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Wed Apr 24, 2019, 03:10 AM

The battle for Latin America

T J Coles
April 24, 2019

After sponsoring juntas until well into the 1990s, the US went after Central and South America with “free trade” deals before once again working with extremists. The recent elections of Argentina’s Mauricio Macri and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro are major blows to socioeconomic and cultural progress. The recent decision of Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno to allow British police to arrest Julian Assange by dragging him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange was granted asylum, is a further indication of that country’s alignment to US elite interests.

In the recent past, the US attempted to hook Latin America into the “free trade” paradigm. From the viewpoint of the US neoliberal project, a devastating turn of invents took place in the late-1990s to early-2010s. A number of left(ish) governments came to power in Central and South America, a region traditionally thought of by US elites as their “backyard.” The governments included: Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Álvaro Colom of Guatemala, Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, Mauricio Funes of El Salvador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Luis Guillermo Solís of Costa Rica, and Manuel Zelaya of Honduras.

Together, these representatives pushed backed against decades of US corporate and military domination.

US analysts did not consider these governments to be as radical as “communists” (red), hence they described them as “pink.” The drift towards progressive leftish-centrism was nicknamed the “pink tide.” Like European governments after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty 1992, “most members of the [pink] tide … worked to address social welfare concerns within the general confines of market mechanisms,” says Latin America specialist, Craig Arceneaux. He also writes that “although exasperation over neoliberalism spurred the political change, free markets are hardly endangered in Latin America.” Interestingly, the pro-“free market” Frazer Institute gave Latin America 5.3 out of 10 for neoliberalism in 1990, with much of US-sponsored violence still raging; 6.5 in 2000, during recovery; and 6.6 in 2008. Latin America specialist, Katherine Isbester, says that “most Pink Tide countries have compromised the neoliberal structuring of their political economy and the insertion of their nations into globalization.” Isbester also writes that NAFTA, CAFTA and the World Trade Organization have the effect of “locking in neoliberalism, [so] the room for deep reform to the organization of the economy is limited.”


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