Peru: Blood Flows in the Amazon
In early June, Peruvian President Alan García, an ally of US President Barack Obama, ordered armored personnel carriers, helicopter gun-ships and hundreds of heavily armed troops to assault and disperse a peaceful, legal protest organized by members of Peru’s Amazonian indigenous communities protesting the entry of foreign multinational mining companies on their traditional homelands. Dozens of Indians were killed or are missing, scores have been injured and arrested and a number of Peruvian police, held hostage by the indigenous protestors were killed in the assault. President García declared martial law in the region in order to enforce his unilateral and unconstitutional fiat granting of mining exploitation rights to foreign companies, which infringed on the integrity of traditional Amazonian indigenous communal lands.
US-Latin American Relations
One of the most striking aspect of contemporary US-Latin American relations is the profound divergence between the hopes, expectations and positive image of the Obama regime and the policies, strategies and practices which are being pursued. Many so-called progressive North American commentators and not a few Latin American writers have ignored the most elementary features of US foreign policy, and focused exclusively on the highly deceptive rhetoric of “change” and “new beginnings.” A serious understanding of US foreign policy toward Latin America requires a discussion of the main objectives of the Obama regime, the global priorities of imperial policy in times of multiple wars and world depression.
Whatever Happened to Lula?
The election of Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva raised great expectations on the centre-left. For most, his election heralded a new progressive epoch, which, while not revolutionary, defined the “end of neoliberalism.” Noted progressive religious figures like Leonardo Boff announced imminent “change,” which would challenge U.S. hegemony and lead to great popular participation. These hopes have not been realized.
The rightward turn of the da Silva regime has spurred a range of explanations. In the first few months of his regime, da Silva loyalists argued that the orthodox neoliberal policies were “tactical moves” to stabilize the economy before turning to social reform. As da Silva’s policies, appointment alliances and legislation all converged into a logically coherent, orthodox neoliberal strategy, however, this explanation has gradually lost credibility. Among radical sectors of the Left, it has been replaced by a much more convincing, multi-causal explanation.
Peasant Movements in Latin America
At the end of the seventies, many experts argued that peasant movements were an anachronistic, declining force for social transformation. These observers failed to see or understand the emergence of a new generation of modern peasant leaders based on mass organizations, capable of compensating for demographic changes through greater organization and through coalition building with urban-poor neighborhood organizations and trade unions. Peasant organizations have more than made up for quantitative losses in relative population with qualitative gains in organization, leadership, strategies and tactics.
The Empire in the Year 2005
2004 demonstrated in the most dramatic and definitive manner that the U.S. imperial military machine could be defeated. The Iraqi resistance has proven that the U.S. Empire is not invincible.
The Economic Basis of Imperial Power
International economic power is increasingly dispersed between the competing major power blocs. However, one power centre – the U.S. – has greater domination over more sectors than the other power blocs.
Aristotle defined an oligarchy as a polity in which the few elect the rulers to govern over the many. That formula fits exactly the description of U.S. primaries and general elections. In New York state, where only 15 per cent of the party members voted in the recent Democratic primaries, Kerry won with eight per cent of registered Democrats. In the general elections in November, 25 million voters (out of 50 million) can decide who will rule over 280 million citizens. The great majority of blacks, Hispanics and poor workers will not vote, because they perceive that neither the Republican Bush nor the Democrat Kerry speak to the problems that most affect their lives.
Iraq: the resistance resists
The resistance resists; every block, every house, every store rings out with gunfire; the resistance is everywhere. Every house takes hits–the resistance fights on. Hundreds of Iraqis have been killed, thousands have been injured and many more will die, but after each funeral tens of thousands more–the peaceful, apolitical, “wait-and-see” ones–have taken up the gun.
Bush’s State of the Empire Speech
Bush’s “State of the Union” speech was not in praise of “America” as he claimed–it was about fascism at home and imperialism abroad. It was a surreal vision that placed the U.S. in the center of a divine universe, in which the Chosen People would exterminate its enemies and forcibly enlighten its reluctant allies.
The multitude of Bolivians who were blocking the roads, building barricades and surrounding the presidential palace – the peasants, miners, street venders, unemployed and many others – were the product of at least a half-century of revolutionary struggle against landlords, mine-owners, big-business people and the U.S. Embassy.
Beginning with the social revolution of 1952, which expropriated the mines and landed estates of the oligarchy and destroyed the military, the Bolivian workers and peasants forged their own class-based trade unions and militias. State power, however, was taken by the middle-class National Revolutionary Party (MNR), which began a process of re-establishing capitalist hegemony in alliance with the United States.
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