So, I can’t bring myself to talk about myself right now on the blog, so instead I’ll talk about politics.
A lot has happened while I’ve been away, and there is a lot that I’d like to cover (Burma, gender justice, the US anti-war movement, immigration justice, and so much more), but I want to make sure that I cover that which I’ve been best at covering: shifts in power in Latin America.
About a month ago, Rafael Correa’s leftist coalition in Ecuador triumphed in their elections to the constitutional assembly. They have more than a sufficient majority to write any constitution they want, and the draft of the constitution that they are discussing is really promising. They are heading toward a similar kind of “socialism for the 21st century” as Venezuela…not the neo-liberal stuff of Chile and Brazil. I’m excited about this process, and I think they have a lot more momentum in their favor than the constitutional assembly in Bolivia, which is just having a really, really hard time right now.
At the beginning of November, the center-leftist Alvaro Colom defeated the right wing ex-general (and school of the Americas graduate, and ex-head of the secret police) Otto Perez Molina, to become the president-elect of Guatemala. It’s so weird, Glendi and I have actually seen him speak in person, so I’ve been within 15 feet of the future president of Guatemala! I wasn’t hopeful during his campaign, but his victory speech was so directly tied to his ideas and his social-democratic ideology, and his follow-up announcements as well, that I believe that he does want to bring change to the country. Also, in a Telesur interview they asked him if he’s a leftist, and he said something like, “if being against neo-liberalism, which has brought so much misery to Latin America makes me a leftist, then yes, I’m a leftist.” That was impressive. He also declared that he would have normal, friendly relations with Cuba and Venezuela, and is already set to discuss petroleum deals with Hugo Chavez in December! This is a good sign…he’s not playing to the powerful by distancing himself from the Latin American left. He’s also not afraid to reference Jacobo Arbenz, the last lefty or center-lefty that Guatemala’s had…who was ousted in a coup in 1954. I’ll keep blogging about Colom, but for now I’m enthusiastic.
On December 2, Venezuelans will vote on new constitutional reforms…69 of them in total (voted in two bloques). These are designed to “deepen” and “accelerate” the move towards socialism and popular power. The media has focused primarily on the reforms which would allow indefinite re-election of Chavez, and which would allow for certain democratic liberties to be suspended in states of emergency…and I think there is real room to criticize these. However, the reforms also include major strengthening of the super-democratic communal councils, prohibition of discrimination against LGBTQ people, social security for informal workers, lowering the voting age to 16, a 36 hour work-week, free education through the university level, separating popular militias from the military command…and more. I think it’s certain that if this passes (and polls are all over the place on this one), the process in Venezuela really will change significantly. That country is moving!
In Paraguay, a popular ex-bishop, who is rooted in liberation theology, Fernando Lugo, is running for president and is ahead in the polls. They call him “the red bishop.” Elections aren’t until 2008, so we’ll see. But this looks really promising.
Also promising is Mauricio Funes, a respected long-time journalist in El Salvador who is now running for president with the ex-guerrila group, the FMLN. He has a really strong chance of winning, and watching videos of him on youtube, I totally think he’s got what it takes. If he wins, then Central America will definitely be considered as part of the leftist trend in Latin America. Right now, it’s too much of a mixed bag to tell. Now come on Mexico! Must we wait until the 2012 elections for you to go left, or might you have a revolution before that?
This was just a little update. In future weeks I’ll want to write more about Venezuela, and maybe about Colom, but for now this is fine. I’m just trying to get in the habit of writing again.
Hope you all are doing well!