Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fear of Democracy

Until recently, most American politicos dismissed Latin American leftists as a minor political force with little consequence on the course of current events. Look at the front page of today's Financial Times and one can see that the corporate class is finally waking up to the realities of democracy in Latin America.

For decades, American and European companies dictated foreign policy towards Latin America. When United Fruit wanted more bananas, we toppled the democratically elected socialist government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatamala. But honestly, what's democracy without phallic yellow fruit? In 1973, Richard Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, overthrew Chile's socialist democracy and instituted a brutal fascist regime under Augusto Pinochet. Kissinger is noted as saying to Nixon, "I don't see why a country should be allowed to go Communist through the irresponsibility of its own people." The trend continued into the 1980's, when the CIA backed the Contras, a murderous group of druglords and thugs, in order to topple the democratically elected Sandinista government.

With the resurgence of democracy and revolutionary politics in Latin America after years of repression, many in America are realizing that democracy in the region means an end to United States neo-liberal imperialism. This backlash against American colonialism is no more apparent than in Bolivia's nationalization of its natural gas industry. As we recounted yesterday, Bolivians have been at the frontlines of the war against the privatization of public resources, and as a result they are using their newfound democratic powers to seize the profits away from the hands of capitalist exploiters.

Multinational corporations, which have exploited the vast natural resources of Latin America for decades, are naturally afraid. They are using all their media prowess and economic might to crush the democratic institutions that Latin America is finally obtaining. In the Financial Times and a myriad of other news sources, so-called journalists are accusing Evo Morales of being a dictator, despite the fact that not only was he elected with 54% of the vote, but that he retains an 80% approval rating amongst Bolivians. The plans of Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, and others to nationalize major industries is indeed one of the most democratic steps any government has taken in years. In claiming that Morales' acquisition of hydrocarbons in Bolivia is authoritarian, the media is not only slandering Morales, but also the Bolivian people, of whom 95% voted to nationalize natural resources in a 2004 referendum.

It all comes full circle, and American corporations are getting the short end of the karmic stick. They should probably consider that before they draft plans to overthrow anymore more Latin American democracies.