The global pandemic deepened the precarious conditions of the majorities, generated by capitalist financialisation, and cruelly revealed the shortages and inequalities produced by the neoliberal order, only attenuated in some places by progressive social systems of containment.
By Javier Tolcachier
It also led to a radical increase in the use of digital technologies and the power of major corporations in the field. New technologies and “green” innovation are in turn embraced by investment funds and capital in general, as a means of reconverting a consumer capitalism that is stagnating in its profitability and whose responsibility for the dramatic environmental deterioration is already clearly evident, placing the plundering of finite natural resources in severe question.
A brief review of events on the political scene
On 1 December, a crowd in the Zócalo in Mexico City celebrated the historic mid-term of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, an event that opened up hope not only for the people of that country, burdened by successive neoliberal dictatorships, but also opened up a new possibility of generous politics and self-determination in the region.
On the other side of the street, the calamity of a fascist government in Brazil, which has cost the lives and social regression of millions of people through its denialism and cruelty, coupled with the cynicism of corrupt legislators and judges, the manipulation of information by monopolistic media and the interests of a tiny but equally cruel elite of businessmen and landowners, continues, albeit for a short time.
Despite the necessary restrictions on public mobility due to the health emergency, the last two years have seen a major wave of social protests. Among the most significant events were the awakening in Chile and the uprisings in Ecuador, the massive and prolonged popular strike in Colombia, the unity of social movements mobilised in hundreds of Brazilian cities, and the turmoil in Haiti, where mercenaries assassinated an already illegitimate president.
In the final months of 2019, after the fundamental triumph of the Frente de Todos, which managed to prevent the continuation of the social calamity that was the Macri government – a tragedy that even today keeps the Argentine people in chains because of the greatest indebtedness ever recorded in the annals of the IMF – , The panorama was shaken by the disastrous establishment of a violent and retrograde dictatorship in Bolivia, while the right-wing Lacalle Pou won in Uruguay against a Frente Amplio (Broad Front) worn out by three terms in office, the difficulty of replacing its leadership and the unity of the opposition in the second round.
Also in the Dominican Republic, ravaged by poverty, crime and insecurity, half a year later the wealthy businessman Luis Abinader won against a divided and weakened social-democratic ruling party. The new president, along with Guillermo Lasso and Sebastián Piñera, presidents of Ecuador and Chile, were publicly exposed by the “Pandora’s papers” scandal, which put the structural scourge of tax evasion and avoidance back on the agenda, in this case by public officials who in their speeches repeatedly mention probity and anti-corruption as central points of their programmes.
In the April 2021 presidential run-off, banker Lasso had dashed the local and continental hopes pinned on the young representative of the Citizen’s Revolution, Andrés Aráuz. The lawfare that prevented Rafael Correa’s candidacy, the disastrous government of Lenín Moreno – seen by many, despite his betrayal, as the successor to the previous government – and the permanent propaganda in the media and hegemonic social networks of anti-Correa positions were decisive in that race, The permanent propaganda in the media and hegemonic social networks, which was supported by sectors linked to indigenism, most NGOs and a social-democratic-centrist candidacy, attracted enough support in the first round to make the neoliberal victory possible.
However, in the context of what appeared to consolidate a new decline of progressive forces in the region, the resounding return to government of social organisations in Bolivia a year after the coup, together with the election of a president linked to popular movements in Peru, constituted a vigorous popular irruption, as did the broad approval in a referendum of the constitutional process underway in Chile under a majority of a transformational nature.
More recent relevant events include the renewed and unsuccessful attempts to destabilise the Cuban revolution; the independence of Barbados from the still-present colonialism of the British crown in the Caribbean; the attempts of the Peruvian coup to liquidate the experience led by President Castillo and the fascist coup to try to repeat the coup d’état in Bolivia; a new cycle of protests by peasant-indigenous sectors in Guatemala and Ecuador, and municipal elections in Paraguay which, against the backdrop of the continued mobilisation of student and peasant sectors, once again gave victory to the Colorado regime in the main cities.
In a November full of electoral incidents, the presidential election in Nicaragua was added to the list of events, with the continuity of the Sandinista government, attacked by the imperial power, but also controversial in some progressive sectors; the legislative elections in Argentina with a result now adverse to the popular government, the partial victory of the fascist candidate in the first round of the elections in Chile and the broad victory of Chavism in the regional elections in Venezuela with the participation of the main opposition sectors, in a tactical shift in their positions aligned with interventionism and the siege of the Bolivarian Revolution.
The Latin American-Caribbean electoral year culminates with the resounding triumph of the progressive front led by Xiomara Castro in the presidential election in Honduras, in the face of the corruption of the oligarchic and fraudulent power established after the coup against President Zelaya in 2009. Meanwhile, in December in Chile, a key second round will take place between neo-Pinochettism and the centre-left candidate Gabriel Boric, who for now the polls show as the winner, which would constitute the culmination of a cycle of violent neoliberal dictatorship of almost half a century with the possibility of paving the way for a New Constitution, the confirmation of the generational political changeover already begun in that country and a huge cause for celebration at the end of the year for the progressive forces of the region.
These new winds would give wings to the good prospects for Gustavo Petro and Lula in next year’s elections in Colombia and Brazil, which would end up shaping a new socio-political balance in the region.
The peoples between waves and gales
Alongside the reformist attempts by governments to recompose post-pandemic economies without affecting in the slightest the general framework of financialised and predatory capitalism, popular indignation continues and grows, motivated by the urgency of needs and disbelief in the institutional capacity to respond to them.
This is evident in the recurrent and increasing abstention from voting, as well as in the resurgence of political options with retrograde narratives that promise quick solutions on the back of a supposedly anti-politics.
At the same time, some leaders recognise (or perhaps are self-justified by) the limits that established real power places on formal political power. Meanwhile, ungovernability is objectively increased by various factors, among which are certainly the action of economic powers, global geopolitical interference, blockades between factions disputing quotas of diminished but always coveted political power, the undemocratic and corrupt judiciary, the high generational rejection of decadent modalities, the manipulative cartelisation of conservative media discourse, the expansive use of digital technology to foment hatred and stigmatisation, the divorce of agendas between leaders and peoples, and social atomisation with its organic relativisation, among others.
To the institutional failure to provide answers, added to a general sense of uncertainty, is the lack of clear, recognisable and referential alternatives in terms of new social, economic and political models to replace the current structural decadence and provide well-being along with the expansion of collective possibilities. This is a breeding ground for regressive stridency, which also attracts support because of the ability of its confessional followers to hold together in the context of a fragmented social fabric.
In this context, what about sovereign regional integration and the fundamental democratisation of communication?
Sovereign integration and plurality of voices
As part of the nineteenth-century institutional scheme based on the conception of the nation-state, official sovereign integration initiatives suffer from its crisis, aggravated by the torpedoing of successive US administrations in their attempt to preserve absolute pre-eminence over “hemispheric” destinies in the face of the geopolitical onslaught of China and Russia in their dispute against the supposed unipolar hegemony.
In the same vein, the attempt to revive the OAS as the diplomatic arm of domination has not found firm footing either, except in the media agenda of the media at the service of big capital, with its motivations being questioned and its replacement suggested by the countries governed by more progressive sectors.
The CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) as a possible replacement for the anachronistic OAS, given the antithetical or reformist political sign of its components, appears for the moment, however, as a space tending to abandon its politically disruptive origin in order to reflect a kind of European-style inter-state community, a model that is in turn undergoing a severe and prolonged crisis.
Mercosur, reappropriated in its neoliberal character by the right-wing governments of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, has even lost its integrating essence through the primacy of the particular interests of its members, while ALBA-TCP retains the character of a sovereignist nucleus, albeit more discursive than effective, given the objective difficulties its components are experiencing, fundamentally due to the US siege.
What is new is the emergence of RUNASUR (the Peoples’ UNASUR) on the scene, which calls for the construction of a plurinational America (with the projection of a plurinational planet), encouraging a sovereign institutional re-foundation of an anti-imperialist nature through the direct, inclusive and equal participation of peoples, nationalities and social movements in order to repair and overcome the post-colonial bourgeois-transnational partition and repartition.
In relation to communication, the possibilities of democratisation and plurality are once again constrained by the absolutism of corporate platforms in the digital field, whose profit bias segments, discriminates and censors content, affecting the founding principles of neutrality and decentralisation of the internet.
In the media field, the disrespect or cancellation of legal norms achieved in the arduous struggle for popular communication, the neoliberal defunding or elimination of public media, the inequitable distribution of state advertising in favour of hyper-concentrated media, their progressive transnationalisation, together with the monolithic cartelisation of stigmatising discourses against revolutionary or progressive alternatives, affect the possibility of essential transformations that guarantee information diversity and a balanced public opinion.
Foresight and missionja
History never stands still. The great majority of today’s generations are clearly flying the flags of struggle against environmental degradation, against war, flagrant injustice and violence, for the emancipation of women and for the free choice of sexual and affective options. An unrestricted culture of human rights is gaining ground, and the rejection of top-down manipulation, corruption, centralism and verticalism is becoming more widespread.
The outrageous daily situation of misery and deprivation in contrast to the absurd opulence of ever smaller and more abusive minorities can only give rise to successive popular rebellions towards new models of equitable distribution, participatory, collaborative and decentralised management.
This ongoing revolution is also globalised, with no space being able to block or remain unscathed by the spread of this clamour.
In reaction to these clear signs of the future, guttural, anachronistic, nostalgic voices are raised, nostalgic for a past that never was and never will be. Even if these regressive forces seek to neutralise the advance of the times (and temporarily even succeed in slowing it down), they represent only a sterile effort to halt the unstoppable human evolution.
The capitalist and predatory system, sustained by its conservative sectors, seeks to divert the transformative impulses towards false doors, trying to resignify the narratives under a gatopardistic and deceitful modality.
The emergence of the new human being as a necessary actor of future societies, previously considered as an automatic product of objective conditions, is today clearly assumed by more and more sectors as a simultaneous condition of transformation.
Strengthening their birth and the conditions of an environment favourable to their development, expanding the echo of voices pointing to the future, listening to generational and gender clamour, supporting social organisations that demand egalitarian welfare, are undoubtedly the keys to an inescapable historical mission.