[… and not before time. ]
For a few years, Latin America has increasingly been the focus of media attention.
The main reason for this is the development in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Three countries which had suffered under dictatorships or a long time are now treading new political paths.
What exactly has changed and what does it mean to the rest of the world?
Like Africa’s, Latin America’s past was full of suffering.
The brutal colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores in the middle of the 16th century started the suppression of Latin America which lasted for 300 years.
In the 19th century, the countries gradually liberate from their colonizers, forming independent states.
At the same time, the rising United States of America declared Central and South America their backyard.
The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 provided them with the possibility to use military power to defend their interests if necessary.
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, some of the Latin American countries went through a period of some prosperity when they were able to free from the dictatorships or monarchies formed after the independence from Spain and replace them with democratic governments.
The Great Depression of the early 1930s also hit the Latin American states, causing a relapse into authoritarian regimes, now backed by the US.
In the second half of the 20th century, civil wars and brutal military dictatorships, kept in power by the USA, plagued many countries including Argentine, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Under the pressure of Milton Friedman’s Chicago Boys, many leaders including Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentine, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay remodeled their countries into labs of neo-liberalism, exposing their countries to a brutal exploitation.
Hardly any of the attempts to get rid of these dictatorships were successful.
New governments, even when they had come to power in elections, yielded to pressure from the US and continued the neo-liberal course.
The election of Hugo Chávez as President of Venezuela and Evo Morales as President of Bolivia was a turning point for Latin America: Liberation from the neo-liberal giant USA.
Ever since, the controlled media in the West have been agitating against the new democratically elected presidents and their governments.
Their policy of a fairer distribution of property, support of the underprivileged and the Indian peoples is a stark contrast against the uninhibited capitalism of US origin and gives many people hope for a fairer and more humane economy, not only in Latin America.
The crisis of our economic system has shown us in a brutal way what it means to open the doors for speculation and uncontrolled moneymaking.
In spite of all turgid speeches, we are still in the middle of this crisis, some experts even state that the fall has just started.
In this perspective, the example of Latin America reveals yet another dimension.
The following article of the anthropologist and renowned Latin America expert, Emmanuel Broillet, gives a knowledgeable insight into current developments in South America, showing the positive forces which are at work.