The Latin American Decision

The Latin American trend of populist movements may be getting new support as two more countries stand on the brink of free-market democracy and left-wing socialism. In two days, Peru is scheduled to hold its presidential election in which Ollanta Humala, a left-wing Chavez sympathizer and former military officer, is one of the front runners. In opposition Lourdes Flores runs as a supporter of free market neo-liberalism, causing the state to choose between the loss of national control and state domination. Additionally, Mexico is also having an election soon in which Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a socialist, is getting major support. If both these countries elect the socialist candidate, they will join the ranks of Cesar Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and of course Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The logical question then is why is this happening? To answer this question, it is necessary to look at the progress that free-market neo-liberalism has brought to Latin America. The idea of neo-liberalism revolves around the mechanism of the market to produce equilibrium. Simple and effective, yes, but that is not what has happened. The United States and other developed nations have sold the neo-liberal ideology as the solution to poverty by giving access to the foreign markets of developed states. However, the United States has maintained barriers to its markets, especially on products where other developing states have a comparable advantage. In addition, large multinational corporations have moved into underdeveloped states and exploited their land, labor, and natural resources. Environmental regulations and labor laws are considered barriers to trade, causing them to be lifted. This deregulation exploits the environment, and marginalizes the local people. Intellectual property rights are another problem. Instead of benefiting from foreign direct investment, these patents keep the local population from benefiting off the technology brought by large corporate companies. Large US farm corporations also exploit these states as they inundate them with American subsidized products, undercutting the prices of goods produced by small local farmers. The result has been an undereducated youth, environmental degradation and the transformation of small subsistence farmers, to paupers. The informal sector has grown as a result of this transformation and wealth has been concentrated in smaller populations while poverty continues to climb.
Is it any wonder that the populations are choosing anything but the submission to American economic hegemony? This is the reason why a terrorist organization like Hammas can gain control of Palestine through a democratic election. America has lost the trust of the rest of the world. After giving up everything to receive but a few crumbs off America’s table, popular movements that preach nationalism and anti-American rhetoric become rather enticing. Do I think that socialism is the answer? No, I do not. I will be the first to admit that many of these left-wing parties turn into repressive dictatorships. My problem is that by ruining the reputation of democracy, America has failed as an ambassador of representative government. As much as I like Marx, Polanyi, and the idea of a communal equality, I fear that the revolution in Latin America will spawn another bout of regional instability.
So what to do? I just don’t know. I would say that people should vote for the left-centrist candidates like Alan Garcia in Peru, but I think people feel those candidates are too corruptible. America is now at war against the boogieman, and too busy to deal with an anti-communism campaign so I guess we will see what happens. If you have any ideas pleas let me know. Let me know someone is watching. - knockemdown

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