After years of indisputable hegemony, the Latin American left faces unprecedented setbacks. From the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego, it suffers one defeat after another, while the adversary continues to gain ground everywhere…
These are hard times for the left in Latin America. The extreme right has returned to Brazil. The golden age of the left is receding at a staggering speed. In Argentina, the conservatives are in charge. Chile is back in the hands of the right. Venezuela is going through a period of uncertainty.
After an unprecedented wave of successes at the beginning of the 21st century, from the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego, the progressive forces are suffering resounding defeats.
How can we plan future victories if we do not understand the difficulties overwhelming the continent?
Marco Enríquez-Ominami tells how at the beginning of the 21st century, Latin America witnessed an extraordinary cycle of economic growth and social development.
This massive transformation changed the scene radically and led to the building of a lasting democratic culture, the existence of a rule of law, the construction of economic independence and a redistribution of wealth. The result was a considerable reduction of poverty and the emergence of new political leaders.
However, after some years, this glorious era gave way to a period of great instability.
As from 2016, the policies of these leaders began to be questioned by the very same citizens who had originally put them into power. It was the end of left-wing politics in Latin America.
The appearance of a “new right wing” in Argentina and Brazil, the economic difficulties affecting Venezuela and symbolically, the death of Fidel Castro, are the signs that mark the beginning of a new stage in a continent accustomed to coups d’état and popular riots.
Gradually, this divided and fragmented continent is moving further away from the dream of Simón Bolívar, who in the 19th century aspired to build a united continent, from California to Tierra del Fuego. And if the swing to the left after the year 2000 brought new hope to the poorest sectors of society, it is only right to understand their current disappointment.
These experiences – initiatives on the part of progressive movements and parties – generated indisputable social gains and an authentic autonomy on the part of these governments with respect to the United States.
However, internal conflicts affected these regimes borne of the ballot boxes, reshaping the political map of the continent: authoritarian tendencies, corruption, the rebirth of capitalism, extreme dependence on the prices of raw materials, etc.
The political crises affecting these countries, that up till recently had been sailing ahead at full speed, show us that the policies that had worked before were no longer valid in face of the new challenges.
So how can we imagine new ideas capable of reviving hope and constructing a form of socialism for the 21st century?
How can we reduce the suffering and inequality that are so deeply embedded in this strategic region, home to the lungs of the Amazon basin and 60% of the world’s oil reserves?
While on each side of the Atlantic the conservative and nationalist right wing take advantage of this crisis to change the rules of the game, protectionism seems to be more fashionable than ever.
With Trump in the White House, Brexit in the United Kingdom and a European project fighting unemployment and the migration crisis, the left appears to have no answers, and is cornered as a result of its own inefficiency. In these conditions, it is hard to visualise a promising future.
Because of that, the authors of “Latin America, a giant in turmoil” (original tile in Spanish: Al fondo, a la izquierda), are seeking to give an account of the different forces governing the Latin American continent.
About “Latin America, a giant in turmoil”
Marco Enríquez is a Chilean, a politician and a film maker. On three occasions he has been a candidate for the presidency of his country and is one of the new generation of Latin American politicians who support a renewed form of socialism. Son of a revolutionary close to Salvador Allende, assassinated during the Pinochet dictatorship, Marco Enríquez-Ominami was brought up in exile in France and returned to Chile some years before the return of democracy. As founder of the Rivas and Rivas production company, Marco Enríquez-Ominami has directed a number of fiction films for cinema and television and began producing documentaries in 2003.
Rodrigo Vázquez was born in Argentina and moved to the United Kingdom in 1995 to join the documentary section of the National Film & TV School. His first short film about the Argentine children who disappeared was released at the Latin American Film Festival in Havana in 1998 and won several prizes, including the BBC “Picture this” prize.
Vázquez later worked for BBC World and Channel 4 for the Unreported World Series in areas of conflict in Central America and the Middle East. These films have been nominated for prizes by the Royal Television Society and have led to his winning the prestigious Rory Peck prize.
His film work includes “The killing of Kashmir”, “Cóndor: el eje del mal( ‘Condor:the axis of evil’)” (presented at the Cannes Festival in 2003) and “Palestina: imágenes robadas(‘Palestine: stolen pictures’)”, among others.
In 2005 Rodrigo founded the independent film production company Bethnal Films. His latest documentary deals with the demobilisation of the FARC.