Globe, Human Rights, Latin America, Politics

Latin America in turmoil

Governments in the region are characterised by their human and civil rights violations; although the traditional democratic machinery is in motion, the powers that be act as independent and decisive entities, preventing any reform of the social order. 

 

Juan Diego García

 

And they do so in such a way that if changes in said social order are attempted, these power factors operate forcefully to prevent it.

Bolivia went to the polls and returned a resounding victory for the party of former president Evo Morales, Movement for Socialism (MAS): more than 50% of the vote went to Luis Arce.

However, we can only hope that the right accepts this result, and there is not another coup d’état like the one which established the current government.

Morales’ government practised a moderate and very pragmatic nationalism, which centred on defending national resources and sought to meet basic needs, such as health, education and social services.

It was about paying an unending debt with the social majorities and eliminating extreme poverty.

Although socialism was the aim of Morales’ government, in reality policies were never implemented to “expropriate the expropriators”, its governance was recognised by distinguished international bodies and the strong opposition from the cavernous right was managed with a great deal of tolerance.

But Morales did not reform the armed forces to at least give them a national character and distance them from the destructive ideas of the “doctrine of national security” that the Pentagon has imposed in almost all the region’s armies.

The military coup – which has now formally been brought to an end by last Sunday’s elections – is an obvious outcome of this imperialist doctrine.

Overcoming this doctrine is one of the new government’s unavoidable challenges.

18 October marked the first anniversary of Chile’s protest movement.

A movement with widespread popular support which, above all, is seeking to remove the current president for a thousand reasons that in any democratic system would be more than adequate to demand this.

Although it all began as a protest against the unregulated increase of transport tariffs, it soon extended to other issues that ended up radically questioning the neoliberal model itself, which has been in place since the Pinochet government and was always presented by the international right wing as the best proof of success.

But the reality is very different.

Privatisation, for example – one of the cornerstones of this model – led to enormous losses for the majority of the population (at the same time as vast profits for the usual minority).

The devastating results of pension privatisation have been one of the biggest causes of outrage amongst the population.

It has been a true ransacking of citizens’ savings, as has happened in other areas previously administered by the state.

The public education fiasco has led to student protests throughout the country and many demands for constitutional reform, which is essentially the same constitution left behind by the Pinochet dictatorship.

The scale of the protest, and especially its year-long duration, prove that Piñera’s government is completely lacking in legitimacy.

In any half-democratic country, elections would have been called. But in Chile the protest has only been met with the same violence that was used against the population during the dictatorship: protestors shot dead by the police, dozens forcibly disappeared, and thousands jailed, tortured and wounded.

In addition, the government has employed the new, macabre method of shooting people in the face with gas pipes, leaving them with one eye or blinded. And all with total impunity for the police.

Like in Bolivia, the government of the rich minorities is underpinned by support from the barracks. In Bolivia, a coup government; in Chile, another illegitimate government that only survives through violence against the majority.

In reality, these armed forces are the same that left Pinochet untouched, confirming the need to completely reform the military. The case of Colombia is no less dramatic. Like in Chile, there have been popular protests for months, which have barely reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nor have the daily massacres diminshed, of social activists, indigenous peoples and former guerrillas who laid aside their arms, trusting the in Peace Agreement.

Like in Chile, police repression shows no consideration for the urban protesters and rural communities who demonstrate, leaving in its wake the dead, disappeared, wounded and prisoners; women and girls raped by “agents of law and order”; politicians and social leaders threatened; and campaigns of terror and illegal spying against those who defy the government.

Equally serious is the link that Bogota has strengthened with Washington, taking up the position of Trump’s war chariot, without dignity and covering itself in disgrace.

In Colombia the armed forces are the fundamental instrument of a government that lacks all legitimacy. And if (as predicted) the left wins the next elections in 2022, it will face the same challenge as Chile and Bolivia: building armed forces that are, above all, national – and not shameful extensions of the United States army or NATO.

 (Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email:  rebeccandhlovu@hotmail.co.uk)  – Photos: Pixfuel

 

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