March 11, 2016
from CommonDreams Website
will continue to inspire, teach and increasingly walk together,'
writes Cregan, 'to challenge the mantra of
economic growth, globalized trade terror and amputation of natural resources.'
On the limitations of the Pink Tide
and the increasing callousness
of the global power elites.
In his first two months in power over 27,000 civil servants have been fired, duties on mining exports removed, state subsidies on essential services lifted, negotiations with 'vulture funds' on billion dollar debt repayment resumed and all this justified by a complicit corporate controlled media.
In anticipation of the dissent that will follow, special power has been given to police to repress demonstrations after a ten minute warning.
"For over three decades
power has been centralized in a global
financial system and logic of economic growth
that is leading us towards certain
collapse and planetary destruction."
Simultaneously in Venezuela, Chavez's
successor Nicolas Maduro is facing the first ever opposition
controlled parliament in over a decade, in Brazil, President
Dilma Rousseff is struggling against a parliamentary impeachment
process while in Ecuador indigenous and workers movements have
staged mass protests against President Correa.
This was an unprecedented, head-on challenge to US government intervention in the region.
These governments began to strengthen regional cooperation and trade and at the national level, raising duty on primary material exports, re-nationalizing key industries, and using these funds to develop social programs which lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of extreme poverty.
In Argentina there were major conquests
in the area of human rights - marriage equality, transgender rights,
pensions for women working at home and the trial and imprisonment
for many of those responsible for human rights violations during the
Since colonial times the continent has been an exporter of primary materials and this remains true today.
In fact, during the past decade the production of monocultures for export such as soy has actually increased, creating mass environmental destruction and evictions of small-holder farmers from their lands. There was little investment in diversifying production or in substantial improvements to health and education.
Instead, social programs were created to increase
consumption, making more families dependent on the financial system.
In 2013, the global price of soy reached a high of $600/ton but one year later fell to $350/ton while oil prices toppled from $100 a barrel to between $28-50.
As this commodity bubble continues to burst today, many of the 'achievements' of the past decade are being eroded by rising inflation, wage stagnation and financial uncertainty, and in the case of Argentina, this has enabled the right wing take centre stage with multi-million dollar media campaigns and the promise of "change."
We now know that what will follow
will be more of the same, without the safety net for
those living in poverty.
This system has emptied politics of all
moral and ethical sentiment. It has quite simply transformed the
meaning of life in to wealth creation and governments everywhere
from Argentina to India, from Greece to the United States, have
simply become facilitators for increasing GDP.
Many have been weakened by internal divisions as they navigated new political and governmental terrain.
In Argentina, for example, many social movements chose to work with the government, receiving substantial state funding for social housing and other projects.
This in turn lead to a loss of a autonomy and weakened political discourse - as mass deforestation for mono-cultivation of soy and contamination of water sources from oil and mining projects advanced, they remained silent.
"Fueled by a decade of social progress
and strengthened political conscience,
the steps of an emerging Latin American body politic
are firmer, clearer and more dignified."
But many others have continued to question the state and centralized systems of power and, thanks to the social policies of progressive governments there are more and more young people in particular who have had access to education opportunities and alternative political narratives.
A program called "connecting equality" in Argentina distributed over four million laptops to secondary schools while a Digital Inclusion program enabled access to internet across the Brazils' favelas (not that hardware or technology are silver bullets).
Today information flows through thousands of Facebook and WhatsApp groups enabling dialogue and challenging the
mainstream media and official government narrative.
Recent experiences in South America have
proven that even so-called socialist governments are unable to
escape from the straightjacket of neoliberal logic.
Social movements in South America from Indigenous communities who have recovered land to worker controlled factories to cooperatively owned business of all types are starting to see that that change does not come through the ballot box; rather, it lies in reclaiming and redistributing power.
Fueled by a decade of social progress
and strengthened political conscience, the steps of an emerging
Latin American body politic are firmer, clearer and more dignified.
The past decade of 'progressive' governments with continued poverty and inequality in South America has actually helped cultivate a rising movement, showing us where the locusts are being bred, freeing our imaginations and helping us connect the dots between the global neoliberal system.
Both existing and emerging social movements will continue to inspire, teach and increasingly walk together to challenge the mantra of economic growth, globalized trade terror and amputation of natural resources.
The limitations of
the Pink Tide and the increasing
callousness of the global power elites are fanning the flames of
imagination and giving birth to visions of a post-capitalist