[Marxism] [Fwd: Katz and Zamora]

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 11 08:02:16 MST 2004


Johannes Schneider wrote:
> In the article I quoted
> http://www.alcaabajo.cu/sitio/stop_ftaa/mercosur_and_the_ftaa_200104.htm
> Katz argues that Brazil and Argentina lack coordinated policies in order 
> to confront US-imperialism and instead of challenging neoliberalism they 
> are making concessions to it.
> 
> Katz may be wrong, but name-calling does not reject his arguments.

Katz's article outlines 3 distinct political actors:

1. US imperialism, which pushes the FTAA.

2. Kirchner/Lula and their allies, who are promoting a 'social' Mercosur 
more responsive to the needs of the poor.

3. A anti-imperialist front that would "halt the payment of the foreign 
debt", etc.

Of the three positions, I favor the third but it is important to draw a 
contrast between positions 1 and 2. Yesterday, when you stated that it 
is of no consequence that the FMLN wins the elections in El Salvador, it 
seemed obvious to me that you would not. We have political differences 
that no amount of wrangling over Katz's article will resolve.

I view the relationship between the Brazilian bourgeoisie, US 
imperialism, Europe and major 3rd world powers such as India and China 
as a complex one. It would seem to me that Marxists should hail any 
initiative, no matter how faltering, by the Brazilian or Argentine 
*nation* to carve out an independent development path, even if it is 
capitalist.

In the final analysis, socialism will be far more successful in 
guaranteeing independence and social justice, but I would not sneer at a 
potential FMLN electoral victory.

The Houston Chronicle
August 24, 2003, Sunday 4 STAR EDITION
Leftist's plans for El Salvador worry U.S.

BYLINE: MARIKA LYNCH

DATELINE: SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - Like any good presidential candidate, Shafik 
Handal, former guerrilla, longtime Communist Party leader and friend of 
Fidel Castro, is promising change.

"We promise to unite the nation in the construction of a different El 
Salvador," Handal said two weeks ago, after the Farabundo Marti National 
Liberation Front, or FMLN, the guerrilla group turned political party, 
named him as its presidential candidate.

But it is his plans for change that have caused worry here and in 
Washington - to reverse many of the free-market initiatives the ruling 
conservative ARENA party put in place, to reconsider the privatizations 
of public companies, to set up "civil defense committees" that would 
protect him from a coup. Even old FMLN brethren say Handal has a streak 
of intolerance.

The FMLN's rising popularity - it leads the latest polls for the March 
elections - reflects a resurgence of the left in Latin America, 
frustrated by a decade of so-called neoliberal reforms that bore little 
fruit and propelled Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Nestor Kirchner and Hugo 
Chavez to the presidencies of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela.

El Salvador's economy has grown every year since the war ended in 1992, 
no small feat in a Central American nation shaken by several 
earthquakes, 1998's Hurricane Mitch and the legacies of a civil conflict 
that claimed 75,000 lives.

But while President Francisco Flores and his ARENA party have won kudos 
in Washington for their free-market policies, some of El Salvador's poor 
believe they haven't shared in the wealth. Although the percentage of 
the country's 6.3 million people living in poverty shrunk over the last 
decade, the actual number of poor grew, according to U.N. figures.

"They've forgotten about what's vital to the people," said Alonso 
Martinez, 63, tapping his belly. "The people are still hungry."

Charismatic and confident, Handal remains popular among the poor, 
blaming the rich and their "foreign" economic models for the lot of the 
impoverished masses. He also is revered for his consistency, calling 
himself a communist long after many abandoned the ideology.

But in an interview with the Miami Herald, he insisted that while 
communism is still a valued goal, this tiny Central American nation is 
not ready for it.

"As a theory, it's an ideal, yes, but I don't consider it pursueable," 
Handal said. Instead he wants to renegotiate the country's foreign debt 
and raise taxes for the rich so he can improve schools and the public 
health system.

Handal also said that if elected he would encourage foreign investment. 
But he also would stop privatizations and review past sales of public 
companies, including those in the electricity sector because rates have 
risen steeply - moves that may scare off future investors.

He said he doesn't in principle oppose ongoing U.S.-Central American 
negotiations for a free trade agreement, but thinks the proposals so far 
are unfair to Salvadoran farmers. He wants to see the final agreement 
before taking a stance, Handal added.

His government also would keep the U.S. dollar as the country's official 
currency - an ARENA decision - but would reintroduce the national 
currency, the colon, Handal added.

On an apparent campaign to polish his and the party's image in 
Washington, which gave the Salvadoran government hundreds of millions of 
dollars in military aid for its fight against Handal's guerrillas in the 
1980s, the FMLN recently sent a delegation to visit the State 
Department, the Pentagon and congressional leaders.

The governing ARENA party says Handal could only move the country backward.

"Are we going to have a future based on opening and stability, or on 
confrontation, and models that have been conquered and broken?" said 
Tony Saca, 38, a radio station owner and ARENA's presidential candidate.

Handal, born to Christian Palestinian immigrants, first got involved in 
politics at 14, when he joined a successful national strike to oust a 
military dictator.

He was later forced into exile twice and became head of the Salvadoran 
Communist Party, the last faction of the FMLN to take up arms in the 
civil war. During the conflict, Handal was the group's top diplomat. He 
has been a legislator for the past six years.


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