Muslim world religious groups that are militarily effective, but
politically limited dominate resistance to the American Empire.
Asia is infatuated with capital. Europe lies buried deep in neo-liberal
torpor, and the Left and social movements in the EU (Italy is
the most recent example) are in an advanced state of decomposition.
But in South America an axis of hope has emerged that challenges
imperial domination on every level. Democracy, hollowed-out and
offering no alternatives in the North, is being used to revive
hope in the South.
re-election of Hugo Chávez this weekend [Ed: Chávez
won the Venezuelan presidential election on December 3, 2006 with
a majority of 61 per cent] in Venezuela will mark a new stage
in the process. His opponent, Manuel Rosales, described in the
Financial Times (November 30) as a "centre-left" candidate was
heavily implicated in the defeated coup attempt to topple Chávez
in 2004. Rosales claims that "I will not sit on anyone's lap"
but it is hardly a secret that he is firmly attached to the White
of revolts and social movements spreading unevenly across the
South American continent today are the inevitable result of the
Washington Consensus, the economic enslavement of the world.
Latin America was the first laboratory for the Hayekian experiments
that finally produced the Consensus. The Chicago boys led by the
late Milton Friedman, who pioneered neo-liberal economics, used
Chile after the Pinochet coup of 1973 as a laboratory. It was
a good situation for them. The Chilean working class and its two
principal parties had been crushed, their leading cadres killed
or "disappeared". Six years later, the Sandinista revolution in
Nicaragua was crushed by a US-backed Contra counter-revolution.
2006, the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, won the Presidency
in his country. Blessed by the church, flanked by a former Contra
as his vice-president and still loathed by the US ambassador,
Ortega may be a sickly shadow of his former self, but his victory
undoubtedly reflects the desire of Nicaraguans for change. Will
Managua follow the radically redistributive policies of anti-imperialist
Caracas or confine itself to rhetoric and remain a client of the
International Monetary Fund?
even better recent news from Quito. The substantial electoral
triumph of Rafael Correa, a dynamic, young, US-educated economist
and former finance minister, who pledged in his election campaign
to reverse Ecuador's participation
in the US-backed free trade area for the Americas, to ask the
US military to vacate its base at Manta, and to join Opec and
the growing Bolivarian movement that seeks to unite South America
victory comes at a time when Latin America is on the march again.
There have been some spectacular demonstrations of the popular
will in Porto Alegre, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Cochabamba and Cuzco,
to name but a few cities.
offered a new hope to a world either deep in neoliberal torpor
(the EU, the US, the Far East) or suffering from the military
and economic depredations of the new order (Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon,
Afghanistan, south Asia).The struggle spearheaded by the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela against the Washington consensus has attracted
the fury of the White House. Three attempts (including a military
coup backed by the US and the EU) were made to topple Hugo Chávez.
was first elected president of Venezuela in February 1999, 10
years after a popular insurrection against the IMF readjustment
programme had been brutally crushed by Carlos Andrés Peréz,
whose party was once the largest affiliate of the Socialist International.
In his election campaign Peréz had denounced the economists
on the World Bank's payroll as "genocide workers in the pay of
economic totalitarianism" and the IMF as "a neutron bomb that
killed people, but left buildings standing".
he caved in to the demands of both institutions, suspended the
constitution, declared a state of emergency and ordered the army
to mow down the protesters. More than 2,000 poor people were shot
dead by troops. This was the founding moment of the Bolivarian
upheaval in Venezuela.
regional unity - the Bolivarian
Federation of sovereign states
of which Chávez
speaks incessantly -
is necessary to move forward.
Washington will do everything to
prevent this since its own interests
dictate dealing with countries
unilaterally rather than as
regional entities (this is even true
of the European Union).
and other junior officers organized to protest against the misuse
and corruption of the army. In 1992 the radical officers organised
a rebellion against those who had authorized the butchery. It
failed because it was soon after the traumas of 1989, but people
did not forget. That is how the new Bolivarians came to power
and began to slowly and cautiously implement social-democratic
reforms, reminiscent of Roosevelt's New Deal and the policies
of the 1945 Labour government.
In a world dominated by the Washington consensus this was unacceptable.
Hence the drive to topple him. Hence the demand by Pat Robertson,
the leader of political Christianity in the US, that Washington
should organise the immediate assassination of Chávez.
Venezuela, till now an obscure country as far as the rest of the
world was concerned, suddenly became a beacon.
of the people who elected Chávez were angry and determined.
They had felt unrepresented for 10 years; they had been betrayed
by the traditional parties; they disapproved of the neoliberal
policies then in force, which consisted of an assault on the poor
in order to shore up a parasitical oligarchy and a corrupt civilian
and trade-union bureaucracy. They disapproved of the use that
was made of the country's oil reserves. They disapproved of the
arrogance of the Venezuelan elite, which utilised wealth and a
lighter skin colour to sustain itself at the expense of the dark-skinned
and poor majority. Electing Chávez was their revenge.
When it became
clear that Chávez was determined to make modest changes
to the country's social structure, Washington sounded the tocsin.
Nowhere has the embittered bigotry emanating from this quarter
been more evident than in its actions and propaganda against Venezuela,
with the Financial Times and the Economist in the
forefront of a massive disinformation campaign.
united by their prejudices against Chávez, whose advent
to power was viewed as an insane aberration because the social
reforms funded by oil revenues - free health, education and housing
for the poor - were regarded as a regression to the bad old days,
a first step on the road to totalitarianism.
never concealed his politics. The two 18th-century Simóns
- Bolívar and Rodríguez - had taught him a simple
lesson: do not serve the interests of others; make your own political
and economic revolution; and unite South America against all empires.
This was the core of his program, which is unacceptable to the
supporters of the Washington Consensus.
The key to
a serious Latin American challenge to the US lies in regional
cohesion. This is crucial. When the cable channel Telesur was
launched in Caracas nearly two years ago, one of their first programs
revealed a shocking level of ignorance among South Americans.
In virtually every capital city vox pop interviews revealed that
people knew the name of their own capital and that of the United
States. Very few could name even two or three capital cities in
their own continent!
unity - the Bolivarian Federation of sovereign states of which
Chávez speaks incessantly - is necessary to move forward.
Washington will do everything to prevent this since its own interests
dictate dealing with countries unilaterally rather than as regional
entities (this is even true of the European Union). Regional unity
in South America could have a surprising impact in el Norte as
well where the Hispanic population of the United States is growing
rapidly to the great consternation of state ideologues like Samuel
Tariq Ali's new book, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope,
is published by Verso. He also wrote Rough Music: Blair,
Bombs, Baghdad, Terror, London (Verso); Street Fighting
Years (new edition) and, with David Barsamian,Speaking of
Empires & Resistance. He can be reached at [email protected]
here to order Tariq Ali books.
Other articles by Tariq Ali:
A Bavarian Provocation
A Protracted Colonial War
On The Death Of Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Iraq's Destiny Still Rests Between God, Blood And Oil
A Despised Leader Suffers His First Loss
Pakistan Will Never Forget This Horror
The Logic Of Colonial Rule
A Viler Barbarism
The Price Of Occupation
The New Ultra-Imperialism Of The World
"They Think God Runs The IMF"
Imperial Delusions: "Domocracy Promotion" And Resistance
The New Model Of Imperialism: Saddam On Parade
The Importance Of Hugo Chavez: Why He Crushed The Oligarchs
Getting Away With Murder
The War Is Not Going Well For Bush