Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

South America’s Conservative Turn

The year comes to a close with serious political advances made by the Right. We are facing a major change in South America—an “end stage.” The hegemony of relatively progressive regimes is disintegrating in the context of economic stagnation and efforts by the United States to recuperate its position in the region.

Eduardo Molina

December 24, 2015
Facebook Twitter Share

Photo credit: La Izquierda Diario

This is an adaptation of an article published in La Izquierda Diario.

In Argentina, Macri’s “government of managers” has begun to orchestrate a series of austerity measures. In Brazil, the Right continues to capitalize on the government’s political crisis, fueled by the PT’s regressive measures, corruption scandals, and threats of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. In Venezuela, the reactionary opposition made unprecedented gains in the November elections, winning the majority within the National Assembly, leaving Nicolas Maduro’s Chavist government weakened in the face of an acute economic and political crisis.

This expresses a significant step in the Right-ward “swerve” that has sharpened during the course of the year, with milestones like the friendly “new American dialogue” proposed by Obama at the Panama Summit; a U.S.-led “thaw” in relations with Cuba to facilitate the process of capitalist restoration on the island; a “peace process” in Colombia for a “negotiated surrender” of the guerrillas.

Now in this “end stage” of progressive neoliberal governments, there is no doubt that imperialism and the various national bourgeoisie will attempt to extend these advances in the coming years.

Progressive governments were and continue to be part of this conservative turn, through their incessant structural adjustment measures, devaluation and inflation, eroding wages and exacerbating the problems of education, health, transportation and housing. Adding to this, they have hardened their response to the struggles of working class and poor people’s struggles, while at the same time adopting items from the reactionary agenda (ie., their emphasis on “security”). They have remained loyal to the continued payment of foreign debt; they have made major concessions to big business and multinational groups. It is not a minor fact that their leadership style (“Bonapartist” traits, in Marxist language) has resulted in alienating sections of the population, adding to a greater dissatisfaction with the economic situation.

Thus, they paved the way for the conservative advance. Incidentally, they allowed the Right to rise with an appearance of “renewal” and “change,” as well as rhetoric of the “fight against corruption” and even “democracy.” Thus, the Kirchnerist’s failed bid for center-right presidential candidate Daniel Scioli and his campaign of “security” and “gradual” austerity made it easier for Macri’s victory. In fact, the same Kirchnerists are now supporting Macri’s new “governance” plan).

Brazilian President Dilma’s unpopular measures have provided traction for the right-wing oppositional agenda. In Venezuela, Maduro, despite his rhetoric of an “economic war,” did not take real measures against the capitalists, making it easier for a demagogic opposition to penetrate popular sectors.

The Exhaustion of the Progressivism

The international crisis has brought an end to years of growth in the region, laying bare the true balance of what Kirchnerists call the “década ganada” – a period of labor-friendly policies. The contradictions of a capitalist Latin America have been come to light. Within this context, there is no enduring progressive speech.

The post-neoliberal governments came to power on the wave of a succession of political crises and uprisings that toppled the neoliberals such us De la Rua and Sanchez de Losada, demobilizing and channeling popular discontent with some partial concessions. While preserving corporate and landowner power, with which they “cohabited” all these years, these post-neoliberal governments maintained the neoliberal privatizations (with some partial exceptions), precarious employment and insecurity, the deepening of “primary export” and “extraction” models, and the overall dependence on foreign capital.

With decreasing revenues derived from exports (soy, mining, oil), the possibility of mediating and arbitrating between classes – the continuation of contentious social policies while at the same time maintaining the smooth operation of capitalist business – has greatly diminished. The “national and popular” regimes have managed the developing crisis at the expense of wages, employment and living conditions.
Meanwhile, the expectations of the masses lingered, unsatisfied.

Now, the business classes that have capitalized on these “years of growth” are choosing to insert their own personnel into government, to carry on without the bumps and costs of “progressive mediation”

The Imperialists’ “Plan of War” Must Be Confronted

The discourse of the “new right” deploys demagoguery and prejudice to capture the popular vote. It has the support of the mainstream media, the bourgeois consensus, and capitalizes on the discredited state of “progressivism.” But it remains to be seen whether the Right will be able to transform its political and electoral successes into new relations of social forces in order to impose a reactionary agenda—increasing exploitation and reducing workers’ rights, “cutting costs,” encouraging “competitiveness” at the expense of the national economy, favoring landowners, and increasing the commitment to foreign capital.

The right will try to exploit its recent success in order to further this agenda. However, within the context of great economic, social, and political contradictions, there may be a broadening polarization paralleled by a rise in workers’ struggles and popular resistance. There may be an explosion of great battles, articulations of class struggle. Unlike the 90s, the conservative advance today faces the working class and popular sectors – particularly in the Southern Cone – that have accumulated power, are unwilling to give up their wages and jobs, and have held on to their aspirations.

The resistance needs a strategy and program that meet the level of the capitalist attacks – so that the crisis may be paid by the rich – thus breaking from imperialism. And for that, it is necessary for workers leave behind both the rightwing and the self-described “popular” parties.

It is essential to have a clear balance of the “post-neoliberal” experience. The governments of Chavez, Evo Morales, Lula, Kirchner, and their successors did not fulfill the promises of “real democratization” and “industrialization.” There were no true agrarian reforms; nor was there any Latin American unity, beyond the usual rhetoric. Following from their class character and limited program of reforms, they failed to go further and bring about a mass mobilization. Old lessons of Latin American history have been validated. Neither Peronism nor other nationalist and reformist versions have paved the way for genuine national and social liberation. They have always led to frustrations, if not harsh defeats. This is yet another powerful reason to redouble the fight for political independence and the organization of workers, in an attempt to forge a way out of the capitalist crisis.

Only the strength of workers, uniting the oppressed sectors of the city and the country with the needed methods of mobilization, can defeat the imperialists’ “plan of war” Latin America. What would the balance be if workers from Brazil and Argentina were to coordinate and overturn this attack?

Therefore, the anti-imperialist flags and the unity of workers of neighboring countries, along with the fight for political independence and the organization of the working class, must be part of the program. In the heat of the fierce coming battles, there will be new challenges and opportunities to advance the construction of a socialist left of workers in Latin America and internationally.

Translated by Laura Argüello

Facebook Twitter Share

Eduardo Molina

Eduardo (1955-2019) was a lifelong revolutionary militant in Argentina, Bolivia, and other countries. An obituary in English: Forever Until Socialism!

Latin America

Under Xiomara Castro’s Government, the Garífunas in Honduras Still Await Answers in the Struggle for Their Land

The Garífunas in Honduras persist in their struggle for their ancestral lands, while eviction attempts and threats against their leaders continue. Almost 10 months into Xiomara Castro’s administration, her campaign promises to the Garífuna communities remain unfulfilled.

Marisela Trevin

November 19, 2022
Argentina's Party of Socialist Workers (PTS) holds an assembly for workers to discuss working-class solutions to Argentina's crisses.

Thousands of Workers and Young People Participate in Socialist-led Assemblies across Argentina

Last weekend, the Party for Socialist Workers (PTS) in Argentina held over 100 democratic and open assemblies in cities and towns across the country to debate the inflationary crisis, government’s the austerity program, and a working-class solution.

Robert Belano

November 15, 2022
Jair Bolsonaro pictured on election day. Wearing a yellow Brazil shirt and smiling.

Bolsonarism Will Not Be Defeated in Brazil without Organizing Independently of the Lula Government

Lula won by a narrow margin in yesterday’s elections in Brazil, but his government is unwilling to truly challenge the Right’s advance. A Brazilian socialist describes the fight ahead for the country's workers and Left.

André Barbieri

October 31, 2022

Fascism or Bonapartism? Lessons from Trotsky for Understanding Brazil Under Bolsonaro

Is genuine fascism rising in Brazil? How should the working class respond if so? Marxism helps us to characterize the Bolsonaro government and spells out the method for confronting the extreme Right.

André Barbieri

October 29, 2022

MOST RECENT

The Roots of the Rebellion at Foxconn

Jenny Chan is a researcher and professor at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. She is co-author of the book Dying for an iPhone. She spoke with La Izquerda Diario about the causes of the rebellion by workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Josefina L. Martínez

December 7, 2022
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a suit

“Farmgate” Threatens the Very Foundations of Capitalist Stability in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faces an impeachment vote Tuesday. More than a simple case of corruption, it’s a political crisis of the ruling party and of capitalist stability in the country.

Sam Carliner

December 5, 2022

Understanding the Carnage at Colorado Springs

The heinous violence displayed in Colorado Springs is a stark reminder of the menacing, lethal threat that today’s determined far right continues to pose to trans and queer people, and anyone living outside capitalism’s imposed sexual and gender boundaries.

Keegan O'Brien

December 4, 2022
Mapuche people standing with a flag

The Case of the Mapuche: What Can Trotsky Teach Us about the Fight against National Oppression?

Trotsky’s reflections on the social aspect of permanent revolution have deep implications for building working-class hegemony through solidarity with oppressed peoples.

Juan Valenzuela

December 4, 2022