[Marxism] The accidental revolutionary
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 26 20:10:10 MST 2006
Che Rides Again (On a Mountain Bike)
By Nick Miroff
Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?
At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional
independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade
partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his
leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the
hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.
Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball
Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's
coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?
¡Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.
In the past five years, the swaggering Texan has inspired a leftward surge
that is uniting Latin America and threatening to knock Che Guevara right
off all those natty t-shirts.
When Che's ill-fated insurgency ended in the jungles of Bolivia with his
death in 1967, his vision of a single, unified, socialist continent
remained utterly unfulfilled. U.S.-backed right-wing military dictators
would rule much of Latin America over the ensuing two decades, and many of
Che's followers would be tortured and killed in efforts to overthrow them.
As democracy returned to the region at the end of the Cold War, most Latin
American governments rushed to embrace the "Washington consensus" --
market-oriented liberalization policies that cut social spending and
privatized national industries in order to pay down national debts. But the
formula, pushed on the region by successive American presidents, largely
failed to deliver the goods and left entire governments bankrupt and
beholden to foreign lenders. For Latin America's angry, marginalized,
impoverished masses, already-threadbare social safety nets only unraveled
"The macroeconomic proposals of the Washington consensus have not been
working," says Guillermo Delgado, professor of Latin American Studies at UC
Santa Cruz. "That model was supposed to create prosperity and, after so
many years, such prosperity has not been seen and class polarization has
Sensing an opportunity, new social and political movements in the region
began marshalling their forces. Then George W. Bush came along, combining
Yankee hubris with a Che-worthy radicalizing touch.
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