Home > IV Online magazine > 2020 > IV550 - November 2020 > Dead ends and limits of progressive governments

Latin America

Dead ends and limits of progressive governments

Saturday 14 November 2020, by Franck Gaudichaud

Save this article in PDF Version imprimable de cet article Version imprimable

With the collapse of the USSR, the end of history was announced without delay. Nothing seemed to be able to stem the neoliberal global tidal wave, when the Zapatista uprising in Mexico erupted in 1994. Five years later, Chávez took power in Venezuela : it was the beginning of a long process of rupture, through the ballot box, on the Latin American continent - Lula in Brazil, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, Mujica in Uruguay… part of the Western radical left then turned its gaze, not without hope, to the other side of the South Atlantic. Two decades later, what balance sheet can we draw? Successes and limits, contradictions and specificities: it is to a critical reading, firmly anchored to the left, that we are invited by the three authors of the book Fin de partie? Amerique latine : les experiences progressistes dans l’impasse (1998–2019) . We discuss it with one of them, Franck Gaudichaud , professor of History and Civilization of Latin America and member of the France Latin America association.

What kind of glasses should we wear to properly understand Latin America in recent decades?

We must be careful not to approach the subcontinent in a uniform manner: we are faced with a very great diversity of historical, cultural and linguistic experiences… This is obvious. A global analysis can lose sight of these specificities of a continent of more than 600 million inhabitants and 20 countries. In the essay, we tried to navigate between the two: to offer a fairly generalist view and to rely on specific, more detailed examples. Our focal point is that of popular movements, their mobilizations and class conflicts in the region. From this critical socio-political point of view, we can determine three periods. The first began at the end of the 1990s with the emergence of a plebeian questioning of the Washington agenda, of neoliberalism, of the oligarchies in place: a very strong moment of overthrow, with great social explosions. The second, from 2002–2003 to 2011, is that of the rise of so-called “progressive” governments.

“Their stated aim was to break with neoliberalism and the Washington consensus, invest in education, literacy, infrastructure, etc., but without breaking with capitalism."

With the election of Chávez and Lula, a political cycle opened, and not only electorally it led to institutional aspects, new parties, deep social and constitutional reforms - while being the result of previous mobilizations. To put it quickly, it was the “ golden age ” of progressivism. The third period, sometimes called the “end of the cycle”, opened in 2011–2012 and is in fact still not over : it is the regressive phase, marked by ever stronger tensions between forms of progressivism and the working classes. as well as with part of the intellectual and critical left. It is also the moment of the economic crisis and of coups d’etat -“parliamentary” (Honduras from 2009, Paraguay, Brazil) or military (Venezuela, Bolivia) - with more or less direct support from the United States. In this tense situation, the right and the far right are advancing more and more. We see emerging all the limits of a neo-developmentist and/or neo-extractivist model – the political scientist Jeffrery Webber talks of state capitalism. Bolsonaro in Brazil would be the ultimate point of this regression "at full speed to the right".

What exactly does the expression "progressive experiences" cover in the Latin American context of the end of the twentieth and early twenty-first century ?

It is a real problem - not only academic but political - to find a way to characterize this expression. In their early days, all governments of progressive experiments claimed to be in a post-neoliberal stage. As Rafael Correa said, “the region is not living through not an era of change but a change of era”. There would therefore be governments of the “ national-popular ” type, a great Latin-American tradition [1]: Chávez (Venezuela), Morales (Bolivia), Correa (Ecuador) were the sign of a return of this “radical” national-popular form, accompanied here by defining themselves as anti-imperialist. But progressivism also covered more social-liberal or centre-left experiences, in which we can include Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) or the Uruguayan Broad Front - Kirchenerism in Argentina being, for its part, closer to the first by its history and to the second by its economic orientation. These new governments had the common features of emerging on the basis of social movements of the years 1990–2000 or, at least, identifying in part with trade-union movements and the demands of popular movements. Very often, we also find at the centre of the progressive system a charismatic, “hyper-presidential” figure - which poses a real political and democratic problem in the long term. On the other hand, there was often a neo-developmentist aim , of return of the state (more or less marked according to the configurations), and the use of the extractive rent (oil, mining or agro-industrial for example) to redistribute it. within social programmes, reducing poverty and inequalities. Their stated aim was to break with neoliberalism and the Washington consensus, invest in education, literacy, infrastructure, etc., but without breaking with capitalism. The “progressive regimes”, in this sense, were not situated in the lineage of the Latin American revolutionary and anti-capitalist lefts of the 1960s and 1970s.

You also take a critical look at these " progressive regimes ". After the enthusiasm of the early days, a good part of the radical left seems to be looking elsewhere when it comes to drawing a balance sheet: why is that ?

It is very clear : there is no desire to deepen critical vision and draw a balance sheet of these twenty years of government. In France and in Europe, there was a certain enthusiasm within the social and political left for Latin America in the 1990s and 2000s. The opening of this great cycle, which has sometimes been called the “turn to the left ”, nevertheless gave balm to the heart and pink to the cheeks, and not only in Latin America. Faced with Thatcher’s TINA [2] , there were alternatives, including governmental ones; we started to talk of socialism (of the "twenty-first century " or "communitary") and the idea of "living well" [3] became established. A whole part of the left with an institutional aim plunged into this. They saw the possibility of repeating in France what was happening there, at the government level. Faced with popular dynamics, the radical left also followed suit, but with more critical distance and more autonomy. For some of the organizations, we now feel a kind of bad conscience, as if we should not turn the knife in the wound, as if we should avoid discussing collectively what did not work. It is, however, necessary. Not to "give lessons" to the peoples of Latin America, not at all! But because it is precisely these discussions that are being conducted in the field of critical thinking in Latin America today, and in the political spaces of the left. [4]

“To look away would be like saying When you do things we like, we show solidarity, and when things start to go wrong, we are interested in something else."

To look away would be like saying " When you do things that we like, we show solidarity, and when things start to go wrong, we are interested in something else ". There is a real problem here. Today it would be good, including within La France insoumise, for example, for there to be a process of study and critical assessments: that would even be essential. We are sometimes criticized for having supported these processes ourselves for too long. Personally, I defend what we did and I continue to think that the first days of the Chavista experience, or the Bolivian experience, were marked by a massive popular impulse to get out of neoliberalism, a desire to rebuild sovereignty in the face of imperialism, to confront the dominant classes, and that it was legitimate to support “below, on the left”. [5] This does not prevent us from seeing, after twenty years of experience, the obstacles, the limits, the involutions and the strategic impasses, and everything that internally has been an obstacle to self-organization and real democratization.

Among these limits, you write that "big capital in general knew how to benefit from the progressive golden age": in what way?

Jeffrery Webber shows that this period was overdetermined by very high commodity prices: their price curves are extremely linked to the rise of progressive regimes. Foreign and international capital has gained market share : there is talk of the “ soyatization ” of Argentina under Kirchner, of the consolidation of Monsanto’s empire in Brazil under Lula and Rousseff, of the extension of oil concessions in regions of the Orinoco [6] with Maduro , etc. There was a reproduction of the peripheral insertion (unequal and combined) of these countries in the world economy within the international division of labour, with a neocolonial dependence linked to the price of raw materials. The idea of the governments was that faced with the immensity of the social emergency, they had to do everything they could to be able to finance new public policies and conditional cash transfers, which followed market principles and often had an “assistance based” character. [7] But in the absence of structural transformation or a direct drain on high incomes, the real and very rapid (although often unfortunately temporary) improvement of the lot of the poorest layers was also done in parallel with a frenzied extractivism, an openness to foreign capital, and paradoxically the consolidation of certain fractions of the dominant classes. These governments have not practiced any bold tax policies (while taxes on income and wealth are ridiculously low in Latin America) - yet even the social democratic left usually has a progressive tax agenda on capital! Correa was the only one to have tried a little, but he retreated in the face of the mobilization of the employers and the middle classes. More generally, there has been no transformation of social relations of production: minimum wages have been sharply increased in several countries, but workers’ rights have finally been little extended and, above all, wage relations have not been seriously changed. Because of this absence of structural transformations, as soon as the crisis arrived, it was all of these balances between the classes installed by progressivism which collapsed; only the dominant classes are doing well.

Oil, minerals, wood, bio-fuels: many of these countries have an economic model based on extractivism, the exploitation of land. You mention the strong economic dependence on exports and world prices, but this also poses ecological concerns and has led to conflicts with indigenous peoples ...

You are right: the questions of “mega-extractivism” [8] are at the basis of the crystallization of tensions between progressives, social-environmental movements and certain indigenous communities. While there was still strong economic capacity (Bolivia was even praised by the World Bank for its results), this “progressive neo-extractivist” [9] model multiplied the “zones of sacrifice”, social-environmental conflicts and the rejection of communities defending their territories. The extension of the extractive, agro-industrial, petroleum frontier engulfed millions of square kilometers during those years.

Where, for example ?

I’ll give you two examples. In Bolivia, during the Tipnis conflict , part of the indigenous movement opposed the construction of a major road that was to cross the Bolivian Amazon from Brazil - Evo Morales found himself in opposition to part of his indigenous base. [10] In Ecuador, the Yasuni project was in a way the great international ecological showcase of Correa. [11] It receded and today part of Yasuni Park , one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, is exploited. Relations between Correa and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) were also virulent: he treated them through the media as “infantile environmentalists”, even as environmental terrorists, and the indigenous movements replied that he was authoritarian and a destroyer of Mother Earth… Vice-President García Linera has also accused environmentalists and NGOs in the North of wanting to transform Bolivians into park keepers in the countries of the South. His position was to say, “Do you want us to continue to be poor, without exploiting our wealth?”

“Their character, which is sometimes ultra-minority, dogmatic or distant from other sectors of the working classes, remains an obstacle to thinking about radical eco-social democratic projects."

This way of arguing must be heard, of course, especially since it is the countries of the North which are mainly responsible for the global ecological crisis. But it was also a clever way for the Bolivian authorities to silence the movements and collectives of their country which demanded a reflection on another model of development. Extractivism is today at the heart of major social and environmental clashes across Latin America. In the last chapter of our book, the historian and sociologist Massimo Modonesi asks himself: what are the alternatives? One of the tragedies of the progressive period is not having answered this question. But if the various components of anti-capitalist, autonomist, libertarian, anti-extractivist, indigenous, feminist, decolonial social and political lefts , etc., have succeeded in building here and there very rich local experiences, fundamental for the future, they have not always shown that they can be conducted on a larger scale, in part because of the obstacles progressive governments have put before them. But not only that: their character, sometimes ultra-minority, dogmatic or distant from other sectors of the working classes, remains an obstacle to thinking about radical eco-social democratic projects , of "living well" (both as an alternative to progressivism in crisis and to forces of the right that are on the offensive).

Although certain economic and social advances have made it possible to increase the standard of living of the working classes, some people point out that, on the electoral level, this has not always benefited progressive leaders. Thus, the journalist Maëlle Mariette has asked: "Has the Bolivian left produced its gravediggers?" Was this dynamic, pushing the working classes to turn away from policies that worked in their favour, avoidable ?

There has been a discussion, since 2010, within Latin American critical thinking, between those who were aligned behind progressive governments and those who pointed out the internal contradictions of these processes. García Linera , who has a role of an organic intellectual [12] of progressivism (since he is both a brilliant sociologist and was vice-president of Bolivia for 13 years), developed the following argument: Bolivia is in a revolutionary phase, made up of advances and setbacks. In this sinuous process, "by waves", we allowed the popular classes, mestizo and indigenous, to emerge, to become "middle classes", to have access to a new mode of consumption, to be inserted in the new plurinational economic and political model, and some of them are turning "against us". Maëlle Mariette’s paper relays part of this argument - which must be taken into account. But the criticism that can be made of it is to ask ourselves what type of “insertion” the progressives have proposed to the popular classes ? However, this “emergence” has taken place through consumption and assistance programmes, following market mechanisms.

Let me make myself clear: it was of course urgent and necessary to multiply – at last ! - public policies to combat poverty after decades of IMF structural adjustment . But, very often these policies have remained locked in logics similar to those proposed by the World Bank in the fight against poverty. And, in terms of political participation, of the capacity to act on the whole of the government and its orientations, we have seen a form of “transformism”, demobilization and cooptation “from above” take hold, as Massimo Modonesi has underlined, starting from Gramsci’s categories. There has been the incorporation of popular organizations and their leaders, in part by the state apparatus, in a form of “passivization” of these organizations and of the big trade union confederations, instead of promoting self-organization. This is strongly the case with the PT and the United Workers’ Confederation (CUT) in Brazil. In Bolivia and Argentina, some prominent social leaders passed into ministerial offices. Some of the popular organizations actually wanted to see their leaders influence these institutions, but the cost was the disarmament of popular autonomy. As soon as there were somewhat visible forms of self-organization, they were even designated as doing the work of the enemy, even of being in the service of imperialism ...

There was therefore a “ domestication ” of certain classes by giving them more access to the commercial sector, without integrating them into a democratic process - taken in the broad sense, including in the fields of production and work?

“ Without the capacity to intervene in the means of production, to bring democracy into the economic field, a whole part of social transformation is obviously missing.”

The questions of work and wages are indeed central in a process of social transformation. [13] It is certainly not a small matter that can be settled by waving a magic wand, even by controlling the executive - especially when the media, economic actors and part of the state apparatus are hostile to you. But it’s still a central core, it seems to me. Experiments with workers’ control, or co-management, have all been annihilated by the bureaucracy, in Venezuela for example. There was a big cooperative movement in that country, with tens of thousands of cooperatives, but it was used mainly in a clientelist fashion. The same goes for the communal councils, one of the liveliest aspects of the Bolivarian process, buried under the crisis and by corruption on a mass scale. The attempts were either stifled or repressed. In Argentina there was a movement to take over companies, but Kirchner and Fernández were not at all in a position of support: on the contrary. [14] Without the capacity to intervene in the means of production, to bring democracy into the economic field, a whole part of social transformation is obviously missing.

In October 2019, the Organization of American States ( OAS ) considered that the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia was based on fraud, and he was ejected from power. We learned later that there was probably no fraud : the election followed the regulations and Morales was therefore the victim of a coup. Do you confirm that?

I was convinced of this from the start : there is no doubt that this was a coup. Remember also that Bolivian history was marked by civic-military coups throughout the twentieth century. The intervention of the armed forces and the police was instrumental in the downfall of Morales. There was confusion, heavily fueled by the OAS, with a completely manipulative and inaccurate report on the election. We now know that there was no massive fraud, and Evo Morales was elected on a razor’s edge, proof of declining popularity. Bolivia was until then the most stabilized, economically consolidated national-popular radical experience. Under Evo, Bolivia more than tripled the national wealth, that is historic! He had a strong personal legitimacy, just as the Movement towards Socialism ( MAS ) [15] maintained strong links with popular, indigenous and peasant organizations. Despite this, there was an ever-greater disaffection among the popular base that supported the MAS (and not only among the famous “middle classes”). When the coup d’état took place, there was no great mobilization of the people in support of Morales: the popular mobilization that there was even rather denounced what was being presented by the media as a " fraud ", and it was immediately channelled by the sectors of the hardest right, evangelist, racist, around the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, but also that of Potosi.

This non-mobilization also showed that popular support for Morales had eroded, a sign of an enthusiasm and an admiration that was no longer there after 14 years in power.

That there was a concrete and material improvement in living conditions under Evo Morales is certain, the figures are there. He even succeeded in building an international image, in particular in the European left, where he is almost in himself the incarnation of the Pachamama, of the community and indigenous revolution; it is sometimes even a little shocking, he almost becomes the “ good revolutionary ” seen by Europeans. But we have to look at what is happening in the country, understand the social tensions, hear the criticisms in the face of caudillism, clientelism and the desire to remain at all costs as presidential candidate. When this Bolivian left came to power, the very fact of governing the capitalist-oligarchic Bolivian state, although partially reformed by an audacious Constituent Assembly, came at such a cost that this left was transformed, institutionalized, bureaucratized; it lost its critical capacity and its anchorage in struggles. This is a great lesson which brings us back to the discussion that there was in the early 2000s around the Zapatista experience : transforming the world without taking state power. The arrival of progressive governments shifted the question, since they proposed to transform society by taking their place at the head of governments and from a "state-centred" position. This position had very heavy costs for activists and popular movements. The debate is today being relaunched between autonomism/Zapatism, anti-capitalist strategies and the statist electoral left. On this question, we think that we must reintroduce the possibility of maintaining critical, popular autonomy without losing sight of the question of the state - because if we abandon the state, it does not abandon us, as Daniel Bensaïd put it.

Let’s talk about Venezuela : to put it simply, two interpretations predominate when it comes to explaining the continuing crisis. On the one hand, the liberal and reactionary sectors consider that this shows the resounding failure of the Chávez years , and of his “heir” Nicolás Maduro , therefore of socialism; on the other, Maduro’s supporters claim that the government is the victim of a plot by the employers and the right, supported by foreign powers (Washington in the lead) who are striving to destabilize the country. Is another reading possible?

“Can we discuss critically, on the left, what is happening in Latin America without being immediately labeled as pro-imperialist?”

That was the whole point of this little essay: can we discuss critically, on the left, what is happening in Latin America without being immediately described as pro-imperialist by a part of the “well-meaning” left?? We are not debating here with the right, but with the sectors of the left which refuse a critical analysis. With what we can see before us, it is more than urgent : even the most dogmatic supporters of Maduro have more and more difficulty in defending a unilateral, “campist” [16] vision. There is indeed an imperial aggression against Venezuela which is completely illegal, and even the UN denounces it. The criminal blockade on the part of the United States, the destabilizing actions of the CIA , Guaidó as self-proclaimed "president" with the imperial blessing… all of this is obviously hateful and has devastating effects. A progressive US think tank has calculated that the blockade (which also concerns medicines) has caused tens of thousands of deaths in the Venezuelan health system ... We are not saying that nothing is happening on that side. But to reduce this crisis to external factors is to be indifferent to the Venezuelan people and their suffering - first of all because they make their own history, and because the Bolivarian experience was also completely derailed from the interior.

What do you mean when you say derailed?

All the critical expressions that have long existed within popular Chavismo, with interesting forms in neighbourhoods, municipal councils, certain rural municipalities, etc., have been systematically put aside, even repressed. The PSUV in power remains a huge party, with several million members - having your party card is often a necessity in order to have work - but it has never been a space for democratic development. Quite the contrary. Under Chávez , socialist, Marxist and anti-capitalist currents sought to exist within the Bolivarian process, alongside the Chavista people. But the civic-military way of governing, the Caesarist and vertical tendencies, the corruption stifled these voices and took precedence over all-out participation and democratic experiments “from below”. Our analysis is not to oppose in a binary way a “heroic” Chavist moment to a Madurist pragmatism . No, we think there were ups and downs, depending on the rhythm of the class struggle and clashes with Washington and the opposition, and a phenomenon of decomposition of 15 years compared to what was the initial post-neoliberal and popular impulse. Madurism is the culmination of this Bonapartist "degeneration". In the last period, we have been witnessing an explosion of state violence, a militarization of working-class neighborhoods and a criminalization of dissent, including on the left and in the unions. There have also been cascading authoritarian institutional practices: if today, in any European country, a president nullified the power of parliament (in the hands of the opposition) and self-appointed a “ puppet ” Constituent Assembly without even respecting the (Chavist) Constitution, substituting himself for the legislative power, the whole left would scream. However, this is what happened in Venezuela, and part of it is silent.

That the government has to face a sector of the putschist, destabilizing opposition, backed by the CIA , is true and it is an important fact of the balance of power. But from the point of view of emancipation, and the famous "socialism of the twenty-first century", we must obviously denounce the new caste in power, the "bolibourgeoisie" which has pocketed billions of dollars and this authoritarian thrust. The same applies to the subject of petro-dependence : in the sector of the Orinoco, special economic zones are being developed by the authorities which legalize - on the scale of a territory as large as Belgium - the deregulation of work, protection of biodiversity and peoples’ rights ! This is an extension of the oil extraction that affects historic indigenous communities and protected biosphere zones, on the basis of an alliance between the Bolivarian military and China, Russia, or even companies like Total.

So the list is long ...

The only possible way is to return to forms of popular organizations, to reconstitute a social and political fabric that allows us to think of an alternative to this deadly pair.

We could multiply the examples. The most dramatic today is the ongoing humanitarian crisis, with some five million people leaving Venezuela (Latin America’s biggest migration in such a short time!); the collapse of GDP which has halved since 2013 ; the minimum wage undermined by hyperinflation and which is equivalent to three dollars: you can live for less than five days with that in Venezuela… This big oil country must now import crude. We must continue solidarity with the Venezuelan people, that is certain and urgent: an international solidarity which continues to denounce loud and clear the blockade of the United States and the position of the European Union. These great powers hypocritically denounce human rights abuses in Venezuela, but pretend nothing is happening when it comes to the increase in massacres in Colombia or the atrocious situation in Haiti, not to mention what is happening in their own country. We can do this without avoiding the reality that the Maduro regime is now part of the problem rather than the solution. In any case, it is up to the Venezuelan people to decide, without outside interference.

Are there signs that would initiate a democratic and socialist way out of this chaos ?

This is the great problem described by many activists on the spot : the situation is in a " catastrophic impasse " which seems bottomless, because today the really existing alternative is the neoliberal and/or pro-imperial right. Its coming to power by the ballot box, and even more by force, would mean sinking further into the rut. The only possible way is to return to forms of popular organizations, to reconstitute a social and political fabric which makes it possible to think of an alternative to this deadly choice. But the “alternative” left is in an ultra-minority and extremely fragile position. For example, the Marea Socialista group [17] (which has now left the critical and popular Chavismo of which it was for a long time part) is standing up against Chavist authoritarianism and militarism, but without any real capacity to influence the political landscape. Especially since the dilapidated state of the economy means that people don’t have time to think about it: when we talk about it with friends over there, they tell us, "We have to eat, to find something to eat for the week”. It is totally impossible to create a stable democratic alternative in this context. We must hope for an economic reactivation (but with the pandemic, it is difficult ...), that a process of peaceful and concerted negotiation between the forces in presence takes place and that in this space can gradually emerge popular and autonomous forces. This is necessary, beyond just the legislative election deadline of December 6, 2020, which already promises to be polarized between a part of the “ Guaidist ” opposition, once again ready to resort to violence with the support of Trump, and Madurism , the favorite of the polls, seeking to regain legitimacy, but without recognizing its responsibilities in the crisis.

Despite the “ end of the cycle ” marked by the resurgence of reactionary and conservative right-wing governments, we see in Chile that the feminist movement has shown its vigour. Does the renewal of Latin American social movements go through this kind of mobilization?

I am very reserved on the notion of “ end of cycle ”, even though some of my co-authors are much less so. It seems too "mechanical" to me. I prefer to say that since 2012, we have entered a "zone of turbulence", with a regressive phase, more or less advanced, where the right and far-right forces regain control - although partially (if we think of Mexico or Argentina, where the centre-left is in power [18] ). Within the framework of the world capitalist crisis, the local bourgeoisies wanted to put an end to the class coalitions of the progressive era, to return to “hard”, austerity neoliberalism , even to fascistic regimes like the one in Brazil. In this zone of turbulence, the good news is that the “antagonistic” popular movements continue their resistance, even reactivating themselves, with the appearance of new and numerous social actors. And, indeed, who is on the offensive today ? First of all, the feminist movement, one of the central actors in the class struggle in Chile, Argentina and Mexico. Who was able to put two million people on the streets in the last period in Latin America? The Chilean and Argentinian feminist movement, not the revolutionary left! Those with a strictly working-class view of social change cannot understand Latin America! The Argentine Trotskyist left, which is one of the most active on the far left, can put 100,000 people in the streets, but not a million!

Let us also recall the multiplication of collective revolts in the face of austerity, authoritarianism and neoliberalism in the second half of 2019: in Haiti, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil. There remain debates as to the type of political projection: party or not, autonomism versus organization, what unitary fronts, etc. Not to mention the impact of the Covid pandemic on all social fields, while the subcontinent is one of the most affected areas in the world, with 250,000 deaths. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean CEPAL) calculates that the region’s GDP will fall by 9 per cent on average for 2020 and that more than 45 million people are expected to (again)become poor - poverty affecting 220 million people. This is without counting the explosion of layoffs and informal work (already omnipresent). It is terrible. At the same time, the state of emergency, the militarization of public space, the assassinations of social leaders are gaining ground all over the region (starting with Colombia). Despite everything, feminists, indigenous communities, precarious youth, unions and militant workers, critical intellectuals and students, the peasantry of Via Campesina , etc., are reactivating multiple struggles and the very possibility of thinking about alternatives to the extractivist and dependent capitalist model, to neoliberalism, militarism, patriarchy and climate collapse. The movements of the landless, the homeless, Afro-descendants, LGBQTI +, are also active, despite the difficulties, drug trafficking and violence of everyday life. This is what allows us to continue to hope, including against Bolsonaro , Piñera , Añez and their world. The "end of history" is not for tomorrow, and especially not in Latin America ...

7 October 2020

Source: Interview published on the site of the online review Ballast. Translated by International Viewpoint.


If you like this article or have found it useful, please consider donating towards the work of International Viewpoint. Simply follow this link: Donate then enter an amount of your choice. One-off donations are very welcome. But regular donations by standing order are also vital to our continuing functioning. See the last paragraph of this article for our bank account details and take out a standing order. Thanks.


[1Interviewee’s note : Let us think of Peronism in Argentina, Vargas in Brazil or Cardenas in Mexico in the years 1930-1940.

[2"There is no alternative", the idea that there was no alternative to neoliberalism, to the market and to capitalist globalization.

[3Buen Vivir in Spanish, ed.

[4Interviewee’s note : This book was first published in Spanish by UNAM (National University of Mexico).

[5Interviewee’s note : this enthusiasm can also be found, for example, in “Le Volcan latino americain, published in France in 2008 : F. Gaudichaud ( ed .), Le Volcan latino-américain. Gauches, movements sociaux et neoliberalisme, Textuel , 2008.

[6River crossing Colombia and Venezuela, with an extremely rich fauna and flora.

[7On these questions, see “Neoliberalisme et politiques de reduction de la pauvrete en Amerique latine” by Hugo Goeury.

[8Extraction of natural commons, mainly intended for export and, most of the time in alliance with foreign capital.

[9The expression is from the researcher Eduardo Gudynas.

[10To find out more, see: "Le conflit du Tipnis et la Bolivie d’Evo Morales face a ses contradiction: analyse d’un conflit socio-environnemental", Laetitia Perrier-Bruslé , ÉchoGéo , 2012.

[11In 2007, Rafael Correa proposed that Ecuador give up exploiting oil fields in the heart of Yasuni National Park, in exchange for a financial fund paid by the international community to compensate for the shortfall. Having failed to collect more than one per cent of the funds, Correa authorized the exploitation of part of the deposits in 2013. We can read on this subject "La trajectoire politique de l’initiative Yasuní-ITT en Equateur: entre capitalism vert et ecosocialism”, Matthieu Le Quang, Les Cahiers d’Histoire, n° 130, 2016.

[12Concept developed by Gramsci, which Razmig Keucheyan has summed up as follows: “An organic intellectual is organically linked to a dominant or ascending social class: he comes from its ranks, his function is to systematize the awareness that it has of itself, and to take part in the organization of production”.

[13Interviewee’s note: And this question also represents a blind spot in the analysis of the balance sheets of Latin American progressivism. Patrick Guillaudat returned to this recently for Contretemps, he even notes that in the three countries long considered to be more “radical” (Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador), and despite changes in the labour code or the constituent assemblies: “the enterprise and its pyramidal organization, pillar of the capitalist economy, has been largely spared in these countries. Of course, there have been attempts by the state to supervise enterprises with regard to investments, shareholdings, etc., even to bypass the private sector by stimulating the development of cooperatives, but the very heart of the operation has never been seriously affected.”

[14See the documentary The Take by Naomi Klein on this subject.

[15Political party founded and led by Evo Morales.

[16Campism is the reduction of every political situation to a clash between two camps, thereby forcing people to align with one of the two parties.

[17A left - wing political organization founded in 2007, taking as its references " internationalism, socialism, anti - capitalism, feminism and eco - socialism ". See Quiénes , Marea Socialista

[18At the end of 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico, and in Argentina Alberto Fernández succeeded the very right-wing Mauricio Macri in December 2019.