Revolutionary Left Faces Challenges in Latin America

The popular masses that elected Cristina Fernandez are becoming increasingly concerned about stagnant wages at a time of rapid inflation, yet they remain committed to the President.

Marina Menéndez Quintero

The new Latin America validated its left turn with the recent win of President Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian program in Venezuela. These are, without a doubt, the driving force behind the new Latin America. However; the left-wing in the rest continent is facing challenges.

Legitimate positions that may be too radical for the complex context Latin America is living today; or the aspiration to access to the Presidency without having a program clearly outlined; or the persecution of the actors of change are elements that could smooth the path for a right-wing that has never ceased in its struggle to change Latin America’s current left-wing turn.

An example of this is Argentina, which was taken out of the black hole of the neoliberal crisis by Nestor Kirchner’s administration. Now Argentina is trapped in the ups and down of a project that has not satisfied those who, from valid left positions, expected more radical action. However; it will be worthwhile to analyse who will benefit from these demands that seem to be part of a campaign to discredit President Cristina Fernandez.

Gripped from abroad by the untimely pressures of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to whom Argentina owes nothing since  Kirchner liquidated the debt with the organization in 2005, Cristina Fernández faces the upset caused by a misunderstood change of control to avoid the flight of capital that took Argentina to a “financial corral:” absence of money in the banks, which turned the accounts into bonds and prompted the first protests of an impoverished middle class in the early 2000s.

There are reasons to think that there are links between the positions of the IMF and some of the people opposing Fernandez now.

In another display of interference in the internal affairs of Argentina, the Fund has questioned the social and economic numbers presented by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC), and has given Argentina a deadline until December to “adjust” these numbers. Coincidentally, legislators and economists from the opposition have also requested the Government to “correct” these numbers.

This position pales in comparison to new, and unexpected protests from the middle and high bourgeoisie, whose causes are not clear yet. It has been said, for example, that the measure to control the flight of capital may be the cause; this measure has been manipulated by the media, which also tries to give an image of discontent with the direction of the country, in general.

But there are more worrying signs. Trade union organizations such as the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and a faction of the divided Argentinean Workers Central Union (CTA) took to the streets last Thursday to demand a wage rise in a country that, like the rest of the world, is suffering the consequences of a worldwide economic crisis, of which the most visible sign is the rise in inflation.

Ten years ago, however; most of these same workers were unemployed and beset by the neoliberal fever established by Carlos Menem’s mandate.

When Nestor Kirchner took office in 2003, 54.3 percent of the Argentinians were poor. Today, official numbers show that only 6.5 percent are in this category and only 1.74 percent live in poverty, although alternative measurements said that the actual figures are 21.4 and 5.4 respectively. Nonetheless, we are talking of 33 percent of the population who have left poverty in a decade; a significant number.

Aside from the radical turns towards the more transforming model some sectors aspire to, Argentine’s policies of social inclusion promoted by Cristina and the good economic performance of the country have kept Argentina growing (the average GDP rise in the last few years is eight approximately percent), the country is revitalized and shortages have diminished. In matters of foreign policy, Argentine has acted as an independent, pro-integration and anti-imperialist country.

It is easy to guess then who will benefit if this turmoil goes on. Many people see the attacks against Fernandez as attempts to impede her from what they have called the re-reelection; an option that neither Cristina nor her party have expressed and that would take a reform of the Constitution if they were to do that.

At least for the time being, it’s doubtful that any other national force can bring together all the sympathies and the drive of the Front for Victory, whose candidate (Fernandez) received 54 percent of the votes only a year ago. It made Cristina’s second consecutive term possible and the third consecutive term of the so-called Kirchnerism.

A return to the right in Argentine would sadly hinder Latin America’s interests. But, there’s no doubt that the neoliberal right-wing, remains there hidden, waiting.

Paraguay and Honduras: The coups “undo” themselves?

Paraguay was hoping to have a chance to do justice in the presidential elections on April 2013, the only moment they will get back to the parliamentarian coup that overthrew President Fernando Lugo last June.

But the forces that supported the former President; the only ones that could vindicate his program, have just divided. The truth is that his program would have made minimum changes, although it was enough to upset the local landowning oligarchy and those who seek to undermine integration. So Paraguay became the stage of the second successful coup d’état in Latin America in the last few years (not counting the failed attempt of a coup in Venezuela in April 2002 and the attempt at a coup staged by the police forces against Rafael Correa in 2010).

When the Guasú Front that supports Lugo was readying to battle in the next elections, journalist Mario Ferreiro, one of the main figures of this force and a potential candidate of the group for the presidential elections, has announced his intention to run as an independent candidate, catching the group by surprise.

This is a fragment of a movement in comparison to the Patriotic Alliance for Change, the conglomerate of popular groups and minor political parties that came together in 2008 to take Lugo to the presidency. Without the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA) —which betrayed the president  and the social forces by taking part in the mock trial that disguised the “soft coup”-, Guasu is now suffering the snap with Ferreiro, who launched his candidacy alone and wants to take with him other forces of the conglomerate.

This decision leaves the organization adrift with more chances to repress the discontent provoked by the coup and the regime imposed by Federico Franco.

Once more, reactionary elements anchored to the past have bet on dividing the left, while those in the bottom remained together demanding social justice. If the Front doesn’t manage to get back on its feet, the oligarchy and its political representation, the right-wing that planned and executed the blow to integration, will be the only winners in this situation.

The first victim of this new type of undeclared coup d’etats, Honduras, is also preparing for another crucial battle at the ballots boxes.

November 2013 is the date for the next presidential elections in the country where the coup against President Zelaya gave birth to a new social subject that has now become a political actor: the Libre (Libertad y Refundación) party, created during the Resistance. Their presence in the elections may break the traditional two-party system in the Central-American country.

Although the so-called National Popular Resistance Front has also divided into different currents, they have reached a consensus that its political arm proclaimed only one candidate for the presidentials: Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.

However; the threats of selective repression unleashed during the coup and maintained during Porfirio Lobo’s unconstitutional government haunt the aspirants of this new left party born amidst social discontent.

Death threats recently denounced by agrarian leader and LIBRE’s candidate to the Congress Rafael Alegría —one of the main opponents to the military coup— foresee that prosecution and death threaten to cloud the road to the elections.

Perils haunt Latin America. The struggle remains confronting the Right.

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