by Javier Tolcachier*

The flames in the Amazon synthesize the picture of the current political situation in Latin America. According to a recent bulletin from the Tricontinental Institute of Social Research, this year there have been 40,341 fires in the Amazon, the highest number since 2010. There is no doubt that the human and environmental catastrophe this represents is rooted in the profit interests of the rural sectors and in the general rise in temperature. All of this is the result of a depredatory policy encouraged by oligarchic and transnational capital and its political arm, the international right.

The Bolsonaro government, controlled from the country’s military strata in alliance with the big business guild, the media oligopoly, high levels of the judiciary and the retrograde sectors of neoliberal evangelism, advocates the social burning of Brazil. The reform of the pension system, the privatisation of national goods, the cutback of the programmes of redistribution and promotion of public education, the repression of the marginalised population, the surrender of sovereignty to the dictates of the United States, complete the programme initiated by Temer, after the parliamentary-media coup that overthrew Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the illegal imprisonment of the favourite to the presidency Lula. A social fire that has begun to consume, in a few months, a large part of the support of the sector of the population that voted for the former captain inflamed by hate speeches and electoral lies.

He is not lagging behind one of his main partners, Macri’s agonising government in Argentina, whose policies of cutbacks, indiscriminate opening to speculative capital and huge indebtedness in complicity with the International Monetary Fund, burned down productive activity, employment and reserves, turning the Argentine economy into a desolate desert. The popular repudiation was felt in the ballot boxes of the primary elections, devastating the possibility of continuing with the anthropophagic project and cracking the hegemonic mosaic of the right promoted from the United States.

Shortly before, the flames burned in the last U.S. colony in the Latin American region. The people of Puerto Rico made their voices heard and threw out the imperial viceroy – governor in the British scheme – Ricardo Roselló. Here, too, a program of severe adjustment and indebtedness had burned down the social plain. The embers there are still not completely extinguished…

Suffering in Colombia, Honduras and Haiti

In Colombia, the programmed non-compliance of the government of Ivan Duque on the commitments assumed in the Peace Accords opened the door to a new escalation of selective executions of social leaders and ex-combatants. The new armed announcement  of a sector of the guerrilla now threatens to serve as an excuse for the retrograde right to incinerate peace and turn back the clock. The reason is the same reason why a war of more than five decades was unleashed: to shield inequality and exclude any political process that threatens to change the situation.

Repression that has also been the sign of the regime of Juan Orlando Hernández, after the fraud that made possible the re-edition of his mandate – in itself prohibited by the Honduran Constitution. Fraud that, together with corruption, violence and misery have massively mobilised the population in resistance to the total violation of minimum rights.

Incendiary situation that repeats itself in Haiti, a country in which feeding every day is a miracle. The indices of poverty and human development are the lowest in the entire region and the political system is intertwined with business interests and foreign embassies.

In the recent Patriotic Forum for a National Agreement Against the Crisis, various popular forces have called for the continuation of the series of mobilizations caused by the embezzlement of funds from PetroCaribe and the Interministerial Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH) and more generally, by the boredom of the people with the ruling caste. The objective is to achieve the resignation of banana businessman Jovenel Moïse, the country’s current president, and the installation of a transitional government to deal with the urgencies of hunger, misery and unemployment that affect more than 80% of the population. The conditions are ripe for a broad popular uprising that will culminate in this right-wing government, also complicit in the U.S. political offensive against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Wolves with and without sheep’s clothing 

Ecuador is another country that has pushed back the clock to the past. Agreements with the IMF, with the State Department of the United States, cutting and dismantling of the new political rights established in the constitution of Montecristi, judicial persecution with the aim of proscribing the main cadres of the Citizens’ Revolution, are some of the marks left by the betrayal of current president Lenín Moreno to the legitimate popular will expressed at the polls in 2017. Popular will that has turned its back on the government (16% of acceptance according to a recent poll) and shows in the repeated protest marches, strikes and the results of the last sectional elections, that it is not willing to surrender without a fight in the clutches of a political system controlled by the elites of yesteryear, represented by the social Christianity of Nebot and the banker Lasso.

Social discontent that was inches away from overthrowing the Paraguayan right-wing government. Only a year after his inauguration, “Marito” Abdo Benítez – son of the private secretary of dictator Alfredo Stroessner – saved the scalp from the political guillotine only by an agreement with the rival Colorado faction. Agreement that sponsored the embassy of the bars and stars to prevent another of his pawns from being erased from the board. The people demanded his dismissal because of the secret treaty with Brazil on the Itaipu hydroelectric dam that harmed Paraguay. Beyond the impasse, Benítez’s political capital has already been consumed and the figure of “young renovator” with whom his candidacy was promoted has remained at the bottom of the well. The people are waiting for the next opportunity to give him a lesson.

In Guatemala, political corruption intrinsic to the system triumphed thanks to the political proscription of former judge Thelma Aldana. A U.S.-protected right-wing in the figure of former prison director Alejandro Gianmattei won again. Accused of extrajudicial executions on the occasion of Operation Peacock, he has promised an “iron fist” regime, with the probable reinstatement of the death penalty. He will be a subject of the market and a diligent follower of Donald Trump’s government. Nor will the resistance here be long overdue, both from the indigenous and rural sectors and from certain citizens exasperated by the frustration of a socially failed country, which holds the tragic record of chronic child malnutrition of more than 46%, the highest in all of Latin America.

On the tightrope

The term of office of former banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Peru lasted only two years. His replacement Vizcarra walks over the gorge of the political-judicial reforms he is promoting. Reforms that, in spite of being longed for by the population and denied by a corrupt establishment sector, are just a make-up to continue with the pillage. The double Peruvian right, the financial right of the white glove and the impresentable right of the Fujimori clan, have obstructed here with political persecution the advance of the left, although it does not manage to stop the important anti-extractivist peasant rebellion. A rebellion that, as has always happened in Peru, will descend from the hills to force the Lima oligarchy to respect the people’s right to a better life.

Nor are there “the best times” in Chile that the businessman Piñera promised to his fellow countrymen. The 6-week teacher strike, the extended demand for public education, the massive mobilisations for the end of the pension system of capitalisation administered by the AFPs, the multiple sectoral and local demands for housing, health and environmental defense augur adverse results in the next municipal elections. Discontent that the real opposition – Frente Amplio, PC and anti-neoliberal sectors of socialism – probably tend to interpret it as an alliance of conjuncture, paying attention to what happened in the Argentine neighbor.

In short, the Latin American right, with its program of destruction of the possibility of social levelling, has incinerated in a short time its so publicized new cycle.

Is a New Political Time emerging in the region?

Three of the four left-wing Latin American governments, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, are heirs to three great revolutions, separated by a period of twenty years. They have resisted and are resisting the terrible counterrevolutionary aggression that seeks – as is customary in conservative regimes – to demolish all acquired social rights. The regressive forces not only contain a classist economic trait, but also reveal among their folds a strong racist character and neocolonial restoration.

Bolivia – the fourth country governed by the left – is preparing to renew its novel indigenous and humanist revolution in the figure of current President Evo Morales. The economic and social achievements and the symbolic reparative force of a ruler who emerged from the midst of the subjugated will succeed in defeating the lie and neoliberal conspiracy in October.

Much more difficult is the position of the Uruguayan Broad Front, which will have to fight in a second round against the unity of all the forces of the right.

The left-wing pole also includes, with their respective nuances, the governments of the prime ministers of labour extraction of Ralph Goncalves (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Gaston Browne (Antigua and Barbuda), Roosevelt Skerrit (Dominica), Timothy Harris (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Keith Mitchell, of the New National Party (Grenada), all of them nucleated in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

On the other hand, the enormous popular approval of what happened in the first year of López Obrador’s term in Mexico and the imminent victory of the Frente de Todos in Argentina indicate the emergence of a new progressive bloc in Latin America and the Caribbean. A bloc not aligned with the strategy of US hegemony and prone to the strengthening of multilateralism, the defense of peace and regional integration as a cooperative sign.

The main strategy of the right will be to block any attempt at collaboration in the geopolitical field between this new progressive bloc and the left. The truth is that the chessboard will once again be more balanced. The spark of hope has been ignited again in the region. The rights will have to deal with their main opponent, their own people.

(*) Javier Tolcachier is a researcher at the Center for Humanist Studies in Córdoba, Argentina and a communicator at the international news agency Pressenza.

 Translation Pressenza London