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by inoljt

A Typical Example of Leftism in Latin America

3:59 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

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

How Argentina Fell Behind the Rest of the World

2:46 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

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Argentina is a country famous for football, for its invention of tango, and for its great beef.

Amongst economists, however, Argentina is also famous for its economic slide backwards over the past century. Before World War I, Argentina had one of the ten biggest economies in the world. Argentinean living standards were amongst the highest in the world. It looked like Argentina would become a modern-day Australia or Canada.

That didn’t happen. Today Argentina is widely considered a Third World country. Its income, relative to the rest of the world, has plummeted. In 2001 Argentina suffered the greatest economic crisis in its history.

What happened?

There are a myriad of reasons. Wikipedia provides a pretty good overview of the gritty details, which this post won’t get into. But underneath the rush of events and crises there are several underlying factors. These factors were the catalysts for the events and the century-long decline of Argentina’s economy.

The Endless Coups

Military coups are the primary and most important factor behind Argentina’s economic decline.

Argentina’s people are very left-wing, and when left to their own devices they will generally elect a left-wing president. However, like many Latin American countries, Argentina also has a very strong right-wing minority. This conservative minority constitutes the business elite of the country, and they generally loathe the left-wing presidents that the people will select (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for not-so-good reasons).

The current president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is a great example of this dynamic. The Buenos Aires elite hate Cristina and think that she is an awful, awful, and stupid president.

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And yet Cristina won 54% of the vote in her last presidential election. The second-best candidate got just 17%. Obviously lots of Argentinians support her.

So in a free and fair election the Argentinian elite will get a left-wing president whom they loathe.

That’s where the military comes in.

For decades, every time that Argentina elected a person too far to the left for the generals, the military would charge in and kick him or her out with the support of the business elite (and often the United States).

This did enormous damage to the country. In fact, it’s hard to overstate just how bad the coups were for Argentina. In 1930, for instance, Argentina was a democracy with a popularly-elected president from what at the time would be considered the left. At the time, it was one of the most progressive countries in the world. Then General José Félix Uriburu assaulted the Casa Rosada, disposing President Hipólito Yrigoyen, and ushered in an “Infamous Decade” of military rule and stolen elections. This was a turning point in Argentinian history. It would be more than half a century before democracy recovered, and meanwhile the political chaos crushed the economy. If democracy had survived in 1930, Argentina might be as wealthy as Italy today.

One coup in particularly deserved to mentioned: the last and worst one. This occurred in 1976. Once again there was a left-wing president, the incompetent Isabel Perón, and in the usual pattern the military disposed of her:

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by inoljt

Hugo Chavez’s Failure to Help the Poor

5:22 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

The Economist, Great Britain’s magazine for the American elite, recently published a special report on Latin America. While the magazine noted the continuing challenges facing Latin America, it also perceived that Latin America has made great strides in the past decade. This has especially been the case with reducing inequality, a perpetual curse of that region in the world – and perhaps the greatest obstacle to economic advancement in Latin America.

In doing this, The Economist published the following table:

This table indicates the rate by which a country’s inequality – measured by the Gini coefficient – has declined since 2000. The table stops at 2006 or a later date; unfortunately it does not say which countries have data until 2006, and which countries have data after that.

All in all the table paints a bright picture: inequality is down in most countries, from Brazil to Mexico to Argentina.

Several countries, however, stand out as exceptions. The most notable is Venezuela, which has been governed by President Hugo Chavez since 1999. Under Mr. Chavez, inequality has barely decreased. When compared to other countries, Venezuela has on done worse than average.

Since so much of Mr. Chavez’s political messaging rests upon his appeal to the poor, this is a startling failure. Mr. Chavez proudly characterizes himself as a socialist, determined to reduce income inequality and redistribute wealth more evenly. Yet after more than a decade of rule, inequality has barely budged – in stark contrast to the rest of Latin America.

One finds that this is the case with a number of Chavez-aligned countries. Anti-American President Daniel Ortega governs Nicaragua, and former anti-American President Manuel Zelaya ruled Honduras until 2009. In both countries the presidents are (or were) left-wing anti-American hardliners committed to socialism and helping the poor. In both countries income inequality has actually increased.

There are exceptions. President Evo Morales is as left-wing and anti-American as any Latin American leader, and Bolivian inequality has decreased substantially. Moreover, some of these leaders were not in power before 2006, so they may not be responsible for what the graph shows (although in some cases the data may be more recent). Their elections may have been a response to rising inequality – rather than to say that they failed at reducing inequality.

But Mr. Chavez has been in power since before 2000. He has no such excuse. When a president comes into office promising to help the poor, a good way to measure whether he or she has kept the promise is to look at how the poor have done relative to the rich. By that measure, Mr. Chavez – for all his about rhetoric about socialistic revolution – has not helped Venezuela’s poor.

–Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/