Everybody is familiar with the complexity of understanding the alternative processes that are taking place in the Americas, where multiple topics and agendas intersect, in the common will to break with the history of domination and exclusion of the subcontinent. On the one hand, the 21st century has been accompanied by the arrival of anti-neoliberal governments in various countries, with an unequal record of transformation, but which are the response to the popular majorities being fed up with their reality of poverty, inequality and external dependence. On the other hand, precisely taking advantage of this favorable context, many social movements – and many societies in movement – have raised the need for progress in the implementation of emancipative political agendas, that once and for all get beyond the colonizing and subordination logic to which the region and the population have historically been subjected.
So, after a few starts in which institutional and social actors walked hand in hand, tensions between governments and movements have emerged, as well as strained relations between old and new social movements: how slowly or quickly processes of change is taking place; the short life of governments or the long life of emancipation; developmentalism or a determined transition towards good living; the urgent need to overcome the patterns of dependency or the impossibility to do so in such a short period (in historical terms). These are precisely the debates that baffle and enrich the reality of Latin America. The answers to these situations are not simple, nor are they categorical, and deepening reflection on them is one of the great challenges of all the Left, including the European left.
However, something that cannot be denied, regardless of where we are positioned, is that all these processes initiated with the new century have torn open gaps, have allowed for spaces of accumulation of forces, spaces for the interconnection of struggles, spaces for the exercise of citizenship rights by large majorities. And nobody can capitalize that, it is part of the action path taken by both governments and movements. The Right knows it well: it attempts to put an end to this new exciting stage by any means. Thus, attacks of the oligarchies and their media – hegemonically aligned with them – do not cease in their effort of discrediting governments and social struggles, with the aim of destabilizing the region and returning to the previous situation of absolute control of the subcontinent. To do so, they are willing to do anything, including coups d’état.
This is the key to understanding the coup d’état in Venezuela in 2002 and the coup d’état in Mexico in 2006 – via electoral fraud -. But it is also useful for understanding the coups d’état 2.0 in Honduras (2009) and Ecuador (2010), where new formulas of coup are being tested, seeking for the international community and the population not to assimilate them as such (but with identical results). In this way, instead of the pure and simple military coup, new ways are emerging, ranging from social destabilization generated by the police to the fraudulent use of judicial and even constitutional resources.
This new coup scheme 2.0 is still very present in America today. Last week, the President of Paraguay was dismissed on the basis of a political trial, a legal figure of the Constitution which makes it possible to remove a President from office based on a manifest disability to perform his duties. In this sense, a legal staging was orchestrated for an illegitimate and anti-democratic event, where a President elected by popular vote was fulminated in a summary trial in which he only had two hours to exercise his defense, unable to prepare it properly, and against a very serious accusation. The ultimate goal of the coup: that one of the most retrograde oligarchies of the continent could put a stop to the timid processes of change engendered in recent years, and prevent the Left from accumulating enough forces to face the presidential elections in 2013.
On the other hand, since the past weekend, all the media of the world echoed the turmoil generated by the police strike in Bolivia – illegal in many countries – and which is perhaps a prelude of further attempts of destabilization in the Andean country. Finally, we’ll see what happens in the Mexican elections, where a broad student movement has gained significant momentum against the possibility that the PRI returns to power (with the full support of the Right and large media conglomerates.)
We must remain very much on the alert for these new realities, and denounce without palliatives, both here and there, the abuses perpetrated against democracy in the Americas. Regardless of the views we hold about one government or the other, or their greater or lesser commitment to the emancipation of the continent, we must be clear about one thing: we cannot allow what has been achieved in the last decade to be reverted, and we must join forces to prevent anti-democratic regressions, not only because of international solidarity, but also given the importance of the region as a source of inspiration to raise proposals that allow us to envision other paths to overcome this crisis of civilization that affects us all. Our paths are deeply intertwined, their democracy is also ours.
– Gonzalo Fernández is a member of the Internationalist Working Group of Alternatiba, Basque Country.