Friday, November 07, 2014

Is The Latin American Left a Disappointment?

Manuela Picq argues in Al Jazeera that there is a "collective sense of disappointment" about how little structural change has occurred under leftist governments. Further, "the revolutionary left disenchanted its supporters in the most overt ways."

I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly in one way and completely disagreeing in another. She is exactly right that there is a lot less revolution going on than claimed. Nothing being done is particularly new, and some of it is just ordinary capitalism. And she's pretty angry about it:

The problem with such development strategies inherited from the 1970s is not only that they perpetuate dependencies most leftists and progressives in the region are trying to reverse. They continue to treat Indigenous territories as terra nullius, dismiss Indigenous authority and allot their territories to extractive industries that fuel the global capitalist system.

The problem lies in making the jump from those facts to "collective disappointment." Rafael Correa and Evo Morales are perhaps the most popular presidents in the history of their countries. Venezuelans kept voting for Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro even while the economy tanked. Daniel Ortega has high approval ratings.

I can understand the idea that many governments had potential for political and economic transformation, and some people are disappointed they did not pursue it. But I am not convinced this sentiment is broadly shared by government supporters.


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