What Has the Latin American New Left Accomplished?

Tulio wonders what good the Latin American Left has done down there. How bout we shoot the question back at him and ask what good the Latin American Right did for 190 years for the majorities? Answer: Zero.

But what have the results been? Has there been any meaningful progress that’s happened because of the rise of the left in Latin America that can be solely attributed to leftist economics and politics? I’m not here to attack the Latin left per se. I don’t mind them much so long as they aren’t on this hate America tip and blaming the United States for all their home grown problems e.g. Chavez. I’ve never heard any anti-American hate speech from Brazil, Argentina or Chile under Bachelet.The bottom line though is what have these left wing leaders actually done? Everything is still horribly corrupt, there’s still massive inequality, still no universal health coverage, millions still live in favelas, there’s still lots of crime in a place like Venezuela. So what is so great about these left-wing leaders?
Great, so we will live in a country like Cuba where there’s socialism yet everyone is still poor. Whoopie do. And that’s the best latin socialism has to offer.

Not really. Chile and Costa Rica both have socialism (social democracy) and they have some pretty good figures on life expectancy, infant mortality and whatnot. Comparable to the US or even better, with much lower per capita income too.
All Latin America has national health care last time I checked. Public hospitals are free, assuming they exist. There’s a lack of hospitals, doctors, medicine, etc, but in some places like Chile, Costa Rica or Trinidad and Tobago, public health care is pretty good. I doubt there is one country in Latin America that lacks free public health care. The US is pretty bizarre on world scale in lacking this.
As far as favelas, I know Chavez has been on massive spree building public housing and renovating other housing, fixing streets, wiring up areas for electricity and running plumbing lines. And he’s done a lot of land reforms, breaking up large estates and giving them to small farmers and co-ops. He has opened a tremendous number of new hospitals and clinics, often staffed with Cuban doctors. He’s opened up new state markets where the poor can buy subsidized food for affordable prices instead of practically starving like they were 20 years ago, when 80% of the country could only afford one meal a day. He’s using the oil wealth to help the Venezuelan people, whereas before it just went into the pockets of a corrupt elite.
Crime is a long-term problem in Venezuela and the region, and it’s not Chavez’ fault.
Corruption is a long-term problem in the region, due to Latino culture, and it will be there no matter what kind of regime is in.
Chavez has reduced income inequality and poverty more than anyone else in the region.
It’s great what Chavez is doing down there! Incredible!
We don’t need Cuban socialism. Canadian socialism would be fine.
Correa in Ecuador has done well, but he’s hampered by the oligarchy in what he can do. He threw the US out of the their Manta Military Base, he wrote a new Constitution and doubled health care spending.
Ortega just got in, and he’s not pushing a strong program, plus the oligarchy is against him.
Honduras had a coup.
The FMLN just got in in El Salvador and is unfortunately pursuing a moderate agenda. However, the Civil War Accords already broke up the big land estates and distributed land to small farmers and co-ops, similar to the Mexican Revolution. Whatever other problems you have down there, at least you can grow enough food to eat.
Brazil’s Lula reduced poverty dramatically there.
Morales has done some good things for Bolivia, for one thing nationalizing the gas and oil reserves. He also wrote a new Constitution.
Kirchener did a good job in Argentina. She blew off the debt. Her efforts at further reform have been hampered by the oligarchy. Lately, she’s been trying to break up the media oligopoly, but she’s running into a lot of static on that.
Bachelet in Chile did not do much. She was not pushing a very Left agenda.
The guy in Uruguay just got in and he’s a moderate.
Lugos in in Paraguay is new too, and he’s pushing a moderate line.
People pushing a moderate line are not likely to get much done, and in most cases, really good reforms to benefit the people have been hampered by the oligarchs.
But these are the best changes your average person in Latin America has ever seen.
What’s failed has been more or less 180 years of rightwing authoritarian oligarchic rule in the vast majority of Latin America. That’s what in general has never done the slightest damned thing for the people from Day One. People have had it with it, so they are starting to vote in some pro-people governments, in many places for the first time in history.

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0 thoughts on “What Has the Latin American New Left Accomplished?”

  1. what is your response to the fact that Chile, Milton Friedman’s free market experiment, recently became the first Latin American nation to be accepted into the OECD? Its the first developed Latin American nation, and they had General Pinochet, wow! He wasnt a socialist, he was pretty right wing. Cato insists that Friedman and his Chicago School boys fixed Chile.

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