Just another proud moment in Latin American progress: the death of Che Guevara. No, US interference wasn’t behind that one, either.Will someone kindly inform John Podesta that his think tank has run out of gas? The Center for American Progress was supposed to be a counterweight to all those right-wing and far-right-wing and so-far-right-of-right-that-they-spit-swastikas think tanks, but you know what? Right now, it sounds more like their echo chamber, and here’s one of the hollow noises coming from it:
Okay. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Nooooo, of course not. It only insinuates that Chavecito’s undemocratic, and that his socialism is “half-baked”, as if the WaHoPo were quite right about those things! Are they really criticizing the stupid editorial for being full of Teh Stoopid (surely the work of Jackson Diehl, who’s a real piece of work himself), or are they just saying “tone it down, asshole, you’ll only make them scream louder”?Well, gee. You tell me:
Today’s Washington Post editorial, “A Choice for Latin America,” ends with a provocative ultimatum for several Latin American governments: Choose the democracy of the 21st century over Hugo Chavez’s “half-baked” socialism, or else lose all material and economic support from the United States. Interestingly enough, however, the editorial does not give a single detail of what The Washington Post’s vision of democracy in the 21st century means for Latin America besides a nostalgic reference to the largely defunct and discredited “Washington consensus.”To believe that what Latin America needs in the 21st century is to merely revitalize the Washington consensus is to completely miss the point. While it is not in the interest of the United States or the people of Latin America to have governments that rule undemocratically and in ways that inflame hemispheric relations, it is also not in the interest of the United States to further antagonize the region by using rhetoric based on a “you’re either with us or against us” mentality.
“Several decades of deepening democratic processes”? Gee, what would those be–the five and a half decades since Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by the CIA in Guatemala, and replaced with a dictator? The three and a half since Salvador Allende was overthrown by the CIA in Chile, and replaced with a dictator? The two-and-a-half decades of stumbling “democracy” and impunity for the junta’s human rights abusers in Argentina? The four decades of fake democracy in Venezuela, when two parties divvied up all the votes the others received between themselves, and basically just played musical chairs with the presidency while providing no democratic responsiveness whatsoever to the Venezuelan people? And speaking of musical chairs, how about that endless parade of Bolivian and Ecuadorian presidents booted out by an angry populace who hated them for continually bowing to the diktats of the IMF? Are any of these the “deepening democratic processes” to which the author of the piece is referring?And how about that “moderate economic progress”? Anyone who’s had to live under the Washington Consensus, and who’s been alive long enough to recall the REAL era of economic progress that preceded it, knows that the Washington Consensus brought “economic progress” only to those who already had way, WAY more than they needed. The rest just sank further and further into poverty. Public services got privatized; they also got progressively shittier. Prices went up, and wages went down. Ah, the glories of the free market!But no, surely that’s not what’s meant by the author when she says that Latin Americans must find “solutions to rampant and worsening public insecurity, pervasive economic inequality, and ineffective and discredited institutions.” Because you see, the neoliberal Washington Consensus created those problems. And this woman, Stephanie Miller (surely not the progressive radio talker by the same name?), thinks the Washington Consensus has lessons to impart which are the answer to those problems!There follow a few undeniably factual paragraphs–a welcome respite which almost gives one to hope, but then the author sinks right back into the stoopid again:
After several decades of deepening democratic processes and moderate economic growth, what Latin America needs is to build on the lessons learned from the Washington consensus of the 1990s and create economic and political systems that respond to the very serious and urgent needs of its citizens. These needs include finding solutions to rampant and worsening public insecurity, pervasive economic inequality, and ineffective and discredited institutions.
Um, Stephanie? What exactly did you think the NED and USAID have been trying to do, at least at an astroturf level, since they couldn’t get to the real grassroots, who rightly want nothing to do with them? Look up Súmate or the Coordinadora Democratica in Venezuela sometime. Or the Comite Pro Santa Cruz. Find out what Philip Goldberg was really up to that got him kicked out of Bolivia. Then you’ll begin to get an inkling of why they no longer trust the gringos down there in LatAm. And then you’ll no longer come to dumbass conclusions like this:
The United States’ response to these leaders therefore cannot be to deliver an ultimatum. To do so would only further aggravate hemispheric relations and alienate the regional allies the United States needs to effectively deal with Chavez, Correa, and Morales, and all those named by The Washington Post. Instead, the United States must very proactively engage with civil societies in all of these countries at the grassroots level.
Excuse me, dear, but what Chavecito, Evo and El Ecuadorable have actually DONE is consolidate a more democratic system of governance. They’ve all convened constitutional assemblies to write the most modern, democratic constitutions in the region. And they’ve all made a point of putting those constitutions to a popular vote before they can become law! The economic policies of “Chavez and company” will not be discredited by anything the US does, either, because they are actually WORKING, while the US economy has long been in the shitter and is now getting flushed. And, talk about timing…to tout the “benefits of trade and globalization” at a time when stockmarkets all over the world are CRASHING as a result of trade and globalization…well. If it’s a “more cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and the countries of the hemisphere” you want, then maybe it’s time to stop trying to
The goal of engagement should be to understand what the United States can and should do to help consolidate a more democratic system of governance that actually delivers the benefits of trade and globalization to the majority of people in the hemisphere, thereby discrediting the economic policies of Chavez and company in the process. Nostalgia for the Washington consensus has no place in the democracy of the 21st century in Latin America and the Caribbean. A more cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and the countries of the hemisphere does.
discredit those popular leaders (which won’t work no matter how you try to do it), and start taking lessons from them instead of preaching yet another tired old watered-down version of the Washington Consensus.