NACLA Reports

Chris Brady chris_brady at
Wed May 17 19:14:11 MDT 2000

As for our critique of NACLA, I must, as I say, catch up.
Until I do I allow my doubts were raised.
That said, I must admit that I do not read everything in NACLA
Reports. But I have seen some good stuff.
When I wrote:
> “They also had a profile of the leftist head of the Teachers Union”
that was: Jorge Pavez (See: "Voices on the Left", NACLA Report on
the Americas, Vol. XXXI, No. 1, July/Aug. 1997, p.20-22). That special
section also included interviews with Guyana's Cheddi Jagan: "For me,
Marxism neither was nor is a dogma, but a scientific guide to action,"
and Brazil PT's Lula da Silva). Pavez was interviewed by Irene Ortiz
(any relation to Bobbye Ortiz of Monthly Review?). Some quotes:

"...because of the pressure from the Church and the United States which
sought a solution like the one we wound up with; one within the
framework established by the dictatorship."

"...the economic model imposed by the dictatorship is practically the
same one in use by the current government."

"Chile faces the serious task of finding an alternative. Not everything
here is gold., Macroeconomic indicators do show development.
Apparently the country is progressing, but it's a very unequal progress
which is based on enormous labor exploitation and with no labor
protection.  It's a successful model based on the exploitation of
resources.  If we don't change our mode of production, we will soon find

ourselves with no forests because natural resources will be
We will see all rivers and the ocean contaminated. Marine wildlife,
which is enormously rich in this country, is also being depleted because

everything is being exported. but we can easily reach the conclusion
that this model works and is successful. For example, Pinochet left
behind a legacy of five million poor, and the Concertacion (liberal-
democratic) governments think that to bring it down to four million is
a measure of success."

"The popular movement is going through a difficult period, but it's by
no means dead. The same holds for the rest of Latin America.  We must
keep on working in this direction. The need for Latin Americans to work
together is ever more pressing because throughout the continent, we are
experiencing similar problems."

Jorge Pavez is a member of the Communist Party of Chile.
I should add that the Teachers Union of Chile could give much-needed
lessons in militancy to the American Federation of Teachers and to the
National Education Association in the USA.  (But then again, the
American teachers --although under increasing duress-- are well-off
compared to their Chilean counterparts who often must take
second jobs to get by.)

Naturally most of my NACLA attention has been taken by issues
relating to Chile where I lived for the past eighteen months. That is
reason I managed to obtain a copy of the issue with Burt's article
(mentioned above). In that same issue was "A Time of Forgetting:
The Myths of the Chilean Transition," by Tomas Moulian:

"The country's new civilian elites became accomplices in the
consolidation of Chile's protected democracy and in a massive
whitewashing operation to cover up the crimes of the dictatorship."
(NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XXXII, No. 2, Sept/Oct. 1998)

It also had a fine review by Associate Editor Marcial Godoy-Anativa of
Patricio Guzman's disturbing "CHILE: Obstinate Memory." Up front on
Page five of that issue's "Taking Note" was an editorial entitled
"Pinochet: The Great Conciliator" with the simple by-line "-MGA",
it could only be Associate Editor Marcial Godoy-Anativa again.
The piece concludes:

"The Chilean left has been largely domesticated and Lagos is a devout
neoliberal.  Twenty-five years after the overthrow of Allende, what
is at stake are subtle differences in the administration of

Moulian is a sociologist at Santiago’s ARCIS University.
He was adviser to Gladys Marin in her recent election campaign,
although he himself is not a formal member of the CP.
What this adds up to is that there is ample evidence of some material
that --if it is not explicitly exhortatory-- still does not contradict
even supplements and advances Marxist analysis.

Carlos Vilas contributed “The Decline of the Steady Job in Latin
America” (NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XXXII, No. 4,
Jan./Feb. 1999, p.20-22).
Vilas expresses a clearly anti-capitalist, pro-labor point of view.
I guess that could be progressive (in the American historical context)
but having met Vilas briefly at a Socialist Scholars Conference
I came away with a rosier impression.  Vilas, says the by-line bio
in NACLA Reports, “is an Argentine political economist currently
affiliated with the national Institute for Public Administration in
Buenos Aires.  His most recent book is “Between Earthquakes and
Volcanoes: Market, State and Revolutions in Central America”
(Monthly Review Press, 1995). He is a member of NACLA’s
editorial board…”

But so is Duncan Green, whose fine article “Child Workers of the
Americas” followed Vilas in that issue devoted to “Report on Labor:
Tough Times: Labor in the Americas.”  My reading of Green is that he
Is not all that red.  So there may be a struggle in NACLA, as there
would be in any coalition.  I call it a coalition because the magazine’s

mission statement “to research the political economy of the Americas
and U.S. policy towards the region” is actually open to more than a
sectarian approach.  It accepts progressives, socialists, Marxists, etc.

I think if we want to support the Marxists we should do so with
expressions of solidarity and try to help them convince those who
have not yet ascertained the inherent incorrigibility of capitalism
and the futility of any hopes for its reform.  Maybe even make
contributions of reports.

But it is as Louis said Susan Lowes told him, an academic magazine.
It is an organ of study and critique, not of program or policy
or of theoretical or ideological expression.  However, theoretical and
ideological explorations and articulation requires the scholarly
of such more academic publications.

My words here may seem like an apology or a defense of NACLA,
and they are --but only in the sense that I recognize certain heuristic
potentials in such publications.  We have to protect these
And develop them.

But what of Mario Murillo’s FARC smear?  I cannot vouch for his
WBAI radio program.  My set does not pick up signals from New York.
What I have picked up though is a pattern of vicious mendacity by the
international capitalist conspiracy.  Murillo fell into one of its
He reported FARC callously murdered Indians.  Wrong.  He was set up.
The deed was actually perpetrated by right-wing paramiliatries,
what we called “Death Squads” in El Salvador, essentially…
a variation on a theme…
But what if it was true?  What if we heard that FARCistas had burst
into a Church like a gang of atheistic Marxist baby-eaters and machine-
gunned a congregation at Confirmation?  Should we pay attention?
What if we ignored Chairman Gonzalo’s minions’ mayhem in the Upper
Huallaga Valley?  They’re Marxist guerrillas, non?

What NACLA should do now is to use its pages to highlight the
deception perpetrated by capitalism’s killers.  This recent example is
no exception; it only serves to reinforce the continuity of the crime
the necessity for its opposition.
As an old mole told me once,
“When life gives you a lemon,
Why not make lemonade?”

Chris Brady

P.S.: I wrote a protest to a friend about a NACLA Reports article
regarding the Sendero Luminoso, specifically: Jo-Marie Burt’s
“Unsettled Accounts: Militarization and Memory in Postwar Peru.”
(NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XXXII, No. 2, Sept/Oct. 1998,
p. 35-40.). (I sent a copy of my letter in to this list a few months
I hasten to remind comrades here that I am not a fan of the Shining
Path, however I thought Burt's article betrayed a historical myopia
out of place in any discussions of anti-capitalist struggles in Peru.
The people who were attracted by Sendero Luminoso's desperate
tactics and/or idealistic strategies were not the initiators of violence

in Peru so much as mad reactionaries to massive state violence.
To say that the Peruvian military stepped up repression in a defensive
response to the Shining Path, as Burt did,  puts the cart before the

CORRECTION: That NACLA Reports article about soccer fan clubs
(known as barras bravas) was NOT "by Tomas Moulian" but by
Chilean Pedro Lemebel.  (See: "Soccer and Devotion in the Barrios of
Santiago", NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XXXII, No. 1, July/Aug.
1998, p.36-42.).
Here's what NACLA did not say about Lemebel the "writer and performance
Santiago Times for March 2, 2000
Pedro Lemebel Says Channel 20 Still Softens Dissent
TEXT:  [Ed. note: Artist-activist Pedro Lemebel has made a point of
stressing his poverty-stricken upbringing and sexuality.  In spite of
the marginalization he's suffered, he has become one of Chile's most
controversial yet successful writers.  Famous for his off-beat and
polemic performances in the early 1990's as a member of the "Mares
of the Apocalypse" visual arts group as well as his acid-tongued
criticism of "Chile's narrow-mindedness," he was recently awarded a
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship.
        Invited to the 1999 Guadalajara International Book Fair as part
of the Chilean delegation, his books and articles, published mostly in
left-wing newspapers and literary magazines, have focused on issues
relating to human rights and what he has described as "the country's
hypocritical opinion of us fags"].

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