Thursday, November 7, 2019

UPDATE (11-11-19) - Coup in Bolivia as Latin Americans rise in protest against the neoliberal policies pushed by the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank

A coup in Bolivia has forced President Evo Morales to step down, fulfilling predictions in a Labor South post last week and in an earlier post that neoliberal forces will not tolerate a social uprising against global capital without intervention.

Amid intense and often violent protests and strong pressure from his nation's military, Morales agreed this weekend to step down rather than see Bolivia plunge even deeper into crisis. He had just won another term in office in a contested election. A new election is expected. The coup has been condemned by leaders in Argentina and other Latin American nations as well as by British labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and others. Many see the coup as a blow to democracy and believe it was U.S.-backed, which wouldn't be the first time the Great Yankee to the north has interfered directly in the politics of nations to its south. Below is last week's post:

I teach a course at the University of Mississippi on “Documentary and Social Issues”, and today we finished watching Barbara Kopple’s 1976 classic Harlan County U.S.A, the tale of the long and bloody struggle of unionized Kentucky coal miners to get company owners to give them a fair contract that ensures fair wages and good safety conditions.

The lesson in the film is that the fight goes on even after a battle victory because the other side is fighting a war, and it will never have a change of heart and deal fairly without intense pressure from working people.

The same can be said in regard to the recent strikes by the United Auto Workers and school teachers in Chicago that forced both corporate and government leaders to the bargaining table. What came out of those bargaining sessions wasn’t completely satisfactory to all the strikers but the protests—and that’s essentially what a strike is--did force a resolution and compromise—if only for the time being. As those Harlan County miners from back in the 1970s would tell you, keep vigilant. The other side will always be looking for a sign of weakness.

It’s a lesson well heeded today, too, in Latin America, where protests are rising against the neoliberal policies of the U.S. government, Wall Street, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank that have forced governments to strip away social programs and worker rights as part of the “austerity” needed to repay the giant loans owed these institutions. In other words, adopt a Social Darwinist capitalism or else.

People have had enough of it. They’ve taken to the streets in Chile to protest the regime of billionaire Sebastian PiƱera and a recent hike in subway fares that is most punitive to workers, the straw that broke the camel’s back. The slashing of fuel subsidies in President Lenin Moreno’s Equador also has led to huge protests that have rocked the nation. Haitians are in the streets as well to protest political corruption in that country. Bolivian voters recently put anti-neoliberal Evo Morales back in office for another term, a protest in itself at the ballot box. Morales has dramatically reduced poverty in his country and become a symbol of hope particularly for the nation's indigenous groups.

And, following up on an earlier Labor South post, Peronist Alberto Fernandez and his running mate and former president Christina Kirchner defeated neoliberal Mauricio Macri in that country's recent election, a slap in the face to Macri’s own austerity policies and utter allegiance to the financial interests further north that have long kept his nation in bondage.

Latin America is swinging left again, thank goodness, but it must remain vigilant. The eyes of the Big Yankee regime to the north are watching. The sordid history of the United States’ policies in Latin America stands ready to be repeated. A nation itself founded in revolution against the foreign power that controlled it has become the most powerful defender of such control in its relations to countries to its south.