Changing the Rules of the Game

Photo: El Cronista

By Yasvily Méndez Paz

On October 27, 2019, nine years after the death of Néstor Kirchner and on the very day that Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva turned 74, general elections were held in Argentina and Uruguay. In the latter, the results seem to indicate a second round will be necessary, which will pit Carlos Martínez of the Frente Amplio against Luis Lacalle Pou of the Partido Nacional. The disputes for power will be a challenge. The opposition alludes to the staleness of the Frente Amplio after 15 years in power, but the Latin American left pins its hopes on “Mujica’s party”. Meanwhile, the South American nation faces new problems —such as lack of safety— which demand change in the ways of operating from discourse and political practice. This is a problem which affects Uruguayan families, and it should be a priority issue in the political agenda of whichever candidate wins.

In Argentina, the Fernández ticket (Alberto Fernández-Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) obtained more than 45% of the votes, which gave them a solid victory in the first round. This has been a keenly anticipated triumph by the popular masses in Argentina, who have suffered the neoliberal policies applied by the government of Mauricio Macri. Undoubtedly, the results of the election in Argentina will be highly favorable for the region and for the project of the Latin American left. In fact, there should now be less pressure on Bolivia, and the right will have to retreat or at least will lose part of the momentum it gets from the support of the United States, the OAS and the European Union.

In the last few years, neoliberalism has dominated the political landscape in the Latin American region. Right wing governments, financed and backed by the White House, have prevailed over the Latin American popular movements by ‘putting the screws’ on them. As David Harvey well says, ‘neoliberalism promotes the well-being of people on the basis of the development of the individual’s business capacities and liberties, within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, strong markets and freedom of trade, in order to restore the conditions that lead to the accumulation of capital and to the reinstatement of the power of economic elites.’ In the case of underdeveloped countries, the dominance of financial capital is fundamental to the fulfillment of that purpose. Maintaining agreements with international institutions which regulate markets and finance on an international level, such as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), leads to their dominance over those economies and, therefore, to debt and to the escalation of poverty.

Neoliberal policies are grafted into the social fabric through a conceptual apparatus which is accepted as hegemonic and unchallengeable, using different tools, such as the educational system, the media and the ICTs. The latter have caused a veritable revolution in worldwide contemporary thought. Discourses; networks for solidarity in labor, politics, etc.; social relations; social and cultural security; respect for ethnic diversity; the right to the land, among other existing values and concepts, are projected as illegitimate and harmful through socio-political and cultural manipulation. The surrealistic mirage of neoliberalism has an impact on the popular masses, and the Latin American left must face the challenges posed by this.

Progressive governments in the region must focus on the struggle against neoliberalism, because of what it represents for the peoples of Latin America. Considering the political context it currently faces, the struggle must be for the attainment of a democracy on the basis of post-neoliberal propositions, in constant dialog with the parties and the rest of the institutions which are part of the political scenery in the region. That must be the focus of their agendas, without losing sight of social and economic improvements which favor the poor.

Today, Latin America doesn’t have the structural conditions needed to radicalize its political systems. Before that, the popular masses must be educated, the current foundations upon which education is carried out must be deconstructed, the existing ideological diversities must be accepted, and there must be a capacity for dialog and for the establishment of the hegemony of left-wing governments on the basis of lasting strategies. Several left-wing governments, such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, have resisted the strong offensive of the US- and OAS-led right wing. This moment must supply the momentum in order to take up again the political and economic alliances of the region. There’s a second chance to change the rules of the game.

(Translated from the original)

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