Following shock election results in Chile, the country’s elite need to make a decision: allow substantial reform to Pinochet’s constitution or face the prospect of increased social unrest and polarisation.
Shock election result in Chile – the left-wing Frente Amplio presidential candidate came third with 20 per cent of the vote, just behind the ‘officialist’ (governing coalition) candidate who got 22 per cent. This, even though the number of voters taking part was less than 50 per cent of the possible total. It’s unclear as yet whether the youth vote had a significant impact. As usual split votes hurt the left – if you count the total number of leftish votes they’d be in first place. As it is, rightwing billionaire Sebastian Piñera will face off in the second round against the officialist candidate, Guiller. The big question is: will the Frente Amplio call on its voters to support him? Will their voters do it even if they do?
The biggest losers in the election are the Christian Democrats, who are down to a historic low. In the parliamentary elections the left, taken broadly, has won 63 seats, including eight communists (up from six) – but the right has taken about 86. So no prospect of serious change to the system. Nevertheless, the Frente Amplio is only a year old, and it now has 21 members of parliament. It’s a pretty incredible result.
As a result, I think we can expect the language of Chilean politics to change. The polarisation evident across the world has hit Chile. The vote is an indication of how fed up Chileans are getting with the post-Pinochet system. This vote will give people more confidence that they can shake things up. If Guiller wins, it will be thanks to a growing and self-confident left, and he will need to take that into account. If Pinera wins, he will face a growing, militant and more confident left.
The Chilean elite need to make a decision – allow substantial reform to Pinochet’s constitution or face the prospect of increased social unrest and polarisation.
In Chile’s upcoming elections, the progressive Frente Amplio coalition aims to reshape grassroots and institutional politics to end the neoliberal model and establish a more horizontal form of participatory democracy.
In the 1990s, Chilean sociologist Tomás Moulián compared Chilean democracy to a birdcage: the bird represented democracy and while it could fly, it could not break free from the limitations posed by neoliberalism. In other words, Chilean democracy was fenced in by strangleholds related to the Constitution of the Republic – written in General Augusto Pinochet’s time – and the process of neoliberalisation initiated in the late 1970s and continued after the Washington Consensus. Written in the acclaimed book Chile Actual: Anatomía de un Mito (Chile Today: Anatomy of a Myth), the metaphor provided a graphic snapshot of Chile after the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990) and the beginning of democratic administrations.
With the passing of time and the military’s withdrawal from major positions of power – especially after the Chilean state played a key role in taking Pinochet from London to Chile to avoid trial in Spain for crimes against humanity – the country’s economic path did not change. Having campaigned under the slogan ‘Growth with equality’, the administration of Third Way socialist Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) followed an economic policy in keeping with neoliberal guidelines. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank praised Chile as a prosperous and stable country. However, Chileans increasingly felt that their democracy failed to reflect or consider public sentiment, did not address problems connected to basic rights – such as access to water or the right to public education – and did not challenge the unbalanced distribution of income that today makes Chile the most unequal country within OECD nations.
Several contentious movements made explicit this malaise during those years, but there were always political obstacles that along with the weakness of social organisations, state repression and a culture that rejected large-scale cooperation, watered down the attempts to affect political power in a sustained way. This trend shifted in 2011 through a seven-month wave of protest led by university and high school students in opposition to the segregated, privatised and market-driven education system implemented during the military dictatorship, and subsequently deepened by successive social democrat and rightwing administrations (1990-2011). The movement brought together different organisations, from the Communist Youth to many new groups that were outside the traditional Chilean left. After one year in power of the first rightwing administration since the return to democracy– led by businessman Sebastián Piñera – the mobilisation emerged on an unexpected scale and amid widespread support. The student-led movement was on the streets, in the media, at home and across the nation as a new political actor demanding to speak and be heard.
Another kind of politics
While the movement did not achieve students’ demands in the short term – ‘we are not even close to the goals we set as a movement’ said Giorgio Jackson, one of the leaders, in 2012 – there were key changes in the institutional realm of Chilean politics. The first
Outside of Europe, the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm only truly felt at home in Latin America, as his posthumously-published collection of essays shows.
Shortly before his death in 2012, at the age of 95, Eric Hobsbawm expressed the desire to publish a volume with his articles and essays on Latin America. He did not have time to do it, but the British historian Leslie Bethell collected the task and organised a volume, which was given the title of Viva the Revolution, published last year in London.
In his autobiography Interesting Times, published in 2002, Hobsbawm claimed that the only region outside Europe that he thought he had known well and felt fully at home was Latin America.
However, Latin America’s presence in his classical works is marginal. In The Age of Revolution there are only references of passage to our continent. In The Age of Capital, there are only half a dozen pages on Latin America, in the chapter entitled ‘Losers’. In The Age of Empire, there are few references and four pages dedicated to the Mexican Revolution. In The Age of Extremes, Latin America became a prominent place in the emergence of the Third World, with references to several important historical events, from the Mexican Revolution to Allende’s Chile.
This book begins with his first impressions of the continent, which significantly, arise from his first trip to Cuba in October 1960, opening with the statement: ‘Unless there is an armed intervention of the United States, Cuba will very soon be the first socialist country of the western hemisphere’.
Hobsbawm will return several times to Cuba, which will be a permanent reference for the continent. But he will be a systematic critic of Cuban life, expressed in guerrilla movements.
His interest in Latin America will be more focused on the peasant movement, which is why he focuses his travels and analysis on Colombia, introduced to him by the great Colombian intellectual Orlando Fals Borda, and Peru. The issue of social banditry leads him to turn even on Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). Hobsbawm focused his analysis much more on the peasant movements than on Latin American urban workers movements.
In any case, Hobsbawm did not consider himself to be a Latin American historian. In fact, he never managed to free himself from the European imprint, which strongly marks his work, to understand the Latin American particularities. On social relations in the countryside, he always has feudalism as a reference, failing to incorporate the broad debate during the 1960s, represented first of all by Rodolfo Stavenhagen, and later incorporated by much of the social thought of the continent.
Hobsbawm always understood nationalism on the continent in terms of the phenomenon in Europe, referring to Perón and Vargas, as well as other populist leaders of the continent as fascists. His book on nationalisms does not incorporate an analysis of the peculiarities of the phenomenon, with the anti-imperialist slant that is characteristic in our continent. The anti-neoliberal features of Latin American nationalism appear to him always analogous to fascism and Nazism.
However, Latin America
How did the Maduro government score surprise victories win in 15 October regional elections and what are the challenges that now await it.
In July 2017 the Chavista government of Nicolás Maduro was under siege and the country on the cusp of civil war. Three months earlier a new and more extreme round of opposition street violence, known as guarimbas, had once again catapulted Venezuela into the global media spotlight. Images of death and destruction reinforced the “authoritarian failed state” thesis that had been peddled for years. Coupled with a severe economic crisis that was eviscerating the quality of life for ordinary Venezuelans, the heightened vilification of the government in international media outlets fed into a perfect storm for a new attempt at regime change. On the ropes, the Maduro government appeared unable to alter the dynamic that had left the 18-year-old Bolivarian revolution spiraling into what seemed like terminal decline.
Fast forward to Oct. 24 and the announcement by Venezuelan opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski that he would no longer participate in the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) as long as fellow opposition leader Henry Ramos Allup continued to be a member. Capriles offered a litany of charges against Ramos, including that he was serving as a spokesperson for the Maduro government. The political earthquake of significant Chavista candidate victories in the Oct. 15 regional elections to elect state governors and state legislators was producing aftershocks within the opposition, leaving them divided and rancorous.
As well as confounding critics, the elections results surprised even the most ardent Chavistas. The government coalition Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), led by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), won 52.7 percent of the vote, which translated into victory in 18 of the country’s 23 states. According to the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE), 61 percent of Venezuela’s 18.1 million-strong electorate came out to vote, representing a level of participation in regional elections second only to the 65.5 percent turnout in 2008. The infrastructure in place to ensure electoral participation was significant: 13,599 polling stations; 30,274 election machines; 90,822 election officers; and around 54,038 technical and operational personnel.
As is the norm in Venezuela under Chavismo, the elections (the 23rd national election or referenda held since the late Hugo Chávez first won the presidency in December 1998) were subject to considerable scrutiny. There were over 1,300 international observers, including representatives of the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA). Eleven audits of the voting system were carried out prior to the election; three more on election day itself; and a further two audits after the election, with one more pending for the week beginning 30 October. These audits have involved representatives of both pro- and anti-government parties. While international electoral observers testified to the veracity of the results, unsurprisingly, sectors of the domestic opposition, as well as international forces hostile to the Maduro government, such as government of
Our monthly selection of the best articles on Latin America from around the internet.
1) On Venezuela’s Regional Elections: Some Elephants in the Room (Joe Emersberger/Venezuela Analysis)
Joe Emersberger says the corporate mainstream media is in denial over Venezuela’s regional election results.
2) The United Colors of Benetton Include Blood Red in Argentina (Darío Aranda/Upside Down World)
At the center of the forced disappearance of Santiago Maldonado and his subsequent death lay a global fashion company, Argentina’s long-standing extractive model, and the repression of displaced Indigenous communities.
3) Who Ordered Killing of Honduran Activist? Evidence of Broad Plot Is Found (Elizabeth Malkin/New York Times)
The evidence, the lawyers said, points to a plot against Berta Cáceres that was months in the making and reached up to senior executives of Desarrollos Energéticos, known as Desa, the Honduran company holding the dam concession.
4) ‘Take the Victoria Line to Colombia’: Inside London’s colourful Latin market, threatened with demolition (Will Worley/The Independent)
Traders in the Pueblito Paisa market – overwhelmingly made up of South American migrants – are fighting a Compulsory Purchase Order which would see their precious community hub demolished.
5) Caetano Veloso & Brazil’s Cultural Wars (Brasil Wire)
Veteran singer songwriter, Caetano Veloso, legend of the Tropicalia movement which emerged in resistance to censorship and moralism of the 1960s Military Dictatorship, was prevented from performing for what he said was “the first time in the democratic period”.
6) 10 Iconic Latin American Photographers Who Challenged Repressive Regimes & Societal Norms (Christina Noriega/Remezcla)
At a time of great political turmoil in Latin America, the following photographers questioned societal conditions, uplifted the downtrodden, and challenged repressive regimes.
7) Soviet Influences in Latin America That You May Not Know (teleSUR English)
The relationship between the Soviet Union and Latin America was very profound, complex and full of solidarity.
8) Is Latin America Ready to Accept More Resettled Refugees? ( /The Conversation)
A group of 70 refugees from Syria who have been living in Lebanon are set to arrive in Chile in October. With an estimated 1.2m refugees globally in need of resettlement in 2018, regions such as Latin America are being asked to expand their resettlement programmes to take more people in.
9) Tracking El Salvador’s Progress in Historic Human Rights Cases (Geoff Thale/Washington Office on Latin America)
This commentary is the first of a three-part series that will attempt to assess various areas where El Salvador has made progress and others where resistance to change, underdeveloped institutions, and a weak culture of respect for the rule of law have hindered progress.
10) Children of the FARC: Baby Boom in Colombia’s Jungles (Lali Houghton/Al Jazeera English)
Two Colombian guerrilla fighters prepare to give birth for the first time, as their rebel army lays down its arms.
Un artículo originalmente publicado en inglés por Upside Down World, escrito por el coeditor de Alborada.
En julio de 2017, el Gobierno chavista de Nicolás Maduro se encontraba sitiado y el país estaba casi a inicios de una guerra civil. Tres meses antes, la oposición había comenzado una campaña de violencia callejera extrema, mas conocida como “guarimbas”, que habían catapultado una vez más el tema de Venezuela a los medios de comunicación internacionales. Las imágenes de muerte y destrucción reforzaron la tesis del “Estado autoritario fallido” que se había ido vendiendo durante años. Junto con una severa crisis económica que estaba destrozando la calidad de vida de los venezolanos comunes y corrientes, la creciente difamación del Gobierno en los medios de comunicación propició la tormenta perfecta para crear un nuevo intento de derrocar al Gobierno. Arrinconado contra las cuerdas, el Gobierno de Maduro parecía incapaz de alterar la dinámica que había dejado a la Revolución Bolivariana, de 18 años de antigüedad, descendiendo en espiral hacia lo que parecía era su declive terminal.
Si avanzamos de un salto hasta el 24 de octubre de 2017, nos encontramos con la oposición en una severa crisis reflejada en el anuncio del líder opositor venezolano y ex candidato presidencial, Henrique Capriles Radonski, de que ya no participaría en la coalición opositora Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), mientras su colega Henry Ramos Allup continuara siendo miembro de ésta. Capriles ofreció una serie de acusaciones contra Ramos, incluida aquella de que éste servía como vocero del Gobierno de Maduro. El terremoto político creado con la importante victoria de los candidatos chavistas en las elecciones regionales del 15 de octubre, en la que se eligieron gobernadores y legisladores en cada uno de los estados, produjo sus efectos al interior de la oposición, dejándola enconada y dividida.
Además de confundir a los críticos, los resultados electorales sorprendieron incluso a los más fervientes chavistas. La coalición gubernamental Gran Polo Patriótico (GPP), liderada por el Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), obtuvo el 52.7% de los votos, lo cual se tradujo en victorias en 18 de los 23 estados del país. Según el Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), votó el 61% del electorado, de un universo de 18,1 millones de electores, lo que representa el segundo nivel de participación más alto en elecciones regionales, solo superado por la participación del 65,5% en 2008. La existente infraestructura para garantizar la participación electoral fue significativa: 13,599 colegios electorales; 30,274 máquinas electorales; 90,822 oficiales electorales; y alrededor de 54,038 empleados técnicos y operativos.
Como ha sido la norma en Venezuela durante el Chavismo, las elecciones (la elección numero 23 desde que Hugo Chávez ganó la Presidencia por primera vez en diciembre de 1998) fueron sometidas a un considerable escrutinio. Hubo más de 1.300 observadores internacionales, incluidos representantes del Consejo de Expertos Electorales de América Latina (CEELA). Se llevaron a cabo 11 auditorías del sistema de votación antes de la elección; 3 más el mismo día de las elecciones; y otras 2 auditorías después de los comicios, con
It is forty years since Nora Cortiñas, a housewife and mother of two sons, left her quiet life to become one of the most respected and committed human rights leaders in the world as co-founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (Madres de Plaza de Mayo).
It seemed only yesterday that Argentina was lauded for its human rights and memory policies. The enforced disappearance of 30,000 citizens, labelled subversives, during its last military dictatorship (1976-83) attained global notoriety. Democracy was restored following the disastrous Malvinas War in 1982 which coincided with deep economic crisis, growing street protests and international condemnation. Thus, after a century of successive civic military governments with intermittent democratic periods, representative democracy was re-established in 1983.
Currently, under the government of President Mauricio Macri, the state barely recognises dictatorship victims. Macri has questioned the number of ‘disappeared’, as defined by human rights organisations and the gravity of the atrocities committed. The government’s historical revisionism sits alongside the imposition of a neoliberal economic programme that slashes jobs and wages, sells off public assets and increases public debt. Amidst an atmosphere of repression there are still many brave people that will not be silenced.
It is forty years since Nora Cortiñas, a housewife and mother of two sons, left her quiet life to become one of the most respected and committed human rights leaders in the world as co-founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (Madres de Plaza de Mayo). Nora Cortiñas was born in Buenos Aires, in 1930. Her son, Carlos Gustavo Cortiñas, belonged to the Peronist Party. He was abducted and disappeared by the armed forces in 1977. Ever since, Nora has devoted herself to campaigning for numerous human rights causes, especially those concerning state-committed crimes against humanity and enforced disappearances.
Since Carlos’ disappearance, Nora has travelled a long journey in pursuit of justice and truth for her son. The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, one of the most important human rights organisations in Argentina, brought together many women searching for their children. Women who had suffered the abduction of their children confronted the military dictatorship in the historic Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Inside the Presidential Palace, the dictatorship generals Rafael Videla, Roberto Viola, Leopoldo Galtieri and, finally, Reynaldo Bignone, commanded the abduction, torture and enforced disappearance of thousands of innocent people.
The Madres of Plaza de Mayo was founded on 30 April 1977, after gathering in the Plaza de Mayo to protest the military junta. After soldiers demanded that they move along, the reaction of the Mothers was to move, but in circles around the square. This gave birth to their iconic march that continues to take place today, four decades later, every Thursday afternoon. Years later, the organisation split into two groups due to ideological differences – the Founding Line and the Association. Nora Cortiñas belongs to the former.
Although democracy was restored in 1983, traces of the dictatorship remain – particularly if one analyses Argentina’s current economic and security paradigm: the external debt is one of them. Privatisations,
Filmmaker Ebony Bailey discusses her short film on African-Mexican society, Life Between Borders, which is streamed here, and the conditions faced by Haitian migrants in Mexico.
In her film Life Between Borders: Black Migrants in Mexico, Ebony Bailey meets Haitians who find themselves in Mexico hoping to reach the USA. She also speaks to Mexicans of African heritage, a group often overlooked in discussions around national identity. Over one million Mexicans have African ancestry.
In this Q&A, Ebony, who describes herself as ‘Blaxican’, a self-identifying term used by people of African and Mexican descent, talks about the issues raised in the film, which you can stream above.
Why did you decide to make this film?
This film was actually a final project for a certificate programme I did last year – we could do a short film or video on anything we wanted. I got the motivation after looking at photos in the newspaper of migrants at the border, and noticed they were all Black. I thought, wow, more Black people in Mexico! We share the same experience of being Black bodies in a country where we seemingly don’t exist, but very different experiences on how we got here. That really intrigued me, so I decided to go further. It was a very personal project for me.
I also thought it was important to make a film like this because, if we’re being honest, Black erasure in Latin America (especially Mexico) is real. Blackness is the backbone of many parts of LatAm culture, and the pioneering efforts of many Afro-Latinxs have been made invisible. So, in my view, representation can be very empowering. I see films like these to be part of the greater mobilisation for our communities.
The film addresses the conditions experienced by Haitian migrants in Mexico. What brought them to the country and what are the main challenges they face?
Many of them arrived in Mexico while trying to get to the United States, making the trek by land from Brazil. After the 2010 earthquake, thousands of Haitians fled to Brazil for humanitarian visas. Then, as Brazil’s economy started to slip, many of the Haitians started making their way up north in hope of reaching the US. But after Obama suspended the humanitarian visa for Haitians, the path to the US became much more difficult and many Haitians found themselves stranded in Mexico. Now a lot of them are trying to make their lives here instead of crossing.
For conciseness, I use ‘migration’ and ‘migrants’ a lot in relation to my film, but from my point of view I see it more as forced displacement. The global system of imperialism and white supremacy leave oppressed people with no other choice but to leave their homes in search of a better life. We can say that the earthquake was the tipping point for many Haitians to leave. But Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas, and also the Blackest, and that’s not a coincidence. I’m reminded of a quote I once read from one of my favourite authors, Junot
The police massacre of civilians on 5 October 2017 in Tumaco, southern Colombia, threatens the peace process and emphasises state failure to comply with the terms of the agreement.
The massacre by security forces of nine peasant farmers in Alto Mira y Frontera, a village in Lorrente in Tumaco (Nariño), on Thursday 5 October represents at least three serious problems for the Colombian peace process. First, it undermines the Havana agreement, particularly Point Four which emphasises voluntary substitution of illicit crops. Second, it raises issues of how security forces violate human rights and the right to protest when they intervene in social demonstrations. And third, it casts doubt on the possibility that the post-conflict will lead to democracy and the elimination of violence, more so when one considers other events taking place in different parts of the country.
Before addressing these issues, we must note that full clarity has still not been established about what happened in the collective territory of Alto Mira y Frontera, inhabited by around 4,000 families whose subsistence mainly depends on coca cultivation.
In a concise statement published that same day, 5 October, by the Ministry of Defence in Bogota, the army and the police claimed that the attack on the civil population was ‘apparently’ committed by the leader of a dissident FARC group who went by the alias ‘Guacho’. They also asserted that the dissidents were forcing the community to protest over eradication. According to the official version, the dissident group launched ‘at least five cylinder bombs at members of the Public Force [police] and the assembled crowd, before attacking demonstrators and the authorities with indiscriminate rifle and machine gun fire’, causing the deaths of four civilians and injuring another 14.
However, the National Coordinator of Coca, Marijuana and Poppy Growers (Coordinadora Nacional de Cultivadores Coca, Marihuana y Amapola, COCCAM) tells another version based on information from the community present during the incident. In a preliminary report, the organisation says that since 29 September peasant farmers had been protesting against the police deployment of at least 1,000 officers to conduct forced eradication. This saw around 1,000 people form a human circle protecting the crops they depend on for subsistence. But on 5 October, between 10.30am and 11am, the police ‘without warning opened fire indiscriminately upon the population’.
Regarding the Ministry of Defence statement, the COCCAM states that ‘there is no trace of explosive impacts in the zone, and if acts were committed against the police, there has been no report of any injured or dead members of the security forces’.
Furthermore, on 5 October, the Community Council of Pueblo Negro Alto Mira y Frontera, based in San Andrés de Tumaco, reported that the community had expressed several concerns over risks posed to its members by the presence of armed groups which compete for the territory and recruit young people, causing ‘displacement, confinement of hundreds of families and terror in different villages’. It said that ‘during recent weeks, armed groups have been pressuring the community … and seeking to use them as
The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 saw the establishment of an anti-imperialist government led by Gamal Abdel-Nasser. As a result of subsequent political developments, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara made a celebrated visit to Palestine in 1959.
Guevara’s visit to Gaza in 1959 was the first sign of transforming the Zionist colonisation of Palestine from a regional conflict to a global struggle against colonialism. The trigger was the meeting of Asian and African states, known as the Bandung conference, in 1955 and the resulting Non-Aligned Movement, whose members had just recently shaken the yoke of foreign domination. The stature of Nasser, as a world leader in the struggle against imperialism and colonialism, brought world leaders to see for themselves the devastating results of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, clearly demonstrated in Gazan refugee camps.
The Gaza Strip became the symbol of Palestine. This tiny sliver of land (1.3 per cent of Palestine) remained the only place raising the flag of Palestine. It carried a major part of the Al Nakba burden when it became the temporary shelter for the inhabitants of 247 villages, expelled from their homes in southern Palestine. Villages in the south were ethnically cleansed by the Israeli military operation Yoav, also termed ‘The Ten Plagues’, in October 1948. Not a single Palestinian village remained. This act of total ethnic cleansing was propelled by several massacres which took place in Al Dawayima, Bayt Daras, Isdud, and Burayr, among others.
Refugees, now corralled into Gaza Strip, were not immune from Israeli attacks even after their expulsion. The Majdal hospital was bombed in November 1948, as was the nearby Al Joura village, which stood on the site of ancient Ashkelon and from which many future Hamas leaders would emerge. In January 1949, Israelis bombed food distribution centres in Dayr Al Balah and Khan Younis at peak hours, leaving over 200 bodies decimated by air raids. These raids led the usually restrained Red Cross to describe it as a ‘scene of horror’.
Occupations and resistance
The occupation of Palestinian land and the expulsion of its population gave rise to a resistance movement, known then as the fedayeen. These resistance fighters crossed the Armistice line to attack the occupiers of their land.
In order to stop the incursions of the fedayeen and eliminate the idea of resistance, Israel continuously attacked the Gaza Strip refugee camps. In August 1953, Unit 101, led by Ariel Sharon, attacked the Bureij refugee camp and killed 43 people in their beds. In August 1955, Israel, again led by Ariel Sharon, blew up the Khan Younis police station killing 74 policemen. In the same year, the Israelis killed 37 Egyptian soldiers in Gaza railway station and a further 28 who were on their way to defend the others. The last attack changed the course of history in the region.
Egyptian president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, whose revolutionary government assumed power in Egypt in July 1952, signed the first armament deal with the Soviet Bloc for arms denied to him by the
Obama wants to salvage his image, but he arrives in Latin America sponsored and invited by the worst elements that can be found in our countries.
In his previous journey, when still US president, Barack Obama came to bless the conservative restoration in Argentina. He didn’t have the courage to pass through Brazil, where a coup government had just been installed – with his indulgent silence. Now he comes as ex-president, representing his Foundation, financed by big economic conglomerates.
In the last month, Obama has had conversations with the Northern Trust bank, with the Cantor Fitzgerald bank, and with the private investment firm Carlyle Group. His foundation is financed generously by donations from Microsoft and from the electronics sector giant Exelon, both with contributions of more than a million dollars. Obama has already spoken at multiple Wall Street conferences, receiving around $400 thousand a time.
In São Paulo, Obama will participate in an event hosted by the economic journal Valor, from the O Globo group, sponsored by the Spanish bank Santander. Cynically, he says that he comes to ‘listen to youth leaders’. He’s not going to find any youth leaders there. For that, he’d have to turn up without bank sponsors; he’d have to go to the periphery of São Paulo and Buenos Aires. But with the sponsorship from the companies that finance his foundation, he comes more to seek new business opportunities for those same companies, particularly in the processes of privatisation that the Macri and Temer governments are putting into practice.
In Argentina, Obama will have a meeting with business leaders and, it has been announced, with Mauricio Macri. In Brazil, by contrast, he won’t dare to meet with Temer, who has the support of only 3 percent of the Brazilian people. He’ll have a meeting in Córdoba about the ‘green economy’, organised by the Advanced Leadership Foundation, which has its headquarters in Washington, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organisation of American States, the Mediterranean Foundation and Boston Seguros.
The Obama that’s coming to Latin America now has nothing to do with the Obama that was elected as first black president of the US. That Obama would go to the black communities in Brazil, would take an interest in the destiny of Milagro Sala and Santiago Maldonado. He would speak with the popular leaders and not the bank directors.
It’s traditional for a US ex-president to organise his foundation and travel around the world, looking to maintain his own spaces, financing his travels with the support of donations from big private US companies. The only one of the former north American presidents to have put a foundation at the service of global democratic causes has been Jimmy Carter.
Obama doesn’t hide the fact that he’s working on behalf of big US corporations, not in support of civil entities, human rights, defence of democracy, the promotion of social politics. He comes to Brazil invited by the O Globo group, which has always been on the side of the worst causes. He comes