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Growing Crescent Of Political And Economic Instability In South America

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Growing Crescent Of Political And Economic Instability In South America

After a period of neglect, the US has reestablished its control over most of Latin America in the last 10 years

If the first decade of the new millennium was claimed by a new generation of national liberation leaders across South America and resulted in the ‘second independence’ of many countries, the second decade belonged to the forces of international capital and their local collaborators who reconquered almost all of the lost territory utilizing a combination of old-fashioned military coups and new ‘fifth generation’ regime change methods spearheaded by the US.

Of the almost a dozen countries whose leadership had committed themselves to the path of national independence from the political and economic dominance of the US and international capital between 1998 (starting with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela) and 2008, only two remain; Venezuela and Nicaragua (and Cuba of course, which the US still has not been able to subdue despite 60 years of economic blockade and countless coup and assassination attempts against its leadership).

The resilience of these countries in the face of the incessant hybrid warfare regime change plots spearheaded by the US lies in their hard earned experience in dealing with such strategies and the commitment of the armed forces as a block and a large majority of the people to the revolutionary cause and national independence from US domination. In the case of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez had been a career military officer. Even so, he barely survived a US backed coup attempt in 2002, after which he made good use of the experience gained to counter the many subsequent regime change plots, acts of sabotage and unilateral punitive measures imposed by the US.

In the case of Nicaragua, the political leadership had learned all of the tricks in the US’ sabotage and regime change text book during the 1980s and 1990s following the overthrow in 1979 of the US-backed Somoza dictatorship which had ruled the country for decades, and also can count on the support of the armed forces in their efforts to preserve the country’s independence and resist hostile external attacks acting in tandem with local collaborators or dupes. (See, in particular, Preparations for the Final Phase of Regime Change in Venezuela)

The other countries which had embarked to greater or lesser degree on projects to increase national independence and capacity and reduce inequality and poverty, including Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, Bolivia and Ecuador, in the end proved to be easy prey for reconquest as their political leadership did not anticipate the full extent of the power, resources and ruthlessness of their external enemies and the domestic collaborators acting in tandem with them (including within the military, the police, the judiciary, the political opposition, the media, as well as ensconced within many other key State and private sector institutions). In the case of Argentina, the changeover from ‘national liberation’ to ‘US aligned’ political leadership occurred in what could reasonably be described as an open political and democratic process when Mauricio Macri won the presidential election in 2015.

While Mexico and Argentina have elected presidents in the last two years who have pledged to adopt a more independent course and favour programs for poverty reduction and the elaboration of national economic and social development strategies, as well as adopting independent foreign policies that at times clash with those of the US, their objectives and policies are much more mild than those adopted in many countries in the region during the first decade of the new millennium. Even so, there are indications that plans are being laid by their opponents to instigate coup attempts at the first opportune moment. LINK

In Mexico, the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faces the additional challenge of governing in the midst of rampant organized crime and wars between the major cartels which developed over the previous two decades. (Mexican cartel CJNG releases statement saying state cartel is behind killings in some provinces, Mexico the evolution of the drug wars and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion)

The case of Colombia, which along with Chile remained firmly committed to its bilateral relationship with the US throughout the period of change that took place in many other countries in the region, exemplifies how the alignment has become entrenched over time. According to successive US and Colombian governments since at least the 1960s, the purpose of the military alliance is to protect democracy, human rights and free markets in Colombia as well as throughout the Western hemisphere.

According to critics, the alliance serves to advance US economic political and military interests in the region and locks Colombia into strategic subordination to the US, in return for which the US supports Colombian economic and political elites against all threats and substantive criticism. An essay in the Historic Commission, established jointly by the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government during the peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba, states of the bilateral relationship:

When one analyses the causes of the social and armed conflict in Colombia, the factors and interests that have prolonged the conflict, and the impacts it has had on the civil population, it is apparent that the United States is not simply a minor external influence but has been a direct participant in the conflict due to its prolonged involvement during much of the twentieth century. Public awareness of the participation of the United States has been deliberately minimized by its covert nature; in accordance with this strategy, many of its activities in Colombia have been “planned and executed in such a manner that they can be hidden, or at least enabling plausible deniability of responsibility for such actions.”

These activities are conducted in the context of a relationship of subordination, understood as a relationship of dependency in which the national interests of Colombia have been placed at the service of a third party (the United States), which is perceived as being endowed with political, economic, cultural and moral superiority. It is an unequal and asymmetrical relationship that has assumed a strategic character, as the very existence of the Colombian republic is thought to be inextricably linked to its condition of subordination to the United States, due to which it is more appropriate to speak of a strategic rather than a pragmatic subordination. According to one Colombian defender of the relationship of subordination: “the most efficient way to guarantee our national sovereignty is to maintain ourselves as a dedicated ally under the protective umbrella of the United States.” The association of imperialist dependency with national sovereignty is indicative of the contradictory reasoning and logic of its supporters.

Understood as “subordination by invitation”, the relations between the United States and Colombia require an examination of the active role of the people in power that have maintained the condition of dependency, particularly given the fact that “there has been a pact between the national elites for more than one hundred years, for whom the subordination has produced economic and political benefits.”

These benefits are administered through practices of patronage that permeate all of the political and social institutions and structures in Colombia. The utilization of patronage through international networks and relations is readily apparent in all sectors of the State, the Army and the Police, for whom the foreign support and the military budget are private bounties that confer them power and privilege, creating a military caste that is considered to be untouchable.

A full copy of the essay is available HERE.

While in Colombia there are occasional investigative reports in some of the flagship periodicals (in particular El Espectador and Semana) of very high quality that question or criticize some aspect of the prevailing economic and political conditions (for example, the massacres perpetrated against communities around the Cerro Matoso ferro-nickel mining and smelting complex, or extensive corruption and abuses of power within the Colombian military), as a whole the corporate mass media narrative conforms entirely with the situation described above (led by the two main television channels, RCN and Caracol, which are the dominant if not only source of information for around 70-80% of Colombians). (See, for example, The multinationals among the untouchables of the Colombian conflict)

Although the mass mobilizations of previous years were brought to an abrupt halt by the pandemic in both Chile and Colombia, the non-Establishment political opposition has grown steadily in size and organization over the last few years. This was clearly demonstrated in Colombia by the 2019 provincial-municipal elections when opposition figures won convincingly in most of Colombia’s largest cities and provinces. (Colombia results and trends from the territorial elections)

In the presidential election held the previous year, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla group (Gustavo Petro) won over 40% of the vote in the run-off vote, a result that would have been unthinkable 5 or 10 years ago.

Such emerging trends were also apparent in the responses to the news of the US troop deployment to Colombia last month. Senator Iván Cepeda maintained that the US intervention represents an attack on Colombia’s sovereignty as well as the troubled peace process, and moreover brings with it the threat of involving Colombia in an international war. Cepeda stated:

“If you want to fight drug trafficking, you should investigate the role of ‘Uribismo’ in the political arena, and military commanders’ relations with the Gulf Clan and the Envigado Office (described in the Operation Bastón report). For this, hundreds of US military personnel are not required, but rather that the Office of the Prosecutor General fulfil its duties and obligations…”

The Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Etnica y Popular (Agrarian, Farmers, Ethnic and Popular Summit), one of the main protagonists in the national strikes and blockades that have brought the country to a halt on numerous occasions over the last few years, also condemned the planned deployment:

“As another example of the country’s surrender to foreign interests, the anti-national government of Iván Duque announces the arrival in Colombia of the SBAF Mission, a US military brigade for the alleged purpose of combatting drug trafficking. This decision is one more step in the direction of greater dependence of the Colombian armed forces on North American guidelines and a severe blow to our national independence.

It also means greater involvement in the plans to attack the sister Republic of Venezuela, which have increased significantly in recent months.”

(Venezuela: US Maximum Pressure Continues, More Details Of Failed Mercenary Attack Revealed)

In Bolivia and Ecuador, the mass protests of last year were also squelched by the pandemic. In the latest move of the ‘transitory’ coup regime in Bolivia and the ruling party in Ecuador to preserve their grip on power, officials are moving to prohibit the political parties of Evo Morales and Rafael Correa from participating in forthcoming elections. In Bolivia, a recent report has suggested that forces behind the current regime are also preparing a wave of violent mob actions that will be attributed to MAS to justify the measure. LINK

While trenchant Venezuela critics (basically the entire corporate mass media complex) will disagree, the disqualification of the leadership of several of the largest traditional political parties in that country can be distinguished, as the political parties themselves were left intact and only leaders who announced they would boycott all elections (unless Preident Maduro resigns and transfers all power to them), and who joined the repeated attempts to incite the military to instigate a coup with US-backing, have been prohibited from participating in the forthcoming legislative elections.

In Brazil, it appears that President Jair Bolsonaro has survived the mounting calls for impeachment that threatened his presidency over the last few months. There are several possible explanations. After alienating them during the first years of his presidency, maybe he has decided to offer political and administration posts and resources to enough factions in the National Assembly to assure their support against an impeachment process. Maybe those political factions have decided to postpone an impeachment process in accordance with their own calculations, given the instability this could cause. Or, maybe they were ‘persuaded’ not to instigate impeachment proceedings by the military.

A recent report suggests that a three-pronged pincer movement is being formed comprising armed politically and ideologically motivated forces from within the military, the police and local militias throughout the country. It is unclear whether they intend to launch a pre-emptive strike against their political opponents, or whether the measure is intended as a precautionary measure against possible loss of power whether through the electoral process or social rebellion. (Brazil are extreme right-wing elements stealthily preparing an extermination of their opponents, Recent political developments – pressure continues to build against Bolsonaro)

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