Challenges Facing the Latin American Left


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Forces on the left are mobilizing in Latin America and the Caribbean to confront the right wing offensive which, encouraged and financed by the United States, is underway in the region, with the use of strategies meant to foment political destabilization and discredit progressive governments in power and former elected leaders.

Political leaders, intellectuals, and representatives of social movements are evaluating the unfavorable correlation of forces developing over the last few years, and charting action plans, taking the victory of progressive candidate

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in Mexico, as a positive sign.

“The storm arrived and shut the window opened at the end of the 90s… The question now posed, for the Brazilian left especially, is how to open the window again,” recently wrote Valter Pomar, a member of Brazil’s Workers’ Party and a professor of International Affairs at the Federal University, in his essay on how to move forward.

In his opinion, the left needs strong candidates to challenge the right in elections, but this is not enough since the strategic “utility” of legislators and government leaders rises and falls in accordance with political perspectives and the level of organization outside of the institutional environment, implying the need for a change in methods on the left, and a recovery of spaces lost alongside the working class.

In Latin America, “The challenge for this possible left is that of building alternatives to capitalism in the economic field, where the current plan is the Uber-ization of the economy; total deregulation – except when the state is needed to dismantle a progressive gain; but above all, build alternatives in the cultural field, challenge capitalist hegemony in the cultural (and media) environment to construct a people, not consumer citizens deluded with false middle class hopes,” writes political analyst Katu Arkonada on the teleSUR blog.

Likewise, essayist, journalist, sociologist, university professor, and political analyst Olmedo Beluche, wrote in Rebelión: “Without nationalization of the national banking and financial system, without state control of foreign trade; and without the nationalization of large industries, that is, without truly socialist measures, Latin American governments in general are at the mercy of the bourgeoisie, of imperialism, and economic sabotage, as the case of Venezuela has repeatedly shown.”

This contradiction, he argues, explains the limitations of the left and the difficulty it faces in responding to the offensive being mounted by national right wing forces supported by U.S. imperialism, plus the reformist attitude of leaders who docilely accept the formalities of bourgeois institutions.

The majority of analysts agree that the progressive cycle on the continent is in crisis, but not coming to an end. Although some popular governments were removed from office via elections (Argentina) or through semi-legal or judicial maneuvers (Brazil), the progressive era’s hard core of change has not collapsed: Bolivia and Venezuela, accompanied by Nicaragua and the Cuban Revolution.

“The two projects, along with Nicaragua and Cuba, which propose going beyond capitalist relations in the long run, are on their feet, indicating that the strategic battle of our time is defending these processes,” as was made clear during the 24th annual meeting of the São Paulo Forum, held in Havana this past July.

At this gathering of the region’s political forces, proposals were made for sustained action based on the idea that government positions won by the left must reinforce their legitimate hegemony and build popular power. Peoples with political consciousness are always the best antidote to the return of the right in the Americas.

STRATEGIES FROM THE LEFT

– Systematically and creatively disseminate the economic, social, and political gains of popular governments that, for one reason or another, have suffered reverses, as well as those which have endured.

– Strengthen a constructive, serene debate on the historic, political, and ideological limitations of each process.

– Seek more efficient mechanisms for organization, consciousness building, and political participation of the social base committed to post-neoliberal change.

– Renovate relations between government political parties and popular movements with nationalist and patriotic positions, taking a favorable position on the need for a state that assures democratic functioning in the construction of consensus.

– Build consensus among segments of society that share, or could share, demands, interests, and revolutionary or progressive change.

– Strengthen the cause of Puerto Rican independence, as a symbol of the anti-colonial struggle to be defended.

– Build active participation of the people and national majorities in the political process of each country.

– Provide decisive support and encourage liberation efforts and anti-capitalist ideas within social movements.

– Promote efforts to advance the integration of what Martí called Our America.

– Support, in all international spaces available, any action taken to reduce the level of domination and hegemony of the United States in our countries, as essential and possible.