The New Latin American Situation (August 11, 2016)
The Lauro Campos Foundation from Brazil organized this session on the current political situation in Latin America. Pedro Fuentes, PSOL, began with a general overview. He described recent reversals for the left, but said that we are not yet defeated.
Audio of session
Pablo Solon. Former Bolivian ambassador, split with Morales in 2011. (I first heard Pablo speak at the USSF in Detroit in 2010, and his speech blew me away. See http://blog.yachana.org/2010_06_01_archive.html#2618178146410489074.)
Process of change rooted in social movements, not political parties. Began with Cochabamba war waters. If we can kick out Bectel, then we can also defeat transnational institutions. But to make these changes, we need a political instrument. Took name MAS and won with that. 3 main achievements:
1. renegotiate gas contracts. 80% for state, 20% for companies, and they stayed because they were still making a lot of money. Gave state money for social programs, esp. after petroleum prices went up.
2. organized constitutional assembly. Changed name of country to plurinational state. One of most important: transformation of identity. Other issue had to do with land. Redistributed state land to peasants. Most people now have land, but big landholders have not been touched.
Important changes, but didn't change the extractivist and neoliberal model. We are more extractivist now than we are at the beginning, and our income relies on that. We now have an economy that is oriented to export. And now prices are falling down, and you can imagine what kind of crisis is coming to Bolivia. Less money. Bolivia hasn't reached level of crisis of Venezuela or Brazil, but we are heading to a crisis. But we're headed there, and it's going to be a hard landing.
Why haven't we been able to change extractivist model? Is it because we didn't want to change the model? Our original plan was to make that changes--main goal. But at end of day, we've stayed the same. More extractivist than 10-15 yrs ago. Process of change has had positive impact, but it has also reinforced destructive model. Difficult because we fought for harmony with nature.
1. Left has bad understanding of the state. We thought that when we went into the state, we would transform society and the state. But in reality, the state has its own dynamic, and ends up transforming you. We have been transformed by power. We speak about logic of capital, but not about how power and how that transforms us. Need to understand this to understand why left movements have not succeeded. Related to extractivist model. We could have moved to agricology instead of extractivist. Why did the government opt for other vision? We need money now to stay in power, and where are we going to get that money? Agricology? If we go with extractivist model, we will have more money to stay in power. That put us on this path.
2. We need to make agreement to rightwing forces to prevent civil war. So for this reason, we don't expropriate large landowners & accept importation of GMOs. And in exchange opposition doesn't give us problems.
3. People came into government and began to earn more money, from $50 to $1000-$1500 a month. Aymara popular bourgeoisie (cf. Venezuela Boli-bourgeoisie) Sectors from within movement start doing better, and want to stop changes to enjoy their new situation.
4. Build new plant to export hydropower to Brazil. Move from exporting gas to exporting electricity. Is there not another model? Develop solar or wind power instead? Why are we going this way? And build small, local companies to benefit people rather than state.
State complains that this model doesn't benefit state, rather than people.
Charles Lenchour (??), Democratic Socialists of America, Bernie Sanders supporter. Address issues of how foreign policy in US works.
Richard Arce (Frente Amplio, Peru). Meltdown over translation
Represents Apurimac in southern Peru, a mining region with a lot of social movements. Left was at point of disappearing, so we organized and what we have achieved in 2016 elections was important. FA was convergence of social movements. 18% in presidential election, 3d position. 20 elected to congress, 2d force. Veronica Mendoza was candidate. Hope to build a new left. Shining Path destroyed image of left in Peru.
Apurimac is mining region, but mining doesn't mean development but wealth for transnational economic interests. History keeps repeating itself: guano, nitrate, etc. But never benefits country, poverty, underdevelopment in health and education. Called anti-mining, not so, rather propose alternative model. Press attacks us as being against development of country. 2 principles: respect for community & environment.
ILO169 calls for previous consultation with native peoples to defend their interests.
Need independent environmental impact statement, because otherwise mining companies pay for study & results benefit them. This is the origin of problem.
Left's task in congress is to change laws so that environmental impact statements are independent. Future of Latin America is in our hands. It appears that a cycle of left governments are ending, but we believe in a new left that embraces importance of environment. We need to learn from experiences, and to put protection of environment and water on agenda. Future resources wars will be over water, and we don't have a plan to defend water sources. A new, progressive left exists in Peru that isn't just ideological. We have a new reality.
Juliano Medeiros, member of PSOL executive community. explaining current critical political situation in Brazil.
1. was there a coup against Dilma, and the answer is yes--against democracy and laws. Parliamentary coup similar to what happened in Paraguay with Lugo.
2. Why did coup happen? Charges of fiscal crimes with budget. But all governments followed same patterns. Not sufficient to justify charges. Those who led coup were recently part of government. Policies were not threat to elite.
3. why did coup happen now, and not yrs ago? economic crisis, 2013 protests against government, and expectation that economy will grow. Issue of what direction economy will take. Between social movements & neoliberalism. Question of what direction economic policies will take.
New coup government changes laws: environment, pensions, labor reform, privatization of public services. In 10 days, confirmation of coup government until 2018.
PSOL left PT 2003-2005, so have never been part of Dilma govt. But in any case is opposed to coup govt.
What are perspectives for left to fight against coup govt:
1. probably will have extremely neoliberal govt, so need to to unify fight.
2. PT became a social democratic govt, and so left is reorganizing.
What will be future of left? Cf. Greece. PSOL will became main left party. Future of left is based:
1. reorganization of leftist forces
2. outcome of municipal elections, and will create base for 2018 presidential elections
Arce (Peru): Humala was a deception, just supports himself. Not transformation. Low approval rating--10%. handouts (clientelism), but doesn't do anything to improve situation.
Fujimori: father gained social capital thru clientalism that they learned to mobilize. plus political work, visit isolated villages. Need resources to do this. South has more leftist support, but also need to work in center and south.
Plan condor, ALCA: need to organize and form political blocs rather than economic treaties. CELAC tried to emulate EU, not just economic union but also transit. In Peru, Pacific Alliance gains interest and losses interest for CELAC & Mercosur.
We our protagonists of a new and better future.
Advantage of PSOL is only party not involved in corruption
Mexico is a good example of the divorce between a social and electoral left
Pedro Fuentes summary:
PT's relation with wealthy bourgeoisie results in the corruption scandal
More important was 2013 mobilization against PT than Car Wash investigations
Plan Condor? great reaction, but not to level of 1970s military dictatorship. Biggest assassin in Argentina died in prison.
New Left has to be democratic and pluralist. democracy of the 99%, and also need internal democracy. Can't be dogmatic. Needs to combine electoral movements and social movements. Need to deepen processes.
Patria Grande: need to fight for this. Need new internationalism. Don't burn US flag, but unify w/ US people against transnational interests and crisis of capitalism
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