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by inoljt

A Typical Example of Leftism in Latin America

3:59 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: inoljt,

One of the best ways to learn about the politics of different places is to read their newspapers. To that extent, I recently had the pleasure of reading a Bolivian newspaper supportive of, or published by, the government.

The topic was the Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro, a conference devoted to fighting global warming. The conference came in with low expectations after the failure of talks against global warming previously. It ended up issuing a vague statement affirming that it was important to fight global warming, but which didn’t actually do anything to further that goal.

This newspaper held very strong opinions about the conference. The conference had started with a proposal (Document Zero), made by developed countries, with strict obligations and a detailed roadmap for fighting global warming. The theme of this proposal was the “green economy.”

Here is how the newspaper viewed Document Zero:

The environmentalism of the green economy is a new colonialism of two types. On one hand, it’s a colonialism of nature by commodifying the natural sources of life. On the other hand, it’s a colonialism of the countries of the South whose backs are burdened with the responsibility of protecting the environment destroyed by the industrial capitalist economy of the North. The so-called environmentalism commodifies nature, converting each tree, each plant, each drop of water and each natural being into a market good submitted to the dictatorship of the market which privatizes wealth and socializes poverty.

The title of this article was: The “green economy” is the new colonialism for subjecting our peoples. The newspaper advocated an alternative – The vision of Bolivia to achieve the paradigm of Living Well.This alternative was described as the following:

It’s the continuous process of the generation and implementation of aspects and social, political, cultural, ecological, economical, productive, and affective processes as well as communitarian methods and actions done by citizens and public management for the creation, provision, and strengthening of conditions, capacities, and material, culturally adequate, and appropriate methods, promoting relations of solidarity, of support and mutual cooperation, of complementarity and strengthening of uplifting community and collective ties to achieve the Living Well in harmony and equilibrium with Mother Earth.

This nice-sounding and extremely vague Living Well was to be implemented through things such as “conserving the components, zones and systems of life of Mother Earth in the framework of an integral and sustainable management.”

The newspaper achieved its goal. The G77+China succeeded in removing almost all the components of the Document Zero envisioned in the rough draft, with their strict obligations for fighting global warming and punishments for not meeting those obligations. They succeeded in making the neocolonial concept of a “green economy” “only a tool – not a model nor a vision of development.” They replaced it with a statement that included such niceties as “recognizing the planet Earth as our home and that the expression ‘Mother Earth’ is common for various countries and regions.”

This is a typical example of the leftism that permeates Latin American thinking, and there is some logic in it. Many poor countries believe that their economic development ought not be stifled by agreements to fight global warming, which might include growth-reducing measures such as carbon taxes.

Sometimes this type Latin American leftism does good. Evo Morales has done a pretty good job of managing the Bolivian economy, as have most of his fellow leftist compatriots. Being the first democratically elected indigenous president of Bolivia is a huge accomplishment which deserves to be celebrated.

Yet Latin American leftism can also do a lot of bad. As this example illustrates, for instance, it can help defeat efforts to fight global warming. Indeed, Western advocates of a “green economy” are not the ones who the ones who would implement a new type of colonialism to subjugate the peoples of Latin America. It’s the Western opponents of a “green economy” who Latin Americans ought to worry about.

by inoljt

Some Advice to Evo Morales

3:38 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

Most informed Americans do not have a high opinion of Bolivian president Evo Morales. They think that Mr. Morales is an anti-American leftist aligned with President Hugo Chavez and former President Fidel Castro.

None of these facts is strictly wrong. President Evo Morales is a leftist; he is an ally of Venezuela and Cuba; and he certainly hates the United States.

Yet Mr. Morales is not just this. To many people in Bolivia, Mr. Morales is the Barack Obama of their country. He is the first democratically elected indigenous president, much like Mr. Obama is America’s first black president, in a country where two-thirds of the people are indigenous.

“…imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever,” British author George Orwell once wrote. For six centuries, ever since the Spanish conquest of the Americas, that boot has been stamping on the faces of the indigenas in Bolivia and other Latin American countries. Mr. Morales represents, to many Bolivians, the end of this subjugation.

Many Americans are unaware of this other side to Mr. Morales because the American media does not report it. Partly this is because many journalists do not fully understand the history of Latin America.

Mostly, however, the American media is hostile to Mr. Morales because he takes every opportunity possible to spit in America’s face. Mr. Morales delights in making his anti-Americanism as public as possible – whether he is expelling America’s ambassador, or accusing the United States of assassination attempts against him, or talking about the evils of neoliberal economic policy.

To be fair, there is certainly a reason for Mr. Morales to hate the United States. In general, American policy has been more friendly to the right-wing (i.e. non-indigenous) elements in Bolivia, mainly because  left-wing Latin American movements often slip into communism. The United States policy against coca planting also goes against the interests of the people Mr. Morales represents.

Yet for all this, spitting in the face of the world’s superpower (as Mr. Morales loves to do) is not a wise policy. Whatever its recent troubles, the United States still holds an enormous amount of influence and power – influence that will be directed against Bolivia as long as Mr. Morales continues his current anti-American policies.

This is not hard power – the United States will not intervene militarily in Bolivia anytime soon (indeed, under Mr. Obama it would probably condemn a right-wing coup against Mr. Morales). This may not even be action taken by the U.S. government.

Rather, it may look something like this: American businesswoman Ms. Smith, director of corporate operations in Latin America, picks up her morning Wall Street Journal. On the front page is an article about Bolivian nationalizations and its increasingly hostile environment to foreign investment. Ms. Smith is in the middle of deciding where to locate the company’s new factory; reading this article, and thinking about that crazy leftist Evo Morales, she crosses Bolivia off the list and instead decides to build in Brazil, where the climate is much friendlier to business. Bolivia thus loses several million dollars in possible foreign investment, and several thousand potential jobs.

The funny thing about this hypothetical is that Brazil’s recent President Lula de Silva probably hated the United States just as much as Evo Morales does. Mr. de Silva, however, was smart enough to keep his anti-Americanism quiet and pursue good relations with the world’s superpower. A belligerent America would only be a distraction to Brazil’s continuing and successful efforts in reducing income inequality.

This is true for Bolivia as well – a hostile America would probably hurt Bolivia and therefore hurt Mr. Morales’s attempts to raise the status of Bolivia’s poor indigenas. Being friendly with the United States would probably be a bitter pill for Mr. Morales to swallow. In the end, however, it would be better for the people he is trying to help.