3 Dec 2010

TRIUMPHS AND DANGER

Since the election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency of Venezuela in1998 Latin America has undergone an extraordinary transformation which was unthinkable back then. Ever since, powerful social movements have elected a wave of progressive governments which have turned a region traditionally under the US imperial thumb into an assertive subcontinent which is seeking to build a better world.

Many countries in the region tried to create a more just society during the 20th century but the overwhelming majority of those efforts were brutally crushed by the US in alliance with the local oligarchies.

These defeats led to horrific levels of violence, state-sponsored terror, assassinations, dictatorship, the suppression of civil society, persecution of trade unionists, torture and exile, plus a wave of mass impoverishment. It made Latin America the most unequal continent on the planet.

But in the 21st century the election of Chavez was followed by the survival - however precarious - of the Cuban revolution, which by the year 2000 was already showing signs of solid economic recovery.

Then it was the turn of the continent's giant Brazil, whose electorate chose Ignazio Lula da Silva as president in 2002.

A year later Nestor Kirchner became president of Argentina, soon to be followed in 2005 by two other left-wingers - Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Then Ecuador and Chile followed suit, electing Rafael Correa and Michelle Bachelet in 2006 followed by Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua in 2007.

Paraguay elected a liberation theology bishop and Guatemala elected Alvaro Colom in 2008. The last on the list so far is Mauricio Funes in El Salvador.

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