings a lot of influence to bear. Weisbrot's evidence is only that Latin American countries put out statements that contradict U.S. policy, but there is a long history of that. Ever heard of Oscar Arias?

I am sympathetic to the argument that some Latin American governments have carved out political and economic spaces that did not exist before. But let's not overdo it, and let's not bring Salvador Allende into just to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup. And let's not overstate where we are.


Otto 3:32 PM  

Must agree with Weeks here. Latam is certainly more independent of the US, but the word "more" is absolutely necessary in the sentence. Evidence of the strong continued influence of The USA in Latam is as easy to find as the way in which its currency is regarded and accepted. You can arrive in NowhereVille LatAm and get room, food and transport thanks as long as you have US Dollar bills in your pocket. Try doing the same with other currencies, even those of neighbour states with friendly relations (eg offer Chilean Pesos to a waiter in Buenos Aires).

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