12 thoughts on “Blog Link: On the decline of the Latin American radical Left.

  1. Nice thorough overview, but I would add a little caution. Cognitive theories have demonstrated that deep memories accumulated through a lifetime can come into play when individuals are required to acquire new ways of thinking and acting. The current crop of leftish leaders knowing what action is needed to satisfy expectations of South American voters, and other onlookers, does not mean it will be promptly implemented. The likes of Chavez were educated by experts in authoritarian methods so it is to be somewhat expected that they will drag their heels or try to use similar tactics to achieve different goals.

    The Latin right, and lets not forget how extreme it could be, got away with their version of fun and games for decades from one end of the continent to the other, so a bit more leeway in timeframes perhaps is warranted for the left regimes and governments. It just gives encouragement to the right forces to expect the left to quickly adopt what may seem reasonable to commentators. A compressed time frame that was rarely expected of the previous generals. Some may say well that time luxury does not exist for the left, the Obama presidency at this stage I believe does permit it.

  2. relic: Thanks for the good comment. I should note that, although my focus in the essay was not on right-wing coup plotters, the political mood of the day also makes it difficult for them to engage coups (hence the problem for the Honduran military and its allies). I agree that most people expect better from the Left, which is why the turn to authoritarianism by the radical wing is worrisome from a Left/progressive perspective even if their (original) intentions were/are pure.
    Be aware that only Chavez and Correa have military backgrounds. Ortega is of course a former guerrilla leader but has descended into corruption and indolence in the ensuing years. Morales is a grassroots activist. Zelaya was a rich rancher. Fernandez and Krichner are typical Peronist politicians, which means that matters of principle do not figure in their political equations. So it is a mixed bag when it comes to being schooled in “authoritarian methods.” Instead, the common denominator is that they are all power hungry and do not abide legitimate as well as disloyal opposition.

  3. Pablo – engaging you again here while i have a little time. We crossed pixellated swords over the legitimacy of military intervention on previous honduran threads.

    To what extent do you think Honduran military intervention at the behest of the supreme court to maintain the constitution is similar to American use of the military to enforce anti segregation laws. In both cases civilian police were seen as not being up to the job of enforcing the law.

  4. Phil: Interesting question but the comparison is not apt. In the US case the federal government used troops to enforce US civil rights statutes in the face of state opposition. In the Honduran case two parts of government used the military to remove the third part. In neither case were the police “not up to the job.” In the former the police were the armed guard of segregationist states refusing to follow federal law, whereas in the latter the police simply were not given the task of arresting Zelaya. That, IMO, was a serious error.

  5. whether the police were not up to the job in either case is subjective. They were not tasked. The nuance I can accept is that in the US someone could point to a federal law as backup. Zelaya was in breach of the constitution but the supreme court had no codex to back its action. What is not in dispute as far as I am aware is that Zelaya had breached the constitution. And to me that makes the military action somewhat distant from a coup. I would agree that the military action may have been spun badly and undertaken too quickly but the removal from power of Zelaya was legitimate. The proof will be in the pudding of elections to come.

  6. Phil,

    whether the police were not up to the job in either case is subjective. They were not tasked.

    I don’t think that’s subjective – the point is that they need to be considered capable until they’re demonstrably not. Democratic governments can’t legitimately just roll the army in anytime they think the police might find it hard going; it makes a mockery of the military-civilan law enforcement distinction which is fundamental to proper democracy.


  7. What is not in dispute as far as I am aware is that Zelaya had breached the constitution..

    A constitution that explicitly says the people can’t change it even if they want to, isn’t worth much in my view.

  8. And so Mr Pablo with all your ‘oh, so reasonable CIA inspired analysis.’

    Explain? ( I would have commented under your own gawd awful commentary on Honduras but couldn’t access it, sooo…)


    Don’t bother, ’cause almost every piece of foreign analysis you offer serves you up as some ‘strangely reactionary r.w. liberal claiming to belong to the left’ prat to even the most skimpily knowledgeable.


  9. IZ: “oh so reasonable CIA inspired analysis?” “gawd awful commentary on Honduras?” “’cause every piece of foreign analysis you offer serves you up as “strangely’ reactionary r.w. liberal claiming to belong to the left’ prat…”? Are you just being silly, or do you have some personal grudge?

    I criticized the coup, not just in the Honduras post but repeatedly in the comments of various related threads. I explained the nature of various military interventions and rule, without justifying them. I point out the problems for the militant Left (actually, national populists) in power in the current LATAM context. I did so without bias, just facts.

    And your response is cast verbal aspersions and link to an overtly ideological rag? Get real. Here we debate ideas, policies and subjects without resorting to personal attacks. If you cannot engage accordingly, you need to take your rants elsewhere. If you want to debate the merits of my analysis in civilised terms, you are welcome to do so.

  10. Neither silly nor personal. Your analysis of foreign events is perfectly in line with what one would expect from ye olde British SPD. Remember them and where they got their political schooling?


    The ‘overtly ideological rag’ you refer to is a web space giving voice to anything from the more conservative social democratic left through to (and excluding F.A.in between) anarchist analysis…all the while inviting people merely to find their comfort zone in the broad constituency of the left.

    Hardly an ‘ideological rag’. But hey.

  11. IZ: SPD? Please, do not be so ridiculous. You might as well stay with the Pablo-is-a-CIA-agent meme.

    And you are aware that link is to the on-line outlet for Z Magazine, which sometimes has good Left analysis but more often has ideologically blinkered rants. That is the crux of our difference–you wear ideological blinders, I do not. Just because I do not conform to your world view is no reason to start in with the false accusations, overdrawn comparisons and insults.

    BTW–did you actually read the Honduras post and comment thread?

  12. I don’t really have a world view pre se, so I’m f***ed if I understand how it is that you are meant to conform to it. Now, tell me where the blinkers come in again?

    Meanwhile, I do commit typo’s, so obviously SPD meant SDP…but you knew that.

    And yes….well I read your original post. Not all the comments. Weighed it up in light of other posts comments you’ve made on politics of the region.

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